Diachronic analysis of human-object relations: a case study of the Kavinyangang ancestral pots, Taiwan

Visiting Scholar Talks

Oct 11, 2023 | 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM

Common Room (#136), 2 Divinity Avenue, Cambridge, MA,


Chih-Hua Chiang | Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, National Taiwan University; HYI Visiting Scholar, 2023-24


Matt Liebmann | Peabody Professor of American Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University

Co-sponsored by the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies

The indigenous peoples of Taiwan currently make up less than 3% of Taiwan’s population, yet they hold a significant position in contemporary Taiwanese politics and social development. Throughout Taiwan’s long history of democratic movements, the indigenous peoples have never been absent. As a result, the Council of Aboriginal Affairs was established in the central government after the first presidential election. There are guaranteed seats for indigenous peoples in national exams, public services, and in parliament. The current President, Tsai Ing-wen, also formally apologized to the indigenous peoples on the Indigenous Day of her first year presidency. However, the government have not truly reflected upon Taiwan’s colonial history, thus continuing to perpetuate and solidify various discriminations against the indigenous peoples.

In such a context, as a Taiwanese archaeologist, it is imperative to engage in deep self-reflection on our roles and the ways in which our research is conducted.In this presentation, I will introduce the project that I have been collaborating on with indigenous community over the past few years. Since this is an ongoing project, I will just discuss some preliminary observations and reflections.I will begin by telling the story of the ancient pottery project. I aim to demonstrate the processes of forgetting and remembering of the ancestral pots in the contemporary indigenous Paiwan community and how that can inspire archaeologists to reflect on the entanglements between material objects, memory and social relations through time.

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