fulbright Taiwan online journal

fulbright Taiwan online journal

Author: Donald Hatfield 施永德

Donald Hatfield 施永德
DJ Hatfield is associate professor of history and anthropology in the Liberal Arts Department of the Berklee College of Music in Boston. A sociocultural anthropologist, Hatfield’s ongoing academic projects include accidental cosmopolitans: far ocean fishing and ironies of indigenous placemaking in taiwan.

For What Can We Hope? Concrete Houses and Hopeful Indigeneity in ‘Amis Country

Where is This Stairway Going?        Nearby my residence in ‘Atolan, a Taiwanese Indigenous Communityon Taiwan’s East Coast, there is a simple, flat-roofed house. The house, constructed of steel bar reinforced concrete, resembles nearly any other solafo, or concrete slab, house you might see around this town, which perches on a cliff above the Pacific Ocean. Sand for mixing the concrete likely came from a stream mouth not too far north of here, and the house required no outside contractors: men who had worked construction abroad–some in Japan, others in Singapore or even the Arabian Peninsula–gathered to assist the house’s owners as they made their bold step into modernity. The family had previously lived in a bamboo and thatch house, as had their ancestors for generations. Most passersby do not give this flat-roofed house a second glance. But when you walk into the house, it is hard not to notice a staircase between the living room and kitchen.        As for the staircase? It waits for a future second floor.        In 1978, after three precarious years in Taiwan’s far ocean fishing fleet, the husband of the house’s owner finally returned home. Like most

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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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Research & Reflections

fulbright taiwan online journal