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From Colonialism to Reconciliation? Indigenous Peoples Rights in Taiwan

Speaker: Jolan Hsieh / Bavaragh Dagalomai, Center for International Indigenous Affairs, National Dong Hwa University, Taiwan

Abstract: Since 1948 human rights have been formally acknowledged within the international political and legal order, human rights have become a hallmark of international law and are often claimed as an attribute of democratic political orders. Taiwan, indeed, links human rights with democracy in its standard of world-class democratic society. Among the various rights movements across different times in Taiwan, the presence of indigenous peoples’ rights often goes obscure.

1996 Taiwan held her first general presidential election, and former president Lee D. H opened a door for Taiwan’s democracy with major political reform. The victory of Democratic Progress Party’s Chen S.B won the 2000 presidential election which also as historical milestone not only with peaceful political party power transfer. But more importantly, Chen signed a significance statement to recognized Taiwan government and Pan-indigenous nations as partnership relations.  Although indigenous peoples were disappointed by not much effort has been done since then, now see there are hopes for indigenous Taiwanese with the result of 2016 presidential election. With President Tsai Ing-wen’s apology on behalf of the government to the country’s indigenous people, the government lunched a historical justice and transitional justice committee under the Presidential Office to handle matters regarding historical injustice to the indigenous people.

This talk primarily discuss Taiwanese indigenous movement developed during the 20thcentury, and bring forward the directions of current development of indigenous rights, especially after President Tsai’s apology.

Speaker Bio

Dr. Jolan Hsieh | Bavaragh Dagalomai

Current Position: Professor, Department of Ethnic Relations and Cultures / Director, Center for International Indigenous Affairs at College of Indigenous Studies, National Dong Hwa University (NDHU), TAIWAN.

Dr. Jolan Hsieh is a Taiwanese indigenous scholar of Siraya Nation. She is head of the Indigenous Historical Justice and Transitional Justice Committee’s Reconciliation Subcommittee

Jolan’s research areas are Law and Society, Human Rights, Identity Politics, Global Indigenous Studies, Gender/ Ethnicity/Class, Environmental Justice, Indigenous Research and Ethics. Jolan’s book publications include Collective Rights of Indigenous Peoples: Identity-Based Movement of Plains Indigenous in Taiwan (Routledge, 2006 / 2010) and In-between: Indigenous Research and Activism as Ceremonial Journey (in Chinese, Daw-Shiang, 2017), and her most recent publication is a chapter entitled “The Changing Identities of Taiwan’s Plains Indigenous Peoples” (Changing Taiwanese Identities, Routledge, 2017: pp.12-26).  Jolan received Research Excellence Award and several Teaching Excellence Awards from NDHU. Jolan has been a visiting fellow to the Institutum Jurisprudentiae, Academia Sinica (2008) and Canadian Studies Faculty Research Grant fellow (2009), and is recipient of Ministry of Science and Technology’s Humanity and Social Science Visiting Scholar’s Grant (2017-18).

Jolan has served many national / regional / international organizations as an indigenous scholar and activist. Her current professional services include advisor to the Presidential Office’s Indigenous Historical Justice and Transnational Justice Committee / convener of Reconciliation Subcommittee, Executive Yuan’s Indigenous Peoples’ Basic Law’s Working Committee, Council for Indigenous Peoples Affairs’ PingPu Peoples Affairs’ Working Committee, Tainan City Ethnic Affairs Committee / Ethnic Mainstreaming Committee,  MacKay Memorial Hospital Foundation / MacKay Medical College, and country representative in World Indigenous Nations Higher Education Consortium and World Indigenous Nations Universities.

Jolan was Chairperson for the Standing Supervisor Board for the Indigenous Peoples’ Cultural Foundation, Secretary General of Taiwan International Studies Association, Deputy Editor-in-Chief of Taiwan International Studies Quarterly, Executive Editor of Taiwan Journal of Indigenous Studies, Editorial Board for Journal of Native American and Indigenous Studies, co-Chair of Green Party Taiwan, Board of Director member for the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy, Chairperson of Amnesty International Taiwan Section, council member of Native American and Indigenous Studies Association.

As an indigenous activist and scholar, Jolan is also active in indigenous language and cultural revitalization movements and critiques indigenous politics. Due to her personal research interests and the need to understand other countries’ indigenous politics and related social issues, she also does research on indigenous studies around the world. Jolan’s priority is to foster strategies and collaborations at NDHU to enhance research, education and innovation cooperation with various international educational institutions with indigenous focus, most notably recent partnership with Aotearoa, Australia, Canada, US, Sami Land, Hawaii, and Japan.

Jolan currently leads two Ministry of Education funded projects, “Taiwan – Aotearoa New Zealand Indigenous Higher Education Connection” and “Mainstreaming Taiwan Indigenous Cultures and Languages”, and as Principal Investigator for several Ministry of Science and Technology and Council for Indigenous Peoples’ research projects.


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