Cultural Continuum among the Bunun of Laipunuk (Nei Ben Lu), Southern Taiwan (Book Chapter)

Cultural Continuum among the Bunun of Laipunuk (Nei Ben Lu), Southern Taiwan (Book Chapter)

Chapter 8 | Cultural Continuum among the Bunun of Laipunuk (Nei Ben Lu), Southern Taiwan | Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines

Religion, law and state: Cultural re-invigoration in the new age | Ch. 8 – Cultural Continuum among the Bunun of Laipunuk (Nei Ben Lu), Southern Taiwan | Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines

Martin, S. A., & Blundell, D. (2017). Cultural continuum among the Bunun of Laipunuk (Nei Ben Lu), southern Taiwan (pp. 215–246). In H. Chang and A. Mona [C. Tsai] (Eds.), Religion, law and state: Cultural re-invigoration in the new age. Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines and SMC: Taipei.

Press Release | Faculty of International Studies

20th anniversary of Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines

In 2014, Dr. Martin, was invited to Taiwan to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines in cooperation with Academia Sinica, the foremost research institute in Taipei, ROC. The Museum offered Steven a place in their upcoming publication, a book to commemorate their 20th anniversary: Religion, Law and State: Cultural Re-invigoration in the New Age.

After three years of communication and collaboration, the Museum’s book has been published and is now available to English and Chinese readers.

About the research

Steven’s research was focused on the remote, high-mountain jungle valley of Laipunuk (內本鹿), in the inaccessible mountains of southern Taiwan, home of the Bunun tribe, the last Taiwanese headhunters.

Having lived with the Bunun tribespeople for five years, he recorded their ways of life, their songs, their traditions and their histories, as part of an oral ethnography project.

According to Steven, “Taiwan is the source of the centuries-long process of the peopling of the Pacific, the so-called ‘Pacific Rainbow’ that maps the migration of peoples, materials and languages across the islands of the Pacific, from Taiwan all the way across to Hawaii.”

Speaking for the Faculty of International Studies (FIS), Steven shared his experience:

Their stories are the last of their kind, and it was an immense privilege to have the opportunity to document their lives.”


Martin, S. A., & Blundell, D. (2017). Cultural continuum among the Bunun of Laipunuk (Nei Ben Lu), southern Taiwan (Ch. 8) (pp. 215–246). In H. Chang and A. Mona [C. Tsai] (Eds.), Religion, law and state: Cultural re-invigoration in the new age. Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines and SMC: Taipei.

Abstract

Over the past century, the Bunun people, an Austronesian-speaking indigenous culture of Taiwan, have withstood acute marginalization resulting from outside incursion, particularly from the Japanese (1895–1945) and the Nationalist Government (since 1945). However, in recent years democratic reforms ushered in opportunities for cultural conservation and new sustainability through cultural resource management. This research is focused on a particular group of Is-bukun Bunun speakers from the high-mountain villages of Laipunuk, Yen-Ping Township, Taitung County, Southern Taiwan. It seeks to identify aspects of intersystem cultural continuum amidst acute social change induced by external pressures. The research employed the translation of rare Chinese documents and interpretation by scholars in the discipline, the recordation of oral history through video and audio devices, by in-depth interview, and through participant observation. The study found that the Bunun have demonstrated profound cultural resilience in the contexts of ritual dance, marriage, hunting, religion, and the identification of place. Cultural traditions and behaviors were often modified and adapted to fit within the cultural norms and expectations of dominant cultures, yet deep intrinsic meanings were carried forward, crossing spiritual and generational gaps. The research offers a window to Bunun epistemology and cultural systematics, exploring how indigenous peoples perpetuate their beliefs and values through internal cultural transformation; it serves to document the home-grown cultural resource management of a Taiwanese human treasure for English readers.

Keywords: Southern Taiwan, Bunun, Laipunuk, Formosan indigenous, Bunun Cultural and Educational Foundation, historical cultural continuum

Batanes Islands

Batanes Islands

CHASING JADE ARCHAEOLOGY AND THE BATANES ISLANDS CULTURAL ATLAS

Pacific navigator, Batanes Islands, Philippines | Ivatan cultural heritage

Archaeological survey in the Batanes Islands, northern Philippines.

In 2006 I joined an archaeological field study in the Batanes Islands, in the Philippines, together with Prof. David Blundell, Prof. Peter Bellwood, and an international team from the Philippines, Taiwan and Japan.

The 2006 Batanes Islands archaeological survey team with Prof. Peter Bellwood (second from right) | Sabtang Island

Ivatan Idjang fortress | Sabtang

Archaeological survey | Batan

Across the Pacific rainbow

During my post-graduate studies at Taiwan's National Chengchi University (NCCU), I wrote my master's thesis on the Bunun, one of the island's 16 Austronesian ethnolinguistic groups, collectively known as the Formosan Aborigines.

Comparative linguists and anthropologists had theorized for some time that the Formosan languages were among the earliest Austronesian languages, and that some of the speakers of these languages were skilled ocean navigators who had successfully migrated south from Taiwan to the Philippines.

From the southern Philippine island of Mindanao, Austronesian-speaking peoples spread as far west as Madagascar, and as far east as Hawaii.

Today, Austronesian languages comprise a super-family of over 1,250 languages dispersed throughout maritime Southeast Asia and the Pacific (See Figure 1).

