Return to the Land and People: Contemporary Indigenous Knowledge System Project in Taiwan

Written by Yi-tze Lee. Following the Construction of the Taiwanese Indigenous Knowledge System (hereafter IKS) Project initiated by the Council of Indigenous Affairs (原住民族委員會), the establishment of the regional Indigenous Knowledge System Center is booming in 2022. The commissioned project results from a long fight for the indigenous cultural right, an example of autonomy in indigenous studies, and efforts on identity awakening. This article will explain the background of the IKS project, discuss the expectation, and reveal some critiques of the project in general. 

The Long and Unfinished Fight: The Constitutional Court’s Decision on Pingpu Recognition in Taiwan

Written by Wei-Che Tsai; Translated by Yi-Yu Lai. The case of Indigenous status for Siraya people has challenged Indigenous peoples’ composition and boundaries. Currently, around 580,000 Indigenous peoples are legally recognised in Taiwan. It is estimated that the population of the Pingpu peoples will increase the total number of Indigenous peoples to as high as 980,000 if the Act is declared unconstitutional, although this number may be inflated for political purposes by Taiwan’s Indigenous authorities. As a result, the authorities are worried about this judgement.

An Insider or Outsider? Lessons from the Recognition of Mixed-Background Indigenous and the Pingpu Peoples in Taiwan 

Written By Nikal Kabalan’an (Margaret Yun-Pu Tu). Regarding identity formation in Taiwan, the historical context of colonialism plays a crucial role because the arrival of each foreign ruler has resulted in varying degrees of assimilation. Such a theme has inspired numerous Taiwan Studies scholars who have produced a great number of pertinent works, including “Is Taiwan Chinese?” by Melissa Brown,“Becoming Japanese” by Leo Ching, and “Becoming Taiwanese” by Evan Dawley. One of the contestable issues in this field is the Indigenous status and recognition.

Unsettled Transitional Justices: Indigenous Sovereignty and the Limit of Democracy

Written by Yu Liang (Leeve Palrai). The justice revealed in Siraya’s ruling is in response to the national project of Indigenous transitional justice. Specifically, it responds to the promise of President Tsai Ing-Wen in her 2016 presidential apology that Pingpu groups shall be granted the equal rights and status as fellow Indigenous Taiwanese have. Yet, influential as it is, the idea of indigenous transitional justice in Tsai’s account remains unclear: Who should be held accountable for the erasure of Siraya and other Pingpu groups’ identity and status? When and how did it happen in the first place?

Roots and Routes in the Malay World and Beyond: Dialogues Between Singapore and Taiwan

Written by Doris Yang. In 2021, five artists/researchers from Singapore, Malaysia, and Taiwan gathered to present their project, The Malay World Project: Roots & Routes, in an online event held by Taipei Performing Arts Center. This event was inspired by a research project asking, ‘Where do the Malays originate?’ Not only did the project study the diaspora of Malay peoples around the Asia-Pacific, but it also created a space for dialogue between Taiwan’s Indigenous people and Malay in Singapore and Malaysia on the issues of identity and belonging. This article compares the advocacy experiences of Malay people in Singapore and Indigenous people in Taiwan. I argue that there is space to foster additional connections and collaborations between the civil societies among these two groups.

Towards a Better New Normal: The Solidarity of Differences and Cultural Safety of Public Health  

Written by Po-Han Lee. The ethical imperative of the human rights-based approach to public health requires the ‘acceptability’ (including cultural appropriateness) of health policymaking, impact assessment, and care services. In this context, Cultural competence in public health practices is concerned with ‘health for all’ through ‘safety for all’. That is, the principle of cultural safety, along with awareness of intersectional marginalisation, is to eliminate health inequities due to systemic racism and eventually decolonise public and global health practices.

