Democracy on Trial: Social Movements and Cultural Politics in  Postauthoritarian Taiwan

Democracy on Trial: Social Movements and Cultural Politics in Postauthoritarian Taiwan

Ya-Chung Chuang
Politics, Anthropology
The Chinese University Press
292 pages · 229 x 152 mm
ISBN 978-962-996-546-4
English · 2013

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About the Book

Democracy on Trial is an attempt to begin to negotiate the problem of writing about and understanding democracy and social movements in Taiwan, and what they can tell us about a place and country that for me is both home and the field, an object of study and yet also an area of hope and engagement.


"Democracy on Trial is as impressive for its conceptual sophistication as it is for its ethnographic depth. Chuang’s personal experiences and engagement with the movements he describes and analyzes bring to life the wealth of documentary and ethnographic data. The study should be of interest not just to Taiwan scholars and readers, but also those interested in issues of democracy in China and East Asia, the politics of Taiwan-PRC relations, and social movement scholars and activists."

-- Arif Dirlik, Author of Culture and History in Postrevolutionary China: The Perspective of Global Modernity

""The literature on Taiwan’s (for that matter, on East Asian) democratization— profuses with positivist analyses of a normative bent—has strenuously teased out the preconditions, processes, and prospects for democratic change, meticulously dwelled on each episode of the island’s electoral contests, power shifts, and institution-crafting, and assiduously assessed the quality of each aspect of its newly installed democracy.

Democracy on Trial admirably and refreshingly provides a unique socio-culturalanthropological dissection of this newly organized democratic civil society, which is vociferous and even overzealous, but not unruly or haughty. The volume’s discourse on multiple forms of grass-roots self-mobilization and society-wide dialogue among activists, critics, and participants often is breathtaking. Discursive and interpretative in nature, this book is poised to transform our thinking about Taiwan’s democracy."

--T. J. Cheng, Department of Government, College of William and Mary

"This book is the result of intensive long-term research, in the best tradition of ethnographic study. Contrary to conventional political scientific or sociological surveys, it does not treat democracy in the abstract or from afar but instead as practiced and in the formation of everyday culture. At the same time, it is not just a study of social movements and local politics. At the core, it aims to provide a different approach to a serious understanding of changing postwar Taiwan society. It contributes positively to ongoing scholarly and public debates."

--Allen Chun, Academia Sinica

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s)

Chuang Ya-Chung has a Ph.D. from Duke University and teaches anthropology in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at National Chiao Tung University in Taiwan.