Sunday, October 26, 2008

Paper On Parade: Cultural Brokerage, Japanese Subalterns, Aborigine Wives

Paul Barclay was kind enough to lead me to a copy of his fascinating article Cultural Brokerage and Interethnic Marriage in Colonial Taiwan: Japanese Subalterns and Their Aborigine Wives, 1895–1930 (The Journal of Asian Studies 64, no. 2 (May 2005):323–360). This long, informative, and well-written article tells the story of Qing and Japanese policy toward intermarriage between their own people and the aboriginal peoples, the role of such couples as brokers and buffers between the colonialist and the colonized, and the stories of the individuals who acted in these roles.

Barclay places the relations between the various players in Taiwan into the framework of world systems theory....

Hall’s definition of a frontier as “a region or zone where two or more distinct cultures, societies, ethnic groups, or modes of production come into contact” will be used to describe Taiwan’s so-called savage border (2000, 241). Hall defines three ideal types of frontier based on relative degrees of incorporation into a world system, which will be used as analytical tools to make general claims about the emergence, vicissitudes, and disappearance of cultural brokerage in Taiwan. They are the “contact periphery,” that is, a frontier with little or no sustained connection to a core after initial contact; the “marginal periphery,” which participates in an intersocietal division of labor while retaining a separate corporate existence; and the “dependent periphery,” whose economy requires sustained involvement in (unequal) exchange relations with the core. Through trade dependency and/or political conquest, dependent peripheries are incorporated into the world system to which they had once been external or marginal (241–43). The Han-dominated side of the frontier is herein considered the “core” because it contains the linkages to other cores beyond Taiwan’s shores (Fuzhou, Beijing, Tokyo, Nagasaki, or London). Moreover, Aborigine societies have historically been incorporated into Han- or Japanese-centered political economies, while movement in the other direction has been infrequently observed.
In this framework, cultural brokers, who broker exchanges between different parts of the periphery, can trade profitably but with little political clout in contact peripheries, but become useless in the dependent periphery, where brokerage is not necessary and direct control by the core system is exercised. Hence their most profitable and powerful role is astride the marginal periphery.

Under the Dutch and Qing a system of roles later collectively called tongshi arose to handle relations between the aborigines and the Chinese. Barclay quotes Yu Yonghe's account of his journey in Taiwan (see Macabe Keliher's excellent 2004 book Out of China for more on Yu):
In each administrative district a wealthy person is made responsible for the village revenues. These men are called “village tax-farmers” [sheshang]. The village tax-farmer in turn appoints interpreters (tongshi) and foremen (huozhang) who are sent to live in the villages, and who record and check up on... the barbarians (fan).... But these [interpreters and foremen] take advantage of the simple-mindedness of the barbarians and never tire of fleecing them.... Moreover, they take the barbarian women (fanfu) as their wives and concubines (qiqie). (Thompson 1964, 195–96;
A key point is that the tongshi had both knowledge of aboriginal languages and married into the local tribal structures, giving them access to both sides of the Han-aborigine divide.

Of course, there was considerable variation in the influence and power of the tongshi, who operated in conjunction with local bullies to oppress the aborigines. In the south they terrorized the lowland aborigines who had taken on some "civilized" ways -- the so-called "cooked" aborigines of the plains, but in the north they had less success, and against the "raw" aborigines of the mountainous interior they had no political clout at all, merely engaging in "taxation" which was actually trade. David Faure, in one of his excellent pieces on aborigines in the Qing period, (see In Search of the Hunters and Their Tribes), observes that the tongshi also engaged in political activity, though on an ambassadorial basis. For example, after the massive revolt in 1721, the plains tribes near Tainan were recruited into the effort to capture the rebels, and tongshi were ordered into the mountains to obtain the assistance of the aboriginals.

As Qing power expanded in the first half of the 1700s, as settlement expanded, the State actively suppressed the tongshi, and put aborigines in Qing schools, and the aborigines themselves learned Han languages and how to do business, Han style. The tongshi system was on the ropes, but rebellions in 1731 and 1740 changed Qing strategy.

