Truly Human: Indigeneity and Resurgence on Formosa

Key information

1:15 pm to 2:45 pm
Brunei Gallery, SOAS, University of London
Event type
Summer school

About this event

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 life. Truly Human contributes to a decolonizing anthropology at a time when all humans need Indigenous land-based teachings more than ever. 

Speaker's Biography

Prof. Scott E. Simon

Scott E. Simon is a socio-anthropologist (Ph.D., McGill University, 1998), Professor in the School of Sociological and Anthropological Studies. He is co-holder of the Chair of Taiwan Studies at the University of Ottawa. Engaged in Taiwan Studies since 1996, he has accumulated over 10 years of field research and residence in Taiwan. Additionally, he has conducted fieldwork in Guam and Japan. His areas of interest in research are indigenous rights, development, Taiwan's involvement in the Indo-Pacific, its international standing, and relations between Taiwan and Canada.

He has written four books and numerous articles about Taiwan. He also conducts research policy-oriented research as a Senior Fellow at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute in Ottawa and as an academic member of the Centre for International Policy Studies and the Human Rights Research and Education Centre at the University of Ottawa. 

About 2023 SOAS Taiwan Studies Summer School

The Centre of Taiwan Studies (CTS) at the SOAS, University of London is excited to present a 2.5-day Summer School programme filled with engaging talks, seminars, and roundtables, taking place right after the EATS annual conference from the afternoon of June 28th to June 30th, 2023.

In our commitment to promoting the study of Taiwan, we are pleased to offer free and open-to-public attendance for the Summer School. We highly encourage individuals from all walks of life who are interested in Taiwanese culture and Taiwan studies attend our course.