Figure 1: Distribution of the Austronesian Language Family | Source: Electronic Cultural Atlas Initiative (ECAI)

In 2005, I had the good fortune of discussing this topic with anthropologist David Blundell and archaeologist Peter Bellwood at Academia Sinica, a research institute located on the outskirts of Taipei, where I often went to use the library services. I clearly remember the cold rainy night when Peter Bellwood produced from his pocket a piece of green jade discovered in an ancient site in the Batanes Islands:

"If the linguists are right about Taiwan as the homeland of Austronesian languages, there must be material evidence, and I think I've found it!"

Taiwan nephrite unearthed in the Batanes Islands | Terra Australis 40

Peter explained that this type of stone, namely a jade classified as Taiwan nephrite, could only have come from Taiwan due to the unique green tint, and Earth scientist Yoshiyuki Iizuka at the Academia Sinica research lab would analyze it in the morning to see if it was true.

The results came back positive – the jade was from the east coast of Taiwan.

I was intrigued by the scientific evidence supporting the "Out of Taiwan" hypothesis – that is, a prehistoric movement of language, material and people out of Taiwan – a cultural diaspora that reached across the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

Could Taiwan be the "mother island" of the Pacific?

Due to the fact that the Batanes Islands are the nearest island chain to Taiwan, Peter suggested it would be an outstanding place to conduct archaeological research on Taiwan jade.

I was more than keen to go.

Steven Martin (left) and Peter Bellwood (right) interview | Photo and camera work by David Blundell – Basco, Batan, The Philippines | April 2, 2006

Batanes Islands Cultural Atlas

In March of 2006, after attending the Indo-Pacific Prehistory Association (IPPA) conference at the University of the Philippines in Manila, I asked Peter if I could tag along as a photographer on his upcoming archaeological adventure to Batanes.

A memorable and educational expedition followed, and a selection of the photographs I took were used in the development of the Batanes Islands Cultural Atlas under the care of David Blundell (See: Batanes Island images by location).

The Batanes Islands Cultural Atlas is part of the Electronic Cultural Atlas Initiative (ECAI), a global consortium of people who share the vision of creating a distributed virtual library of cultural information based at University of California, Berkeley.

Traveling from the port of Ivana, Batan, to the port of San Vicente, Sabtang | San Vicente Ferrer Church, c. 1785, in the distance

Batanes geography

There are ten islands in the Batanes, three of which are occupied. The provincial capital is Basco, located on the island of Batan, and the highest point is an active volcano, Mt. Iraya, at just over 1,000 meters (see photo below).

The iconic Mt. Iraya | Elevation 1,009m | last erupted in 1454

The islands are located south of the Bashi Channel, midway between Taiwan and Luzon, an area known for strong winds, swift ocean currents, high waves, and large tropical storms.

Batanes lies at the heart of Typhoon Alley, so named for frequent and notorious typhoons. The satellite image below shows the eerie eye of Super Typhoon Meranti surrounding the island of Itbayat on September 13, 2016.

The eerie eye of Super Typhoon Meranti surrounding Itbayat, Batanes | September 13, 2016

The islands were built through geologic and physiographic processes, whereby ancient coral reefs formed a limestone base coated millions of years later in thick volcanic ash, like a dried-up vanilla sponge cake with a layer of fresh chocolate icing. As an ongoing process spanning 35 million years, the limestone core of Batanes has been steadily uplifted by tectonic forces while at the same time peppered with minerals and rocks of all sizes from volcanic explosions, resulting in distinctive landscapes host to diverse flora and fauna.

Today, the Batanes islands form a unique karst landscape of limestone cliffs, caves, and underground streams, ringed with volcanic stones now tumbled and polished in the surf to form expansive bays and boulder beaches.

Batanes Islands Geography | Volcanic rocks tumbled in the surf to form a boulder beach | Limestone cliffs in the distance

Figure 2 (below) shows the position of the Batanes Islands, including the three main islands explored during the research, namely Batan, Sabtang and Itbayat.

Figure 2: The Batanes Islands, staging grounds for the Austronesian diaspora | Source: Peter Bellwood, Australia National University (ANU)

The Ivatan Language, culture and history

The Ivatan people are believed to have migrated to the islands during the Neolithic period, approximately 4,000 years ago. Their exact origin remains a topic of debate.

Ivatan is an Austronesian language, representing an early branch of the Malayo-Polynesian languages (i.e. Bashiic languages), which are distinct from the Formosan languages on Taiwan. Cultural and linguistic connections with Taiwan and Bashiic languages include the Yami, a fishing, seafaring, and boat-building culture on Orchid Island, located just off Taiwan's southeast coast.

The Ivatans originally built storm-proof thatched houses until limestone construction was introduced by the Spanish in the16th century. The long-lasting limestone buildings have become cultural icons for the tourism industry.

Ivatan Fisher | Chavayan, Sabtang

Ivatan limestone houses | Batan

Ivatan fisher and family | Sabtang

Cleaning Mahi-mahi | Batan

Drying fish | Batan

Batanes Islands oral history videos

These conversations (posted on YouTube and on the ECAI website) were recorded by David Blundell and myself in Ivana, Batan Island. We carried out the interviews on the veranda of the home of Mr (Pablo) and Mrs (Anquilina) Valientes, with additional contributions from their grandson Edwin Valientes and other relatives.

Conversations with Pablo and Anquilina Valientes | Ivana, Batan

 

Pablo Valientes, in his 90s, describes Ivatan language and recounts the local resistance against the Japanese occupation of the island during 1941-1945. The movement was known as BISUMI, Fighters for Basco, Ivana, Sabtang, Uyugan, Mahatao, and Itbayat (six municipalities of the Batanes).

Anquilina Valientes, in her 80s, discusses Ivatan language comparatively with other local language dialects in terms of expressions and variations in other villages and islands.

