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Tag: indigenous culture

On Shamanism, Positivism, and Shifting One’s Frame of Reference

     An important skill that I have adopted for living overseas in a different culture is shifting my frame of reference to accommodate new experiences or ideas.  Living in Taiwan for the last six months has certainly challenged me to do so in refreshingly unexpected ways.       Since new understandings begin with language and so much of language is based upon context, even a play-on-words can illustrate the value of shifting one’s frame of reference to unlock new meaning in a different culture.  As my Social Cultural Anthropology teacher, Futuru Tsai, said jokingly in class, “If you asked an English speaker what is one plus one, they would reply with ‘Two.’ If you asked a Mandarin speaker what one plus one is, they would reply ‘Wang.’”  The clever observation makes sense when you consider that Chinese writing is traditionally written vertically. The character for “one” is a horizontal line, 一, followed by a plus sign +, and then another horizontal line, 一, forms the Chinese character 王, wang, meaning king or monarch.  Shift your frame of reference and you are already smiling.      The approach of shifting one’s frame of reference comes in handy especially when encountering subjects that

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Of Fishing Boats and Comfort Boats: Playing with Gender Ideology in A’tolan a Niyaro

      “If they won’t go on the boats, then we’ll just go fishing, go far oceaning, ourselves!” says the wife of a member of my age set (kapot) at an informal gathering that she has organized to cheer up one of her “classmates,” also married to our kapot. Composed of men born within five years of each other, kapot are the primary social organization in ‘Amis (Pangcah) communities on Taiwan’s East Coast. Kapot have mutual responsibilities as well as a particular place in the workings of the community, which is determined by their age relative to other age sets.     My kapot is named LaKancin. If you were to visit our community, ‘Atolan, you would likely notice t-shirts printed with our kapot name and hear our greeting when we meet on the street, “Kapot! talacowa kiso?– Kapot! Where are you headed?” Men in a kapot are, in theory, equals; women married into a kapot often view each other as sisters.   “That’s right….” says another, “I keep telling my man to go far oceaning, but he won’t listen! We’ll have to make our own boat.” Then she turns to me and says, “A-Te, you should be our fishing master.”   “Huh?” I ask. I can sense that the kapot’s women

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Cultural Empowerment for Atayal Students

     Dr. Christine Yeh developed a cultural empowerment program in a 99% indigenous Atayal community in Yilan. In this video, she describes how she worked with the community and the teachers of the school to create a curriculum. In her educational program, which she describes as a “sustainable intervention”, she emphasizes ethnic identity and educational opportunities for students. Dr. Yeh worked closely with Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA), Mikael Owunna, and a local English teacher, Jennifer Huang. Results from the program and pieces of student work will be displayed in a 2014 exhibition in the National Taiwan Museum. Dr. Yeh is a Professor at the University of San Francisco. 葉晶博士深入宜蘭縣南澳鄉協助泰雅族部落開發文化賦權課程。她的研究主要圍繞著以社區和學校為基礎的課程建構與評鑑,尤其著重在族群認同及教育機會等。她與宜蘭英語協同教師Mikael Owunna及本地英語教師黃嘉雯共同開發了一系列的文化賦權課程,並預計於2014年於國立臺灣博物館展出相關成果。

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