SENK seminar with Dr Koen Wellens
War Ceremonies and Boar Hunting in a Tsou Community in Taiwan: Living Indigeneity in Global East Asia
Abstract: How can small indigenous communities be resilient as culturally distinct entities in a globalised modern nation-state? Today Taiwan constitutes an economically advanced, democratic state with rather well developed institutional protection of the rights of its indigenous people. After several centuries with different regimes of assimilationist policies, today sixteen tribes are recognised by the state as indigenous people. Some 530,000 people or 2.3% of Taiwan’s population claim Austronesian ancestry and have now been granted opportunities to express, revive or even reinvent what they consider to be their indigenous culture. This research project studies how members of one such community belonging to the Tsou tribe are living, expressing and negotiating divergence from the majority Han Chinese culture. Conceptualising indigeneity as a fluid and dynamic form of interaction between Tsou people and the state, the majority Taiwanese as well as between each other, the project is mainly focusing on three arenas of indigeneity: the annual public performance of the Mayasvi or War Ceremony, the practice of hunting and conflicts related to hunting rights, and local initiatives at language revival through singing.
Dr. Koen Wellens is Associate Professor in China Studies at the Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages (IKOS), UiO. He has a background in Anthropology and China Studies. His main research interests are religious practice and ethnic minorities in China, with a special focus on ritual revival in Southwest China and the relationship between Buddhism and the Chinese party-state. Recently he has extended his geographical radius to include Taiwan.
The seminar will take place in the seminar room on the 3rd floor, Frederiks gate 2 (Entrance via back door on Kristian IVs gate - ring the doorbell for the third floor) . After the seminar there will be room for informal conversations and drinks.