Indigenous Hunting Rights-The Struggle for Tribal Autonomy

Key information

2:00 pm to 3:30 pm
Brunei Gallery
Event type
Summer school

About this event

Tobie Openshaw

As part of the 2022 SOAS Centre of Taiwan Studies Summer School, we kindly ask that you register to attend.

*Please be aware that this session follows British Summer Time (BST).

Also available via Microsoft Team


Since President Tsai’s apology to Taiwan’s Indigenous people in 2016, many activists and tribal groups have been working on expanding and reclaiming their rights to cultural expression in various forms.

One of the key battlegrounds for greater autonomy and self-determination has been traditional hunting rights. While firearms ownership and hunting is illegal for most people in Taiwan, Indigenous activists maintain that hunting is an inalienable part of their cultural identity, suppressed by successive colonizing powers.

With the Taiwan Forestry Department struggling to reconcile hunting and opening up of traditional territories with their conservation mandate, Indigenous activists argue that they are uniquely positioned to be the custodians of the land and all that live on it. Legislative concessions now allow for limited Indigenous hunting, but with conditions that hunters say are nonsensical, onerous, or even outright dangerous. As a result, several pilot projects are being set up to form hunting associations that can demonstrate good co-management, and police their members according to the tribal ways (called Gaga or Gaiya by some groups).

Filmmaker and UCLAN Research Fellow Tobie Openshaw has spent over 5 years conducting field work on hunting practices with several of Taiwan’s Indigenous communities, and most recently consulted on the production of a documentary film for VICE, entitled “The Homemade Guns of Taiwan” - which will be screened as part of this talk. Tobie will introduce the film and share some of the behind-the-scenes stories, while discussing the multilayered connections between hunting and land rights, cultural expression, tribal autonomy, and Indigenous knowledge.

Speaker's Bio

Tobie Openshaw is a documentary filmmaker/photographer based in Taiwan for 24 years. His work has been seen on channels such as National Geographic, Discovery, and the BBC.

Tobie is an Affiliated Research Fellow at the Center for Austronesian Studies, UCLan, and his primary subjects of interest include Indigenous hunting rights, post-colonial transitional justice, Indigenous climate resilience, and the Austronesian connection across the Pacific. He recently co-wrote a chapter entitled “Climate Change, Humility and Resilience: Analyzing a Myth of the Bunun in Taiwan” in Pacific Voices and Climate Change, published by UCLan. Tobie has been invited to speak on his experiences and insights in the Taiwan cultural landscape, social movements, and Indigenous issues at institutions such as SOAS London, UCLan, Academia Sinica Taipei, University of Ottawa, and others. He also guest-lectures on Indigenous Knowledge and Documentary Filmmaking in Taipei.

Organiser: Centre of Taiwan Studies

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