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Democracy as Hegemony, Globalization as Indigenization, or the "Culture" in Taiwanese National Politics

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Much recent scholarly writing on the Taiwan "miracle" has shifted beyond the success of economic liberalization and toward a political transition that has seen the seemingly spontaneous dismantling of an autocratic regime and the heralding of democracy as an ideological mantle. Contrasts with the failure of perestroika and market reform elsewhere have led scholars to point to the visionary role of leaders such as Chiang Ching-kuo and to institutional peculiarities (not to mention neo-Confucianism) as seminal factors underlying this transition. The appearances are deceiving, however. Beginning with the geopolitics of Taiwan's emerging neo-nationalism, I argue that the dual policy of market liberalization and ethnic indigenization was part of larger changes in the conception and practice of the state/party regime that had as its goal a new kind of hegemony that could coopt the interests of a cultural China and a Taiwanese renaissance, that in turn undermined support for an increasingly conservative Old Guard and an increasingly extremist ethnic nativism.

Affiliations: 1: Institute of Ethnology, Academia Sinica, Nankang, Taipei, Taiwan.

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