label r shifted
Session C8
“Rite” or Wrong? Shifting Discourses on Cultural Appropriation of Indigenous Performance and Reflection on the “Border” of Taiwan Studies
李宜澤 Yi-Tze Lee
Department of Ethnic Relations and Cultures, National Dong Hwa University, Taiwan

Who’s “right” and who’s wrong? Shifting Discourses on Cultural Appropriation of Indigenous Performance and Reflection on the “Border” of Taiwan Studies


This paper aims to reflect on the transition of indigenous performance and its cultural rights in relation to the disciplinary boundary of Taiwan Studies.  Two analytical aspects are examined in this paper:  first, the historical discourse of anthropological researches as authenticity for nation building process; second, the practice of cultural appropriation of indigenous elements in contemporary public performance and media representation.  Following Bhabha’s idea of “disseminaton” (1990), national discourse creates a vehicle of cultural narratives and identity mixture.  However, indigenous elements are usually taken as slice from static historical moment for the purpose of cultural appropriation, disregard the changing framework of identity formation.

In order to examine the inner dynamics of cultural appropriation, this study takes three cases of indigenous media representation and public performance for discussion: the “style” of cultural programs on TITV (Taiwan Indigenous Television Channel), the performing agenda in the united harvest festival by Hualien county government, and the dance troupe performance by the student group of National Dong Hwa University.   Contrast to the “bad” imitation of performance or malicious mocking of indigenous cultural elements, these three examples are well-organized and public-recognized activities.  By critically reviewing the national and public appropriation of cultural activities, I argue that indigenous “rights” on cultural performance have been transformed in the creative industry of national identity formation.  While the subjective voices of performance are mistakenly evaluated by “authenticity,” indigenous cultural rights are constrained and submerged in the forms of national identity and cultural diversity.  Ironically, indigenous performance are “substantialized” as cultural core of Taiwanese identity, while academic researches on Taiwan Studies does not reflect such recognition.  In the end, this paper will explore the rationale of mismatch in the academic interests and shed light on the “border making” of Taiwan Studies.