Mittwoch, 08. November 2023, 18:30 - 20:00 iCal

From Martial Law to Transitional Justice in Taiwan

Liberation and Literature

Sin 1, Department of East Asian Studies, Sinology
Spitalgasse 2 Court 2 Entrance 2.3, 1090 Wien


As one of her first gestures upon taking office, President Tsai Ing-wen announced a plan to set up a truth and reconciliation commission. ‘For the new democratic system to move forward,’ she said in her 2016 inauguration speech, ‘we must first find a way to face the past together.’ She continued by remarking that, ‘The goal of transitional justice is to pursue true social reconciliation, so that all Taiwanese can take to heart the mistakes of that [authoritarian] era.’

This talk assesses the motivations, conduct, and outcomes of such projects. It contends that, for Taiwan as a contested state, transitional justice projects served as part of a legitimation strategy that included consolidation of a collective memory about earlier authoritarian state

violence, cultural and political distinction from the irredentism and authoritarianism of China,

and demonstration of adherence to international norms of democracy and human rights. As examples of the effects of the projects, it presents the speaker’s edited volume of literature in translation, Transitions in Taiwan: Stories of the White Terror, as well as public statements asserting Taiwan’s sovereignty published by members of the Indigenous Historical Justice

and Transitional Justice Committee.


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Vienna Center for Taiwan Studies

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Astrid Lipinsky
Universität Wien
Institut für Ostasienwissenschaften