Education and Media Influence on Formation of New Taiwanese Identity after Democratization of 1990s

Identity formation is a process of development of an individual’s distinct sense of being or personality, where then the process brings about the variance of individuals from others. National identity is, therefore, a person’s self-identity by which he/she believes to be of a specific country. For one to understand Taiwan’s new identity formation, its previous identity should be recognized. Taiwan was ruled under martial law by KMT from 1945 until the democratic reforms of 1980. Upon their democracy, Taiwan people had varying views, on which their fellow citizens are, where their country borders should be and even much so, which state they belong to (Shen, 2013),A new unique identity arose when the nation became a democratic state where the influence of education and mass media came in the sense that, the modern found democracy ushered a new era of freedom of expression and end to media restrictions hence there was ease of access to information leading to rising of Taiwanese identity. Education influence was through new curricula on native Taiwanese cultural heritage were introduced in schools among other factors. This paper analyzes in depth the importance of education and media in the formation of new Taiwanese identity (Shen, 2013).

Taiwan’s national identity is better understood by knowing its ethnic composition. Taiwan’s population consists of the mainlanders and native Taiwanese, where the natives are the original inhabitants of Taiwan before KMT reign, while the mainlanders are the immigrants who came into the country during regime above (Shen, 2013). During KMT rule, the natives were oppressed as the mainlanders controlled all aspects of political, economic and social resources, including all learning institutions and media. Upon the democratic upheaval, the political arena was then in the natives hands owing to their majority, but mainlanders control a majority of learning institutions and mass media. During the period of democratization, Chinese national identity by mainlanders and Taiwanese national identity by natives became more distinct. Evidently, ownership of the tools of acquiring information and dissemination of information by the minority group significantly shaped the outlook of the new Taiwanese identity. KMT’s ruling council owned all media houses and so controlled the content of the media houses and often to portray their regime in favorable circumstances at the same time condemning the natives by highlighting them on derogatory narratives (Shen, 2013) . Furthermore, by owning a majority of the learning institutions, KMT controlled the curricula where learning was streamlined to teaching that Chinese culture was evolved and better than native Taiwanese culture. The learning institutions were the primary levels of indoctrination of the young minds to adopt the Chinese culture. This state of affairs served as one of the significant sources of contention leading to rapid growth of the new Taiwanese identity[1] (Teon, 2017).

According to (Shen, 2013), “the frequent and large-scale ethnic mobilization by the native elites to gain political support during the early stage of democratization contributed to the surge of Taiwanese national identity in the 1990s”. From the excerpt, by the onset of mass media advancement greatly aided the large-scale and frequency of mobilization, leading to deterioration of Chinese identity and ascension of Taiwanese national identity, as posited by (Shen, 2013). With the freedoms of association and assembly existing after democratization, the natives were able to meet and discuss their issues without fear of victimization or harassment by the previous regime. The sense of security provided by the democracy and togetherness experienced through the mobilization significantly influenced the formation of Taiwanese identity (Bachofer, 2014).

New mass media was established upon the withdrawal of martial law in 1987, and this meant that the pro-Taiwanese hardliners had legal avenues to sensitize the previously oppressed fellow countrymen. With the many bans such as freedom of expression, freedom of association and freedom of assembly also lifted, the newly minted mass media worked in tandem with these new avenues to create social awareness among the majority of the population and eventually saw the rapid formation of Taiwanese national identity. Perhaps the most significant media tool that thrived during this era of media freedom was newspaper industry. Before bans lift, there were two dominant newspapers, China Times and United Daily News (UDN) both under KMT’s inner ruling circle as mentioned by (Tsai, 2016). However, upon bans withdrawal, rapid establishment of print houses was quite evident. Among the new newspapers, Liberty Times was the most prominent. It arose quite rapidly taking up considerable market portion by identifying with the more significant audience using its pro-independence stand (Tsai, 2016). With Liberty Times pro-independence stand, the more substantial market share meant that the majority of the population being the natives was educated through the newspaper and this forged a greater sense Taiwanese identity. This development led to the rapid formation of new Taiwanese identity.

At the onset of democracy, Taiwanese heritage became much more discussed in history books (Korostelina, 2013), by a more significant understanding of Taiwanese cultural origins, Chinese state identification decreased, and Taiwanese identity strengthened. Curriculum reforms were made during this period. Immense changes were made in the history syllabuses, where books on Taiwanese culture and heritage were introduced to different grades of primary schools. “The new curriculum included such topics as the customs, traditions, history, culture, economics, politics, religion and social issues of the country”. These developments cemented the sense of Taiwanese national identity at such impressionable ages, where these young nationalists would later influence further stronger Taiwanese identity once they grew into adult members of the society.

