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Rosa Enn - Indigenous Movement and the Environment: The Case of Taiwan

The 1980s are regarded as a period of social movements in Taiwan ...

The 1980s are regarded as a period of social movements in Taiwan that were led by civil society. Political upheaval was demanded by the citizens in the authoritarian country, in a balance shift away from militarism toward democracy. This decade was particularly important for indigenous recognition and human rights development in Taiwan. The movement of indigenous peoples and the debate on indigeneity arose with democratization and decolonization processes worldwide. “The international movement of indigenous peoples is an emerging form of political resistance. It stands apart from the 20th century’s most exalted freedom struggles: decolonization, anti-apartheid, and civil rights… [it] persuades the development and recognition of international standards concerning the rights of indigenous peoples.” (Niezen, 2003:16,17). Grassroots movements were aimed at empowering indigeneity and demanded collective rights. According to the UN, indigenous peoples are vulnerable in terms of having their human rights respected and due to environmental changes and exploitation as they depend on agriculture, hunting, and fishing and, therefore, on an intact environment. In this sense, there are similarities to the environmental justice movement that also emerged among poor and disadvantaged people in terms of political and economic weakness. Three case studies will illustrate the indigenous peoples’ endeavor for environmental justice in Taiwan: human intervention on nature of the indigenous land for the sake of economic growth, increasing the tourism infrastructure, and the establishment of the nuclear waste repository on Orchid Island.


Rosa Enn lives in Taipei and Vienna, where she is enrolled in a PhD program of the University of Vienna at the Institute of Social Anthropology. In her PhD she looks at the heritage of colonialism and the impact of modernity on the socio-economic structures of an indigenous community in the western Pacific. Beside her studies, she supports NGOs in Taiwan and Switzerland as a scientific researcher.

Vienna Center for Taiwan Studies

Department of East Asian Studies
University of Vienna
AAKH-Campus, Hof 2, Entrance 2.3
Spitalgasse 2
1090 Vienna Austria

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Lastupdate: 25.01.2015 - 21:34