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The development of self-perceptions of ethnicity and ethnic identification of undergraduates with indigenous and Han Chinese heritage
undergraduates with indigenous and Han Chinese heritage
self-perceptions of ethnicity
In recent years, marriages between the indigenous people and the Han Chinese of Taiwan have become more and more common. As a result, there is a high percentage of people with both indigenous and Han Chinese heritage in the indigenous population of Taiwan. Currently, most available studies regarding indigenous people have focused on the cultural adaptation issues of urban indigenous people and intermarriage between indigenous and Han Chinese people. Only a very few studies have put emphases on people with indigenous and Han Chinese heritage. On the other hand, people with indigenous and Han Chinese heritage are different from indigenous people in general, and cannot be treated on the same grounds. Also, different combinations of their parents’ ethnicities may cause different influences. Thus, people with indigenous and Han Chinese heritage are unique and worth studying. This study adopts the qualitative research method. The data was collected from the in-depth interviews with the six participants of this study. The purpose was to explore the ethnic images that undergraduates with indigenous and Han Chinese heritage perceived, their own perceptions of their ethnicity and the corresponding influential factors and meanings. This study also aims to inquire the development process of these undergraduates’ ethnic identification and its relationship with their self-perceptions of ethnicity. The findings of this study include three main aspects. First, in the formation process of self-perceptions of ethnicity, the students could interpret rather superficial ethnic images. Although their parents’ ethnic images were directly passed on to them, the influences weren’t strong. Furthermore, the ethnic images of those more involved with indigenous affairs were often more positive. Secondly, this study found that the strongest influence in the lives of undergraduates with indigenous and Han Chinese heritage was cultural hegemony. However, even though these undergraduates could not escape the domination of cultural hegemony, they still had agency to transform and overcome the existing constraints. Lastly, in the aspect of the ethnic identification, for these undergraduates with indigenous and Han Chinese heritage, being “half-and-half”, the most important influential factors behind their ethnic identification are ethnic contact and acknowledgement of indigenous identity. Each of the students had a different starting point in the development process of ethnic identification and could also have more than one mode of identity. Finally, based on the research findings and conclusions, this study provides some specific suggestions for undergraduates with indigenous and Han Chinese heritage, the educational system and related administration of Taiwan, and future researchers, in hopes that people with indigenous and Han Chinese heritage, who are “crammed in a crevice standing with each foot in a different boat”, can appreciate themselves more and discover their own bi-racial advantages. It is also hoped that the society can truly abandon the presumption of sameness among ethnicities and learn the differences and uniqueness of various groups, so as to create a more friendly living space for all racial and ethnic groups.
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