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Indigenous Communities, Indigenous Spaces

Tradition and Change in a Globalising World

1-5 October 2018, Pongso no Tao, Taiwan

The long, uneven retreat of empire in the post-World War II era has replaced colonies with a profusion of new states, autonomous units, and overseas territories of various kinds. Despite hopes that territorial strategies, legal recognition, special privileges, and preferential policies would ‘solve’ the Indigenous ‘problem’, tensions between colonisers and colonised remain. As globalised discourses of economic advantage, international aggression, international development, and transnational corporate activity grow in power and complexity, people are engaging with indigeneity and identifying as Indigenous in new ways.

If both bottom-up and top-down efforts to overcome the legacy of colonialism are proving problematic, it might in part be because the dialogue often remains restricted to ‘coloniser’ and ‘colonised’, limited to relations between Indigenous peoples and the metropolitan state – even though straightforward notions of statehood, sovereignty, and territoriality now seem less relevant by the day. In the process of such dynamics, people become enmeshed in ever-wider fields of power and inequality.

This international conference explores the connection between Indigenous communities and Indigenous spaces in an age when the very conceptions of space, place, and territory are undergoing rapid change due to globalisation. Is the Indigenous only found in and through place, or can we envision non-situated and deterritorialised indigeneities? Can Indigenous rights and livelihoods be asserted without simultaneously reinforcing, apologising to, or playing by the rules of the coloniality?

This conference considers tradition and change in the context of the Indigenous spaces in which lives are lived and in which globalisation occurs: local communities and connections across continents, sacred sites and secular spaces, Indigenous villages and Indigenous cities, traditional territories and political spaces within and beyond the state. Through this spatially sensitive approach to indigeneity, we consider topics such as:

• strategies for Indigenous empowerment

• sense of place and space

• visions of Indigenous futures

• relations between Indigenous peoples and state and non-state actors

• maintenance of tradition in times of change

• decolonising methodologies

• language, translation, and rewriting indigeneity

• the role of the sacred in the Information Age.

This conference is a collaboration of:

The Community of Pongso no Tao

Island Dynamics

National Taiwan Normal University’s Department of Geography & Graduate Institute of Environmental Education

Ilisimatusarfik/University of Greenland’s Department of Social Sciences

RMIT University’s Global, Urban and Social Studies & Centre for Global Research

Photos by Syaman Rapongan

About Pongso no Tao.

Pongso no Tao (also called Orchid Island or Lanyu) is a small, mountainous island far off Taiwan’s southeast coast. Pongso no Tao has a population of around 4000 and is the homeland of the Tao, an Austronesian people and one of the ‘Aboriginal’ or ‘Indigenous’ tribes of Taiwan. Geographically separate from and peripheral to the main island of Taiwan, the Tao have retained many traditional practices from the precolonial period. Nevertheless, first Taiwanese and now global culture, economics, and politics are changing what it means to be a member of the Tao community and what the island of Pongso no Tao and its surrounding seas mean to the Tao themselves.

About the conference.

On 1 October, delegates will travel from Taipei to Pongso no Tao, returning again on 5 October. On 2-4 October, delegates will explore the island, meet community members, and participate in discussions and presentations. This is both an academic conference and a practically oriented workshop. Activities in Taipei will also be planned for 6-7 October.

How to make attend and make a presentation.

This conference will bring together academic researchers and representatives of Indigenous communities from around the globe. Because the conference consists of workshops, discussions, and presentations, it is possible to attend the conference without submitting a proposal for a formal presentation.

Presentations are welcome on all aspects of the conference theme of Indigenous communities and Indigenous spaces. Presentations last 15 minutes and will be followed by around 5 minutes’ question time.

The deadline for abstracts is 30 November 2017. (Later abstracts may be accepted if there is room available at the conference, but people who submit an abstract prior to the deadline will have the first opportunity to reserve a spot and to take advantage of the early registration rate.) You can submit your abstract here. The deadline for early registration is 31 January 2018.

If you have any questions, please e-mail convenor Adam Grydehøj (


Adam Grydehøj • Syaman Rapongan

Tibusungu Vayayana • Yaso Nadarajah