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Lunch Talks

Culture on Trial: Rights and Rule-Crafting Processes in Taiwan’s Indigenous Courts

  • Date:2018-05-30
  • Register Deadline:2018-05-17 00:00 ~ 2018-05-27 23:00


Mr. Christopher Upton, Ph.D student, Indiana University Bloomington


12:00 ~ 13:30 PM


R2319, The New Wing, Institute of Ethnology


Examining Taiwan’s newly created special indigenous courts, this talk considers how these courts craft rules about indigenous customary practices and how indigenous peoples use legal proceedings to advance their own understandings of cultural practices. Based upon ethnographic research in the courts, I argue that these courts are emerging as critical institutions within Taiwan’s indigenous rights lawscape, becoming sites of knowledge co-production, mediation, translation, and negotiation across numerous boundaries—not just cultural boundaries between Han Chinese and indigenous societies, but also jurisdictional, institutional, network, knowledge, and other boundaries. This boundary work unsettles the notion of law as a clearly defined, singular phenomenon where legal principles apply deductively to fact sets. Law emerges instead as a dynamic process shaped by various stakeholders and attached numerous extra-legal social fields. In recognizing law as social process, the notion of indigenous rights, human rights, and rule of law in turn take a new form, exposing their tentative character as well as their capacity for working both for and against the marginalized communities they are designed to serve.

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