What Does It Mean to Be Taiwanese?

Did the couple live in a Han community? Is there any record of what the Hans thought of this? At the risk of sounding dumb, did any of the mixed families form their own communities?

Of Taiwanese who have aboriginal ancestry but are considered non-aboriginal, I wonder if many are aware of (and maybe proud of?) their aboriginal heritage?

Is there a good social history on this subject, i.e., the intermarriage of Hans and aboriginals–what life was like for them, etc.?

Here’s something I found interesting:

[quote][The] two main ethnic groups in Taiwanese Han, Hoklo (Minnan) and Hakka, are traditionally considered descendants of migrants of Han from . . . northern China. . . .[However,] biological studies also indicate that the Hoklo and Hakka originated mainly from the southern groups of China. . . . [Additionally,] [a]nalysis of H[uman] L[ymphocyte] A[ntigen] suggests 13% Taiwanese aboriginal genes are in the current Taiwanese Hoklo and Hakka gene pool. [/quote] hoklo.org/YuetCulture/Articles?item=1

To me, that sort of thing certainly adds weight to the idea of a different culture.

I agree with YC (and I will certainly check out the Wikipedia page) that a goodly part of identity is political. However, I think it can’t be all political. In other words, even if people are mistaken about their origins and identity, or even if they have only legends, they at least have to have some idea of their origins so that they can justify identifying themselves that way. Of course, political aspects of being negatively differentiated by some other culture can result in an increased attention to identity/origins on the part of the negatively-differentiated group.

I can think of examples of this from other cultures, but it might lead off-topic. :wink:

Long shot question: Do any Taiwanese, whether Hoklo, Hakka, or aboriginal, have any legends about their origins?

I really appreciate everybody’s info and input, and I hope people keep posting their thoughts.

Bu Lai En says it’s a big, big topic, and I agree. But maybe this thread can help people (like me :smiley: ) get some information to begin their own investigations.

Why do we need legends? The stuff is pretty well documented in Chinese history. There was a whole government system tracking this kind of stuff for a few hundred years.

I’m curious, how did an article about molecular and cellular biology lead to the conclusion of a different culture. The article conclude the vast majority of people came from the mainland based various cellular molecular markers.

In the same way that the vast majority of people in South America originally came from Spain. It’s the same all over the world. Kill the native men, fuck the native women, create a hybrid race. The Taiwanese are the result of Chinese men raping aborigine women.

And the Chinese raped the Taiwanese to make us “Chinese” again.

But of course the Japanese “made love” with the Taiwanese?

[quote=“xp+10K”][quote][The] two main ethnic groups in Taiwanese Han, Hoklo (Minnan) and Hakka, are traditionally considered descendants of migrants of Han from . . . northern China. . . .[However,] biological studies also indicate that the Hoklo and Hakka originated mainly from the southern groups of China. . . . [Additionally,] [a]nalysis of H[uman] L[ymphocyte] A[ntigen] suggests 13% Taiwanese aboriginal genes are in the current Taiwanese Hoklo and Hakka gene pool. [/quote] hoklo.org/YuetCulture/Articles?item=1

To me, that sort of thing certainly adds weight to the idea of a different culture.[/quote]

One needs to be careful that differences are not differences sufficient to state categorically there is a difference. People are always claiming we’re different because there is a political reason to claim differences. If you don’t separate out the cultural and historical, then it is hard to make the political point of separation. The Taiwan question is based on this last point only so folks will go through amazing lengths and jump through multiple hoops to arrive at the answer to the question. People can find enough “reasons” (i.e. differences) to justify why they think they aren’t part of ABC group. There are enough “reasons” (i.e. similarities) to justify why they think people are all part of one big happy family. It is where you want your answer to be.

My Hakka family is an example of the historical blurb you quoted above. I can trace my lineage back 800+ years where my original father of our clan was a northerner. Fled south due to the wars. Our clan has made pilgrimages for the past 3 generations back to the original Meixian village where our history is preserved. I am one who hasn’t made it back though :s.

