受到自己之前的工作經驗影響，加上後來才接觸的國際關係、政治及外交史等學科啟發，我寫了一篇希望能透過早期荷西治台史料，研究原住民族與外來民族的「接觸」，並試圖以殖民 / 被殖民以外的角度解釋之。早在20世紀初期發展以研究世界強權為主的國際關係學科之前，這一層各大陸原住民族與西歐擴張者的接觸史其實也是種「inter-national relationship」，由於當時還沒有民族國家的概念，這裡指的「nation」便不是國家間，而是指民族間。
"To begin with, my interest in studying history with the Encompass programme was primarily inspired by my involvement with international indigenous affairs at various occasions as the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues or the Austronesian Forum sponsored by the Council of Indigenous Peoples, Executive Yuan, in Taiwan. Meeting with indigenous peoples from all over the world, I have often wondered why they all suffer from misfortunes of highly similar nature. On top of the loss of control over themselves, culture, confidence land, language, tradition and way of life, there are alarming numbers of violations against indigenous women and children, extreme poverty, forced relocation, high unemployment rate, inadequate income, insufficient political representation, low education level, poor medical service, short life expectancy and so on. The severity of these problems varies from region to region; nevertheless, almost no indigenous community on this planet is immune to the threat.
Born to an indigenous family (Paiwan) in southern Taiwan, I have had unpleasant experiences with some of the problems mentioned above, but many in the village still experience them on a daily basis. Slowly, as time passes, many projects have been proposed and adopted as solutions. One essential element among them all is the restoration and the preservation of the disappearing tradition, the indigenous way of life. Instead of following assimilation, a major cause of pains in the past, every state can choose to act otherwise without jeopardizing its political or territorial integrity. One of the alternatives is the grant of autonomy or self-government, to allow indigenous peoples to enjoy their way of life on their own land. Only until recently did state governments take this responsibility and acknowledge to different degrees indigenous peoples’ rights to survival, including self-government. For example, the Philippines made ‘Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act’ in the Philippines in 1997 and Taiwan passed the third reading of ‘Indigenous Peoples’ Basic Act’ in Taiwan in 2005. These acts help to protect the rights of local indigenous peoples. Similar legal improvement also takes place where the state government doesn’t even recognize the term ‘indigenous people’, such as in Mainland China where the ‘Ethnic Regional Autonomy Law’ was made in 1984.
Recognition of indigenous rights implies the correction of long-term injustice. Nevertheless, indigenous peoples’ joy is only halfway because to make laws is one thing but to do them is quite another. As many facts testify, many governments experience tremendous difficulties when trying to make these regulations work. The entire outlook is not promising. There are many reasons to the failure of proper implementation of indigenous legislation. One of them, as I consider mostly relevant to my study of history, is the ignorance of the past and an excessive amount of conflicting personal assumptions of the past. In fact, these two often come hand in hand. How could a people, which has lived under another culture long enough to erase their memory of a collective past, reconstruct their way of life and modify it based on current needs when they simply don’t have a clue or instead have too many clues? Ignorance doesn’t lead anywhere; conflicting opinions only slows down the entire process. In the end, the number of unsolved problems grows with the number of well-intended legislation made. The reality therefore becomes rather ironic and frustrating.
It is based on this observation that I begin to see the importance (or the dire need) of studying history, particularly the history of indigenous peoples in Taiwan. Unlike followers of anthropology and linguistics disciplines who gather data through personal contact, I, driven by my previous academic experiences, intend to base my study of indigenous history on a solid textual research: I intend to read and analyze archives on Taiwan’s indigenous peoples written in Dutch, Spanish and English, to construct a comprehensive picture of the indigenous presence before Chinese Ching dynasty and Japanese occupation. This choice is made upon three considerations. First, historical archives written in Mandarin and Japanese have been read oftener than those in Dutch and Spanish mainly because of a smaller language barrier and a greater accessibility. In other words, a lot still needs to be uncovered from the sources scattered in European countries to complement researches based on the Japanese and Chinese sources. Second, as commonly known, indigenous societies in Taiwan were mainly governed by their own laws prior to the contact with Europeans (the Dutch and Spaniards) in the 17th century. They were practicing self-government before any influence came and compelled their autonomy to transform and even disappear. It is important to learn more about the period prior to contacts because this knowledge will enlighten what changes have occurred later, how and why. This knowledge is vital to any people’s survival, and I believe reading the European archives will help in one way or another. Third, the 17th century also bears witnesses to great changes in Europe itself. The thirty-year war over religion finally ended in the year of 1648. It was followed by the signing of the ‘Treaty of Westphalia’ that gave birth to concepts of sovereignty states and diplomacy. Such domestic changes would have reasonable impact upon foreign policies employed by major sea powers like Netherlands, Spain and England, who further reshaped the fate of peoples they encountered on foreign soils with the policies they chose. This connection is valuable and worthy of further investigation. It will reveal how local indigenous peoples fared under the power of foreign rulers who changed faces according to the situations at home.