Though many books published around that period avoided direct reference to Taiwanese people and in so doing it circumvented emphasis on the view of nationalism, however, the mere fact of multiple identities at least replaced the purely Chinese individualism, hence the ethnic aspect of Taiwanese identity was empowered (Korostelina, 2013)Writers were a cautious at those early stages of democracy due to the uncertainty of their newly acquired freedoms because mainlanders still owned most economical and social structures (Dave’).

The book presented a fresh wave of a nationwide historical learning in three key facets, China, Taiwan and the world (Korostelina, 2013)after that Taiwan was explained as entirely distinct from its previous reference as a Chinese faction. The book explained the difference between Taiwanese and Chinese and even furthermore describing the geographical and political dissimilarities. Such publications consequently brought a sense of equality between inland China and island Taiwan where Taiwanese people started identifying the unique aspects of their culture. Worth mentioning is the fact that, Chinese culture was not wholly expunged, curricula did encourage one’s identification equally with Taiwan and China (Korostelina, 2013). The pro-alliance nationalists were not very fond of the curricula which led to several demonstrations among these nationalists. Chinese cultural influence and natives’ oppression were hence reduced in the long run but also let to some form societal tension among the people. Finally, Taiwanese stance as a dynamic multicultural society was therefore born from these strides in political and social development which in this later years has seen Taiwan’s accelerated economic advancement as a nation that came together after years of political strive now finally ready to mainly focus on realizing a national economic prosperity (Zhong, 2015).

In conclusion, it is evident that media and education had a significant influence on the formation of new Taiwanese identity after independence. Media influences were first through the fact that the KMT regime owned a majority of the schools and media up to even after democratization and so it influenced the media content in their favor and this escalated tension. Secondly, with the new freedom of speech and association, media changed a large scale and rapid ethnic mobilization among the natives lead to stronger Taiwanese national identity. Finally, martial law lifting of 1987 also saw bans on media freedom lifted which lead to a rapid emergence of the print press; this saw prominent pro-independence newspapers influencing Taiwanese identity formation. Education first changed identity formation by the curricula reforms in schools teaching Taiwanese ethnic heritage. Secondly, publications of numerous historical books help educate people on Taiwanese cultural background (Jacobs, 2014). Finally, national education through essential books that defined Taiwan’s cultural, political and geographical distinction from China.

European and Native American Groups Influenced Each Other Through Warfare

Europeans made a voyage to the New World in the beginning of the 16th century with an aim of achieving dreams of numerous opportunities and riches. The Europeans came across other people such as the Native Americans leading to conflicts, wars, and exchange of culture. The Europeans came across people that Verrazano described as being full of crudity and vices, which made interaction quite challenging. The native people resisted the intrusion of their land by foreigners, which revealed that the Indians living in America during the time never wanted the new Europeans to settle in the continent. This could be attributed to the fear the Native people had for the Europeans who attempted to convert them to Christianity.  The warfare between Europeans consisting of French, Spanish, and English explorers brought several changes to the Indian tribes of America and similarly the Indians influenced Europeans in areas such as foods, weapons, culture, and language among others.

Europeans and Native Americans influenced each other through warfare as they fought for tools of war, farmland, and religion among others. For instance, Indians sought European goods and some native communities fought each other in beaver wars to control pelts, which were used to buy firearms and iron tools from Europeans. The Native Americans adopted European way of fighting by acquiring their tools of war, which were more advanced. During war times, the local Americans took weapons from their European enemies, which influenced their war tactics from their traditional methods. During the Pre-Columbian warfare, Native Americans matched on foot while going to attack their rival tribes and battles used to last several days with casualties being in hundreds. However, the warfare between Europeans and the Americans living in the continent altered this. The arrival of horses and guns changed the culture of the Native Americans and their war tactics since introduction of horses changed as they could be used for quick and long-distance raids for acquisition of tools. Warfare became less violent and bloody since a rival would prefer to steal a horse or gun than kill a person moderating the warfare.

