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Passage to Rights: Rethinking Indigenous People’s Drinking Practices in Taiwan

WU, YI-CHENG (2021) Passage to Rights: Rethinking Indigenous People’s Drinking Practices in Taiwan. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



This thesis aims to explicate the meaning of indigenous people’s drinking practices and their relation to indigenous people’s contemporary living situations in settler-colonial Taiwan. ‘Problematic’ alcohol use has been co-opted into the diagnostic categories of mental disorders; meanwhile, the perception that indigenous people have a high prevalence of drinking nowadays means that government agencies continue to make efforts to reduce such ‘problems’. Indigenous people in Taiwan still face continuous marginalisation and systemic discrimination which render drinking a prominent issue. However, interventions based on public health narratives lack efficacy due to discordant understandings of illness, moral experience and perceptions of culture.
Based on 12 months of multi-sited research in Taiwan, my study finds indigenous drinking cultures have been both generated and reshaped by their life situations, both historically and contemporarily. Drinking practices today reveal suffering under structural violence but also show resistance emerging from social change. Drinking is also practised at the interstices of contested values that make health narratives invalid. An ever-reproducing drinking culture shows a gesture of self-fashioning under multiple sufferings, as well as strategies to restore livelihoods. In the time to pursue transitional justice, indigenous people’s symbolic sobriety unfolds through resistance against current governmentality over drinking in one sense, but fighting for autonomy in another. Therefore, drinking can be understood as a ‘passage to rites/rights’ that represents the struggle of indigenous people in search of traditional values and future respect.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Anthropology, Department of
Thesis Date:2021
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:22 Apr 2021 16:57

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