Studying Taiwan: The Academic Politics of Bentu in Post-authoritarian Taiwan

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This article examines an insurgent bentu discourse in the late 1980s through the present, about the theorization of society, culture, history, and locality – that were raised and intensively discussed back then by activist students and their sympathetic teachers during a time of political emergency. Before addressing this bentu quest, We first examine a so-called “nationalist social sciences” question that, triggering a feud between sociology and cultural studies in the mid-1990s, had damaged a version of bentu initiative. This article attempts to restore bentu in an alternative sense and argues that the discourse of bentu has actually helped to breed a discipline of Taiwan Studies in which self-recognition marches hand-in-hand with self-critique and inter-subject communication. It investigates how critical vigor has continued to function and to be disrupted among those former college and graduate students who are now positioning in different institutions of higher education.
Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationSociology and Anthropology in 20th Century China: Between Universalism and Indigenism
Place of PublicationHong Kong
PublisherChinese University Press
Number of pages24
ISBN (Print)9789629964757
StatePublished - 2012


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