During the Qianlong period (1736-95), reports Barclay, the Qing changed their strategy. They halted the expansion of Han settlement and attempted to reconcile two competing objectives, increasing farmed land, and reducing incidents of frontier violence. They thus divided the frontier into three separate sections, subdividing the world system into Han, cooked aborigine, and raw aborigine spheres, fixing the boundaries of what had been a flexible and intermixed border. The cooked aborigines acted as a buffer between Han on one side and the raw aborigines on the other, with a system of military camps and outposts (in Taichung where I live, the long straight roads on the far side of the Han River, Jungong Rd and some of the parallel roads, represent the Qing era military roads used to shuttle troops north-south along the frontier. "Jungong" of course stands for military success). The result was that with the permanent establishment of a sphere for "raw" aborigines, the tongshi once again had a place in the system as brokers between the mountains and the plains.

As in so many frontier societies, the key to acquisition of land and trade opportunities was intermarriage into the native societies. Hence as early as the 1720s, according to Barclay, Qing officials became concerned about intermarriage, and banned it altogether in 1737. However, as Barclay notes:

Since such unions produced the tongshi necessary for keeping tabs on the population beyond the passes, however, they were secretly tolerated by local officials. Examples of men who violated the prohibition to become prominent in the annals of rural administration and reclamation included Wu Sha, who married into Sandiao Village near Taipei in the late eighteenth century, and Huang Qiying, who married into a Saisiyat village in Nanzhuang during the 1810s (Ino¯ 1903, 1016–19) (see maps 2 and 3, fig. 2).
Barclay then moves on to discuss the females, who as many Western observers noted in the second half of the 19th century, had become the key actors in these brokerage relationships. It is important to keep in mind that while Westerners often seeing the Other as mysterious, passive recipient of the relationship with the core, when in fact they were dynamically reworking these relations of symbol, trade, and political power. Just as the men were legitimated in the native societies by their marriages to the females, so the women gained access to the colonial societies by their marriages to its males....
Western visitors to Taiwan in the treaty-port era observed that Aborigine women were central to cultural brokerage in the marginal periphery. In 1857 future British consul Robert Swinhoe wrote: "I had the pleasure of seeing a few [Aborigine] women, who were married to Chinese at...[Hengchun]... [A] Chinaman named Bancheang, of large landed property, traded with the Kalees [Paiwan] of the hills...He was constantly at variance with the Chinese authorities who had outlawed him, but could not touch him, as he was so well defended by his numerous Chinese dependants, and the large body of Aborigines at his beck. This man was wedded to a Kalee..." (2001, 66).

A few years later, William Pickering, a well-known interpreter in his own right, described the chief of one village as a "T’ong-su" (tongshi), the “headman of the tribe, responsible to the Chinese government.” Pickering wrote that the “women had some knowledge of the Celestial tongue, from being employed as go-betweens in their bartering with the Chinese... This old woman [our interpreter], named Pu-li-sang, was no novice to the ways of civilization, as she had, years ago, been married to a Chinese, and also had lived from some time with the [shengfan] Bangas..." (1898/ 1993, 143). On the eve of the Japanese invasion in 1874, American naturalist Joseph Steere confirmed the role of Aborigine women as mediators in commerce between mountain and plain: "The Kale-whan [Paiwan], in times of scarcity, frequently sell their daughters to the Chinese and Pepo-whans [Peipoban/Pingpufan], who take them as supplementary wives and make them useful as interpreters in thus bartering with the savages. While we were among the Kale-whan the chief offered to sell us three girls of the tribe at twenty dollars each" (1874/2002, 314).
When the Japanese arrived they first plugged into this system of Chinese tongshi and aboriginal wives in their dealings with the aboriginal peoples. The Japanese then spurned the use of male cooked aborigines and Han husbands, on the grounds that they would not be respected by the mountain peoples, and instead turned to the women. Success in southern Taiwan, for example, was due to the efforts of a Beinan woman...

