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”.
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?
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.
The ‘Ghosts’ of Post-authoritarian Taiwan
In our second psychoanalysis and Taiwan special issue Hao Po-Wei reflects on how Taiwan’s authoritarian past haunts its citizens and how psychoanalytic practice offers a path toward exorcising these ‘ghosts.’
A new research agenda for late Qing and Japanese colonial Taiwan’s history: Perspectives from East Asian history and World History
Written by Wen-Kai Lin. With the development of Taiwan’s democratisation in the late 1980s, Taiwan historians have been able to transcend the Chinese nationalist historiography of the past Kuomintang government and carry out historical research with Taiwan’s multi-ethnic groups as the equal subjects of historical interpretation. However, many researchers only focus on Taiwan itself, which inevitably ignores Taiwan’s relationship with East Asian history and world history and narrows the broader temporal and spatial significance of Taiwan research. This article attempts to take the exchange of East Asian knowledge of Taiwan’s modern governance from the late Qing Dynasty to the Japanese colonial period as a new research agenda to reveal that the research on Taiwan history is often not only Taiwan history but also a complex manifestation of wider East Asian history and world history.
Shinzo Abe: A True Friend of Taiwan? “Post-”colonial Critique on Taiwan’s National Identity Forming
Written by Ti-han Chang. 11:30 am on the 08th of July in Japan, unexpected news of Shinzo Abe 安倍晉三 being shot during his public speech travelled quickly on the international news media. However, the very fact of this happening has profoundly shaken societies in the East Asian region. For Japan, it appears there is a need to reflect deeper on the homogeneous nature of its internal political structure; for other countries in the region, on their indissociable geopolitical dynamics with their close neighbour over the last few decades.
Fighting from the Grassroots: Indigenous Health Justice is All About Life
Written by Yunaw Sili and Besu Piyas. The story began in 2006. That year, the Council of Indigenous Peoples in Taiwan issued a guideline stating that if Indigenous students need preferential treatment for college admission, they must pass the national Indigenous language certification test. As a result, many parents were worried that their children’s access to higher education would become more difficult. Because of this issue, we started our grassroots organising work in Hanxi Village, Datong Township of Yilan County. That was the first time we engaged and coordinated with the community people on local concerns. On April 19th, 2006, we demonstrated in front of the Council of Indigenous Peoples, fighting for our youth’s college rights.
Why Do We Have Poor Health? How Colonialism Continues to Marginalise Indigenous Peoples
Written by Wasiq Silan. Despite the varying colonial histories with Indigenous peoples in other parts of the world, Indigenous people in Taiwan have one disturbing issue in common: poor health. Among other indicators (such as maternal mortality, birthweight, malnutrition, obesity and so on), Indigenous peoples in Taiwan die almost a decade sooner than the general population. Why this disparity? We are taught to believe the argument that blames Indigenous peoples for their own high-risk behavioural choice, lack of awareness, low educational attainment, and dysfunctional families; closer examination shows that we need to look beyond the individual level.
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.
Becoming an Anti-Communist Stronghold: The KMT’s ‘Strategic Transition’ and Emergence of the ROC in Taiwan with Imperial Japanese Assistance, 1945-1952
Written by Ko-Hang Liao. The joint statement between US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on April 16, 2021, once again caught everybody’s attention on serious concerns of the peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait upon the continuing escalation of challenges from China on possibly changing the status quo by force or coercion. This was the first time that Taiwan was mentioned in a US-Japan leaders statement since 1969. Although the situation seems to be frequently changing, it is essential to understand the current tension historically. Indeed, studying the early Cold War period can reveal much about what is happening and how Taiwan has come to the recent position.