Important conference news from UCLA Professor of Comparative Literature, Shu-mei Shih (email@example.com)
The UCLA-NTNU Taiwan Studies Initiative Conference
Indigenous Knowledge, Taiwan:
Comparative and Relational Perspectives
Friday–Saturday, May 11–12
Royce Hall 314
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.
Part of the UCLA-National Taiwan Normal University Taiwan Studies Initiative. Cosponsored by American Indian Studies Center, Center for Chinese Studies, Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Terasaki Center for Japanese Studies, and the UCLA Taiwan Studies Lectureship.