發表人/ Presenter：謝孟廷 (Lincoln University)
題目/ Title：The Tokyo Olympics and Taiwan's Nation-building: A case study of newspaper articles of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
With Taiwan achieving the highest number of medals in its history, during that period, sports nationalism in Taiwan reached a new level and got a new face. This study aims to discuss the evolutions and development of sports nationalism in Taiwan under this circumstance. Thus, this essay commences with the news reports regarding the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games and employed thematic analysis and formed themes with bottom-up approaches. Taiwanese sports nationalism could be embodied in the following three themes: 1) the recognition from foreign media, 2) Taiwan as an icon for self-recognition, and 3) the reinterpretation of the ROC’s content. The analysis argued that Olympians and their performance were considered a tool to appropriate, incorporate, and exclude the national content of the ROC in the process of building Taiwanese identity. Eventually, on the island, the name Taiwan was regarded as a synonym for a nation-state, it was frequently mentioned with its national significance. However, the nation’s name is the ROC, and its Olympic team’s name is Chinese Taipei.
Keywords: sports nationalism, national identity, the Olympics, Nation-building, Chinese Taipei
Toward a set-theoretic analysis of contemporary Taiwanese national and ethnic identity
Yung-Ying CHANG (Rutgers University)
John Chung-En LIU (National Taiwan University)
題目/Title：Be Bear Aware! The Cuddly Nationalism of Formosan Black Bear
Non-human actors like animals can organize the social self and enable people to experience group membership (Jerolmack and Savory 2014). Prior research has tapped into the roles animals play in constructing and advancing people’s ethnic identities (Jerolmack 2007; Mayorga-Gallo 2018). However, little attention has been paid to the relationship between animals and national identities, contrasting the popularity of using animals as national symbols in real life. This study provides a case of how crucial it is to include animals in the scholarship of nations and nationalism. We examined how the Formosan Black Bear (hereinafter referred to as the black bear), an endangered wild animal endemic to Taiwan, has been perceived and drawn on as a national symbol, and looked into the nation-building process featuring the black bear and its cuteness, which we termed “cuddly nationalism” that has been popular in Taiwan. We conducted interviews with different actors who have contributed to the formation and evolvement of cuddly nationalism, intentionally or unintentionally, including cultural entrepreneurs, government marketers, creators/artists, NGO workers, and bear conservationists, and content analysis of different forms of medium featuring the black bear that communicate issues of domestic, geopolitical, and international politics. Three broad themes are uncovered. First, we find that the adoption of the black bear in promoting Taiwan’s international status and consolidating national identity results from bottom-up collective efforts in the past two decades, which showcases a different pathway from most of the existing nation-branding cases (Aronczyk 2013) that primarily follow a top-down approach. Second, cuddly nationalism encourages increasing public attention to and conservation efforts on preserving the black bear, indicating that cuddly nationalism can have a positive material consequence on the animal it draws on. Third, we find that actors in different social positions reflect on and debate over the potential downsides and limitations of cuddly nationalism, opening up the conversations around the human-bear relationship and settler-colonial deprivation of indigenous land by the Han people. Given these findings, we argue that cuddly nationalism that draws upon the Formosan Black Bear is bottom-up, reflexive, and civic-oriented. It works to draw the national boundary and define national membership, but also encourages reflection on the animal-human relationship and historical injustice imposed by one ethnic group on the other. Broadly, these findings also suggest the importance of exploring dynamic animal-human interaction in the formation and evolvement of national identity and nation-building endeavors in a non-Global North context. It indicates that this approach can provide a chance to reflect upon the Western-centered theoretical concept and scholarship of nationalism, and avoid the limitation of theoretical distinction between ethnic and civic nationalism that fails to account for the dynamic and heterogeneous perception of the nation’s meanings by ordinary people (Bonikowski 2016).
Nonhumans and Identity Construction
In sociology, Jerolmack and Tavory (2014) highlights the role of nonhumans in constituting the social self. In a theoretical move to bridge the constructivist approach and actor-network theory, the authors argue that nonhumans facilitate group membership in two complimentary ways—”by molding how one is perceived by others and constraining alternative presentations of self and by acting as a totem that conjures up awareness of, and feelings of attachment to, a particular social group.”
In recent years, we have seen a plethora of sociological research examining the cultural meanings of animal practices and interpretations of animal-human relationships in shaping social group identity, roughly the “molding” aspect mentioned above. For instance, pigeon caretaking reflects and reinforces Turkish ethnic identity in Germany (Jerolmack 2007), the rat control program works to help maintain Albertan’s symbolic collective identity and the province’s geographic borders (McCumber 2021), and dog-raising is used by white residents in maintaining interracial boundary in a multiracial neighborhood (Mayorga-Gallo 2018). Animal practices could also lead to the racialization of ethnic groups by others, such as the way Californians make sense of Filipinos and their dog-eating tradition (Lassiter, Griffith, and Wolch 2002).
