Accepted Paper:

Reconsidering the positioning of a "Taiwanese" anthropologist of China  

Author:

Ju-chen Chen (The Chinese University of Hong Kong)

Paper short abstract:

This paper starts from comparing the currents of anthropology in Taiwan, China and Hong Kong and how they have been shaped by Euro-American and other anthropological traditions. The aim is to explore the possibility to study cultures from perspectives beyond the dominant Euro-American anthropology.

Paper long abstract:

Will an anthropological study reach different conclusion if the researcher consciously chooses a different set of theoretical orientation or reposition herself in different cultural milieu? While studying cultures, anthropologists must be influenced by both traditions of their anthropological training and cultures of the societies they are from. As a Taiwanese anthropologist trained only in the US, conducting research in China, and teaching in Hong Kong, my research subjects, theoretical orientations, and analytical lens greatly follow American anthropology; yet, when conducting fieldwork, I examine my Chinese informants' cultures from a Taiwanese outsider's perspective. However, the critical cultural nuances this Taiwanese perspective could offer are usually omitted in the interpretation and presentation of my research results with an inclination to comply with Western anthropological traditions. Discouragingly, I am also estranged from Taiwanese anthropological currents that have been shaped by the Japanese colonial past and Taiwan's geopolitical position between the Mainland China and Austronesia. Therefore, the intellectual exchange between other Taiwanese anthropologists and me seems also lack a shared Taiwanese standpoint. This paper is an attempt to recover that lost Taiwanese perspective with the long-term goal to study (Chinese and East Asian) cultures outside the dominant Euro-American anthropology. This paper will first compare the currents of anthropology in Taiwan, China and Hong Kong and how they have been shaped by Euro-American and other anthropological traditions. By making explicit the histories and theoretical orientations of anthropology in these places, I assume that there will then be possibility to reposition an anthropologist and her study.

Panel P018
East Asian anthropology/anthropologies (EAAA panel)