The Interaction between Taiwan’s Indigenous and Migrant Workers: Lessons from Construction Industry

Written by Hsuan Lo. Translated by Yi-Yu Lai. In Taiwan, a narrative concerning the opposition of migrant and Indigenous workers appears to be a continuing source of contention. In 1997, director Ming-hui Yang released a documentary, “Please Give Us a Job.” One of the film’s impressive scenes depicts an off-duty Indigenous worker sobbing uncontrollably in front of the camera while lamenting the employment difficulties caused by the introduction of migrant workers. In 2016, Chen Ying, a DPP legislator from the Puyuma Indigenous community, brought this issue back into the public eye by highlighting the impact of “illegal migrant workers” on the employment of Indigenous workers. Unfortunately, the notion that “migrant workers take jobs from Indigenous workers” has become deeply ingrained.

With What Difficulty Indigenous LGBTQ Groups Struggles in Taiwan

Written by Remaljiz Mavaliv. Translated by Yi-Yu Lai. Taiwan is a beautiful country with diverse cultures, the Indigenous peoples of which are often viewed as significant worldwide highlights. Currently, sixteenth Indigenous groups are officially recognised in Taiwan. However, this does not protect them from discrimination and unfair resource distribution. After successive colonial regimes arrived in Taiwan one after another, colonialism and imperialism profoundly influenced the Indigenous population, and the political repercussions have persisted to the present day.  

Taiwanese Mountains and Plains Indigenous Peoples: Facing Different Trials, Yet the Same Fate

Written by Chen I-Chen. Is Indigeneity a self-evident category? Or is “Indigenous” defined differently by the policies and politics of each nation-state? On June 28, 2022, a constitutional review of the Supreme Court’s debate on the Indigenous Status of the “Plains” peoples (the “Pingpu,” 平埔族群) shed light on the discussion surrounding Taiwan’s national recognition of Indigenous status. The “Plains” peoples, headed by the Siraya, had fought for more than three decades to have their Indigenous status recognised under the category of the “lowland” Indigenous peoples (平地原住民)”. As a crucial result of the long struggle for the Plains peoples’ legal status, the final judgement will be declared no later than this late November.

To Return or Not to Return? A Dilemma of a Taiwanese Scholarship Recipient

Written by Kalesekes Kaciljaan (Yu-Chi Huang). In 2019, I was awarded a Taiwanese scholarship of government sponsorship for overseas study from the Ministry of Education of Taiwan to support my pursuit of doctoral study in public health at the University of Hawai’i. The reason I did so was that the financial status of neither myself nor my family could provide me with the funds for studying overseas. Unfortunately, many other Indigenous scholars from Taiwan, like myself, also went through the same path I did, owing to our people’s averagely lower financial status. I am grateful that I could have the scholarship to support my dream to study abroad and be a researcher devoted to Indigenous health. Unfortunately, however, certain scholarship regulations are outdated and greatly hinder the path of students whose research interests relate to Taiwan. As a result, we are forced to choose between our ideals and our promised benefits. Therefore, I would like to elaborate on my own experience to provide a deeper insight into the problems we recipients face when returning to Taiwan to conduct our research.

Taiwan Indigenous Students Study Overseas—A Choice Between Food and Tuition Fees

Written by Nikal Kabala’an (Margaret Yun-Pu Tu) . The Ministry of Education (MoE) is the highest authority of the Republic of China (ROC) government in implementing educational policies in Taiwan, which includes governmental-led Indigenous education. This article focuses on the “Scholarships for Indigenous People to Study Overseas” (Hereinafter “the Scholarships”). Since the Indigenous Peoples’ Right to Education, multicultural, and equal opportunities are some of the current key concepts for MoE to plan the related policies, I suggest the authorities could consider more about the Scholarships following the starting point in supporting Indigenous students to study aboard.

Pondering the Pacific: One of the Moons Version II

Written by Ysanne Chen, Ilin Tsai, and Shih-Hao Huang. In “Pondering the Pacific,” we conceptualise the Pacific as an oceanic highway or a contact zone. The vast ocean connects Pacific Islands. We travel from the island of Taiwan (we are reluctant to call it main(is)land) to Pongso no Tao to recover and explore this connection. When on the island, we further learn about Tao people’s connectedness to other Pacific Islanders. Upon our return, we wrote these poems to celebrate the Pacific. Along with other Pacific Islanders writers and poets, we praise the Pacific for its abundance and ability to connect people. We also join Pacific Islanders in voicing out against nuclear contamination and all forms of environmental injustice.

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