The Beinan interpreter variously referred to by Japanese as “Dada,” “Xi Lu Niu,” and “Tata Rara” played a pivotal role in this enterprise. Tata was born in 1864 to a paramount chief named Ansheng. During the Charles LeGendre and Saigo¯ Tsugumichi expeditions of 1872 through 1874 (see Eskildsen 2002; Yen 1965), Ansheng collaborated closely with Americans and Japanese (LeGendre 1874, 3:408–9; Nihon shiseki kyo¯kai 1933, 2:351;5 Hara 1900; Ino¯ 1918/1995, 1:157–58). Tata married a Chinese man named Zhang, who appears in documents as both an interpreter and prosperous merchant—one source calls him Yichun, the other Xinzhang (Ino¯ 1918/ 1995, 1:157; Sagara 1896). Tata spoke Minnan as well as the Beinan, Paiwanese, and Amis languages. She earned a salary of six yuan per month as a Qing tongshi (Ino¯1918/1995, 1:157).
Shades of Pocahontas and Sacajawea! In 1901 she received a commendation from the governor-general's office as well as a lump sum of 40 yen.

Barclay then narrates how the Japanese came to view the abuses of the tongshi with the same distaste that Qing officials did. The problem was that local interpreters were absolutely necessary -- the clunky system of official intercourse meant that Japanese officials needed Official Translators who translated into the local Han languages to local Han interpreters who in turn spoke to the aborigines. It became apparent that Japanese officialdom was at the mercy of various cultural brokers who abused their control over relations with the aborigines and exploited the latter mercilessly.

The Japanese had moved quickly to establish Japanese language schools among the Paiwan in the south by 1896, says Barclay, but in the turbulent north matters took a different turn, and the Japanese were forced to engage in the complexities of local marriage politics. Barclay's paragraph describing is a microcosm of the misunderstandings and power politics on both sides:
Puli subprefect Hiyama Tetsusaburo was the first prominent Japanese official to marry into an Aborigine polity. In early 1896, Hiyama wed the daughter of a paramount Wushe (Musha) chief named Bihau Sabo.7 To seal the alliance with Bihau, Hiyama slaughtered two oxen and numerous pigs in addition to distributing jars of liquor and blankets at the wedding feast. Ignorant of the local languages and oblivious to Wushe’s historical enmity with Toda, another cluster of villages to the east of Wushe, Hiyama admitted several non-Wushe guests to enjoy the largesse. After the celebration, Wushe warriors ambushed the returning Toda men and took their wedding gifts away, upset that Hiyama would treat visitors from afar with the same generosity shown to the tribe that provided his bride. Hiyama later distributed an ox and a jar of liquor to neighboring Toda, Perugawan, and Truku to display his impartiality, which only brought Bihau back to fire off his matchlock at Hiyama’s gate for assuming the paramount chief’s prerogative of distributing gifts among the subsidiary tribes (Hochi shinbun, April 5, 1896; Iriye 1896a, 29; Araki 1976, 2:79; Deng 2001, 164).8
In later racial and social discourses on Japanese-aborigine racial relations these marriages would disappear, but they were "commonplace" in the first decades of Japanese rule, according to Barclay. By 1899, a short 4 years into Japanese rule, Japanese officials, like the Qing literati before them, were expressing the opinion that such relationships were causing problems...

In 1899 Sanjiaoyong district officer Satomi Yoshimasa complained to Taipei governor Murakami Yoshio that Japanese-banpu unions were causing undue friction with local males. Satomi suggested that Japanese civilians be forced to apply for permits before taking banpu as wives. Murakami then proposed a system of punishments for Japanese men who abandoned banpu mates. In addition, Murakami recommended state support for the abandoned women, whose local marriage prospects had been ruined by public association with foreigners.
These marriages took place against a background of debate in Japanese society over marriage and modernity: could a modern state tolerate a system of second wives and concubinage? Where did these women fit in? Were their children legitimate? If so, how? In 1880 the government abolished the legitimacy of second wives/concubines, but the practice remained, of course, well into the Showa period.

Despite Japanese individuals who treated their aborigines wives as "wives" the majority appeared to treat them as concubines, causing severe problems for relations with the aborigines, especially among peoples such as the Atayal who practiced strict monogamy and severely punished adulterers. The result was violence toward Japanese who violated these morals, and, according to the Japanese, at least two revolts could be traced to aboriginal unhappiness with the treatment of their women by the Japanese. Tellingly, despite the many Japanese-aboriginal marriages, not one is recorded in the Colonial registries, though mixed marriages of every description involving non-Japanese were meticulously recorded.

One reason for these officially sanctioned marriages was that state expansion in Taiwan happened so rapidly that Japanese could not train their policemen and soldiers in Austronesian languages fast enough. Hence the police burean chief argued in 1907:
I need not mention that success in managing the Aborigines hinges upon the ability of our translators. . . . The quickest route to cultivating translators would be to give occasional financial assistance to the appropriate men and have them officially marry banpu.

