Indigenous Landscapes and Resource Management in Taiwan and Southeast Asia

Introductions & Info

Introduction to the Program for Early Modern Southeast Asia, UCLA

The Program for Early Modern Southeast Asia (PEMSEA), funded by the Luce Southeast Asia Initiative, establishes an international network of multidisciplinary scholars, who will conduct an integrative research program focused on the Early Modern Period (EMP) Southeast Asia (1400-1830 CE). The deep integration will provide a more nuanced understanding of the EMP, with particular emphasis on local and indigenous histories. Dominant interpretations of ecological and social transformations in SEA during the EMP attribute primary causality to European penetration, but recent archaeological and historical investigations provide a more distinct views that take into account local and environmental dynamics, such as the importance of intra-Asian dynamics, climate change, and agency. It is in this manner that we argue that most changes we associate with European activities in the region also had substantial East Asian inputs and were mitigated by climatic variation and human impact on SEA landscapes that we do not yet understand.

A broad view of climatic perturbations and political upheavals in mainland Southeast Asia starting from about 900 to 1900 CE has been proposed by scholars, but finegrained data from most areas in the region is still largely unavailable. To address this dearth, our program aims to build on previous work to encourage the collection of such data, while at the same time emphasizing a bottom-up view of local responses to ecological change in the periods succeeding the arrival of Europeans in SEA.

The research programs sponsored by the PEMSEA will craft a nuanced and regionwide understanding of environmental and social transformations in the EMP in SEA. This includes broader recognition of the impacts of trade in widespread ecological change; the effects of trade on demographic change; and, the consequences of trade upon the rapid urbanization of colonial centers in the region. More importantly, the multidisciplinary nature of the research program promises to generate new methodologies that can help isolate natural and anthropogenic changes in the EMP. The proposed investigations will also provide baseline environmental histories from different localities in SEA using multidisciplinary approaches that will facilitate capacity building in the region, and help train the next generation of multidisciplinary SEA scholars. Finally, this research program promises to bring SEA to ongoing global discussions on environmental change during the Early Modern Period more generally

Introduction to the Department of Anthropology, National Taiwan University

The Department of Anthropology at the National Taiwan University, established in the 1940s, is the first anthropology teaching and research institution in Taiwan. The current faculty members are mainly socio-cultural anthropologists and archaeologists, conducting fieldwork around the world, including Taiwan, Japan, China, Indonesia, Palau, Croatia, and Greece. The department also publishes one of the most important anthropological journals in Taiwan, the Journal of Archaeology and Anthropology, biannually. For teaching, the department has offered courses encompassing the four subdisciplines of anthropology: socio-cultural anthropology, archaeology, physical anthropology, and linguistics. Furthermore, the faculty members work closely with other disciplines, such as geology, history, geography, in both research and teaching. 

The department also houses one of the most important museums in Taiwan, the Anthropology Museum. The collection consists of ethnological and archaeological artifacts curated from various Taiwanese indigenous societies and important archaeological sites, beginning from the Japanese colonial period until the 1990s. Not only does the museum provide research resources, it also collaborates closely with indigenous groups to create ways to revitalize traditional cultural practices through museum collection. 

The Anthropology department actively engages in promoting anthropological knowledge to the general public through various outreach programs. The faculty members, at the same time, participate in different social debates, policy developments, and community work. These thus reflect the department’s long-term commitment to promoting social justice through anthropological research and teaching. 

Introduction to the Center for Taiwan-Philippines Indigenous Knowledge Local Knowledge and Sustainable Studies

In 2008, the National Chengchi University (NCCU) signed an MOU with the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), then signed an exchange agreement between the two universities in 2013. On the basis of this university-level cooperation, the Department of Ethnology, NCCU also signed an MOU with the Department of Anthropology at UCLA. Since 2015, with the support of the National Science and Technology Council in Taiwan, the two departments have worked together in Ifugao, Philippines on field courses. 

In response to Taiwan’s New Southbound Policy and the long-term research outputs of Southeast Asian Studies, NCCU founded the Center for Southeast Asian Studies (CSEAS) in 2016. In 2017, the Department of Ethnology at NCCU, in collaboration with CSEAS, invited scholars from UCLA, the National University of the Philippines, as well as NGOs of Ifugao and Taiwanese Indigenous communities, to the workshop held in Taiwan on “Academic Research and Community Participation”.

Based on past academic exchanges and collaborations, at the end of 2018, NCCU started implementing the project of “Science and Technology Innovation Center for Taiwan-Philippines Indigenous Knowledge, Local Knowledge and Sustainable Studies (CTPILS)” with the support of the National Science and Technology Council in Taiwan, and founded the CTPILS office at the Lamut Campus of Ifugao State University (IFSU) in the Philippines in July 2019. 

CTPILS is jointly operated by NCCU, IFSU and the Save Ifugao Rice Terrace Movement Organization (SITMo). It is also supported by international partners such as the Department of Anthropology at UCLA and the Center for Southeast Asian Studies at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa (UHM). The establishment of CPTILS also fostered the MOUs signed between NCCU and IFSU, as well as NCCU and UHM. 

CTPILS intends to conduct cross-national indigenous knowledge and local knowledge comparative research through exchanges and collaborations between multinational organizations and looks forward to making the center a platform for engaging more international organizations to achieve the goal of sustainable development.

Introduction to the Indigenous Landscapes and Resource Management in Taiwan and Southeast Asia Workshop

Taiwan and Southeast Asia are inextricably linked by historical, cultural, and geographic processes that stretch over centuries into the present. Indigenous perspectives throughout Taiwan and Southeast Asia have been marginalized but have now taken the forefront in discussions on climate change and redress. By bringing together the voices of Indigenous peoples and scholars from many disciplines, the workshops aim to bridge contemporary political and academic boundaries to elicit and examine a more nuanced view of Taiwan and Southeast Asia that centers Indigenous perspectives of land and landscapes. 

Indigenous peoples in Taiwan and Southeast Asia have innovatively responded to often-dramatic political, social, and environmental changes for centuries. We view these responses in terms of general ecological adaptations and frame our explanations of these transitions through a comparative perspective that emphasizes the unique advantages of a diverse academic and community networks. This workshop examines methodological and theoretical issues relevant to Southeast Asia and Taiwan from: uses of ethnographic analogy and historical records as data sources; applications of anthropological notions of ethnicity, culture change, historical ecology, and political economy to environmental changes; to collaborations with Indigenous and local populations.

Science and Technology Innovation Center for Taiwan-Philippines Indigenous Knowledge, Local Knowledge, and Sustainable Studies
Program for Early Modern Southeast Asia, University of California, Los Angeles
Department of Anthropology, National Taiwan University

Office of Fellowships for Austronesian Studies

National Science and Technology Council
Council of Indigenous People

UCLA Asia Pacific Center