Most Hakka I’ve met consider ourselves Chinese, and it doesn’t matter whether we are from Malaysia, Jamaica, Trinidad or elsewhere. The motherland still is China and hence we are part of the Chinese diaspora. Taiwanese people also, but due to political considerations, they must deny their Chinese roots in order to make their separatist/independence political case successfully. If they don’t, then one is arguing along the lines of the PRC and that’s a losing argument for those who advocate TI and its related political positions.

Most of the people in who post in this thread and who I’ve met in person advocating a strong independence/separatist position for Taiwan are foreigners. It’s easy for the foreigners to make such a position because they don’t have any cultural, historical and/or “shared experiences” to speak of so naturally, it is an easy position for them to arrive at. For the Taiwanese, Chinese and other folks in-between, the cultural, historical and “shared experiences” are there and difficult to remove unless you consciously deny them. In effect I would call it self-hating or self-loathing but that’s neither here nor there.

So, going back to your original political question, I’d say that Taiwan ought to state their claims and let the chips may fall. I will guarantee however, that the longer Taiwan delays on a clear and unequivocal statement of their political existence, they shall never be independent. The PRC shall prevail and Taiwan will be a SAR ala Hong Kong. This will happen in our lifetimes. Guaranteed.

[quote="ac_dropout The stuff is pretty well documented in Chinese history. There was a whole government system tracking this kind of stuff for a few hundred years. [/quote]

AC you need to catch up on your education. The aboriginals have been here for ten thousand years, not a few hundred years. Just because the scribes didn’t arrive here until 400 years ago doesn’t mean that the history is only 400 years old.

taiwannation.com.tw/english.htm

fortunecity.com/greenfield/r … /music.htm

Kao Yi Sheng is my wife’s grandfather. My wife was born in his house and we also lived there for the first year when we moved to Alishan.

Did the couple live in a Han community? Is there any record of what the Hans thought of this? At the risk of sounding dumb, did any of the mixed families form their own communities?

Of Taiwanese who have aboriginal ancestry but are considered non-aboriginal, I wonder if many are aware of (and maybe proud of?) their aboriginal heritage?

Is there a good social history on this subject, i.e., the intermarriage of Hans and aboriginals–what life was like for them, etc.?

Here’s something I found interesting:

Long shot question: Do any Taiwanese, whether Hoklo, Hakka, or aboriginal, have any legends about their origins? .[/quote]

By law, to be considered an aboriginal the child must use the name of their aboriginal parent, either the mother or the father.

Many people of aboriginal descent had their past hidden from them. And for those who knew, very few wanted it to be known until recently. Some of the people I know in their 30’s and 40’s suffered from racist taunts as children when it was known that they had aboriginal ancestry.

There is a lot of history online to look at.

I can legally become aborignial by taking my wife’s family name.

The Tsou have the legend Revenge of the Mountain Boar and this taiwandc.org/folk-sis.htm

And other folk stories taiwandc.org/folk.htm

Maybe we should merge with this thread forumosa.com/taiwan/viewtopi … 45&start=0

XP+10K, good answers and discussion of many of your questions are int he Brown book I mentioned. If you’re in Taipei and want to come to a Happy Hour or something, I’ll lend it to you. I bought it from Eslite, maybe a year ago (or less).

I’ll try and answer some of your questions briefly.

Myths/legends: ac is partly right in that Hoklo/Hakka immigration to Taiwan is pretty well historically documented. But this doesn;t stop the rise of origin stories. Yellow Cartman talks abotu having an 800 year genealogy for his family. This is important to Chinese families. So important that many were invented/faked. I read somehwere (that Brown book, or maybe Shepherd) that a large number of Taiwanese genealogies are invented.

Aborginal assimilation: The Brown book is great, and another good book, John Shepherd: Statecraft and Political Economy on the Taiwan Frontier, aslso goes into detail about how this happened. Basically ‘lowland’ aboriginal communities ‘became’ Han en masse. There was also intermarriage both ways, but the biggest assimilation was cultural. The ‘lowland’ aborigines lost their culture and language, adopted Han language and customs and became Han to the point where noone knwe the difference anymore. Brown has a detailed case study of a few villages in the foothills of Jiayi (if I remember rightly). They were aborigine in one of the first Japanese censuses, but by the 80s, none of them said they were aborigine anymore. In that case the Japanese abolishing footbinding erased the last thing that differentiated htem from the Han. Then in the late 80s their ‘spirit medium’ festival became famous, and was recognised as aboriginal. Some were proud of this. Some were not. Anyway - assimilation was massive. I expect that most Hoklo and Hakka have at least some aborgine blood.