Archaeologist for a week

I relished the opportunity to play archaeologist for a week, and it left me with a lasting appreciation for this very important type of work, helping to piece together the improbable story of human history from whatever clues our ancestors left behind.

The Batanes Islands were the key staging grounds for a well-established ancient maritime trading network. This was evident from the discovery of Taiwan nephrite workshops, where ancient craftsmen shaped tools and created art. They would then have traded their products, sending them southward over vast distances of open sea, taking advantage of a sociocultural and commercial network which spread right across the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

What impressed me most in Batanes archaeology was the richness of each site, the number of sites, the potential for finding new sites, and the vast extent of the maritime trading networks the sites represented.

Random sampling by soil auger | Archaeological survey at Batan

Roadside archaeological site | Sabtang

Peter Bellwood leading the team

Ivatan Idjang fortress | Sabtang

Ivatan Idjang fortress | Sabtang

View from the Idjang fortress | Sabtang

In the good company of distinguished professionals, I had the opportunity to witness the recovery of ancient artifacts from beneath the soil, and to make a personal connection with the spirit of human endeavor. Peter's team had found clear evidence of workshops producing earthenware, jewelry, adzes, fishing tools, and other artifactual materials, some of which were indeed crafted out of Taiwan nephrite.

David Blundell describes such artifacts as the voice of Austronesian history, speaking to us from the ancient past, imagining them as, "Austronesian-speaking stones."

Through excavations at archaeological sites in Taiwan, the Philippines, East Malaysia, Southern Vietnam, and peninsular Thailand, green nephrite from Fengtian in eastern Taiwan tells a story of ancient maritime trade networks and cultural communication in a 3,000-km-wide halo around the South China Sea (Hung et al., 2007).

Figure 3 (below) displays Taiwan nephrite artifacts uncovered from sites in the Batanes Islands, including a Fengtian (Taiwan) nephrite adze (A) from the Sunget site, Batan, which dates to between 1200 and 800 BC (Hung & Iizuka, 2013).

Figure 3: (A) Nephrite adze from Sunget, Batan. (B and C) Three-pointed lingling-o and pelta-shaped nephrite segment from Savidug, Sabtang | Source: Dr. Hsiao-Chun Hung

In Batanes, I gained a new appreciation for the study of ancient history, as well as for the craftsmanship of the ancient islanders. Archaeology embodies the spirit of human exploration – not exploring only space, but exploring also the long-forgotten past. Working with the team in Batanes opened my eyes to the value of different methods of research, the joy of collaborating with friends and colleagues from different universities, and the importance of publishing findings in peer-reviewed journals so that all future researchers in this area can benefit.

Exploratory research | Batan Island

Batanes photo journal Highlights

Below, photos taken during the Batanes Island trip with David Blundell in late March and early April, 2006.

Click on photos to enlarge, visit my Batanes Photo Album, or explore the ECAI Batanes Islands Cultural Atlas.

Batan Island

Mahatao Lighthouse, Batan | Mt. Iraya in the background

Surfing waves | Batan

Ivatan boat builder | Mahatao, Batan

The Basco Church | Batan

Site survey location | Batan

Batan Island beach

Ivatan youth | Basco

Sabtang Island

Arriving at San Vicente | Sabtang

Water taxi | Navigator of the Seas | Sabtang Lighthouse

Exploring near Chavayan | Sabtang

Chavayan Beach | Sabtang

Ivatan fisherman | Chavayan, Sabtang

Ivatan House | Malakdang, Sabtang

Ivatan house and culture | Malakdang, Sabtang

Ivatan Community Art Basco, Batan

Batanes Heritage Center | National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, Provincial Office

During my time with David Blundell in Basco, Batan, we got to spend a few unexpected days around town after learning that the weekly Asian Spirit flight had been delayed.

It was a great opportunity to spend time with the Ivatan community at the Batanes Heritage Center, where Ivatan youth were painting a mural telling the story of navigation and settlement in the islands.

Pictured here, the mural begins with a canoe driving through the surf and landing in the Batanes Islands under the blazing sun. The story continues with the development of the characteristic thatched roof houses, agriculture, pottery, and the arrival of the Catholic religion. The third section of the mural welcomes the computer age, with sports, education, and modern transportation connecting the islands with the world.

Ivatan youth imagine their cultural history through art | Basco

Ivatan community art illustrating the diaspora and evolution of Austronesian culture

Personal interviews with Prof. Wilhelm G. Solheim and Prof. Peter Bellwood in The Philippines

I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to personally interview two of the most accomplished scholars in Austronesian Studies, namely Prof. Wilhelm G. Solheim from the University of the Philippines Diliman (UPD), and Prof. Peter Bellwood from Australia National University (ANU).

Interviews and video arranged by David Blundell.

Wilhelm Solheim (left) and David Blundell (right) at the University of the Philippines Diliman | April 6, 2006

Prof. Wilhelm G. Solheim II

The interview topic in this short film is the cultural history of the Austronesian speaking peoples, and in particular Professor Solheim's Nusantao hypothesis. Professor Dr. Wilhelm Solheim II was instrumental in developing the Archaeological Studies Program at UPD.

Prof. Wilhelm G. Solheim II | Source: National Geographic 1979 | Secrets from the Past: Ch 2 Who Uncovers Ancient Secrets?

Prof. Solheim died on July 25, 2014, at the age of 89. It was an honor to have met him and I hope viewers can appreciate something of his personal warmth from this short interview.

Interviewing Prof. Wilhelm G. Solheim | Clip 6 | University of the Philippines, Diliman (UPD) campus | 2006

Prof. Peter Bellwood

In this short clip, Prof. Peter Bellwood shares his personal history and educational background, and discusses his interests in Austronesian studies. He suggests to those interested in this field of study to choose one of three main areas of research, namely comparative linguistics, archaeology, or human genetics.

