On Monday, April 17, 2023, at 3:30p.m. PT, the UW Taiwan Studies Program welcomed Professor Scott Simon to discuss his newly published monograph, Truly Human: Indigeneity and Indigenous Resurgence on Formosa.
The Sediq and Truku Indigenous peoples on the mountainous island of Formosa – today called Taiwan – say that their ancestors emerged in the beginning of time from Pusu Qhuni, a tree-covered boulder in the highlands. Living in the mountain forests, they observed the sacred law of Gaya, seeking equilibrium with other humans, the spirits, animals, and plants. They developed a politics in which each community preserved its autonomy and sharing was valued more highly than personal accumulation of goods or power. These lifeworlds were shattered by colonialism, capitalist development, and cultural imperialism in the twentieth century. Based on two decades of ethnographic field research, Truly Human portrays these peoples’ lifeworlds, teachings, political struggles for recognition, and relations with non-human animals. Taking seriously their ontological claims that Gaya offers moral guidance to all humans, Scott E. Simon reflects on what this particular form of Indigenous resurgence reveals about human rights, sovereignty, and the good of all kind.
Scott Simon (University of Ottawa), is a socio-anthropologist trained in both disciplines (anthropology and sociology). Co-holder of the Chair of Taiwan Studies at the University of Ottawa, he has lived in Taiwan for ten years and returns annually for field research. His research interests include Indigenous rights, development, the contribution of Taiwan to the Indo-Pacific, Taiwan’s international status, and Canada-Taiwan relations. He has written four books and numerous articles about Taiwan. He does policy-oriented research as member of the Centre for International Policy Studies and the Human Rights Research and Education Centre at the University of Ottawa, and as Senior Fellow at Ottawa’s Macdonald-Laurier Institute.
This event was made possible by the generous support of the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange.