Civil Society and the Quest for Taiwanese Identity

I-Hao Ben Liu1

1La Trobe University

Since Martial Law was lifted in Taiwan in 1987, the country has been undergoing rapid liberalisation in free speech and publications. Democratisation has propelled social movements carried out by civil, non-governmental and private organisations, sometimes inevitably leading to violence. Under democratisation since 1988, Taiwanese have been seeking their own identity. Ruled by foreign regimes for many centuries, namely, the Dutch, the Ming Dynasty Remnant forces, Qing Dynasty, the Japanese, and after the Second War the Nationalist government from Mainland China. The Taiwanese quest of identity has inevitably intertwined with social movements, voicing their rights, which were suppressed during the Martial Law (1948-1987) period.  One might question why and how does the quest of identity influences the broader the social movement. This paper will to explore the development of these two social forces and interactions between them.


I-Hao Ben Liu came to Australia in 1996, and completed his secondary education in Melbourne. He completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Melbourne, majoring in Chinese Studies and Political Science, and completed his Honours degree at Monash University. Later, he obtained his Master of Arts in International Politics from Melbourne University in 2008, and is currently, a Ph.D candidate at La Trobe University. His main research interests are in the fields of Taiwan and Asian Studies.


The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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