Culture and Political Change in Contemporary Taiwan

The official end of Martial Law in 1987 marked a significant moment in Taiwan’s process of democratization and the consequent period of rapid change. Now, thirty years later, the 2016 transition in government from the KMT to the DPP, can also be understood as signifying a transformation in social, political and cultural relationships. In the wake of sustained protests against the KMT over issues such as democratic process, economic development and political sovereignty, the Tsai Ing-wen led DPP achieved an unprecedented electoral margin to take office. Whilst Tsai became President, this result also reflected the emergence of alternative sites of power. Facilitated by new technologies and approaches to political practice, these forces remain active today; continuing to influence both the legislative agenda and quotidian life. In doing so, they have helped to bring about an official and grass-roots negotiation of concepts such as trauma, democracy and justice, within the context of Taiwan’s history.

As such, Taiwan has entered a period whereby the very meaning and identity of the island are being renegotiated. Through this forum, we aim to provide a timely opportunity for the examination of these aspects and how they may best be studied.

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