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Chen, Wen-te (1998) The making of a 'community': An anthropological study among the Puyuma of Taiwan. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This thesis has two primary purposes. Firstly, by focusing on the issue of 'community', it provides a detailed ethnographic account of a Puyuma settlement in Taiwan. Particular emphasis is laid upon investigating comprehensively the interrelationships among social spheres (e.g. household, age orgeinization, rites, and so on) which previous analyses have dealt with separately. Secondly, this thesis problematizes various past and current theoretical approaches to 'community', 'village', 'village- community', and other close equivalents in the anthropological literature. It argues that anthropologists should adopt an alternative conceptualization of 'community'. The thesis opens with a review of key anthropological discourse on 'community' in which it is argued that the significance of indigenous conceptualizations has largely been overlooked both by those adopting the 'writing culture' genre and by those stressing the 'global-local' dimension. Against the background of Taiwan's changing historical context, I explore how the notion of Puyuma 'community' can be seen as the moving resultant of the interplay of administrative imposition and indigenous (re-) appropriation. Thereafter I examine the interrelationships of house (rumah), household, and ritual house (karumaan), and their centrality for the Puyuma. The process of becoming a Puyuma, it is argued, now has come to involve a mutual conjunction of kinship and age organization. In Chapter 6, I analyze the changed alignment between 'community' leadership and karumaan identity, whilst Chapter 7 examines how indigenous senses of 'community' have been ritually defined. The implication of 'new' religious factionalism (Han-Chinese, Catholic, and Presbyterian) for the contested construction of a 'community' provides the substance of my penultimate chapter. By way of conclusion, I reiterate the significance of this study for comparative Southeast Asian studies- which have mostly ignored Taiwan's aboriginal population- and the wider theoretical implications for the way in which anthropology, as a discipline, constructs 'community'.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:04

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