This panel offers a case study in Taiwan history in order to illustrate the contribution DH methods can make to social history, in particular to the study of intellectuals and local elites, two formative social groups in Taiwan. Studies of elites and intellectuals are rarely discussed together, but recent methodological innovations allow us to usefully synthesize distinct methodological perspectives in a still largely disparate research area. To arrive at a more multifaceted understanding than has hitherto been possible, the panel will embrace perspectives from sociology, political history, conceptual history, and intellectual history. We will conduct four case studies in social network analysis (SNA) based on data extracted from newly digitized sources such as the Diary Knowledge Bank, Institute of Taiwan History, Academia Sinica (Chang Lung-chih); the Taiwan Biographical Ontology (TBIO), Oriental Institute, Czech Academy of Sciences (Táňa Dluhošová); the Taiwanese Early Post-war Corpus, National Taiwan Normal University (Alvin Chen); and the database of Taiwanese Confucians, National Tsinghua University (Li Wei-huan and Chu Ping-tzu). The presentations are complementary and will shed light on the dynamics of the pre-war and post-war Taiwanese society.
Our innovative approach employing a diachronic and comparative perspective spans two consecutive periods: the Japanese colonial period and the early post-war period. Our motivation for investigating these two periods is that, despite being contiguous, they are rarely studied together, even though a host of factors––the end of the Pacific War; the regime change in 1945; the demographic and social tensions following large-scale migrations from 1945 to 1949––strongly suggest a systematic investigation into the continuities and changes affecting Taiwanese social structure at the time.
Two of the presentations focus on intellectuals and the sociology of knowledge. Whilst Li and Chu are following intellectual and social aspects of dislocated Confucian intellectuals, Chen and Dluhošová map various language patterns pointing to diverse ideological camps detected in the corpus of early post-war publications and juxtapose the results with findings from SNA derived from the TBIO database. The other two presentations tackle the topic from the perspective of social structure and social mobility. Chang Lung-chih traces the personal networks of Yang Zhaojia and redefines the political, economic, and social capital of Taiwanese elites in Japanese colonial period. Using data from particular locations, Dluhošová examines changes in local political organizations before and after 1945 to document the persistence with which local elites maintained important position in society even after the regime change.