More books here:
forumosa.com/taiwan/viewtopic.ph … 33&start=0

I think this topic is mostly mroe about culture, than politics, so I’m moving it to the Culture and History Forum.

Brian

Brian makes a good point on invented lineages. You often here Hakka and Cantonese saying they can trace their ancestry back to the north hundreds of years Many social historians believe those lineages are largely invented and that Hakka and Cantonese were minorities who became fully Chinese in a cultural sense in the late Ming. This is particularly true of the Hakka who have many vestiges of non-Han culture–especially in burial practices.

[quote=“Yellow Cartman”][
One needs to be careful that differences are not differences sufficient to state categorically there is a difference. People are always claiming we’re different because there is a political reason to claim differences. If you don’t separate out the cultural and historical, then it is hard to make the political point of separation.
[/quote]

YC: The point that many more moderate TI people have made to me is that even if the majority Han population in Taiwan has strong cultural and political ties to China, it does not follow that they must have political ties. To be an independent Taiwan is a political choice that is separate from historical and cultural identities.

A young guy at a Frank Hsieh rally back in the early 1990s told me that he was culturally Chinese but politically Taiwanese. That made sense to me then, and it still makes sense to me now.

The US shares many historical and cultural ties with Britain, but it is an independent political entity. Why can’t Taiwan be the same IF its citizens so choose?

You are correct about who posts on this thread. But if most of the people you have met who advocate TI are foreigners, all I can say is that you need to get out more. TI is a major force in Taiwanese politics and society, and it’s getting stronger.

Thanks to Bu Lai En and Satellite TV for the great info and book titles. Thanks, Feiren, for the info about Hakka burial customs. Looks like I have some reading to do. Bu Lai En, thanks very much for the offer of the loan of the book, but in the past I’ve been an irresponsible book-borrower :blush: , so maybe I’d better see if I can buy it myself somewhere.

And thanks to Yellow Cartman, ac_dropout, Masaotakashi, Poagao, wix and any others who’ve contributed to the thread.

I don’t think we need legends, but I think most people would very much like to have some idea of their origins. I think most people get the urge at least once in their lives to find out where they came from, and that people get a collective urge along those lines. And legends can have political consequences.

As to the actual origins of a culture, as someone pointed out in this thread, they often pre-date history.

It may not lead to the conclusion of a different culture, but it may add weight to the idea of a different culture.

ac, I would like to hear more about growing up in the old ROC–events, experiences, attitudes, beliefs, etc.–unless, for any reason, you don’t like talking about it.

Sources please.

non-Han cultural practices != Chinese as you assert here is very debatable.

I don’t think this is a “Culture & History” issue at all … it is definitely a political question.

Agree. This should definitely be in Taiwan Politics.

National identity is not solely a political issue. Cultural and historical factors come into play pretty heavily as well.

I just discovered this thread and read the whole thing. Wow!! Great discussion.

I agree with nearly everything everyone has said. Tetsuo mentioned that there are more than just political factors.

I totally agree. Politically, I agree to accept this society the way it is, accept the good and bad things here, and abide by the laws in place (except for traffic laws, of course). Also, having ROC nationality means that I am legally bound to Taiwan when it comes to travel and maybe some other legal issues. In this way, I call myself Taiwanese.

HISTORICAL AND CULTURAL FACTORS
If you look at Taiwan’s history, it is a hodgepodge of different influences. Native People, then the Portuguese, Dutch, Koxinga (Mr. “Successful”), Japanese, KMT, etc. It makes sense that “Taiwanese National Identity” is hard to define. Look at the Japanese and Korean language, for instance. They use a lot of words from other cultures as their own. The examples go on and on, but just a few: “Sarariman” is English: “Salary Man”, “Beeru” is Taiwanese for “beer”, which came from Japanese, etc. It’s not surprising that “lack of faith in the government” is a common trait of Taiwanese peoples’ thinking. Perhaps it’s a kind-of bonding factor between the different groups: Native, Hakka, Washinga, etc.