Interviewing Peter Bellwood at the Basco Pier, Batan Island | 2006

Relevant books by Peter Bellwood

Online Learning Resources

Ivatan Studies Journal | Graduate School Research

Thank you for visiting my Batanes Islands Learning Adventure page.

I hope you enjoy my photos and the information in the links provided. If you feel motivated to travel to the Batanes or other Austronesian heritage sites, please let me know – I’d love to hear from you.

–Steven Martin

Taiwan Studies

Taiwan Studies

HOW I EARNED A MASTER'S DEGREE IN TAIWAN STUDIES WITH A BACKPACK AND VIDEO CAMERA

Going to work on my thesis in Laipunuk, Taiwan | Nei Ben Lu 內本鹿

Backstory

In 2003, I studied at Minghsin University of Science and Technology (MUST), and at the National Chengchi University (NCCU) Mandarin Language Center in Taipei, Taiwan. Soon after, I applied to study a Master's degree at the graduate school at NCCU. I also applied for, and received, a Taiwan Scholarship which helped me fund my course in Taiwan Studies.

The next four years of my life alternated between the classroom in Taipei and the remote mountains of southern Taiwan. I spent most of my life savings on travel, camera gear and mountaineering equipment.

My studies led me to a high-mountain watershed named in Chinese Nei Ben Lu (內本鹿), or Laipunuk in the local Bunun language. The Bunun, one of Taiwan's 16 ethnolinguistic groups, had moved to remote Laipunuk to hide from the Japanese army which had taken control of the island and the indigenous peoples beginning after the1895 Treaty of Shimonoseki.

Bunun rebels (front row) after their capture by the Japanese Police during the 1941 "Laipunuk Incident" which led to their forced removal from the mountains.

The story behind this rare photo of 'Haisul' (center) and other Bunun warriors has recently been published in Journal of Nationalism and Ethnic Politics: "The Last Refuge and Forced Migration of a Taiwanese Indigenous People During the Japanese Colonization of Taiwan – An Ethnohistory"; and featured on my 'Laipunuk Incident' webpage.

Laipunuk 內本鹿

Laipunuk, in the southern mountain highlands, was the last refuge of the Bunun, remaining unconquered by the Japanese until just before the end of WWII. It remained the only unmapped location in all of Taiwan. Bunun youth at that time grew up with traditional culture – until the arrival of the Japanese field police.

A few of these children survived, and at the time of my graduate research, they ranged in age from 70 to 90 years old. I found that they were eager to share their personal experiences and unique culture.

Below, is the map I developed for publication marking the location of Laipunuk.

Location and geography of Laipunuk 內本鹿 Taiwan © Steven Martin

If you find this topic interesting, watch the video playlist below and continue reading to learn more about this unforgettable topic.

Taiwan Studies Playlist | YouTube | 12 Videos

Graduate Studies at National Chengchi University, Taipei, Taiwan

The Laipunuk project formed part of my post-graduate studies and ultimately my MA thesis at NCCU, and in 2006, I received my Master's Degree in Taiwan Studies. If your interested in studying in this program, follow the links here for the International Master's Program in Asia-Pacific Studies (IMAS).

2006 | Receiving my Master of Arts diploma from the president of National Chengchi University, Taiwan, ROC

Tommie Williamson

Within a few months of starting my graduate program at National Chengchi University, I was lucky enough to meet filmmaker Tommie Williamson. He was the key person who invited me to Taitung on the southeastern coast of the island and opened the door to the Laipunuk oral history project.

Tommie provided me with technical support, office space, and lodging at the Bunun Cultural and Educational Foundation (Bunun Village).

American Filmmaker Tommie Williamson (1955-2017) | Bunun Village

Austronesian Taiwan | The Big Picture

Having lived on the Big Island of Hawaii for twenty-five years, I immediately felt a personal connection to Taiwan and the native culture, naming it the other Big Island. The two islands share the ancient and mysterious Pacific Ocean legacy of Austronesian-speaking peoples.

Little did I know when I first came to study in Taiwan, but the island was the source of the centuries-long process of the peopling of the Pacific, the so-called “Pacific Rainbow” that maps the migration of peoples, materials and languages across the islands of the Pacific, from Taiwan all the way across to Hawaii (see Figure 1 below, Distribution of the Austronesian Language Family, ECAI Pacific Language Mapping).

Distribution of the Austronesian Language Family and Major Subgroupings | ECAI Pacific Language Mapping

Neolithic Austronesian Prehistory | Stone Pillars of the Peinan Culture | c. 3000 BP

My Master's Thesis

My Master's thesis focused on the last living members of the Istanda family, elderly Bunun who were born in or near Laipunuk.

The research was made possible through my Taiwan Scholarship and friends like Nabu Istanda at the Bunun Cultural and Educational Foundation (BCEF), Taiwan's first charitable body created by indigenous people, for indigenous people.

Developed by Pastor Pai Kwang Sheng in 1995 based on his vision to build the Bunun Village, BCEF is managed by Laipunuk descendants and their families.

Nabu Istanda (left) interviews his uncle (right) about his experience in Laipunuk | Bunun Village | Taitung, Taiwan

My research was ethnohistorical in practice, that is, recording oral history and comparing it with existing written documents. In order to do this, I lived with the Bunun tribespeople for four years, recording their ways of life, their music, their traditions and their histories.

