Tag: Anthropology

Chris Upton: Rights and Rule-Crafting Processes in Taiwan’s Special Indigenous Courts

J. Christopher Upton’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.  Chris Upton is a lawyer and Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Anthropology at Indiana University Bloomington. During his Fulbright research, Chris was hosted by Academia Sinica in Taipei, Taiwan and the National Museum of Prehistory in Taitung, Taiwan.

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Anru Lee: How Postindustrial Taiwan Contributes to the Study of Gender and Global Capitalism

Dr. Anru Lee’s project focuses on the renovation of the Twenty-five Ladies’   Tomb in the 2000s, and examines the politics of the feminist movement and the politics of memory as expressed through the different meanings bestowed on the deceased women. Anru Lee is Associate Professor of Anthropology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, the City University of New York. She is the author of In the Name of Harmony and Prosperity: Labor and Gender Politics in Taiwan’s Economic Restructuring (SUNY Press 2004) and co-editors of Women in the New Taiwan (ME Sharpe 2004).

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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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