fulbright Taiwan online journal

fulbright Taiwan online journal

Author: Chris Upton 歐啟祥

Chris Upton 歐啟祥
Chris Upton is a lawyer and PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology at Indiana University Bloomington. Chris’s research focuses on Taiwan’s newly created special indigenous courts. Chris conducted an in-depth ethnographic project concentrating on one of these courts, studying how the court crafted rules about indigenous customary practices and how indigenous litigants used the legal system to advance their own understandings of indigenous culture. During his Fulbright research, Chris was hosted by Academia Sinica in Taipei, Taiwan, and the National Museum of Prehistory in Taitung, Taiwan. 

Reflections, Refractions, and Reorientations: Conducting Ethnographic Research in Indigenous Taiwan

     I spent my Fulbright year engaged in ethnographic research on Taiwan’s indigenous communities and their practices, and the ways in which these practices are being addressed under Taiwan law. This year has been a year of returns for me. My family lived in southeastern Taiwan when I was young boy. At that time, the area in which we resided had a high concentration of indigenous peoples, and members of the Amis, Puyuma, and Paiwan tribes were some of our closest friends and neighbors. As a result, this year has been an opportunity for me to return to an island nation that has since transitioned from martial law to democracy; to reconnect with indigenous communities that were so much a part of my life as a youth; to revisit old memories and places; and to create new memories and visit new places, and experience all this newness through the eyes of my two young daughters who accompanied me on my Fulbright research project.      Over the past year, I worked closely with the Bunun, Puyuma, and Truku tribes, and with judges and lawyers involved in the Hualien District Court. I spent my time observing legal proceedings involving indigenous

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Research & Reflections

fulbright taiwan online journal