Tama Biung Istanda 1917–2007 | Bunun Elder from Laipunuk 內本鹿 Taiwan

Tama Biung's story has recently been published in the Sage Journal of Ethnography: "A Taiwan knowledge keeper of indigenous Bunun – An ethnographic historical narrative of Laipunuk (內本鹿), southern mountain range"; and featured on my Tama Biung ethnography webpage

Significant challenges to the ethnohistorical approach included my limited language skills, and although I understood basic Chinese, the Laipunuk elders mainly spoke Bunun and Japanese, and historical documents were for the most part in the Japanese script of that era.

With the support of the Bunun Village, Tommie Williamson, and my translator and guide, Nabu Istanda, I was able to develop my skills in ethnographic filmmaking and face the challenges of translating these heart-felt stories of the Bunun and their mountain home.

I was also invited by Nabu to participate in several mountaineering expeditions in order to see Laipunuk for myself (see photos, videos, and the links provided). I quickly learned the trekking to Laipunuk was serious business, akin to mountain climbing without the safety of climbing ropes -- the most dangerous adventures of my life!

Nabu Istanda and Viliang | 2006 Laipunuk Expedition 內本鹿

For four years, I lived with and listened to, the Bunun people. I recorded films of the tribal elders sharing oral histories of events such as the arrival of Japanese forces in Laipunuk, the last region of Taiwan to be officially subjugated, a forced and tearful resettlement of the Bunun in 1941 from their high mountain homes to the malaria-infested lowlands near Taitung on Taiwan's east coast.

Their story was as fascinating as it was tragic. Once I got to know this family, including Tama Biung Istanda (pictured above), one of the last living Bunun with personal knowledge in old Laipunuk, I found myself deeply involved in the project of recording and translating their stories.

I fulfilled the commitment I made to share their stories with future generations.

2006 Laipunuk 內本鹿 Expedition across Taiwan's Central Range

Bunun youth program at Laipunuk 內本鹿 Nabu Istanda center with yellow bandana

Rare photo of a young Bunun leader in Laipunuk

Research note: Supporting this work, I was able to locate this rare photo of a young Bunun leader (center) in Laipunuk, apparently cloaked in Leopard skin and adorned with Paiwan (one of the 16 Taiwanese indigenous peoples) style headdress adorned with boar teeth. The photo attests to the eclectic nature of the Bunun who adopted cultural traditions for other tribes, likely through trade and the practice of marriage exchange, and was likely taken in the early-mid 1900s.

Bunun Chief in Laipunuk, Taiwan | Photo by Sagawa (Japanese Researcher) (n.d.)

According to Nabu Istanda: “Bunun normally don’t wear Leopard skin cloaks; only Rukai, Paiwan, and Puyuma nobles may wear this; nor was it common to wear headwear decorated with wild boar teeth like those of the Rukai or Paiwan; normally the Bunun only have one knife, yet the man pictured two knives like that of the Rukai and Paiwan; also the Laipunuk Bunun had brass bracelets and armbands, which likely came from Paiwan or Chinese; it may show good relations” (Istanda, N. 2006 interview).

The Last Refuge of an Indigenous People

In my research, I refer to Laipunuk as the last refuge of the Bunun. Their history is that of a marginalized people who experienced rapid and forced integration into a dominant foreign culture – spelling the end of the life the Bunun and neighboring tribal peoples had known for centuries.

Nevertheless, the remoteness of the region, coupled with the relatively late arrival of Japanese forces compared to the rest of Taiwan, afforded the Bunun children of the 1930s a traditional indigenous way of life. The boys learned hunting skills from their fathers, and the girls learned weaving and food-gathering from their mothers.

They are the last of their kind, and it is an immense privilege to have the opportunity to document their stories.

– Steven Martin

2006 Expedition team posing in front of a Taiwan yellow cypress | From left, Nabu, Haisul, Viliang, Steven, Biung | Photo 石头 Shítou

UNIVERSITY NEWS

Faculty of International Studies Press Releases

20th Anniversary of Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines

In 2014, Dr. Steven Martin was invited to Taipei to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines in cooperation with Academia Sinica, the foremost research institute in Taiwan, ROC. The Museum offered Steven a place in their upcoming publication, a book to commemorate their 20th anniversary: Religion, Law and State: Cultural Re-invigoration in the New Age. After three years of communication and collaboration, the Museum’s book has been published and is now available to English and Chinese readers.

Opening Ceremony of the 2014 International Conference on Formosan Indigenous Peoples | Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines

Papers and Presentations

Thank you for visiting my Taiwan Learning Adventure page.

I hope you enjoy the photos, videos, and the information in the links provided. If you feel motivated to learn more about my Taiwan Research, or other Learning Adventures, or would like to arrange for me to give a public talk, please let me know – I’d love to hear from you.

–Steven Martin

Cornerstone webpages, photos, and videos

 

Bunun Music Download | Taiwan pop star 'Buing' (wma files)

At the request of Nabu Istanda, Bunun pop star 'Biung' composed the modern jam 'Laipunuk Song' to represent the dynamic sense and danger of going to the mountains.

Taiwan Photo Journal - Laipunuk - Steven Andrew Martin

Laipunuk 內本鹿 2006

News

News

BLOG POSTS  ♣  RESEARCH, PUBLICATIONS & PROJECTS


JANUARY 2022 | Research Publication

Journal of Sport & Tourism

From Shades of Grey to Web of Science: A Systematic Review of Surf Tourism Research in International Journals (2011-2020)

Web of Science (WoS) Indexed (Q2)

https://doi.org/10.1080/14775085.2022.2037453


DECEMBER 2021 | Research Publication

The Last Refuge and Forced Migration of a Taiwanese Indigenous People During the Japanese Colonization of Taiwan – An Ethnohistory

Journal of Nationalism and Ethnic Politics

Web of Science Indexed (Q2)

Scopus Indexed (Q2)


FEBRUARY 2020

TEACHING DEMO for Eastern Civilization | Silk Road Lecture Series 

In Thailand, a teaching demo is just one of the many elements required when applying for an academic title, such as assistant or associate professor...

