Bodies and Structures 2.0: Deep-Mapping Modern East Asian History


In addition to being a spatial story, and a spiritual story, this is also a human story. The pages of this module are filled with groups and individuals who were crucial agents in the spatial relationship of sacred and profane. The most numerous group was the Taiwanese—or rather, the people who became Taiwanese in part because of their engagement in the definition of both physical and imagined geography. These people, called “islanders” (hontōjin or bendaoren 本島人) by the Japanese who colonized Taiwan, had genealogical roots in Southeastern China and had settled in the island during the two centuries of Qing rule over the island. They came from different homelands, or “native places,” spoke different languages, and historically fought with each other over land and resources. Even though they were outsiders by comparison to the indigenous peoples who had been the main human inhabitants of Taiwan before these Southeastern Chinese arrived, by the advent of Japan’s rule in 1895, most had gone through a process of localization or nativization (bentuhua 本土化). From the perspective of the other main ethnic group living in Jilong, the Japanese settlers, the Taiwanese were natives. In this module, when I use the term “native,” I am referring to the islanders, not to the indigenous peoples.

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