Organized Panel Session
According to political scientist Glen Coulthard (Yellowknives Dene First Nation) in his Red Skin, White Masks (2014), settler states must seek recognition from indigenous peoples. Indigenous peoples, of course, may demand a rectification of past deterritorialization as a condition for their recognition, or they may simply refuse to acknowledge settler sovereignty. A spectrum of approaches have been taken in Taiwan since the late 1980s, when indigenous activists called for the government to “return our land” 還我土地, through the 1990s, when the state recognized the legal status of indigenous peoples while simultaneously employing a discourse of multiculturalism to try to co-opt more radical activists (Friedman 2018). Regardless of local strategies for dealing with multiculturalism, indigenous groups tend to make sovereignty claims that are in part dependent on Japanese-era ethnological and geographical research. Paul Barclay has documented the colonial history in Outcasts of Empire (2017), a book with theoretical implications about indigeneity and the capitalist world system that are relevant far beyond Taiwan. This panel builds on Barclay’s work, with the goal of exploring how an interdisciplinary approach to Taiwan’s Seediq (Sediq, Seejiq, etc. depending on “dialect,” meaning language variety) peoples can contribute to the indigenous turn in sovereignty studies. Our response is to try to rethink sovereignty historically, anthropologically, legally, and translationally in terms of Seediq Gaya (Waya, Gaga, etc.), a moral law governing people's interactions with each other and with the land.