Legitimacy, Meaning and Knowledge in the Making of Taiwanese by M. Harrison

By M. Harrison

Harrison bargains a brand new, serious method of figuring out the formation of Taiwan's id. It applies modern social conception and historiography to a wealth of aspect on Taiwanese politics, tradition and society.

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Understanding one category of knowledge, “nation,” in terms of others such as “printing” flattens out historical specificity and does not attend to the actions of individuals in shaping nations. A positivist theory of nationhood also tends to link national identity to modernity. ” assumes national identity as a historical effect, or as the result of certain historical processes that necessarily locate their development in a historical trajectory. Modernism is a very important dimension of Anderson’s theory, especially in the context of Taiwan.

Work on Taiwanese national identity has been informed, at least implicitly, by the large body of literature on nationhood that has emerged over the past two decades. In the early 1980s, several classic texts on the subject, including Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities, Ernest Gellner’s Nations and Nationalism,2 and Anthony Smith’s Theories of Nationalism,3 have sought to define the scope of debate on nationhood. Anderson made the 24 ● Making of Taiwanese Identity following observation in 1983: “Nation, nationality, nationalism—all have proved notoriously difficult to define, let alone analyze.

The point is not that these theories are wrong. They are legitimate on the terms under which they operate. However, they assume a relationship 20 ● Making of Taiwanese Identity between language and experience, which is that language can be used to refer to an experience separate from it. For Shapiro and Davies, reading Foucault and Derrida, this is an untenable assumption. Shapiro writes, Language is not about objects and experience, it is constitutive of objects and experience. This is not the subjectivist position that there is nothing (no thing) in the world until we recognize it or speak of it.

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