Indigenous Storytelling in and Beyond the Classroom

Written by Yi-Yu Lai. One afternoon in 2011, Hong-sui Lim visited a Kaxabu village due to his participation in an anthropological camp. This marked his first encounter with the Kaxabu people, one of the Plain Indigenous groups inhabiting the Puli Basins in central Taiwan. Lim was astonished by the small number of Kaxabu elders who still speak their mother tongue, as it is commonly believed that Plain Indigenous peoples have been assimilated by Han Chinese culture and have lost their own languages and traditions. As a result, Lim returned to the Kaxabu communities as an undergraduate student to learn more about their endangered cultural heritage and began collaborating with the Kaxabu people. 

Beyond Maps: Indigenous 3D Mapmaking as a Path to Indigenous Resurgence

Written by Sra Manpo Ciwidian. To assert Indigenous sovereignty over our land, especially the traditional territories, the Indigenous peoples of Taiwan have employed various approaches to demonstrate our rights. Making a three-dimensional map model of Indigenous communities is the most prevalent among these approaches. Since the late 1990s, when the Kucapungane community of Rukai people produced the first Indigenous 3D map model in Taiwan, contemporary Indigenous communities in Taiwan have been developing this community-based mapping method for over three decades. 

Storytelling Behind the Overseas Taiwan Indigenous Collections: Material Cultures as a Means to Connect with International Indigenous Communities

Written by Nikal Kabalan’an (Margaret Yun-Pu Tu). Taiwan’s Indigenous artefacts were taken, bought, brought, or even got stolen and ended up miles away from the Indigenous communities where they were made by the hands of Indigenous ancestors. Some of these Taiwan Indigenous collections were already kept in a foreign museum overseas for almost a hundred years. Some of these museums are devoted to reflecting the devastating colonial history and decolonising the space by, for example, rewriting the narratives, displaying their collections in more inclusive ways, and collaborating with the cultural communities from which these cultural holdings originated. The Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture in Seattle, Washington States, United States, where I am currently leading the review and engagement plan for the Indigenous Taiwan holdings with my colleagues, is one example of decolonising the museums.

Indigenous Youth Actions in Taiwan: Connecting Our Voices to the Global Stage 

Written by Sra (Bo-Jun Chen). Taiwan’s Indigenous peoples are becoming increasingly concerned with various global issues that are also highly pertinent to our own situation in Taiwan, such as environmental, human rights, and cultural heritage issues. In recent years, for instance, Indigenous youth in Taiwan have realised the significance of language and identity revitalisation, which may assist us in combating oppression. Moreover, we have found that the insensitivity of our lands and ignorance of our history pose a far greater threat to us than the plundering of our resources and hazards to our lives. Some Indigenous youth are thus committed to overcoming obstacles influenced by colonialism and strive to bring our voices and agendas to the global stage. Through our participation on the international stage, we aspire to be heard and have more conversations about similar difficulties. 

Excavating Ancient Knowledge: Climate Action and the Practice of Sustainability

Written by Chung-chun Wang. Since museums are highly and closely related to society and the public with their transformation, the new definition demonstrates that accessibility, inclusiveness, diversity and sustainability are the key aspects that echo the contemporary trends. Therefore, museums usually aim to include these notions in their plans, research, and exhibitions. For example, the emphasis on “environmental education” is widely seen in museums, as it is directly linked with sustainability associated with the current energy and food crises. In this regard, how does archaeology, a discipline considered an old, ancient, and mysterious field with studying prehistories and peoples, respond to the vision of sustainability?

A Possible Blind Spot on Decolonisation in Taiwan’s Museums

Written by Pin-Hua Chou. When it comes to the Universal Exposition held in Paris in 1931, there are many criticisms of imperialism and colonialism appearing in all kinds of articles, both academic and non-academic. But, interestingly, speaking of the Taiwan exposition in commemoration of the first forty years of colonial rule in 1935, all the information in Mandarin that we can find at first glance seems to have a tendency to praise the Japanese government of the time by describing how valuable and grandiose achievements were made in this specific exposition under the rule of the Japanese empire and to belittle the ROC government at the same time. 

Japanese Colonial/Occupational Histories in the National Museums: A Comparison Between Taiwan and Singapore

Written by Pin-Yi Li. In the postcolonial Asian context, national museums reflect the countries’ colonial histories and their transformation, offering the country’s incumbent political elites the opportunity to reinvent or adjust the initial museum discourses framed by the colonisers. For example, respectively built by the Japanese and British colonial governments, both the National Taiwan Museum and the National Museum of Singapore are the oldest public museums in each country.

Taiwanese Theatre’s Struggle: The 228 Incident and White Terror Era

Written by Yin-Chen Kang. This year marks the 76th anniversary of the February 28 Incident, also known as the 228 Incident. Occurring 76 years ago, this event was sparked at the end of February, leading to the KMT military’s brutal campaign in March against those they considered dissidents, resulting in the slaughter of numerous civilians. This marked the beginning of an extended period of White Terror. While the incident profoundly impacted Taiwanese society, many people may not be aware of the significant consequences of the 228 Incident and the ensuing White Terror on the development of modern Taiwanese theatre.

History was Reconfigured at the Time of Discovery: The Life and Afterlife of Chiang Wei-Shui

Written by Fang-Long Shih. The life and afterlife of Chiang Wei-Shui (蔣渭水 1891–1931) have echoed what the film Rashomon has denoted: “History was not found at the time of its occurrence, but was reconfigured at the time of discovery” (dir. Akira Kurosawa 1950). In 1921, Chiang Wei-Shui founded Taiwan Cultural Association (TCA, 台灣文化協會), the first culture-based organisation in Taiwan’s history. The TCA was established “to promote Taiwan to a position of freedom, equality and civilisation”. The TCA also had a political aim to “adopt a stance of national self-determination, enacting the enlightenment of the Islanders, and seeking legal extension of civil rights”.

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?

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