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The making of ethnicity in postwar Taiwan: a case study of Kavalan ethnic identity

Chen, I-Chun; (2000) The making of ethnicity in postwar Taiwan: a case study of Kavalan ethnic identity. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis attempts to conceptualise ethnic identity in a more comprehensive theoretical framework. It focuses on the Kavalan, a Taiwanese aboriginal group, in order to investigate why these people have strongly reasserted themselves as a distinctive ethnic group and pursued their minority rights since the 1980s, especially after a long period of sinicization and close interaction with other ethnic groups, when they were considered to have assimilated into mainstream Chinese society. This thesis thus examines problems of ethnicity and identity formation and explores the significance of the construction/reconstruction of Kavalan identity in relation to the historical development of Taiwanese culture and society. The discontinuity and revival of Kavalan identity provide a good example of the reconfiguration of an ethnic identity. The historical development of these people shows the situational and contextual character of ethnicity. The revival of the Kavalan identity reveals the political dimensions of ethnicity in relation to political mobilisation and self interest. As the Kavalan revival coincides with the process of redefinition of Taiwanese national identity, it is closely interlinked with the larger structures of nationalism and culture which highlights the problematic relationship between ethnicity and nationalism. In this thesis, I also examine other vital issues related to ethnicity, such as nationalism, authenticity, invented tradition, religion and, more importandy, the politics of representation. The representation of the Kavalan in written literature and the mass media has contributed to the formation of their identity, reinforcing the image of ethnic characteristics; however, the Kavalan have appropriated the media to represent themselves. I conclude by looking at another important aspect of ethnicity, that is, the determination of ethnic groups to mould their own identities.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: The making of ethnicity in postwar Taiwan: a case study of Kavalan ethnic identity
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
Keywords: Social sciences; Taiwanese aboriginal group
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10110186
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