Please join us this evening at 5:00pm CT for a presentation from U Chicago alumnus and visiting Senior Fulbright Fellow Chun-bin Chen!
Abstract: This paper aims to support and expand James Clifford’s debate on indigenous diasporas. He notes that indigenous diaspora is not a condition of exile, and a return of indigenous diasporas may take many forms. Although work with urban indigenous people has employed the concept of diaspora, the experience of those indigenous people who are living on or near ancestral lands in reduced areas (I call them “diasporas in ancestral lands”) has generally not informed diasporas discourse. The diasporas in ancestral lands discussed in this paper live in Papulu Village and belong to Pinuyumayan group, one of Taiwan’s 16 Indigenous Peoples. This village was established on a Pinuyumayan traditional territory occupied by Han settlers since the late 19th century, by a group of villagers moving out from the old Puyuma Village in the 19030s. Male age-set organizations, the men’s house and boys’ house, are a fundamental basis of Pinuyumayan social structure, but Papulu Village has not built a boys’ house since its establishment. “The Legacy,” a Papulu youth performing group established in 1998, has been partly fulfilling functions of a traditional boys’ house, through the group’s year-end door-to-door singing that initiates the village’s annual ritual and demarcates the village’s territory beyond its physical borders. Although the song and dance the Legacy performs are hybrid, incorporating Indigenous and non-Indigenous elements, through their musicking Papulu villagers experience a virtual return to their old Puyuma Village. By taking the Papulu people as an example of diasporas in ancestral lands to question the indigenous/diaspora opposition, I argue that indigenous diaspora studies not only help us better understand contemporary indigenous experiences, but also encourage us to rethink notions of home and spatial-temporal relationships in diaspora discourse.