I think freedom of religion and ethnic practice probably plays a big part in Taiwanese national identity. This is very unique when comparing Taiwan and China. (I only use the word “mainland” when referring to the island of Taiwan, as opposed to the smaller islands of the ROC). Taiwanese people think nothing of the fact that their household is Buddhist and their neighbors are Taoist or Christian, etc. I have visited Taiwanese friends on holidays and been introduced to their neighbors who are Native. They still celebrate differently, but they share the same alley and accept each others’ differences. (I am simply pointing out that China and Taiwan are different here. I am not insinuating that people in Taiwan treat foreigners as equals, so please don’t flame me on this issue).

EXAMPLE:
Recently I took a train trip and it was very crowded. My seat happened to be turned around facing some children (Aaaaa, I hate children). I asked the girl sitting next to me if she wanted to turn the seat around. She didn’t want to yet, because it was so crowded. The child spoke perfect English to me and said “you can turn it around”. Some 40-something “tai-tai-type” women standing in the aisle lit up and said “Wow! His English is GREAT” and started clapping!! The last thing I wanted was for this to turn into an English class. I stared at him blankly, pretending not to understand and then the girl and I instantly bonded. (Psychologists who study Freud would probably say that with male competition, I wanted to rain on his parade and not give him the limelight in this situation. OK. I admit I did that, too, so please don’t flame me about this). The girl and I spoke Chinese and Taiwanese quietly, but maybe someone could hear. I heard some other people talking behind me and I looked up and heard a 40-something guy say to another man: “Bo. E xi Dai Wan lung”, or “no, he’s Taiwanese”. You can not imagine how deeply I appreciated that statement. A Taiwanese person…recognized another Taiwanese person. This was against all the odds of 1) his age, and 2) my skin color. That, to me, is an indication of national identity.

PERSONAL:
Many Taiwanese people are not really “proud” of it, per se. They were probably born here and didn’t have to do anything to get it. I , however, was born in the US and spent 26 years there. I came to Taiwan in 1996 and figured out how to become a citizen mostly on my own. I am very proud of this, and I’m very happy to whip out my Taiwan passport on certain occasions. I have not visited the US yet using my Taiwan passport. When I do, that’s going to be fun, and you can imagine my nose will be dragging the ceiling. Many US immigrants are proud of getting past the challenges they have faced, so what’s the difference?

TAIWAN REVIEW:
A magzine called Taiwan Review had an article about a year ago about people becoming citizens of Taiwan and what it might mean for the future. A Taiwanese guy named T.C. Lin (white guy, born abroad apparently) was quoted in there. He became Taiwanese, as well. We must not leave out the people from SouthEast Asia who have also become Taiwanese. They also have probably very different experiences in becoming Taiwanese and perhaps different ideas about their national identity. I’d like to hear their opinions. (FYI, it was originally called “Free Taiwan Review” and then they changed it to “Taipei Review”. Hey! Taiwan is not just Taipei, OK? I wrote to them and complained. Now it’s called “Taiwan Review”. I would like to think I had an influence on that change, but I’m not sure.)

ANOTHER ANGLE (Not off-the-topic, I hope):
If “national identity” is hard to define, consider that this is not scientific at all. Marriage, too. It was created by humans as a result of over-population. Primates don’t have to fill out customs forms, do they? You don’t see turtles carryin’ around passports, do ya? What’s the latest “squeak squak click click ping” you’ve heard on dolphinsRus.com, complaining about her “ex”? You don’t hear that–because it’s not natural in the first place.

Satellite TV, Poagao, and T.C. Lin have been Taiwanese longer than I have. This is simply my humble contribution. Good job, everyone–keep posting.

Sorry, took me a while to find this thread after it was moved :s.

Slighty off-topic but this is an example where I would argue that this is a political and not a cultural topic. However, it very easily could be a cultural and historical one and thus belongs in this forum.

