Indigenous Writers of Taiwan: An Anthology of Stories, Essays, & Poems

Indigenous Writers of Taiwan: An Anthology of Stories, Essays, & Poems

Indigenous Writers of Taiwan: An Anthology of Stories, Essays, & Poems

Indigenous Writers of Taiwan: An Anthology of Stories, Essays, & Poems

Synopsis

Few people beyond the shores of Taiwan are aware that it is home to a population of indigenous peoples who for more than fifteen thousand years have lived on the island. Over the years, through the Chinese imperial period, the Japanese occupation, and for most of the twentieth century, the indigenous peoples of Taiwan were marginalized and deprived of rights. However, with the lifting of martial law in 1987, new government policies regarding ethnic groups, and growing interest in Taiwan's aboriginal peoples, indigenous writing began to blossom. With its intense and lyrical explorations of a fading culture, indigenous writing has become an important topic of discussion in Taiwanese literary circles.

This collection of indigenous literature is the first such anthology in English. In selecting the stories, essays, and poems for the anthology, the editors provide a representative sampling from each of Taiwan's nine indigenous tribes. The writers explore such themes as the decline of traditional ways of life in Taiwan's aboriginal communities, residual belief in ancestral spirits, assimilation into a society dominated by Han Chinese, and the psychological and economic encroachment of the outside world. Their writings offer previously unheard perspectives on the plight of aboriginal cultures and the experiences of Taiwanese minorities.

John Balcom has included an introduction to provide the reader with background information on Taiwan's indigenous peoples. The introduction addresses the origins of Taiwan's Austronesian peoples and general information on their culture, languages, and history. A discussion of the growth and development of indigenous literature, its sociolinguistic and cultural significance, and the difficulties faced by such writers is also included.

Excerpt

Few people beyond the shores of Taiwan are aware that the island is home to a population of indigenous peoples; but with a total population of less than four hundred thousand, they constitute less than 2 percent of the population. They are the earliest inhabitants of Taiwan and, like many indigenous populations in different parts of the world, they have been displaced and marginalized. In the last twenty years, for a number of reasons that will be discussed, indigenous literature written in Chinese has witnessed a boom of sorts. The present anthology is the first to introduce these works to an English-speaking audience. As such, the series editorial board felt that an introduction to provide the cultural and historical background of Taiwan’s indigenous peoples to readers with little or no knowledge of the subject was essential.

General Ethnographic Background of the Nine Tribes

The indigenous peoples of Taiwan are Austronesian peoples, and evidence suggests that they have lived in Taiwan for at least fifteen thousand years. There are three theories as to their origins. The first, the theory of southern origin, suggests that they originated in Southeast Asia and spread north and east. The second, the theory of northern origin, suggests that they originated in China. The third and more recent theory suggests that Taiwan itself is the Austronesian homeland. This theory rests largely on linguistic evidence: Taiwan has the greatest concentration of Austronesian languages—about a dozen extant and a dozen extinct.

Taiwan’s indigenous peoples are generally divided into two main groups: the plains peoples and the mountain peoples. The plains peoples, who are . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.