Reconsidering and Re-Framing Taiwan and its History: Aborigines, Colonial Rulers and Democratization

Lecture | April 12 | 12 p.m. | 180 Doe Library

 J. Bruce Jacobs, School of Languages, Literatures, Cultures and Linguistics, Monash University, Australia

 Wen-hsin Yeh, History, UC Berkeley

 Institute of East Asian Studies (IEAS), Center for Chinese Studies (CCS)

Although Chinese, such as Chiang Kai-shek and Mao Zedong, insisted that Taiwan had been part of China since time immemorial, in fact both only claimed Taiwan as a part of China in 1942. Genuine historical research (as opposed to political “historical” research) demonstrates that no permanent Han Chinese communities existed in Taiwan until after 1624, when the Dutch arrived and imported Han Chinese for labor.
Looking back, we can frame Taiwan’s history into three large periods. The first period dates from about 6,000 years ago to the arrival of the Dutch in 1624. During this period aboriginal groups lived in Taiwan and conducted considerable trade with Southeast Asia. The second period comprises six colonial regimes with rule by outsiders in the interests of the outsiders: the Dutch (1624-1662), the Spanish in north Taiwan at the same time as the early Dutch period (1626-1642), the Zheng family (1662-1683), the Manchus (1683-1895), the Japanese (1895-1945) and the authoritarian Chinese Nationalist regime under Chiang Kai-shek and Chiang Ching-kuo (1945-1988). The third period is democratization following the death of Chiang Ching-kuo in January 1988.
This historical analysis enables us to explain current political phenomena in Taiwan such as rapidly increasing Taiwan identity.

 ieas@berkeley.edu, 510-642-2809