Discoveries in the Making
Considering an island set in challenging waters
Few places on earth represent a geographic and historical crossroads as dynamic as Taiwan. With its political status threatened by China, this relatively small island has nevertheless emerged as a major economic power, nurturing a diverse culture characterized by various waves of invasion and migration. In fact, Taiwan's identity has been shaped by influences from Austronesian indigenous peoples, Dutch colonization, Chinese migration, Japanese rule, and contested ethnic relations since the Republic of China came to the island in 1945. Scott Simon, an associate professor in the Department of Sociology, has been exploring different aspects of this complex identity for more than 10 years, including five years in Taiwan with the country’s leading research institute, Academia Sinica. He recently published a book that examines a number of key issues that emerged during the second half of the 20th century, as seen from the perspective of members of the traditional leather-tanning industry in Southern Taiwan. Through this social lens, he offers a view of the conflicts and campaigns that emerged during an extended period of martial law, followed by the emergence of democratic institutions that govern the nation today. Funded by SSHRC, he is currently doing in-depth field research on the island's Austronesian peoples, their historical experiences with colonialism and development, and their efforts to negotiate a more equal relationship with the state.
Scott Simon, Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Tel: 613-562-5800 x 1363
May is Asian Heritage Month.