The main focus of my research is on the history of resistance in post-war Taiwan. In specific terms, it involves with the phenomena of the state building, the nature of regimes, resistance and social movements, class and the formation of social groups. 

In my doctoral dissertation, I analyze what has been seen, in popular discourses and today’s sociology scholarship, as the decline of “resistance” in the “post-228 period” in Taiwan. Although the concept of contentious politics coined and employed by Tilly, Tarrow and McAdam encompasses a wide range of resistant actions that extend beyond social movements, most of Taiwanese  scholars still see the social movements developed between 1980s’ and today’s Taiwan as the exemplary case studies for discussing contentious politics. However, my dissertation re-evaluates such a view by examining an underground organisation of pioneer movement, the Taiwan Province Work Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, which rose in Taiwan after 1946 in the context of nation (re)building during the early post-war era and the relationship between the state and the society.

In my doctoral dissertation, on the one hand, I employ the framework of social stratification and regard the various social arena of the “middle layer” as the conjunction of and pivotal point of geopolitics, international politics and the bridge between the state and everyday life. Moreover, while I outline the trajectory of systemic change in various arenas, I also depict the multiple trajectories of people’s daily experiences as a way to explain the reason why they decided to engage in a radical underground resistance movement. The riddle I try to solve is why the Nationalist government could not turn many domestic and international factors - such as the legacy of colonial system, the popular support of the people and the aid of international powers - to their advantage in order to complete the nation (re)building and consolidate its governing legitimacy in Taiwan during the period of 1941 and 1949. Instead, the Nationalist government spawned two waves of radical island-wide resistance movements that in varying degrees challenged the legitimacy of the regime: first the highly autonomous 228 event taking place in the spring of 1947 and the ensuing foundation of Taiwan Underground Party (between 1946 and 1955), which grew out of the previous 228 resistance and demanded the change of regime.

Through classifying the social space of the “middle layer” into the arenas of higher education, middle education, state-run business, private-run artisanal work, agricultural production, indigenous administration, I first investigate the daily life experiences and the types of oppression that actants experienced in various arenas during the post-war period. Later I identify which actants to be mobilized by the Underground Party, and formed a “cross-field unification front” that were made up of heterogeneous visions, thinking and claims, which the Kaomingtang (KMT, the Nationalist party)  reacted by waves of clamping down since the fall of 1949. Because of the suppression, the imaginary concept of a generalised “Taiwanese” was dismantled and put back to their original social arena. Hence I point out that people from different fields -  such as students, farmers, state-run business workers and aboriginal elites, etc. -  did not have a “unified” experience of “restoration”. Neither did they commit themselves to the Underground party with a “unified” motivation or ideology. With this analysis I want to point up the uniqueness of this wave of resistance in experiential and theoretical terms. 

Between January, 2019 and the summer of 2020, I work as a post-doc researcher at Academia Sinica. During this period, I investigate another riddle that I did not manage to solve in my doctoral dissertation. According to the declassified files, 45 percent of the political prisoners of the White Terror belongs to the “Waishengren” group (the immigrants from China to Taiwan after 1945). However, “Waishengren” composed of less than 20 percent of the Taiwan population in the postwar Taiwan. At the same time, when the academe and the popular discourses tend to explain the relationship between “Waishengren” and the Nationalist government with the framework of clientelism. However, if “Waishengren” were the social group that received special favours from the Nationalist government, where did the “Waishengren” that made up nearly half of the political prisoners come from?

In my analysis, I refuse to see “Waishengren” as an “ethnic group” and argue that the so-called “Waishengren” that relocated to Taiwan between 1949 and 1950 was a highly heterogeneous group in terms of language, culture, class, political experience and identity. The only common ground among these people is the experience of diaspora. I apply the analytical framework I developed in my doctoral dissertation to dismantle the “Waishengren” identity and restore the group to different social arenas such as the army, the marine, the airforce and the civil servants through investigating the trajectory of everyday life experience, resistance and oppression. At the same time, in order to avoid the default singular historical perspective of national history, I have started to tease out the post-1949 politico-economic trajectory of the Mazu islands, which are dissimilar from that of Taiwan and offer an explanation for the way in which the state has governed here and who became the Mazu political prisoners of the White Terror. These are the questions that I’ve been trying to find an answer for at the moment.

In the future, I want to branch my research into two areas: first, since I have investigated largely the trajectory of resistance of the Taiwanese society from the end of Second World War though to the 1940s and 1950s, I want to further probe the long-forgotten history of resistance in the 1960s and 70s. Such work would be able to supplement, redress and even challenge the mainstream (and biased) view that anchors the wave of “democratization” and the change of the authoritarian regime in the 1980s. Second, I hope that the fruit of my research is not confined to the academic environment. Since the autumn of 2018, I’ve made an ongoing attempt to collaborate with the local schools, educational forums of the civil society, writers and even the residents where historical events took place and bring history back to where it happened. In doing so, history becomes the material for reconsidering the relationship between the past, the present and the future. That would be the goal of my research in the predicable future.