Drawing primarily on ethnographic material from Taiwan, this article focuses on misfortune and, more especially, on the ques- tion of whether people are felt to deserve what happens to them-be it bad or good. I examine the cases of several people who have suffered misfortune in life, exploring ways in which they might actively try to make good things happen as a way of convincing others, and indeed themselves, that they are, after all, good. In considering these cases, I discuss three intersecting accounts of fate that are widely held by ordi- nary people in Taiwan and China: a cosmological one, a spirit-oriented one, and a social one.
A Taiwanese Case Study
Minority/Indigenous Politics in the Emerging Taiwanese Nationalism
The demand for rights to recognition among the indigenous activists in Taiwan was part of a larger movement for democratization before the lifting of martial law and was supported by international concurrence. The transfer of power from the Nationalist Party (KMT) regime to the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) marks a rising consciousness of Taiwanese nationalism. By examining public discourses/rituals and the debates about the organizational reforms, I show how the changing perceptions and status of the indigenous population within the state are used to legitimize the new national identity. By examining the political processes involved in the politics of recognition, on the other hand, I also explore how the indigenous activists exploit to their advantage opportunities that have arisen during the national restructuring.
A Critical Realist Approach
This article explores the formation of school anti-bullying policy in Taiwan with the development of democratization, and draws on critical realism to explain how generative mechanisms activate policy making under the operation of party politics within the Taiwanese school system. The article describes the planning and practice of Taiwanese antibullying policy, and argues how critical realism can help bridge the gap between empirical analysis and generative mechanisms in critical policy analysis. Light is shed on an empirical inquiry into anti-bullying policy, which analyzes different ideological debates over the policy and power struggles between different policy stakeholders. A crucial attempt is to identify the generative mechanisms behind the anti-bullying policy making and elaborate on how the “generative mechanisms” embedded in Taiwanese top-down governance make social control possible in the schooling system. The conclusion reflects on the possibility of democratic schooling through the critical realist approach and praxis of collective agency for social change and human emancipation between political governance, policy research, and school practice.
Domestic Social Changes and the Impact of "Welfare Internationalism" in South Korea and Taiwan (1945–2012)
Won-Sub Kim and Shih-Jiunn Shi
The development of social policy in East Asia has been gaining momentum in recent decades, challenging scholars to offer an explanation. This article addresses two questions: Are we witnessing the rise of welfare states in East Asia? And if so, what are the driving forces behind this development? We draw on theoretical perspectives of Franz-Xaver Kaufmann, who emphasizes the relationship between the state and civil society as the context of welfare statism, and who elaborated the role of international organizations and law in social policy ("welfare internationalism"). Choosing South Korea and Taiwan as examples, we explore the role of international policy diffusion, highlighting the interaction of international and domestic factors. We find that South Korea and Taiwan have indeed turned into welfare states, and that external "social" ideas, which have received little attention in previous research, have contributed to this development in different historical phases. Our analysis extends Kaufmann's perspective beyond Western welfare states.
Notes toward an Ethnography of Religious Belief and Doubt
Paul-François Tremlett and Fang-Long Shih
New Atheism is characterized by a binary logic that pits religion against science, belief against doubt, a pre-modern past against a modern present. It generates a temporal sensibility and attitude toward being modern that is a 'survival' of late-nineteenth-century anthropology, where religious belief and the past were bound together in opposition to science and the present. We analyze this binary logic and then, in response, present two ethnographic accounts—one from the Philippines, the other from Taiwan—to support our contention that religion is not just a matter of personal convictions. Rather, it is a public practice in which belief and doubt are constituted socially and dialogically.