To sum up, my interest of study is ‘the indigenous people’ described in European sources, namely the Dutch, Spanish and English texts. Instead of focusing on linguistic features, cultural practices, economic activities or societal structures, I intend to study the flesh and bones of the encounter between European powers and indigenous peoples. What was the ‘indigenous diplomacy’ in these early centuries? Was it always a hierarchy or did some sort of equilibrium exist? Why did indigenous peoples adopt certain policies (alliance or allegiance) instead of others? Was any strategy repeatedly used more than others or what was the general pattern? Did these manoeuvres change or under what kind of circumstance? And, how did these different strategies or manoeuvres influence the survival of the indigenous people? Solid answers to these questions can only be retrieved through pages of archives because almost no living elder could remember the past from that long time ago. But the path must be tread. Rather than the colonizer-colonized relationship, this study of the encounter is an attempt to discover, as long as the archives allow, another type of relationship (mutually-employed hierarchy or balance of interests) between indigenous peoples and European powers.
My interest in the Encompass programme is strong, so is my faith. There is no doubt that mastering Dutch, acquiring the academic methodology and being given the access to archives will press me further towards my goal. But now the question remains with ‘how’. Since my intention is to study the encounter between indigenous peoples and European powers, an ‘interdisciplinary comparative method’ will be the most profitable to reach the aim. The word ‘interdisciplinary’ implies a loan of ideas (such as power politics) from International Relations tradition that goes back to the time of the Greek historian Thucydides. Hence, ‘inter-disciplinary’ means the combination of the history discipline and the social science discipline. Historians have made significant contributions to the building of International Relations tradition by examining closely the relationships between powerful states. For example, E. H. Carr’s Twenty Years’ Crisis (1939) heralds the era of Realism in International Relations tradition.
But in International Relations and early history works, the focus has never reached beyond the world of powerful states because many believe that most states repeat whatever the great powers do and the study of great powers will suffice to explain the entire world. Accordingly, even fewer pay any attention to the relationship between indigenous peoples and a completely different power. But I believe, if properly studied, the encounter between indigenous peoples and early European powers like the Dutch, the Spaniards and the English has as much to offer to International Relation as the encounter between two great powers. Rather than the meaning of ‘between the states’, the word ‘inter-nation’ will be given a new meaning that goes like ‘between different peoples’.
In addition to ‘interdisciplinary’, the word ‘comparative’ means to look beyond the border and draw conclusions based on comparisons between different types of encounters. How local populations respectively in Indonesia and in Taiwan dealt with the Dutch merchants can be compared, so can how indigenous peoples in the south and the north of Taiwan reacted towards the Dutch and Spaniards in the 17th century be compared. The benefits are multiple since the ways of both Europeans and indigenous peoples will be revealed.
The Encompass programme grants two years to a student who wishes to study a certain subject. Except for the first year when most efforts shall be paid to the language and basic knowledge, a student only has one year to research and write. To take this time limit seriously, one must set goals, make the best of existing resources and prioritize research steps. Personally, my goal is to build a firm foundation for future studies by learning the language well, acquiring the methodology for a sound historical research and making connections with the whereabouts of important archives. These are invaluable assets for any historian. I will also use existing resources wisely by starting my research with the publications of different archives on indigenous peoples. For example, The Formosan Encounter: Notes on Formosa’s Aboriginal Society: A Selection of Documents from Dutch Archival Sources Volume I (1623-1635), II (1936-1645) and III (1646-1654), edited by J.L. Blussé and N.C. Everts, will be the primary source for the Dutch encounter, and Spaniards in Taiwan Volume I (1582-1641) and II (1642-1682), edited by José Eugenio Borao Mateo, will be the ground text for the Spanish encounter. Given their publishing year and language, it’s understandable why these valuable publications have not yet been read nor analyzed extensively. They are new and they require a certain level of knowledge in Dutch and Spanish. But since much information about indigenous peoples in Taiwan is housed inside these volumes, I have to put them on top of my reading list.
