Identity Change In Taiwan

Decent Essays
Based on his research towards Taiwan aborigines, Shepherd did an excellent historical-anthropological analysis to demonstrate that trade networks were the primary reason to draw Dutch and Chinese settlers to the Taiwan frontier in the later time. However, Shepherd failed to analyze the identity change issues of Taiwan aborigines because he seemed to believe that governmental intervention for identity change was absent in the early 17th century. Based on the analysis of the Ming’s borderland policy, it is crucial to understand that ethnical identity is not irrevocable; instead, it can be varied within the local level, and the state could only play a limited role in the formation of the ethnical identity in many cases. The shortcoming of Shepherd’s …show more content…
Initially, the Ming government often employed coercive means to force indigenes to be sinicized when the state power was robust. This policy often led to over-exploitation, extreme aggression, even genocide over borderland indigenes. Consequently, coercive approach that highlighted the racial difference, Ming’s colonist status, and their discriminatory policies, continuously deteriorated the relationship. For instance, natives in Guangxi adamantly refused to be assimilated into the Chinese culture. The case of Guangxi was not unique but prevalent amongst borderlands. In fact, the different ethnical identity elicited hatred and mistrust between the Ming government and borderland indigenes, could be the primary reason that the Ming government failed to administrate various borderlands with total control. Thus, it was reasonable to assume that identity change was unlikely to occur when the central government relied on coercive force to assimilate borderland …show more content…
At the most time, Taiwan was ignored by the Ming rulers who had no interests about oversea expansion, maritime trade, and immigration, which was distinct from the western (Dutch) colonists who were attracted by Taiwan because of its prospect of merchant trading business. Thus, Shepherd explicitly indicated that the Chinese influence on Taiwan aborigines was limited in the 17th century. Shepherd’s major concern was about the economy, and seemed to believe that identity change could emerge only with governmental intervention. However, state could only play a limited role for identity change and formation. For instance, it was important to mention that Zheng’s family did not offer the ultimate privilege to Chinese settlers. Thus, Wang argued that the significance of Zheng’s reign on Taiwan sinicization process was limited. However, Brown argued that many aborigines still chose to intermarry with Han-Chinese as a strategy for their self-interest and even survival needs when Chinese increased both their number and power in Taiwan. A passive and inactive government did not mean that identity change was impossible to occur at the local level. In his studies, Shepherd overemphasized the importance of the economy but failed to recognize the importance of identity change in Taiwan history, especially when the government remained

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