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Session B7
Tensions and Intentions Shaping the Social Imaginary of Taiwan’s Indigenous Rights Framework
歐啟祥 J. Christopher Upton
Department of Anthropology, Indiana University, USA

Drawing from ethnographic research, this paper argues that Taiwan’s indigenous rights framework is a complex space where the Taiwan state and indigenous communities come to imagine and discover new ways of understanding themselves and their relationship. Applying Clifford Geertz’s notion of the law as a “species of social imagination” to a unique legal framework where the state and its constituent parts, actors, and institutions interface with a multiplicity of indigenous groups, this paper reconceives the law as a form of social imagination set within and constitutive of a particular institutional framework, or “structural imagination.” Taiwan’s indigenous rights framework, as a forum of and for structural imagination, is a space where the Taiwan state reevaluates Han Chinese ethnic majority relations with indigenous communities, reconsiders the foundations of the Western-influenced legal framework used in Taiwan, and constructs indigenous persons into legally recognizable entities. It is also a space where indigenous communities participate in the development of indigenous rights norms, articulate new tribal identities and goals, and strategize to encourage the Taiwan state to address and understand them in certain ways.