Barclay relates the tale of the Kondo brothers:

In January 1909, the brothers Kondo were married to Obin Nukan and Diwas Ludao, in a government-sponsored feast that saw the slaughter of six oxen and the distribution of twenty oil cans of distilled spirits. Soon after the formalization of the alliance, Kondo Katsusaburo led some 654 Wushe warriors in the general attack on Toda and Truku in late February, which was successfully concluded by March 1909 (Taiwan nichinichi shinpo, February 5, 1931; Aui 1985, 180).

The paper tells the individual stories of several of the men and women involved in these marriages, some at the orders of their superiors in both societies, riveting tales of temporary access and ultimate failure, terminating in the great revolt of the Seediq in 1930 now known as the famous Wushe Incident. It is a fascinating look into a world now lost to discourses of racial purity and the incoming KMT, which repudiated aboriginal links to the Japanese and re-0riented them on the idealized Chinese state of the Kuomintang. With its many examples, anecdotes, and links to similar activities in other cultures, this paper will well repay the time spent reading it with a deeper understanding of colonial relationships, trade, marriage, politics, and gender in Taiwan's history.

Finally, Barclay's paper speaks to myself and to many of my friends, foreign males married to Taiwanese females, poor man's tongshi operating in the margins of globalization, acting as a broker between the core and Taiwan, and as a buffer between Taiwan and the core, and scratching out a living flipping back and forth across the economic and social relations between these two world systems. It is not too much of a stretch to see in my own life the successes and failures of those Han and Japanese colonialists who married aborigines and gained access to a world which otherwise would have been opaque to them.

(Link to the paper is at the top)


Anonymous said...

Michael, just curious, have you seen Cape No. 7?

Taffy said...

Very interesting excerpts there Michael - that's a paper I'd like to read in full.

We really need a central bibliography site to record all these articles and books about Taiwan. Do you know of anything resembling this?


Michael Turton said...

No, haven't seen Cape 7 yet.

Taffy, the paper is linked at the top.


Taffy said...

Duh, that'll teach me not to scan...


Anonymous said...

Fall of 1977, at the Shida students' dining hall. An overheard Japanese conversation. Two freshmen hailing from the east coast, talking quietly. Born in two neighboring abo tribes, no shared Formosan language available.

Why, then, not use the Guoyu they had been taught at school and were preparing themselves to teach? They wanted to chat, their conversation unhindered by the thought of the dreaded spies’ presence among students.

It was 25 years since Japan had relinquished sovereignty over her territory of Taiwan. And it was 32 years since the KMT had commandeered that Japanese territory they only had mandate to occupy, pending a treaty-based decision on its status. During those 32 years the KMT had spared no effort in erasing Japan and its culture from the Formosans’ mind.

How could the freshmen of 1977 have mastered that language? At home, besides their respective ethnic language, they had been spoken to in Japanese since early childhood. Their parents had been schooled in that language, the first to be spoken island-wide. The language that propelled Formosa into the Twentieth Century, while connecting it to the world.

To the former Imperial subjects, the Celestials’ language was foreign. To their tongue, it has retained that alien tang.

Formosans of all hue and stripe, return to your GENTEN (原点), revert to Japanese for the world to take notice, at long, long last (as Dennis Wilder might quip).

By the way, Dennis, on quitting your outfit, leave a note praising Mark Ole’Glue Ma. The fastest Ole’ Glue gets the Formosans unhinged, the fastest Taiwan will put its present SFPT-based interim status behind. Got it?

Anonymous said...

More demonstrations of the ethnic and cultural fluidity of peoples in Taiwan.

historyguy said...

Thank for posting my article on your blog. It is truly gratifying to think someone might actually read something so detailed and bogged down with footnotes, etc. If readers of this article wish to look at other works of similar theme, Michael's link to the original article will provide access to pdf files of my other attempts to contribute to the history of this most beautiful and interesting of islands. Here it is again:

Sunrise said...

please more Taiwan aboriginal history stuff. I dig it!

Formosan at Heart said...

I love Taiwanese history, especially when it comes to the aborigines. So little is known by most people