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Negotiating power: Elections and the constitution of indigenous Taiwan


Scott Simon
Département de sociologie et d’anthropologie
Université d’Ottawa
55, Laurier est
Ottawa, ONT K1N 6N5


In this article, I look at state–indigenous relations in local elections in Taiwan. In studying elections, one learns about the dialogic relationship between indigenous groups and the state as well as about the minideals that constitute the social contract. Elections have become a part of indigenous life, even as they introduce new forms of political actors to a formerly egalitarian society. Repeated elections permit parties and state actors to negotiate deals with local individuals, groups, and factions. The electoral system, however, does not contribute to indigenous nationalism. It may even detract from its legitimacy if voters perceive indigenism as merely a campaign strategy.