This essay reviews the influential work of a group of Leftist ‘sex liberation’ scholars who pioneered queer sexuality studies in Taiwan in the 1990s. In doing so, it focuses on their post-2000 political rift with the mainstream Taiwanese lgbt (tongzhi) rights movement. What ostensibly began as a split over views of same-sex marriage has developed into a contentious politics of Chinese versus Taiwanese national identity and what I call ‘tongzhi sovereignty’. In bringing together both national identity and sexual politics in Taiwan as increasingly intertwined sites of contestation, I argue that the two must be theorised in tandem. As a fertile site for unpacking this contentious divergence, I examine and problematise the way that cultural theorist Jasbir Puar’s popular concept of homonationalism has circulated in scholarship of cultural/sexuality studies about Taiwan as a slanted and largely unchecked analytic to criticise lgbt sociolegal progress and, for some scholars, obscures a pro-unification agenda.
This paper takes a historical anthropological approach to charting the intricate relationships between the industry of peiyin (dubbing, voice-over), the state institutions, and the public in shaping Taiwan’s sociolinguistic soundscape since 1945. Grounded in multi-year ethnographic research with the peiyin industry and archival sources, this paper discerns three stages—industrialisation, popularisation, and diversification—through which the industry not only facilitated the state in establishing the Mandarin monopoly, but also contributed to the disestablishment of that very monopoly by introducing Sinitic polypoly to the public over time. In so doing, this article contributes to the anthropological and sociolinguistic literature on Mandarin in Taiwan with a dynamic account of peiyin both as a sociolinguistic practice and a social force.
While racism has spread rapidly as the covid-19 pandemic disrupted global health systems, this study focuses on the case of Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the first African Director-General of the who, and his allegations of racism against Taiwan, which has been excluded from the who for decades. This study theorises ‘health apartheid’ as a conceptual framework to critically analyse three forces—global racial politics, imperial logics of global health, and state-centrism of international institutions—that relate to Taiwan’s exclusion in various ways. We argue that Tedros’s allegation was instrumentalised to overshadow the systemic, structural, and institutional racism reproduced by the who during the competition between Chinese and American hegemonies. This study shows that the pandemic exacerbates health apartheid against unrecognised nations, like Taiwan, when global solidarity is desperately needed. We call for a systematic transformation of the who to resist racist state-centrism and pursue a people-centred approach to global health governance.
This topical section brings together five essays that cover different aspects in the intersection of language and society in contemporary Taiwan. Briefly outlining the contents of each essay, this introduction focuses on the question how the essays complement each other in terms of level of analysis, empirical basis, and interdisciplinary approach. It shows how research on language planning on the national level and its underlying ideology ties in with analyses of the language choice behaviour of individual speakers at the receiving end of language planning. Claims derived from individual case studies in turn require quantitative data to allow for generalisability. Finally, interdisciplinary research in the intersection of language and media studies helps us to understand how language standards and dominant language ideologies are disseminated, reproduced, and challenged.
This report details the origination, organisation, and reflections of the 26th North American Taiwan Studies Association (natsa) 2020/2021 (2020 + 1) conference. The theme—‘Keywording Taiwan’—aims to identify core issues, historical turning points, critical populations, and fundamental theoretical arguments on Taiwan among transregional and interdisciplinary scholarship. We challenged scholars to synthesise decades of literature and, from there, offer cutting-edge and timely research to answer fundamental questions as well as effectively respond to the various injustices during this uncertain time. In this report, we discuss how a ‘keyword’ is not a fixed concept but a restless confrontation from within, as practices of deconstruction and recontextualisation that frame the recurring issues for Taiwan studies. We also discuss how we intentionally structured our conference to be more accessible, inclusive, and interactive. Lastly, we walk through our major reflections, concluding with unfinished conversations that foreshadow the theme of the next natsa conference—‘Taiwan Studies in Application’.
This paper surveys developments in language politics and policy in Taiwan under Tsai Ing-wen’s presidency (2016–present). Drawing on historical-institutionalist premises, it shows that recent language policy developments were path-dependent and built upon initiatives proposed under Chen Shui-bian’s presidency (2000–2008). The paper argues that the comparative success of Tsai’s initiatives owed not only to her party forming a legislative majority, but also to a broad sociopolitical consensus on transitional and historical justice, and to an incrementalist strategy that consisted in legislating on minority languages before laying out a comprehensive multilingual legal framework. Although recent language developments do fall within the purview of identity politics, these factors have enabled the Tsai administration to justify and legitimise measures towards language recognition and revitalisation as intrinsic to Taiwan’s democratic consolidation, rather than as tools for identity building.
This study examines the extent to which language shift occurred in the Minnan and Hakka areas of Hsinchu, Taiwan, by comparing Marinus van den Berg’s findings () with our own more recent observations. In 1978, van den Berg found that customers in the Minnan area used Taiwan Mandarin more than customers in the Hakka area during business transactions. Our observations in 2015 had the opposite results, with Taiwan Mandarin being spoken more in the Hakka area than in the Minnan area. The reason for this change is seen to be the expansion of people’s living environment, reducing the opportunities for Hakka people to speak their own language when encountering people of other ethnicities. Additionally, as a minority, the Hakka people were more sensitive towards language use, that is, were likely to use high-level languages or standard languages that were more valued by society.