The Uneasy Marriage between Women's Studies and Feminism in Taiwan
If we broadly define women's studies to encompass studies on, for, or by women, then the history of women's studies in Taiwan can be divided into four periods corresponding to the development of the local feminist movement: (1) the pre-movement period ( before 1972), when there was little research on women; (2) the first wave ( 1972-1982), when research on women increased as Western feminism was imported; (3) the second wave ( 1982-1993), marked by the integration of women's studies into academic institutions as well as an emerging split between feminist and nonfeminist women's studies scholars; and (4) the third wave ( 1993-), when women's studies became more connected to the feminist movement. This essay documents and analyzes this historical process of change from the perspective of a feminist activist and researcher who has been involved in the movement for more than a decade.
Before 1972 there was very little research on women in Taiwan. Among the 1,669 entries in the Bibliography of Literature on Women in Taiwan (published in 1990), only 147 were published between 1900 and 1971. More than half of these works are related to marriage and family life and women's legal status. The rest consist of studies on family planning and women's work, psychology, and education. Among all of the publications, at least 11 deal with adopted daughters (yang-nü) and child daughters-in-law (t'ungyang-hsi), reflecting the special situation of women at the time.