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Keywords:

  • gift;
  • Mauss;
  • Derrida;
  • literacy education;
  • new immigrants;
  • hospitality

Abstract

This paper addresses ‘the gift’ as the central concept in a discussion about the literacy education for new immigrants that has been developing in Taiwan since the early 1990s. The point of departure for this discussion is the advent of international marriages that are the consequence of new arrivals from Southeast Asia and China, and their effect guest/host relationship. In the first half of the article, I apply Marcel Mauss' idea of gift in order to examine the interactions within this host/guest relationship, engaging the ideologies that underpin the new immigrants' literacy education, and the ways in which new immigrants are identified in Taiwanese society. In the second half of this article, I use Jacques Derrida's critique of Mauss' theory of the gift to explore Derrida's own idea of the gift, with the particular objective of evaluating the question of how national identity in Taiwanese society relates to the new immigrants' literacy education policy.