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Indigenous Knowledge, Taiwan: Comparative and Relational Perspectives

UCLA-NTNU Taiwan Studies Initiative Conference

Friday, May 11, 2018 to Saturday, May 12, 2018

314 Royce Hall

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This conference aims to engender transnational conversations about indigenous knowledge, with Taiwan as its comparative pivot and relational node. Setting discussions on indigenous knowledge and settler colonialism in Taiwan in dialogue with those in the United States, Okinawa, and the Philippines, this conference explores some initial and necessarily broad questions: What is indigenous knowledge and how is it defined in different places? How is indigenous knowledge relevant to such taxonomies as philosophy, epistemology, ontology, or cosmology? How has it been suppressed and/or erased, and how has it transformed and grown over time? What is being preserved, lost, and strengthened, and what might be the politics and poetics of preservation, loss, transformation, and growth? How have settler colonizers perceived, represented, and usurped indigenous knowledge? What imaginary of the future does indigenous knowledge present? How is indigenous knowledge a resource for all?

In Taiwan, the indigenous Austronesian peoples have been subjected to settler colonialism by waves of Han people from China for over three centuries, during which other colonial regimes came and went, including the Dutch Formosa in southern Taiwan (1642-1662), the Spanish Formosa in northern Taiwan (1646-1662), and Japanese colonial rule (1895-1945). For Austronesians, as is the case for all indigenous peoples living under settler colonialism, colonialism is a “structure” (Wolfe) almost impossible to overcome. Seen in this light, postcolonial theory as an academic discourse in settler colonies, such as Taiwan and the United States, is a disavowal of indigeneity and settler colonialism, and can be understood as another settler’s “move to innocence” (Tuck and Yang) or “strategy of transfer” (Veracini). For indigenous scholars and activists everywhere, what has been indispensable to their resistance against settler colonialism is the centering of indigenous knowledge as an act of decolonization and a way to envision a better world (Goeman; LaDuke; Moreton-Robinson), resulting in a wide-spread indigenous knowledge movement of which Taiwan’s indigenous discourse, though little known, is a constitutive part. For this and other reasons, this conference hopes to bring comparative and relational insights to indigenous knowledge formation in different parts of the world to see how situating Taiwan’s indigenous studies in a global context recalibrates indigenous studies in general and Taiwan studies in particular.


Friday, May 11

9:30 am Welcome Remarks

Cindy Fan (Vice Provost for International Studies and Global Engagement and Professor of Geography, UCLA)

David Schaberg (Dean of Humanities and Professor of Asian Languages and Cultures, UCLA)

Min Zhou (Director of Asia Pacific Center, Walter and Shirley Wang Chair Professor of US-China Relations, and Professor of Sociology and Asian American Studies, UCLA)

Shu-mei Shih (Director of Taiwan Studies Program at the Asia Pacific Center, Professor of Asian Languages and Cultures, Comparative Literature, and Asian American Studies, UCLA, and Honorary Chair Professor, Department of Taiwan Culture, Languages and Literature, National Taiwan Normal University)

10:00-12:20 Panel 1: Indigenous versus Settler Knowledges

Tunkan Tansikian, National Dong Hwa University
Indigenous Knowledge in Taiwan

Translation provided by: Lin-chin Tsai (graduate student, UCLA)

Mishuana Goeman, Gender Studies & American Indian Studies, UCLA
Beyond the Grammar of Settler Apologies

Tibusungu ’e Vayayana/Ming-huey Wang, Geography, NTNU
kuba-hosa-hupa: Taiwan Indigenous Cou’s Cosmology and Pedagogy

Skaya Siku, Institute of Ethnology, Academia Sinica
The Making of Indigenous Knowledge in Contemporary Taiwan: A Case Study of Three Indigenous Documentary Filmmakers

Moderator: Katsuya Hirano, UCLA

12:20-1:30 Lunch

1:30-3:50 Panel 2: With and Against Narratives of Settler Colonialism

Annmaria Shimabuku, East Asian Studies, NYU
Indigeneity in Intellectual History: Ifa Fuyū and “Okinawan Uniqueness”

Fang-mei Lin, Taiwan Culture, Languages and Literature, NTNU
Two Historical Discourse Paradigms: Han People’s Resistance against Japan and Indigenous People’s Collaboration with Japan

Katsuya Hirano and Toulouse Roy, History, UCLA
Uncovering Taiwan’s Settler-Colonial Unconsciousness

Nikky Lin, Taiwan Culture, Languages and Literature, NTNU
Constructing Indigenous Literature: Re-examining the Writings of the Literary History of Taiwan’s Indigenous Peoples

Moderator: Min Zhou,  UCLA

3:50-4:20 Coffee Break

4:20-5:30 Writer’s Forum

Ibau Dadelavan, author of Eagles, Goodbye: A Paiwan Woman’s Journey to Western Tibet (Miperepereper i kalevelevan aza aris; Laoying zaijian: yiwei paiwan nuzi de zangxi zhi lu)

Translation provided by Faye Qiyu Lu (graduate student, UCLA)

Moderated by Shu-mei Shih, UCLA

Saturday, May 12

10:00-12:20 Panel 3: Land, Ecology, and Race 

Daya Da-wei Kuan, Ethnology, National Cheng Chi University
Indigenous Knowledge of Landscape Management: An Ethno-physiographical Study in Tayal Communities, Taiwan

Shannon Speed, American Indian Studies, UCLA
Traces of Mexican History: Land, Labor, and Race in the Neoliberal Settler State

Stephen Acabado, Anthropology, UCLA
Indigenous Agrofestry and Agroecological Systems: Risk Minimization between the Ifugao (Philippines) and Tayal (Taiwan)

Su-Bing Chang, Graduate Institute of Taiwan History, NTNU
The River and the Indigenes: Discussion on the Rukai in the Jhuokou River Watershed

Moderator: Shu-mei Shih, UCLA 

12:20-1:30 Lunch

1:30-3:30 Panel 4: Ethics of Research 

Jolan Hsieh, Ethnic Relations and Cultures, National Dong Hwa University
From Collective Consent to Consultation Platform: Indigenous Research Ethics in Taiwan

K. Wayne Yang, Ethnic Studies, UCSD
Land Rematriation in Settler Societies: Questions, Strategies, and Possibilities

Kyle Whyte, Philosophy, Michigan State University
The Significance of Inter-Indigenous Knowledge Exchange: Experiences, Ethics and Aspirations

Moderator: Breny Mendoza, California State University, Northridge 

3:30-4:00 Coffee Break

4:00-5:00 Conclusions and Reflections (All participants)

Moderated by Shu-mei Shih


The conference is part of the UCLA-National Taiwan Normal University Taiwan Initiative, and is supported by the UCLA Asia Pacific Center Taiwan Studies Lectureship with funding from NTNU, and from the Department of International and Cross-Strait Education, Ministry of Education, Taiwan, represented by the Education Division, Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in Los Angeles.

Cost : Free

Sponsor(s): Asia Pacific Center, Terasaki Center for Japanese Studies, Center for Chinese Studies, Center for Southeast Asian Studies, American Indian Studies Interdepartmental Program