Teaching Demo | Eastern Civilization | Silk Road


SEPTEMBER, 2020

Dr Steven A Martin Develops Knowledge Management Webinar for the Faculty of International Studies | How to Conduct a Systematic Review

Introduction to the systematic review – Foundation for long-term success in research and writing in the social sciences

 

Systematic Review Webinar | Knowledge Management Activity


JULY, 2020

University News | Research publication in SAGE Ethnography

Martin, S. A. (2020). A Taiwan knowledge keeper of indigenous Bunun – An ethnographic historical narrative of Laipunuk (內本鹿), southern mountain range. Ethnography. DOI: 10.1177/1466138120937037.


NOVEMBER, 2019

University News | Dr Steven Andrew Martin Promoted to Assistant Professor of Asian Studies in Sociology and Anthropology

The Faculty of International Studies hereby congratulates Dr. Steven Martin on his promotion to Assistant Professor of Asian Studies, as from 4th April 2018.


OCTOBER, 2019

Asst. Prof. Dr. Steven A. Martin offers the Faculty of International Studies’ 1st FIS Research Seminar at Prince of Songkla University

"An Introduction to Q and A Sharing in Research – Publication and Resource Strategies for Publishing in International Journals"

Writing articles for international journals

The seminar was aimed at sharing and fostering dialogue and knowledge on how best to conduct appropriate research for publication in international journals...

University News Online | Faculty of International Studies

Prince of Songkla University News | Faculty of International Studies 1st FIS Research Seminar | Click to read more...


AUGUST, 2019

New research publication on Thai Geography at Prince of Songkla University, Phuket, Thailand.

Dr. Steven A. Martin, Faculty of International Studies, and co-author Dr. Raymond J. Ritchie, Faculty of Technology and Environment, have published the results of their research on Thai Geography for ASEAN and international education in the Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography.

Thai Geography News | Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography

Martin, S. A., & Ritchie, R. J. (2020). Sourcing Thai geography literature for ASEAN and international educationSingapore Journal of Tropical Geography 41(1) 61–85


OCTOBER, 2018

Steven A. Martin, Ph.D., Nominated for the Taiwan Ministry of Education Distinguished Alumni Award by the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office, Los Angeles

全球留臺傑出校友獎選拔作業推薦表

Graduates and alumni of the Taiwan Scholarship Program teaching in Phuket, Thailand | Steven and Chris

Achievements Highlights

Steven’s outstanding achievements following his scholarship in the Taiwan Studies program at National Chengchi University, Taiwan

Steven’s experiences studying at National Chengchi University, Taiwan inspired him to become a lifelong learner and teacher. He has documented his personal journey in the form of a series of journals, videos, and Website instruction for his students. This has now grown to include a wide range of content: Steven Andrew Martin / International Education Online

Steven has dedicated several Web pages to his scholarship in Taiwan, including unique ethnographic fieldwork with the Bunun, fortunately being present at just the right time to document a traditional ethnic Taiwanese lifestyle and culture:


MAY, 2018

New social science index methodology developed at Prince of Songkla University, Phuket, Thailand

Dr. Steven A. Martin, Faculty of International Studies, and co-author Dr. Raymond J. Ritchie, Faculty of Technology and Environment, have published the results of their research into a social science index and weighting schema for coastal planning and sustainable development in Phuket, Thailand.

Social Science Index Research | Environmental Management in Phuket, Thailand


 

2017 Book Chapter | Surf Resource System Boundaries

Martin, S. A., & O'Brien, D. (2017). Part 2: A systems approach – Chapter 2. Surf resource system boundaries. In G. Borne and J. Ponting (Eds.), Sustainable surfing (pp. 23–38). Routledge.

"Surf Resource System Boundaries" is an environmental management approach aimed at the conservation of surfing sites

Plymouth Sustainability and Surfing Research Group (PSSRG)

In 2013, Steven was invited by the Gold Coast City Council, Australia, to present a new research methodology – the Surf Resource Sustainability Index (SRSI). Speaking at the Global Surf Cities Conference at the Kirra Hill Community and Cultural Centre, Gold Coast, Queensland, Steven brought to light the topic of coastal resource sustainability in Phuket, Thailand.

Based on Steven’s presentation, Doctor Gregory Borne, Director of the Plymouth Sustainability and Surfing Research Group (PSSRG), offered Steven to participate in a new book titled Sustainable Surfing.

After four years of communication and collaboration, the university’s book is published and available to English readers.

About the research

Steven’s research explores the concept of a ‘surf resource system boundary’. His work develops a theoretical concept in environmental science, representing the intersecting and interrelated human and physical elements in the natural world at a given surf site. In the study, Co-authored with Assoc. Prof. Danny O’Brien at Bond University, Australia, Steven explores numerous stakeholder interests and factors related to the ‘whole’ surf system as a sustainable and dynamic model. The research addresses a knowledge gap in this area, broadening the understanding of surf system boundaries and providing clarity in two sets of dimensions: the physical boundaries of surf sites and the key resource stakeholders.

Please visit Steven's Surf Tourism Research page for more information.


