**This essay is part of The Digital Form Curated Collection**
What role might century-old folk art forms play in globalization? Teri Silvio examines this question in an essay in the spring issue of Cultural Anthropology, which analyzes how puppet plays once staged in Ming dynasty temples have been taken up in Taiwanese television serials, and popularized by devoted fan clubs. In "Remediation and Local Globalizations: How Taiwan's 'Digital Video Knights-Errant Puppetry' Writes the History of the New Media in Chinese" Silvio argues that "in postindustrial societies like Taiwan, new media technologies, despite their foreign origins, are not merely 'appropriated,' but come to be seen as emerging from local aesthetics and local needs." This is accomplished through a process of "remediation" - where images and objects from one media form are absorbed into another and transformed in the process.
Silvio was intrigued by how digital technologies designed to serve America's military and entertainment industries could become "embedded" in another cultural context, and then become a medium through which distinctly local forms of globalization could be imagined. Grounding the analysis in detailed historical knowledge of the popular culture of imperial China and colonial Taiwan, Silvio's essay explores how media producers and fans "construct a utopian vision of what globalization might look like if Taiwan were at its center."
Readers interested in media may also be interested in a number of other Cultural Anthropology essays that examine how media technologies travel and are taken up, and often transfigured, in diverse locales. In 1991, for example, Faye Ginsberg asked whether the development of video and television among indigenous peoples (particularly in Australia) created a "Faustian Contract, or Global Village?" In a 1994 essay, Ginsberg builds on Arjun Appardurai's conception of a "mediascape" to "take account of the interdependence of media practices with the local, national and transnational circumstances that surround them," again focusing on Aboriginal Australians.
Nickola Pazderic's "Recovering True Selves in the Elector-Spiritual Field of Universal Love", also examines media (particularly radio) in Taiwan.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Teri Silvio is an assistant professor at Taiwan's Institute of Ethnology, Academia Sinica.
Author's Website (in Chinese): Teri Silvio
1. What is remediation, and how has it shaped contemporary budaixi performance?
2. Silvio treats remediation as an adaptive strategy for local groups dealing with the effects of globalization. Is there something lost in this process of remediation?
3. Part of the practice of ethnographic research is the process of documenting stories, rituals, and traditions. Is this an act of remediation? If so, what effect does it have on the people who tell these stories and perform these rituals?
An example of budaixi, traditional southern Chinese hand-puppet theatre:
Traditional Taiwanese Puppet by S.H. Chow