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  • The Longue Durée and the Short Circuit: Gender, Language, and Territory in the Making of Indigenous Taiwan

    Paul D. Barclay

    Chapter from the book: Barclay, P. 2017. Outcasts of Empire: Japan’s Rule on Taiwan’s “Savage Border,” 1874–1945.


    This chapter examines state-led efforts to yoke an unruly Qing periphery to a centralized administration through its language and education policies. In Taiwan, administrators devised methods to govern a patchwork of populations that spoke Chinese and Austronesian languages. Commercial interdependency between the island's varied social formations spawned more organic modes of cross-border communications. Top-down, centrally installed measures, such as language training for colonizers or the colonized, were most amenable to administrative cohesion. However, formal language instruction was not scalable, due to time and cost constraints. Bottom-up arrangements, such as inter-societal adoption and marriage-centered alliance, were cost-effective but less responsive to central command. The Japanese state opted for a hybrid solution: state-sponsored cross-cultural intermarriages to cultivate loyal interpreters. The strategic-marriage policy came up short, however, because it yoked theoretically colony-wide administrators to circumscribed local power structures. It also allowed colonists to establish kin-ordered bases of authority independent of their bureaucratic chains-of-command. The political marriages, therefore, led to intelligence failures and discontent among the ruled—and to the Wushe Rebellion of 1930.

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    Barclay, P. 2017. The Longue Durée and the Short Circuit: Gender, Language, and Territory in the Making of Indigenous Taiwan. In: Barclay, P, Outcasts of Empire. California: University of California Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/luminos.41.c

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    Published on Oct. 24, 2017