Less about the process in which nonhumans emerge as totems
However, few have explored the symbolic roles of animals in constructing national identities and sustaining nationalism (McCumber 2020), a phenomenon of great significance. Despite this gap, existing research has pointed to the connection between nationalism and other non-human actors or settings. For instance, environmental movements in Taiwan have developed in tandem with democratization and the pursuit of national sovereignty, leading to a peculiar development of “civic eco-nationalism” (Jobin 2021). Besides, managing food risks of animal products, such as Mad Cow Disease and African Swine Fever, could provide a chance to legitimize sovereignty and reinforce symbolic and geopolitical borders (Yuen and Kan 2021). In Switzerland, veganism that promotes alternative milks—plant-based milks— in replace of cow’s milk has sparked controversy, because cow’s milk has played an important role in the construction of Switzerland’s national identity (Ballif 2023). This study builds on prior research and focuses on the role played by animals and animal-human interaction in shaping and reflecting national identity and nation-building endeavors.
Formosan Black Bear, also known as the Taiwanese Black Bear, is an endemic species and the largest mammal in Taiwan. The black bear has suffered from poaching and habitat degradation, and thus listed as “endangered” and protected by Taiwan's Wildlife Conservation Act. Scientists estimate that the bear population is only about 500 individuals.
Data and Methods
To answer the question of what role animals play and how animals and humans interact in shaping national identity and nation-building efforts, we focus on the case of the Formosan Black Bear and the way it has been drawn on as a national symbol in Taiwan. This is a valuable case for answering that question because the shifting way in which the public, civic groups, and government agencies have perceived the Bear and worked on related projects provides rich data to be analyzed. This case is also helpful in highlighting the constructive aspect of cultural meanings. Adopting the Bear as a national symbol is possible because the image of the Bear has been transformed from ferocious and dangerous to cute and amiable by different actors, intentionally or unintentionally. Different methods helped us get at processes at different levels of analysis. We interviewed actors who contributed to this cuddly nationalism, including those at the group level, such as the conservationist in “Taiwan Black Bear Conservation Association” and advocators and artists in the US-based NGO that advocates for Taiwan’s sovereignty, “Keep Taiwan Free.” We also analyzed different forms of the medium that feature the Bear, which shows the roles played by the public perception, domestic and foreign politicians, and government agencies (such as the Tourism Bureau and Ministry of Foreign Affairs). Actors at different levels have different social positions relative to the Bear and different imaginations about what an ideal nation should look like, an analysis of which could help answer our research question.
Results and Discussion
Three broad themes are uncovered from our analysis. First, we find that cuddly nationalism results from bottom-up collective efforts, an opposite pathway from most existing nation-branding cases that are primarily top-down. It has been initiated by bear conservationists (“Taiwan Black Bear Conservation Association”), netizens (as a competing discourse against China’s wolf-warrior diplomacy), and domestic and overseas NGO workers and issue advocators (“Watchout,” “Keep Taiwan Free”), and then joined by government agencies (such as domestic politicians, overseas institutions, tourism bureau, and the US politician). Some actors intentionally use the Bear as a national symbol, such as NGOs advocating for Taiwan’s sovereignty, while others, such as bear conservationist groups, do not. Second, we find that cuddly nationalism brings actual and positive consequences to the Bear, as the public attention to and conservation efforts on preserving the Bear have increased over the past two decades. Third, we find multivocality in cuddly nationalism. Actors in different social positions reflect on and debate over the potential downsides and limitations of cuddly nationalism. For instance, bear conservationists questioned how far cuddly nationalism could go in motivating the general public to engage in the conservation of the Bear in the long term, and worried that the frenzy over the Bear would shadow other endangered animals that do not attract much public attention, such as Leopard Cat. Besides, conversations about human-bear conflict unfold as well. Human-bear conflict mainly occurs in indigenous groups’ territory, where the Bear is trapped or hunted, raising public condemnation of those indigenous groups. People from indigenous groups and those who engage in indigenous rights argue that human-bear conflict is embedded in settler-colonial history and should be made sense with that history in mind. Given these findings, we argue that cuddly nationalism that draws upon the Formosan Black Bear is bottom-up, reflexive, and civic-oriented. It works to draw the national boundary and define national membership, but also encourages reflection on the animal-human relationship and historical injustice imposed by one ethnic group on the other.
By looking into the dynamic processes in which human, animals, and animal icons interact, this study engages with the scholarship of nations and nationalism, one that has its root in Western European and American contexts. A process-focused, dynamic-emphasis approach to empirical cases outside of the Global North context, like this study, points to the possibility that nationalism in action could be enacted from below, a perspective that has been less explored (Bonikowski 2016). Nationalism could also bring forward real and positive change to the non-human actors it draws on, and encourage the dialogues upon historical injustice, such as land deprivation, in pursuit of decolonization.
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