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Effects of environmental change and land use policies on Taiwanese Aboriginal groups

Yttrium Sua (2015); Mentor(s): Dru Gladney

Abstract: The rapid economic development of the island of Taiwan has often been termed as nothing short of a miracle, with industrialization and urbanization occurring at a breakneck speed in the 1970s to the 1980s. However, many of the 14 currently recognized Taiwanese Aboriginal tribes have found their communities on the losing end of such developments. Through staying and visiting 10 different Aboriginal villages in Taiwan, while conducting interviews with both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Taiwanese, a deeper understanding of the various environmental-related issues related to Taiwanese Aborigines was gained. Nevertheless, issues of the environment rarely stand in isolation, and many other aspects related to environmental change were also investigated. Through ethnography of those involved in Aboriginal environmental issues, some of the most pertinent environmental and social problems were identified, such as rising temperatures, deforestation, and tourist and government developments on Aboriginal land, and the ban on hunting. The outlook for the future is one filled with pessimism, as the main problem leading to the continued discrimination against Aboriginal communities is both systemic and multi-faceted in nature, with an indifferent government and no unified resistance movement existing. However, compared to the other indigenous movements currently occurring in Asia and the Pacific, the Taiwanese Aboriginal situation still holds much hope and potential for the future.
Funding Provided by: Schulz Fund for Environmental Studies