Accepted Paper:

Ethnographic studies of voting among the Austronesian Paiwan in Taiwan  
Kun Hui Ku (National Tsing Hua University)

Paper short abstract:

Some models of 'identity' voting treat electoral identities as more-or-less fixed. This paper shows how the constituency of each (Paiwan) candidate may change according to the type of election, the territory defined by the election, and the social positions of a candidate's opponents.

Paper long abstract:

Some models of "identity" voting treat electoral identities as more-or-less fixed. This paper shows that electoral identities are more contextually mutable than can be accommodated in such models. The analysis is based on ethnographic investigations of Paiwan elections in southern Taiwan. The main finding is that each election sets the framework for people to align and de-align themselves. It shows how the constituency of each candidate may change according to the type of election, the territory defined by the election, and the social positions of a candidate's opponents. Moreover, it examines the ways in which the rhetoric of "tradition" is deployed differently in different types of elections, with a special focus on the ways in which candidates and voters alike strategically manipulate cultural idioms/house histories, and the affiliations they entail. By studying the ethnographic details and institutional conditions of voting, this paper also attempts to contribute to the understanding of voting culture in a broader comparative term.

Panel W065
Cultures of voting: ethnographies of the secret ballot