This paper reviews the emergence and development of Taiwan’s ethnic relations studies by emphasising its connections to democratisation. It divides Taiwan’s ethnic relations studies into four periods according to the nature of ethnic relations or ethnic conflicts at different times: (1) before the early 1980s, (2) mid-1980s to 1994, (3) 1994 to 2000, and (4) after 2000. While focusing on the studies of relations among Han ethnic groups, especially the Taiwanese/Mainlanders dichotomy, this paper also shows the emergence of ‘four great ethnic groups’ (Holo, Hakka, Aborigines, Mainlanders) discourses during the 1990s, and to the new addition of a fifth ethnic group (the new migrants) after 2000. It concludes by urging reconceptualisations of Taiwan’s ethnic phenomenon in a democratised Taiwan after the old ethnic relations characterised by institutional asymmetric relations were largely resolved in the democratisation process.
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