Indigenous Knowledge, Taiwan: Comparative and Relational Perspectives

Friday, May 11, 2018 - 12:00am to Saturday, May 12, 2018 - 12:00am

This event is sponsored by the UCLA Asia Pacific Center and is part of the UCLA-NTNU Taiwan Studies Initiative. 

This conference aims to engender transnational conversations about indigenous knowledge, with Taiwan as its comparative pivot and relational node. In Taiwan, the indigenous Austronesian peoples have been subjected to settler colonialism by waves of Han people from China for over three centuries, during which other colonial regimes came and went, including the Dutch Formosa in southern Taiwan (1642-1662), the Spanish Formosa in northern Taiwan (1646-1662), and Japanese colonial rule (1895-1945). For Austronesians, as is the case for all indigenous peoples living under settler colonialism, colonialism is a “structure” (Wolfe) almost impossible to overcome. Seen in this light, postcolonial theory as an academic discourse in settler colonies, such as Taiwan and the United States, is a disavowal of indigeneity and settler colonialism, and can be understood as another settler’s “move to innocence” (Tuck and Yang) or “strategy of transfer” (Veracini). For indigenous scholars and activists everywhere, what has been indispensable to their resistance against settler colonialism is the centering of indigenous knowledge as an act of decolonization and a way to envision a better world (Goeman; LaDuke; Moreton-Robinson), resulting in a wide-spread indigenous knowledge movement of which Taiwan’s indigenous discourse, though little known, is a constitutive part.

As the first of its kind in the United States focusing on indigenous knowledge in Taiwan, the conference hopes to explore some initial and necessarily broad questions from comparative and relational perspectives: What is indigenous knowledge and how is it defined, in Taiwan and elsewhere? How is indigenous knowledge relevant to such taxonomies as philosophy, epistemology, ontology, or cosmology? How has it been suppressed and/or erased, and how has it transformed and grown over time? What is being preserved, lost, and strengthened, and what might be the politics and poetics of preservation, loss, and strength? How have settler colonizers perceived, represented, and usurped indigenous knowledge? What imaginary of the future does indigenous knowledge present? How is indigenous knowledge a resource for all?

For more information, please follow the link to their website: 




314 Royce Hall, UCLA