Macquarie University
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Cultural survival, Indigenous knowledge, and relational sustainability: a comparison of case studies in Taiwan and Australia

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posted on 2022-03-28, 00:51 authored by Hau-Ren Hung
This thesis is a comparative study of Indigenous people's cultural survival under impacts of colonisation. The aim is to explore the use of Indigenous knowledge in decolonising relationships of exclusion, and in facilitating social and ecological sustainability in settler societies. The basic premise is that Indigenous knowledge derived from place not only empowers minorities to confront the impacts of social exclusion, but contributes to ways of dealing with social injustice and ecological crisis in this time of rapid social and ecological change. -- The thesis starts by inspecting the colonial histories of two settler societies in Australasia: Taiwan and Australia. Settlers' stereotypes of Indigenous people, and the different uses and values of land between settlers and Indigenous people, are respectively reviewed and analysed. In addition, I explore the concepts of national parks and nature conservation. The first national parks created in both countries functioned as another mode of colonisation. The idea of wilderness and policies of nature conservation, excluding Indigenous people and suppressing their livelihood and traditional culture, caused tense situations between national parks and Indigenous people. The development and changes in national parks are briefly overviewed. The first part provides the base upon which the fieldwork chapters are mounted. -- There is a strong emphasis in the presentation of the fieldwork data on the value and significance of Indigenous knowledge. I work with three case studies of cultural survival relating to sacred mountains and national parks: Yushan National Park in Taiwan, and Gulaga and Gundabooka National Parks in NSW, Australia. The case studies provide the social and cultural context for investigating Indigenous knowledge, social inclusion, and environmental crisis. A major focus is the Elders' transmission of Indigenous knowledge and core values to Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. Ideas of relational sustainability, involving complex and subtle networks between humans, non-humans, and natural environments, are implicated in systems of Indigenous knowledge. Relational sustainability is an important framework for organising and expressing key values. -- In the last part, I examine the similarities and differences between Taiwan and Australia concerning impacts of colonisation of Indigenous people, land, and culture. In terms of cultural survival, I compare and contrast the formation and contents of Indigenous knowledge in relation to myths and laws. The Indigenous philosophy of the gift plays a crucial role in understanding the relevant values through which Indigenous people shape and practice relational sustainability. My analysis proposes that beyond gift economy, relational sustainability entails a gift ecology.. -- The research reveals that both for Indigenous people and national parks, cultural survival and ecological survival are interdependent and reciprocal to an extent that they may best be thought as one and the same thing. The key values discovered in this research, which have been practiced by Indigenous people for thousands years, indicate a sophisticated relational sustainability. A relational gift philosophy helps people to reconcile with each other and the land, thus facilitating social and ecological sustainability in contexts of decolonisation. Through the practice and communication of traditional knowledge by Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, social reconciliation and ecological sustainability may be improved. Finally, my research is intended to open dialogues and build bridges between Taiwan and Australia, East and West, Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples, colonisation and decolonisation, localisation and globalisation.


Table of Contents

Introduction -- Part 1: Australasian settler societies: Isla Formosa and Terra Australia -- 1. Indigenous people, land and colonisation in Taiwan -- 2. Indigenous people, land and colonisation in New South Wales, Australia -- 3. Indigenous people, land and national parks -- Part 2: The ancient covenant and the heart of the hunter: Kalibuan and Tongku Saveq -- 4. Introduction to Kalibuan and Tongku Saveq -- 5. Tongku Saveq school: place-based education for Bunun culture and knowledge -- 6. The heart of the hunter -- Part 3: Recuperative reconciliation: Gulaga and Gundabooka -- 7. Overview: Gulaga and Gundabooka -- 8. Parks as teaching places: Gulaga and Gundabooka -- 9. Core values for cultural survival and sustainable living in NSW -- Part 4: Good stories and great givers -- 10. Comparisons and contrasts: a hopeful analysis -- 11. The great givers -- Conclusion


Bibliography: pages 269-280 November 2012

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


PhD, Macquarie University, Faculty of Arts, Department of Anthropology

Department, Centre or School

Department of Anthropology

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Deborah Bird Rose

Additional Supervisor 1

Daniel Fisher


Copyright disclaimer: Copyright Hau-Ren Hung 2013.




1 online resource (xiv, 280 pages) colour illustrations, colour maps

Former Identifiers

mq:33166 2116593