 

2017 Book Chapter | Cultural Continuum among the Bunun of Laipunuk (Nei Ben Lu), Southern Taiwan

Martin, S. A., & Blundell, D. (2017). Cultural continuum among the Bunun of Laipunuk (Nei Ben Lu), southern Taiwan (pp. 215–246). In H. Chang and A. Mona [C. Tsai] (Eds.), Religion, law and state: Cultural re-invigoration in the new age. Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines and SMC: Taipei.

Next generation Bunun explore their ancestral homeland of Laipunuk (內本鹿) in southern Taiwan

20th anniversary of Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines

In 2014, Dr. Martin, was invited to Taiwan to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines in cooperation with Academia Sinica, the foremost research institute in Taipei, ROC. The Museum offered Steven a place in their upcoming publication, a book to commemorate their 20th anniversary: Religion, Law and State: Cultural Re-invigoration in the New Age.

After three years of communication and collaboration, the Museum’s book has been published and is now available to English and Chinese readers.

Religion, law and state: Cultural re-invigoration in the new age | Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines | Ch. 8 – Cultural Continuum among the Bunun of Laipunuk (Nei Ben Lu), Southern Taiwan

About the research

Steven’s research was focused on the remote, high-mountain jungle valley of Laipunuk (內本鹿), in the inaccessible mountains of southern Taiwan, home of the Bunun tribe, the last Taiwanese headhunters.

Having lived with the Bunun tribespeople for five years, he recorded their ways of life, their songs, their traditions and their histories, as part of an oral ethnography project.

According to Steven, “Taiwan is the source of the centuries-long process of the peopling of the Pacific, the so-called ‘Pacific Rainbow’ that maps the migration of peoples, materials and languages across the islands of the Pacific, from Taiwan all the way across to Hawaii.”

Speaking for the Faculty of International Studies (FIS), Steven shared his experience:

Their stories are the last of their kind, and it was an immense privilege to have the opportunity to document their lives.”


The Art of Welcome | University Filmworks

The Art of Welcome, with Edward E. Vaughan, is a new video series featuring hospitality and tourism students and their experiences abroad.

The concept is registered with the Writers Guild of America and features the lives of students who study and work in the hospitality and tourism industry. Each episode takes palace in a different country.

The Art of Welcome | Phuket Interns


What Makes a University Great? | University Filmworks

Dr Steven Martin wrote and hosted What Makes a University Great? under the direction of Edward E. Vaughan. The video explores the Hong Kong Polytechnic University’s School of Hotel and Tourism Management (SHTM) and focuses on the story of leadership and the Dean of School, Prof. Kaye Chon. The video was produced by University Filmworks.

At SHTM, Steven discovers a little universe where students, teachers and industry professionals come together with outstanding synergy, uncovering a story of outstanding educators and leadership.

Shooting in Hong Kong with University Filmworks | Read more...

What Makes a University Great?

Eastern Civilization

Eastern Civilization

Tibetan Culture at Jiuzhaigou National Park, Sichuan Province, China

EASTERN CIVILIZATION 

Course description

Civilization of Persia, India, China, Japan and Korea; Development of political, economic, social, and cultural thinking; The dawn of Eastern philosophy; Epoch of changes through western civilization and its influence on social systems and philosophy of the East, and Eastern civilization’s adaptation towards globalization; The Impact of Islamic, Indian, and Chinese civilizations on other Far East countries.

Teaching Demo | Eastern Civilization | The Silk Road

Backstory

In 1995, I applied to the University of Hawaii at Hilo (UHH) to study Chinese and philosophy after a UHH professor captured my imagination when he said, "You go to China – you learn many things – maybe change your life."

He was right; it did!

Since that time, I have been fortunate to study with outstanding professors, such as Dr. John H.L. Cheng and Dr. Roger Aimes at UHH, and with Chinese professors, such as Yang Xin, during summer study abroad programs with the Department of Philosophy at Peking University.

University of Hawaii Professor John H.L. Cheng | 1995 Chinese Culture Study Tour

One lifetime is not long enough to allow for a complete understanding of Chinese culture. Once a student, always a student – As reflected in the Chinese proverb: "Huo dao lao, xue dao lao," that is, "Live arrive old, study arrive old," an age-old Chinese belief in life-long learning.

Combining 20 years of academic experience with 5 UHH Chinese Culture Study Tours, and as many accredited independent study travels in mainland China, I am happy to share my personal and practical knowledge with students through several introductory presentations featured here.

The topics and links provided are intended to guide open discussions and encourage active learning among students.

STUDENT POSTER PROJECTS | ARCHAEOLOGISTS AND FIELDWORK IN EAST ASIA

PROJECT TYPE | ACADEMIC POSTER PRESENTATION

Develop an academic poster using PowerPoint or other software which can incorporate images, maps, tables, and text boxes.

PROJECT THEME | ARCHAEOLOGY IN EAST ASIA

Choose an archaeologist with deep experience in East Asia and discuss his/her education and personal background leading to their fieldwork. Emphasize the archaeological site or group of sites where s/he conducted fieldwork and research.

Note: Archaeology is the study of the ancient and recent human past, cultures, and civilizations through material remains and may include Cultural Resource Management (CRM) concerning the measures related to handling recovered materials.

POSTER SIZE | INTERNATIONAL A3

Set slide dimensions for international A3, portrait or landscape (297 x 420 mm) (11.7 x 16.5 in)

Archaeologist Sir Aurel Stein in 1909 | Click to learn more about Stein's fieldwork in Innermost Asia

Best Eastern Civilization Midterm Poster | By Pupae 2018

INTRODUCTION TO CHINESE CULTURE

Chinese Culture | Typical art featuring the guardian-philosopher

Introduction to Chinese Thought in the Eastern Tradition | PDF

Introduction to Chinese Philosophy in the Context of Eastern Civilization | PDF

FEATURE PRESENTATION SERIES

THE CHINESE SILK ROAD

I first traveled the Chinese Silk Road in 1995 (Xian to Kashgar) and again in 2001 (Beijing, China, to Delhi, India).

