Shared March 11, 2019
Indigenous Peoples and the Politics of the Environment in Taiwan is a lecture given by Dr Wang Ting-Jieh at the Centre of Taiwan Studies, SOAS University of London on 30 January 2019. Find out more at http://bit.ly/2ET2ydI
Environmentalism and indigenous activism played critical roles in Taiwan’s transitions towards democracy. Yet, the relationships between these two strands of social activism and discourses are complex. Given Taiwan’s distinctive colonial history and path towards democracy, a study of the environmental issues facing Taiwan’s indigenous peoples can yield unique insights in comparison with similar experiences in other countries. In this lecture, I will first provide an overview of the environmental incidents that have adversely affected indigenous communities in Taiwan. Using the examples of nuclear waste storage facility in Orchid Island and the management of national parks, the analysis will highlight the complicated links between these injustices and the island’s colonial legacy and authoritarian rule in the past. The lecture will then discuss indigenous activism and environmental movements that emerged in the changing political contexts since political reforms in the 1980s. The discussion shows that, despite the discrepancies between different civil groups, the efforts of indigenous and environmental activists made important contributions to the rise of civil society and the process of democratization. This will be followed by a review of recent developments, for example the creation of the legal and governance frameworks and the implementation of reforms looking to rectify environmental injustices and mismanagement confronting indigenous communities. In conclusion, I will highlight the challenges that Taiwan’s indigenous peoples continue to face in their struggles for better environmental outcomes for their communities.
Dr Ting-Jieh Wang is a faculty member of the International College of Practice and Education for the Environment, Chang Jung Christian University. Dr Wang’s research interests include political ecology, environmental movement and impact assessment. Since 2016, he has been involved in research projects concerning the practices of impact assessment in Taiwan, in particular the evaluation of social impacts in environmental impact assessment.
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