European contact with the Native Americans brought in an era of greater warfare as it intensified competition for resources. The locals adopted the horse culture from the new settlers who were interested in the fertile lands leading to many wars due to the pan-Indian resistance. The explorers were interested in acquiring riches and owning huge tracts of land in a new continent. They also had special interest in local items such as pelts to take to their own countries. Such interests facilitated exchanges and trade between the two groups became vibrant.  Europeans bought pelts from the Indians leading to beaver wars between Iroquoian an Algonquian, which occurred near the Great Lakes the 1640s and 1680s. The locals competed in acquiring the commodity of trade, which they later delivered to the European traders. As they traded, they interacted with one another facilitating exchange of various aspects of their lives. For instance, he Europeans influenced a culture of trade in the Native American tribes who were initially farmers, hunters, and gatherers. During the 1650s, there were wars between Eastern Woodland Indians and Europeans for the control of the continent as well as the Atlantic Trade. Other wars included King William’s War between 1689 and 1697, Queen Anne’s War between 1702 and 1713, and French-Indian War between 1754 and 1763.[4] The wars enabled Europeans to control economic resources and captives. Later they managed to colonize the continent and ruled it in accordance with the European values.  The Europeans learned local farming and planting skills in new lands. Indians also taught the new settlers on how to survive on the lands as well as local cultures. On the other hand, the Native Americans learned the religion of Christianity although this led to conflicts and mistrust since the locals were not interested in a foreign religion. The cultural clashes intensified as more and more European settlers arrived in various regions such as Massachusetts and Pennsylvania.

The Europeans settled in America aiming to acquire land, settle, and trade with the locals. Although they were hoping for peaceful co-existence, it was not to be since the Native Americans did not like the idea of the settles owning huge tracts of land. The locals did not believe in land ownership but believed that anyone could use it leading to conflicting thoughts in the two groups. The colonial religious teachings and practices were introduced to the natives amid resistance and contributed to the modern religious value in America. The warfare that developed between the Natives and the settlers was for defending territorial boundaries from the continued colonial encroachment. The warfare led to acquisition of technological skills and advanced weapons by the Native Americans, which enabled them to fight the new enemies. The locals would earn ransom from European captives leading to more warfare and increased violent interactions. During such interactions, the Native Americans and the Europeans exchanged various war tactics and cultures. The Europeans learned local fighting tactics such as the fierce way of fighting. The “Natives would approach like foxes, fight like lions, and disappear like birds”. This was very important for the settlers as it enabled them to plan their attacks and ensure they did not lose many members of their team. More than a thousand battles were fought between the Native Americans and the Europeans in the period between 1500 and 1890. Indians converted from using bowls and arrows by 1700 and adopted the European’s flintlock muskets especially during the Beaver Wars. The natives had adopted new war tactics and new weapon from the Europeans. However, the desire to own new advanced weapons led to dependence of the natives on the colonialists who would make allies worth the locals offering them guns. They also taught the locals metalworking skills as a way of establishing friendship.

The colonial powers also adopted the military talents and skills of the Native warriors and tried to recruit friendly Indians in scouts who guided them in the unfamiliar territories. The Europeans learned the fighting culture of the locals through their recruits and tried to adopt it as much as possible. For instance, the European settlers adopted the culture of smoking tobacco, which was common among the locals as they mingled in war and other activities. The Europeans also learned to grow various crops to survive such as potatoes, corn, tomatoes, and nuts among others, which were  originally grown by the locals. As they went to battles, they needed food to eat and had to grow ones that could grow well in the region. Other things the Europeans learned and adopted from the Native American culture during their contacts include games such as tug-of-war, canoeing, relay races, ball games, toboggames. Despite the tough experiences during the wars, the Europeans found interesting things that could help them in their survival especially during communication. The Natives used sign language to communicate during wars so that the enemies would not understand their plan. The Europeans were also influenced by this and the idea of sign language used by the deaf people can be traced from such interactions. Although the signs differ, the idea is the same since it has helped to boost communication all over the world. today sign language is very important worldwide although it has been modified to help the deaf community in communicating with persons with hearing capabilities. The Europeans and the Native Americans were in constant warfare although their interactions led to interchange of cultures and other life aspects. The modern American culture including governance, foods, religion, and society can be traced to such interactions.

From the analysis, the Columbian exchange had several impacts on cultures of both the natives and the Europeans. The impacts are still felt today in America due to the cultural and religious exchanges as well as material exchanges between the two parties. Material exchanges include war items, horses, foods, and farming tools. Religion was introduced in America especially Christianity, which today is widely practiced in the country. These exchanges affected both groups as Europeans adopted the Native cultures while Native Americans also accommodated practices and norms of the Europeans. The exchanges happened in the course of numerous wars that facilitated interactions by the two groups since they all benefited from the relationships that they established. For instance, the Europeans needed people from the locality to guide them to areas they could farm, in battles, and other places. Similarly, the Natives relied on Europeans from weapons, horses, and other valuable items.