[quote=“Feiren”][quote=“Yellow Cartman”]
One needs to be careful that differences are not differences sufficient to state categorically there is a difference. People are always claiming we’re different because there is a political reason to claim differences. If you don’t separate out the cultural and historical, then it is hard to make the political point of separation.
[/quote]

YC: The point that many more moderate TI people have made to me is that even if the majority Han population in Taiwan has strong cultural and political ties to China, it does not follow that they must have political ties. [/quote]

This is true. I agree. I would however, like to throw out the historical fact in which similar historical situations in the past have shown that culturally and historically similar nations and ethnic groups have shown an inclination to be reunified --> German, Korea, Vietnam. The areas in which there are significant cultural dissimilarities, you get your usual warfare and turmoil such as the Balkans, Chechnya, former soviet union republics, Africa etc.

For those to argue this position above to its fullest conclusion, you don’t have the force of history supporting you. In fact, such a position would necessarily lead to conflict IMO. Objectively speaking I don’t say whether conflict is a good or bad thing. Especially if it is a decision made democratically by the people of the land.

I don’t believe academically nor realistically that political choice is ever separate from historial or cultural identities, histories, environment, time etc. History, culture, politics form a triumvirate of a people’s “shared experiences” that define who/what/where they are.

I wonder what a 15 years older Frank Hsieh would say. I also think this could mean many different things to different folks. For me, his comment on the face it would suggest similarities with the United States and the Civil War. North vs. South War. We all know how that turned out.

Back in the 1990s, TI was really big stuff. I remember the USENET wars fought in soc.culture.taiwan and soc.culture.china about this topic. Nothing like watching a bunch of really smart Ph.Ds hurling grenades at each other, heh. The emotions overrode rationality. That to me indicated to me that this was going to be settled over warfare. I’ve slightly changed my views on that now considering the 2004 elections and the views of common Taiwan folks who have to live in Taiwan and don’t necessarily have the means to “flee”.

There’s nothing philosophically wrong with this. I agree, if Taiwan people choose, then that’s great. But the choice IMO requires one to chose armed conflict over peace. Most people will who are of Asian culture will choose peace over conflict. I think the 2004 LY election results is more proof that Taiwan people prefer safe and steady.

You are correct about who posts on this thread. But if most of the people you have met who advocate TI are foreigners, all I can say is that you need to get out more.[/quote]

Sorry, let me clarify. I find that the more uncompromising TI positions are advocated by foreigners more often than not.

The others want TI but without the specter of conflict. But to me, that’s a fantasy. If you want independence, self-determination, democracy, etc, you’re going to have to die for it. Not enough Taiwan people are willing to die for it.

I think the choice by the moderator(s) to move it to this thread was to somehow make the case that there is some major cultural/historical difference between the Chinese and Taiwanese, which is dog poo. There are even greater cultural/historical divisions within mainland China itself than between “China” and “Taiwan”. Yes, Taiwan has unique influences from Japanese culture (it’s becoming more and more the pop culture of Taiwanese youth today) and Western culture … but many areas in the mainland are hardly what you would call very “Chinese” or “Han.” So, it comes down to being a political issue, IMHO.

I agree LittleBuddhaTW. When you boil down the issue to its heart, it’s solely a political issue and I think Feiren and other similarly minded folks wouldn’t disagree.

In another post, what I was saying is that the falsehood on the TI position is it tries to build its political aspirations on historical and cultural positions which in the final analysis is simply unconvincing if not downright false. However, they are forced to do so because without the force of culture and history to support its political position, the argument will ultimately fail, hence their efforts to argue along these lines. It’s a bit of Catch-22.

In my view, the TI position should only be argued along political lines and that those lines are very clearly delineated through the experiences of past histories. Political self-determination, independence and nationhood can be discussed within these narrow boundaries without arguing for historical and cultural differences. However, this means that armed conflict will be a necessary component of the discussion. I find it hard to think of cases in which nationhood was gained without the spillage of blood (and no, I do not consider Taiwan to be a nation as is commonly understood although I agree one can make the strong argument to the contrary).