Is Taiwan Chinese?

Is Taiwan Chinese?: The Impact of Culture, Power, and Migration on Changing Identities

Melissa J. Brown
Copyright Date: 2004
Edition: 1
Pages: 349
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/j.ctt1pp4rj
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  • Book Info
    Is Taiwan Chinese?
    Book Description:

    The "one China" policy officially supported by the People's Republic of China, the United States, and other countries asserts that there is only one China and Taiwan is a part of it. The debate over whether the people of Taiwan are Chinese or independently Taiwanese is, Melissa J. Brown argues, a matter of identity: Han ethnic identity, Chinese national identity, and the relationship of both of these to the new Taiwanese identity forged in the 1990s. In a unique comparison of ethnographic and historical case studies drawn from both Taiwan and China, Brown's book shows how identity is shaped by social experience—not culture and ancestry, as is commonly claimed in political rhetoric.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-92794-0
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xviii)
    M. J. B.
  5. CHAPTER 1 What’s in a Name? Culture, Identity, and the “Taiwan Problem”
    (pp. 1-34)

    At the turn of the twenty-first century, Taiwan is a global hot spot. The events and rhetoric surrounding Taiwan’s second presidential election in March 2000 raised fears that tensions in the region might result in actual warfare among nuclear powers. Why is Taiwan—with a stable, democratic government and a strong economy—considered a threat to world peace? The People’s Republic of China (PRC) disputes Taiwan’s de facto sovereignty. The “one China” policy, officially supported by the PRC, the U.S., and many other countries, and formerly supported by Taiwan, asserts that there is only one China and that Taiwan is...

  6. CHAPTER 2 Where Did the Aborigines Go? Reinstating Plains Aborigines in Taiwan’s History
    (pp. 35-65)

    Variations of Taiwan’s previous narrative of unfolding as a Han domain promoted Taiwanese identity as a Han identity. Thus these narratives open in the seventeenth century, when Han immigration to Taiwan began in earnest, and minimize the presence and significance of the many Aborigine groups who lived on Taiwan when the Han arrived. They tell of Han from Fujian leaving behind famine and poverty to bravely seek out a new life in Taiwan. Folk tales erroneously say that these Han colonists pushed the Aborigines who lived on the western plains into the mountains, and that the mountain Aborigines are the...

  7. CHAPTER 3 “We Savages Didn’t Bind Feet”: Culture, Colonial Intervention, and Long-Route Identity Change
    (pp. 66-133)

    In villages along the edge of the foothills to the central mountains—Toushe, Jibeishua, and Longtian (see figure 2, at the beginning of the book)—descendants of plains Aborigines maintained an Aborigine identity in spite of some intermarriage with Hoklo men and significant cultural and linguistic changes.¹ They maintained this identity through the Qing period and did not finally cross the border to Han until after the Japanese colonial government mandated a ban on footbinding throughout Taiwan. Because footbinding was the last marker used to distinguish between Hoklo and Aborigines, its removal from the Han cultural repertoire allowed Toushe, Jibeishua,...

  8. CHAPTER 4 “Having a Wife Is Better than Having a God”: Ancestry, Governmental Power, and Short-Route Identity Change
    (pp. 134-165)

    Between the early seventeenth century, when the Dutch established their colonial mission, and the early eighteenth century, when the Qing regime began to loosen its restrictions on the migration of women and families to Taiwan, Taiwan’s southwestern plain transformed.¹ Formerly a territory of networked Aborigine villages, home to a flourishing trading site with Han, Dutch, Japanese, Portuguese, and others at present-day Tainan City, the Jianan plain became a hierarchical system of primarily Han villages and market towns with interspersed Aborigine villages.² Huge numbers of Han men migrated to Taiwan throughout this time. I argue that most Han immigrants who were...

  9. CHAPTER 5 “They Came with Their Hands Tied behind Their Backs”: Forced Migrations, Identity Changes, and State Classification in Hubei
    (pp. 166-210)

    Identity and culture changed in China, in ways similar to Taiwan.¹ In the mountainous Enshi prefecture of present-day southwestern Hubei Province, which separates the plains of the Middle Yangzi River region from the Sichuan basin (see figure 20), there have been periodic waves of forced immigration—mostly Han soldiers, farmers and laborers, and exiled convicts(tu)—over the last two millennia.² These migrations resulted in waves of intermarriage between each new set of immigrants and the “locals”(tujia)already in place. The most recent large-scale immigration of Han outsiders occurred in the late 1930s, when the ruling Nationalist Party moved...

  10. CHAPTER 6 Theory and the Politics of Reunification: Understanding Past Choices and Future Options
    (pp. 211-250)

    The “Taiwan problem”—the question of whether Taiwan should be a part of the Chinese nation or its own independent nation—is a political issue. Moreover, it is fundamentally an issue of identity. These statements are not contradictory, for, as we have seen, identity is political. A specific identity is formed by individuals who share common social experiences because they are classified as members of a single group. Social experience includes political and economic experience. That is, people’s social experience derives from their position with regard to political and economic power. Social experience is also influenced by demographic conditions such...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 251-278)
  12. References
    (pp. 279-302)
  13. Character List
    (pp. 303-308)
  14. Index
    (pp. 309-333)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 334-334)