Amis Aborigine Migrants’ Territorialization in Metropolitan Taipei

Jin-Yung Wu, National Taiwan University
"No Removal" banners in Kamaya. Photo: Yu Xin-ke.
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This paper focuses on the relatively successful experience of territorialization by a group of aborigine migrants in metropolitan Taipei, northern Taiwan. The aborigine migrants of the Amis established a self-built community in a marginal site along the riverbank of northern Taipei that was constantly under the threat of floods and of eviction and forced relocation by the government. But eventually the settlers and the government came to an agreement regarding on-site relocation, and the municipal authority granted special land use rights to the settlers. Several historical processes help explain their success. First, the rising political discourse of Taiwan Independence in the past decade has provided the aborigine migrants with political legitimacy and support. Second, Taiwan’s social activism has been developing rapidly since the 1990s, as its electoral democracy takes shape and matures; the aborigine migrants’ rights to the city were an integral part of this social mobilization. Third, the reinforced identity and solidarity within the community in question helped form a coherent front at the moment of confrontation and negotiation with the government. Finally, a group of professional and progressive planners have been actively involved throughout the territorialization process, acting as planners, brokers and coordinators. 


I found this article quite useful, and hope to use it with my undergraduates on a study tour that will take us through Taiwan and mainland China while learning about indigenous peoples/ethnic minorities and ideas of home in both places. The way Wu has written the article will help facilitate comparison between similar issues of resettlement in China.
Wonderful! This is exactly the kind of connection we hope Cross-Currents will make possible. Thanks for posting. Keila Diehl, Managing Editor.
This is an excellent article, very thoughtful, informative, and clearly written. I know about the Amis who've settled in Taipei through Mayaw Biho's classic documentary Children of Heaven (天堂的小孩). This article gives the sociopolitical background to the community in Mayaw's film, in contrast to another community that has been less strident and as a result more successful in dealing with the state. There's also some consideration of things like the spatial arrangement of collective life which I've thought a lot about in the abstract the past couple of years. The author Jin-Yung Wu has a more detailed, first hand, and material understanding of these things. John Crespi's study tour sounds like a lot of fun! As a small criticism, I can understand why the author has fictionalized the names of participants in the movement, but I think he could tell us the names of the villages themselves. It would be helpful to have the Chinese characters (not really obtrusive, and nice to look at).