If one were looking for a topic that adds dizzying complications to our conventional picture of colonialism and postcolonialism, one could hardly find a better one than baseball in Taiwan. As John J. Harney points out in Empire of Infields, it is easy to tell this story as a teleological tale of the emergence of a Taiwanese national identity from the yoke of Japanese colonialism, and many historians writing in Chinese have done so.

The complications start with the fact that Japan was not a traditional Western colonial power, and Taiwan, invaded after the First Sino-Japanese War in 1895, was its first colony. In Japan, baseball's prestige as the national sport was launched when the Ichikō High School team defeated the American imperialists—who had introduced the sport to Japan—at their own game. The potential for sports to become a rallying point for resistance to the colonial master does not...

You do not currently have access to this content.