Firearms, technology and culture: resistance of Taiwanese indigenes to Chinese, European and Japanese encroachment in a global context circa 1860-1914

Lin, P.-H., 2016. Firearms, technology and culture: resistance of Taiwanese indigenes to Chinese, European and Japanese encroachment in a global context circa 1860-1914. PhD, Nottingham Trent University.

Pei Hsi Lin PhD Thesis 2016.pdf - Published version

Download (11MB) | Preview


The aim of this dissertation is to explore the adaptation and the acculturation of foreign firearms amongst the indigenous people in Taiwan and the role of these firearms in resistance against the Western, Japanese and Chinese invasions in the period of 1860-1914. I argue that through the avenues of access to firearms and their absorption into indigenous cultures, the Taiwanese indigenes preserved some of their cultural and economic independence. The firearm did not only just serve as a killing weapon in the battles for the indigenes, but it also extended in purpose and meaning within indigenous cultures. To reveal the use of firearms by the indigenes and their firearms cultures, this dissertation has used various sources such as the British, Qing Chinese and Japanese official reports and documents, books, journals, and articles written by travellers, missionaries, consular officials, merchants, researchers, etc. in English, European and Chinese languages. We begin with the fundamental complexities of the geographical conditions between the western plains and the eastern mountain forests of Taiwan, the cultures of indigenous people, and the nature of resistances of the indigenes against Dutch, Spanish and Qing colonists and Chinese settlers before 1860. Since Taiwan was forced to open its ports under the Tianjin Treaty in 1858, the Western nations were eager to secure their strategic positions in Asia and exploit important industrial materials – such as camphor and coal – and the flourishing tea industries in the eastern mountain areas of Taiwan where many indigenous tribes lived. Political and economic encroachments within Taiwan had moved further and further eastward. Numerous clashes between the indigenes and the Qing armies and Chinese exploiters were inevitable. Ceaseless skirmishes by the Formosan indigenes obstructed the progress of resources exploitation, especially camphor. The process of the "opening up the mountains and pacifying the indigenes" scheme greatly accelerated these conflicts. Further revolts of the mountain indigenes became greater and more brutal after the occupation of Japan and its attempts at indigenous management. However, the Taiwanese indigenes did not appear to lose their power entirely in the late nineteenth century and the early twentieth century, but defended their right to live in their territories in major episodes of resistance. Understanding this, and addressing the questions of when and how they armed and why they so long resisted, required the examination of the sources and different scales of warfare or conflicts, disclosing the use of firearms by the indigenes in three phases: the traditional level (1860-1883), the traditional-modernised level (1884-1895) and the modernised-advanced level (1896-1914). Through the demonstration of warfare or conflicts that the indigenes were involved in directly or indirectly and the surveying of armaments among the Western, Japanese and the Qing military and Chinese civilians at each phase, we disclose the types of weapons the indigenes operated with and their procurements of firearms. This in turn helps in understanding the circumstances of indigenous people, the dispersal of firearms and their cultural-technological contacts in the different periods. Finally, firearms were not only applied by the Taiwanese indigenes within their hunting expeditions and fighting cultures, but also embedded within their lives and communities. Compared with the use and the management of firearms of the Qing and Japanese military, the indigenes appeared to succeed in technology transfer and adaptions, which might have given them the capability to fight against the intruders. This claim (shown throughout the thesis but particularly arising from material in Chapter 7) leads also to the argument that major cultural-anthropological approaches concerning the historical relations between culture and technology (associated especially with the work of Peter Berger and Stephen Hill) need historical nuancing upon further consideration of extraneous factors, exact physical location, and precise temporal or sequential location of major events.

Item Type: Thesis
Creators: Lin, P.-H.
Date: March 2016
Rights: This work is the intellectual property of Pei-Hsi Lin. I may copy up to 5% of this work for private study, or personal, non-commercial research. Any re-use of the information contained within this document should be fully referenced, quoting the author, title, university, degree level and pagination. Queries or requests for any other use, or if a more substantial copy is required, should be directed to the owner(s) of the Intellectual Property Rights.
Divisions: Schools > School of Arts and Humanities
Record created by: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 04 Nov 2016 15:42
Last Modified: 04 Nov 2016 15:42

Actions (login required)

Edit View Edit View


Views per month over past year


Downloads per month over past year