To elaborate in details, my study of the encounter between indigenous peoples and European powers may be divided into the following themes:
1st. Theories of international relations and its application to the history of indigenous peoples: Although international relations is mostly the study of major political powers, one of its longstanding theories, Realism, has actually been inspired by the works of early historians. It is said that the study of major powers is enough to explain how the world works because small states will follow suits. However, for the indigenous world that has been undermined and silenced for centuries, it takes efforts to prove whether the same rules apply. So in this part of the study, I will review the tradition of International Relations and explain its application to the study of indigenous history. Perhaps besides terrible massacres, there was a possible organization or strategy that had successfully caused the policies of the dominating foreign power to backfire and severely crippled the latter. To prove this, one will have to study International Relations.
2nd. Dutch experience with local peoples in Southeast Asia: Before reaching Da-yuan (southern Taiwan) under the leadership of Commander Martinus Sonck in 1624, the Dutch merchants had traveled from island to island in Southeast Asia to establish strongholds for trade, including the Pescadores or Peng-Hu. Their experiences in other places are informative. They would reveal the nature of their voyage and their policies towards local peoples. Knowing their experiences in other places before Taiwan is the foundation for the conclusion on the common indigenous strategies employed in Asia against the Dutch.
3rd. Dutch experience with Taiwan’s indigenous peoples in the south: As said above, The Formosan Encounter is a perfect source for this part of study. Thanks to the work pulled together by excellent predecessors, I have much to start with for a journey into the silent past of the indigenous peoples in Taiwan. Many researches can be based on these three volumes, and special attention will be paid on the organization, meeting, assembly, association, alliance or invisible ideology formed by local indigenous peoples to act against or in cooperation with the Dutch people in southern Taiwan.
4th. Spanish experience with Taiwan’s indigenous peoples in the north: Again as above, the 2-volume Spaniards in Taiwan is the ground text for this part of study. Between the years of 1626 and 1642, Taiwan was home to two European sea powers: the Dutch in the south and the Spaniards in the north. Not only were they different powers, but the local indigenous populations they neighbored also belonged to different ethnic groups. A comparison between the north and the south will offer clues to the ways of indigenous peoples in Taiwan.
5th. Conclusion - New Inter-National Relation: By different levels of comparison (between Taiwan and other Asian states / between the south and north of Taiwan), I hope to find solid answers to several questions abovementioned. I hope to answer what was the ‘indigenous diplomacy,’ and I’d also like to show a new type of ‘international relationship beyond the definition resulted from the study of conventional great powers. Before the concept of state was developed, indigenous communities were independent entities (agents or actors in International Relations terms) inside their world system. There were violent fights over territories, alliances or functional marriages. Each of them acted like modern states, even though the scale was smaller and the nature simpler. Consequently, the encounter between indigenous peoples and European powers is also one type of ‘inter-national’ relation.
In order to prepare myself for the study of indigenous history in the Netherlands, I have since this February been attending a Dutch language and culture course in National Taiwan Normal University under the instruction of Professor Ann Heylen. Since language is of the utmost importance to the study, it will be better for me to start early. In addition, I am also taking another course on international relations at a local private school to acquaint myself with the International Relations tradition. My literature background pays back instantly after I started studying Dutch and International Relations for I pick up another foreign language easier than before and International Relations isn’t really terrifying. I have also read books, theses and dissertations on the topic. For me, these preparations are necessary and the efforts will not be wasted.
In my point of view, this study is important in many senses. It gives the chance for the world to acknowledge its indigenous past, at least in the region of Southeast Asia. The silent do not necessarily wish to be silenced, but they need help to break the ice. Also, the contour of the future often lies hidden in the past. As most of the indigenous peoples strive for survival in the 21st century and fight for disappearing lands and rights, reminding them of how their ancestors survived (or perished) under previous rulers can help to orient them towards a better future. Although the statement sounds ideal, the necessity remains put. Lastly, in terms of academic contribution, this study will improve people’s knowledge about indigenous peoples in Taiwan and help to fill the gap in the study of indigenous history. In either way, this study is necessary and meaningful.
Albert Einstein said, ‘The future is an unknown, but a somewhat predictable unknown. To look to the future, we must first look back upon the past’ (Interviews, 1930). Taiwan was once under many different rulers, the Dutch, the Spanish, the Chinese Ching Dynasty and the Japanese; consequently, its earliest inhabitants, the indigenous peoples, were forced to face these foreign powers in their own ways. How did they do it? Were there as many failures as successes? I want to try to answer by myself. It is fair to say my motivation to study with the Encompass programme and ultimately graduate with a MA degree in history may be emotional, but as a member of a diminishing indigenous people, I’d rather choose to take that motivation as the impetus to move me forward to be taught by history. "