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Documenting Native Science, Decolonizing Taiwan Studies: A Conversation with Syaman Rapongan

January 24 @ 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm


Monday January 24 from 4:00-5:30 PM (PST)

Zoom link: https://ucsb.zoom.us/j/83927254188

Syaman Rapongan

Writer of Pongso no Tau

Hsinya Huang

Distinguished Professor of Comparative Literature

National Sun Yat-sen University Taiwan

Yvonne Lin, translator, University of Hawai’i,


Pivoting on a decolonizing agenda, this presentation centers Indigeneity in conjunction of settler colonialism in contemporary Taiwan studies. Examining relevant documentaries in conjunction with award-winning Pangso no Tau writer Syaman Rapongan’s narratives, this presentation represents Indigeneous Tau’s epistemology and cosmology to challenge the national borders of contemporary Taiwan (settler) nation-state and instead to focus on Indigenous-to-Indigenous relationships. In the form of a conversation with the poet himself, it postulates Tau’s adroit boat-building (Mi tatala) and navigation skills, incorporating the Tau rudimentary knowledge of waves and retrieving a symbolic order of the Tau’s kinship as well as their intimate relationship with the ocean. As the journey across the Kuroshio unfolds, the Tau people become highly aware of the significance of sustaining the traditional knowledge systems in the modern condition. The presentation probes into the encounter between Indigeneity and settler colonialism, registering Indigenous agency, vitality, and resilience as a solution to contemporary predicament in racial and environmental politics. The order of Mi tatala as well as constellations of practices surrounding it mediates inter-racial and inter-generational continuity. Finally, the decolonizing approach aims to renew Native knowledge of “subsistence” and challenge us to think beyond separatism between biophysical worlds and social worlds and (re)frame Pangso no Tau as a mediating terrain where the human meets the non-human, culture entangles with nature, and the reciprocal insights of the Indigenous people prevail.



Syaman Rapongan is an award-winning writer of Pongso no Tau. One of the most prolific writers of Indigenous Taiwan, he has published extensively on the distinct tradition of his oceanic inheritance and this robust work has been translated into English, French, Japanese, Spanish, German, etc. He founded the Studio for Native Sciences of Island Peoples in 2014 and is currently working on his autobiography, in which he posits new connections among the self, the islands/ archipelagos, and the ocean, and offers a unique planetary vision of the Pacific islanders.

Hsinya Huang is Distinguished Professor of American and Comparative Literature, National Sun Yat-Sen University (NSYSU), Taiwan. She is former Dean of Arts and Humanities and Provost of Academic Affairs and Faculty Advancement, NSYSU, and served as Director General of International Cooperation and Science Education, Ministry of Science and Technology, Taiwan, 2018-19. She is the author or editor of books and articles on Native American and Indigenous literatures, eco-criticism, and transnational studies.


January 24
4:00 pm - 5:30 pm