Taiwan Identity. Re-positioning amidst multi-layered realities

University essay from Lunds universitet/Socialantropologi

Abstract: The question to be dealt with in this study is to what extent the emergence of a distinct Taiwan identity has influenced people's self-perception, with respect to the profound economic and political changes in Taiwan since the 1980s, such as the lifting of martial law, democratisation and Taiwanisation (bentuhua). Assuming an existing interconnectedness between identity, politics, ethnicity and nationalism, it will be examined how the people of Taiwan, i.e. the Hoklo, the Hakka, the Mainlanders and the Aborigines (yuanzhumin), construct their identities in a multicultural society amidst an intensifying nation-building process. By applying Barth's (1969) theory of ethnic groups and boundaries, Taylor's (1994) notion of multiculturalism as politics of recognition and reviewing Taiwan's nation-building process since the 1990s in the frame of Anderson's (2006) idea of the nation as imagined community, I look into how discourses on different levels have had a bearing on where and how ethnic boundaries are drawn or have become blurred. In conclusion, I suggest that with regard to the issue of identity, while there appears to be an ethnification process taking place on an individual level, simultaneously, there are cohesive tendencies perceptible on a national level.

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