Written by Chiao-Wen Chiang. While the theory of Taiwan being the homeland of Austronesian languages is familiar to many people in Taiwan, few are familiar with the name Robert Andrew Blust (1941-2022), the world’s leading linguist who brought out this idea from a linguistic perspective in the early 1980s.
Category: Indigenous issues
In Memoriam: Robert Blust, 1940-2022
Written by Victoria Chen. Robert A. Blust, the leading scholar in Austronesian linguistics, passed away on January 5, 2022, at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa. This loss has saddened linguists, archaeologists and anthropologists worldwide, along with researchers on Taiwan Studies who have benefited from his work over the past five decades.
Two Young Indigenous Scholars are Promoting Indigenous artists – in Taiwan and Beyond.
Written by Fanny Caron. Lin and Ismahasan’s academic disciplines and the career path they have chosen to highlight a change in Taiwan Indigenous studies on an international level. These choices enable them to play a part in shifting the discourse on Indigenous Peoples from “objects” of study to active “subjects” of their own (counter-) narrative, supporting their affirmation of Indigeneity and tribal sovereignty.
Unpacking the Colonialist Undertones of the Indigenous People’s Basic Law: Law as a Tool of Oppression in Taiwan
Written by Aaron Chen. In May 2021, Taiwan’s Constitutional Court considered a high-profile case concerning indigenous hunting rights. First opened in 2013, the Bunun man, Tama Talum, had been convicted for violating the Wildlife Conservation Act, which limited indigenous poaching to solely ceremonial activities. He was also prosecuted under the Controlling Guns, Ammunition and Knives Act, legislation that only allowed indigenous peoples to hunt using homemade weapons, whilst Tama Talum did otherwise.
Unrecognised Indigenous Groups of Taiwan and their Struggle for Language Revival
Written by Barnaby Yeh. Nearly all Plains Indigenous language advocates emphasize the importance of recognition from the national government. As summarized by Kaisanan Ahuan, a Taokas activist from Puli, lack of government recognition is the primary obstacle to a full-fledged revival. “Because Plains Indigenous are not nationally recognized as Indigenous people, their languages are not national languages. Therefore, we cannot teach our mother tongues under the national education framework.
Colonial Racial Science and Taiwan: How Indigenous Peoples Became Anatomy Data Points. Part II
Written by Ko-yu Chiang, We received a reply confirming that the Mudan remains were indeed still stored in their collection. So, at this point, the puzzle was finally complete. This is the full story of the journey taken by these unfortunate victims. They came from a battle in Pingtung, to an anatomy lab in Yokohama, to the University of Edinburgh, where they were left in storage.
Colonial Racial Science and Taiwan: How Indigenous Peoples Became Anatomy Data Points. Part I
Written by Ko-yu Chiang, Under the beating sun in Taiwan’s most southern tip, Mudan Township, an indigenous Paiwanese district with a current population of 5,000, opened a public committee in May 2020. Despite being in a small township in Taiwan’s far south, this committee was an international affair. In attendance was the council of Indigenous Affairs, Bureau of Cultural Heritage of the Ministry of Culture, the Pintung County government. The committee also extended to the other side of the world: Edinburgh University in the United Kingdom and the spirits of sixteen Paiwanese Mudan soldiers who have only recently returned home after 146 years abroad.
George Psalmanazar and the fake history of Taiwan
Written by Hung-yi Chien. In the spring of 1704, Psalmanazar published his book An Historical and Geographical Description of Formosa and reported many strange customs beyond people’s imagination. He claimed Formosa had a sophisticatedly organised society but was conquered by Japan in the seventeenth century. People of Formosa sacrificed thousands of boys’ hearts to worship their deities.
Tao People’s Fight for Environmental Justice and Subjectivity on Orchid Island
Written by Mei-Fang Fan. At the meeting of the Presidential Office Indigenous Historical Justice and Transitional Justice Committee in March 2018, the convener of the cabinet-level Fact-Seeking Committee and other committee members urged the government to formulate compensation regulations as soon as possible to compensate the Tao tribe. The Executive Yuan had approved guidelines for the compensation and that a fund management board that includes residents will be established. However, Tao elder anti-nuclear activists said that the Tao tribe rejects the compensation at a protest in front of the Executive Yuan on 29 November 2019.
Intergenerational Bonds in Indigenous Communities: Lessons From My Grandparents
Written by Ljius Rakuljivu (徐嘉榮). During my schooling time away from my grandparents and hometown, I received many questions about my culture and mother tongue, and I answered them. Thankfully, because of my grandparents, I was deeply immersed in the Paiwan culture and language. So, I have an easier time later in life in dealing with my identity. Also, I learn English better than my Han-Taiwanese contemporaries since Paiwan and English share phonetical similarities.
“We Are Not Puppies, We Are Who We Are”: A Voice from the Indigenous Taiwanese Diaspora
Written by Yi-Yu Lai. Apart from the language issue, Ajaon told me that stereotypes of Indigenous people back home are usually brought to the diasporic community. For example, when she moved to Hawaii several years ago, she was often invited to Taiwanese events because they wanted her to perform.
Taiwanese Literature in Transition: Indigenous Writing and Eco-literature as Method
Written by Ti-han Chang. At the crossroad of the 21st century, we see the rise of a new transition in Taiwanese literature. In the era of anthropogenic climate change, environmental literature or ecocriticism, which was first established in the Anglophone literature begins to sow its seeds in Taiwan in the late 80s and early 90s. Alongside this new transition, aboriginal literature in Taiwan also underwent a phase of cultural renaissance in the same period. Work published by Syaman Rapongan 夏曼藍波安, Walis Nokan瓦歷斯諾幹, and Topas Tamapima 拓拔斯塔瑪匹瑪 (田雅各) enrich and diversify the literary scene in Taiwan. The work of Rapongan, which promotes sea-writing and oceanic cultural imaginary, deserves, especially our attention.