Contrary to what people tend to think and the way current diplomacy still defines the situation, I argue that Taiwan may very well be the first “transnational nation.” Few recognized its international presence, until it became a major exporter to the world economy, a change of status and policy that was really the consequence of its expulsion from the United Nations (following diplomatic recognition of the PRC). Its subsequent attempts to jockey for admission into the United Nations can largely be seen as a strategy to build upon its newly established role as a world economic player. One significant feature of transnational capitalism is reflected in Taiwan’s success, which demonstrates that the official status of nation was not important or relevant to its development in economic and other terms. Thus, in this era of transnational flows, one might say, national identity, cultural consciousness, and territorial boundedness are clearly secondary. In some senses, this seems to be true, but this is overly simplistic. The end of organized capitalism, as advocated by Lash and Urry (1987), has led many to believe that the free flow of transnational capital has broken down national barriers in respect to all other kinds of flows, but in fact, transnational flows of people have been regulated by and subject to other kinds of forces, political as well as cultural in nature, that have disrupted emerging forms of cosmopolitanism and even threaten to expose deeper conservative if not reactionary biases in the constitution of traditional society. 1 In Taiwan, the growing emergence of transnational cosmopolitanism, runs parallel with the increasing rhetorical importance of multiculturalism. However, the latter is the product more precisely of a wave of cultural ‘indigenization.’ At a deeper level, both (cosmopolitan) ‘transnationalism’ and (indigenous) ‘multiculturalism’ are, in my opinion, largely incompatible and mask an imminent future crisis.
Beyond Morality in the Anthropology of Africa?
The suggestion that the anthropological study of morality is theoretically undeveloped carries with it the risk of caricaturing ideas of moral obligation in mid-twentieth-century social anthropology. The need for recovering aspects of these ideas is demonstrated by the tendency of moral philosophers to reduce the issue of world poverty to a question of ethical choices and dilemmas. Examining the diplomatic tie that had existed for almost 42 years between Malawi and Taiwan and an ill-fated project of Taiwanese aid in rural Malawi, this article maintains that honoring obligations indicates neither a communitarian ethos nor rule-bound behavior. As the mid-twentieth-century anthropology of Africa theorized ethnographically, the moral and existential import of obligation lies in its contingent materiality rather than in social control. Such insights, the article concludes, can enrich debates on world poverty with alternative intellectual resources.
A Case Study of Taipei
Fen-ling Chen and Shih-Jiunn Shi
Since the late 1990s, the dynamics of welfare reform in Taiwan have gradually shifted to tackling new social risks emerging from economic globalization and labor market changes. This article analyzes these structural changes and the relevant institutional features of the labor market. The rise of atypical work has generated wide concern regarding its low wage income and insufficient social protection, triggering debates about which policy measures can effectively tackle the problem of the working poor. Drawing on the quantitative data from a social quality survey conducted by the Social Policy Research Center in National Taiwan University (NTUSPRC) in 2009, our analysis explores the social exclusion differences between regular and atypical workers for their objective and subjective experiences. The objective experiences include current financial situations, negative events, living conditions and political activities of the workers, whereas the subjective experiences refer to their feelings in family position, welfare assessment, discrimination, and autonomy. Our analysis helps explain the effects of work status on the degrees of social exclusion, both in the private and public spheres. The social exclusion experiences of working conditions shed light on social quality in Asia.
The Heroic Tale of “Taiyuan's Five Hundred Martyrs” in the Chinese Civil War
Dominic Meng-Hsuan Yang
On 19 February 1951, a state-sponsored funeral took place in north Taipei in which a splendid cenotaph to commemorate the “five hundred martyrs of Taiyuan”— heroic individuals who died defending a distant city in northern China against the Chinese Communist encirclement—was revealed. In the four decades that followed, the Nationalist government on Taiwan built a commemorative cult and a pedagogic enterprise centering on these figures. Yet, the martyrs' epic was a complete fiction, one used by Chiang Kai-shek's regime to erase the history of atrocities and mass displacement in the Chinese civil war. Following Taiwan's democratization in the 1990s, the repressed traumas returned in popular narratives; this recovery tore the hidden wounds wide open. By examining the tale of the five hundred martyrs as both history and metaphor, this article illustrates the importance of political forces in both suppressing and shaping traumatic memories in Taiwan.
Christianity functions as a significant identity marker for the Bunun, an Austronesian-speaking indigenous people of Taiwan. However, identity construction and boundary maintenance are not given by them as immediate reasons for conversion. Instead, the continuity between Bunun traditional beliefs and Christianity is commonly viewed as the most important reason why the latter took strong hold among the Bunun. This article aims to explain why this is so, and to illustrate how the Bunun have transformed Christianity from a foreign religion into something that is familiar, indigenous, and of their own. Among the local Christians, theology is downplayed in favor of piety, which is cultivated and expressed through practical activities. Healing, in particular, is seen as a demonstration of the power of the Christian God and constitutes the Bunun experience of Christianity.