The presentations featured here are based on my personal experience, that is, teaching through storytelling. As part of the Learning Adventure series, I have designed two website instruction pages: Part I – The Silk Road, and Part II – Pakistan and the Indus Valley.

On Ancient Tracks | The Silk Road and My Journey to the West | Click to learn more...

2011 scholarly presentation on the archaeology of the Silk Road by Colin Renfrew at the Penn Museum

Unsolved Mysteries of the Silk Road | Colin Renfrew | Penn Museum | 1:00:07

I have been fortunate to visit and explore a number of the sites and topics featured in Renfew's presentation. For our class discussion today, here are a few of Renfew’s "Questions of east-west exchange before Silk Road: one wheel, few horses".

  1. Earliest contacts: the millet question?
  2. First settlements in Xinjiang? : wheat at Xioahe
  3. The first copper metallurgy in China?
  4. How did the chariot reach China?
  5. The first mounted warriors in China?
  6. Indo-European origins seen from the east

National Geographic | Treasure Seekers: China's Frozen Desert

Based on the lives of Sir Aurel Stein and the 7th century Buddhist Monk, Xuanzang: "As commerce flourished along the Silk Road, Central Asia became a melting pot of cultures. Here on the edges of the Taklmakan Desert, an exotic blend of Indian, Mongol, Chinese, and European influences fueled an astonishing cultural Renaissance. In the 7th century, a Chinese monk, Xuanzang, plunged into the desert while on a Buddhist pilgrimage to India...

...His descriptions of the oasis-cities he encountered would prove invaluable to another explorer, more than a thousand years later. 20th century archeologist Sir Aurel Stein took on the deadly Taklamakan to prove his own theories about Western China's lost civilization. Again and again Xuanzang's writings led him to archeological treasure - once thriving cities now buried in the sand. On their monk's trail, Stein made his greatest discovery, a thousand-year-old Buddhist library in near-perfect condition " (National Geographic, 2001).

Marc Aurel Stein's Century-old Adventure Diary | Treasure Buried in the Sands

Click on the image below to view or download this 2013 CCTV-9 (China) English Documentary

Treasure Buried in the Sands

Century-old Adventure Diaries

Marc Aurel Stein [CCTV-9 Documentary English] 48 Minutes – Download

CCTV Documentary Series Xuan Zang's Pilgrimage

In 2016, China's CCTV produced "Xuanzang's Pilgrimage", a documentary series on Xuan Zang's travels on the Silk Road. Narrated in English, the 12 segments are posted in 6 videos on YouTube. Runtime of each video is approximately 48 minuets.

Xuan Zang (1-2)

Xuan Zang (3-4)

Xuan Zang (5-6)

Xuan Zang (7-8)

Xuan Zang (9-10)

Xuan Zang (11-12)

2016 Biographical Drama Da Tang Xuan Zang

The 2016 Mandarin language historical drama “Da Tang Xuan Zang” is based on the life and travels of Xuan Zang during the Tang Dynasty. The film maps the young monk’s travels to India and quest for Buddhist teachings, featuring some of the challenges and struggles he faced.

Xuan Zang 2016 Historical Drama (Trailer)

INTRODUCTION TO CHINESE PHILOSOPHY

Click on Confucius to Chinese Philosophy Page

A Source Book in Chinese Philosophy

Chan, W. (1969). A sourcebook in Chinese philosophy. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

Available online at Archive.org

Click to view or download this book | PDF

Key chapter reviews by Dr Steven A Martin

Confucianism, Taoism and Chinese Buddhism | PDF Handout

CONFUCIUS AND THE CONFUCIUS TRADITION

2010 Biographical Drama | Confucius

Confucius Motion Picture | Full HD | 2:05:00

TAI SHAN (Mt. Tai) THE SOUL OF CHINA

Tai Shan, China | PDF Presentation

Cultural continuum on the North China Plain

Tai Shan | UNESCO World Heritage

According to UNESCO: "The sacred Mount Tai ('shan' means 'mountain') was the object of an imperial cult for nearly 2,000 years, and the artistic masterpieces found there are in perfect harmony with the natural landscape. It has always been a source of inspiration for Chinese artists and scholars and symbolizes ancient Chinese civilizations and beliefs."

GB Times | Tai Shan 2:41

Pilgrimage to Tai Shan | 1997

Dawenkuo Archaeological Site | 1997

THE GREAT WALL | SKATEBOARDING THROUGH TIME

Between 1995 and 2002, I studied abroad during summers at Peking University in Beijing. Hiking on the Great Wall quickly became my favorite activity, outside of attending lectures in Chinese philosophy on campus.

University of Hawaii students at Jin Shan Ling Great Wall

Each time I traveled to the Wall, I learned something new, and the more I visited different areas, the more I wanted to learn about the history and culture behind this amazing symbol of the Chinese people.

Peking University Professor Yang Xin was able to provide me with what I was looking for, namely historical and esthetic perspectives from philosophical viewpoints.

Today, my own Great Wall presentations reflect these expediences.

Great Wall of China Presentation | 57 Slides | 30 MB PDF

Hiking the Huang Hua Great Wall near Beijing

Smithsonian | 5:00

TED-ed | 4:30

TAIWAN | WINDOW TO HISTORY

TAIWAN STUDIES PLAYLIST | Steven A Martin, PhD | National Chengchi University | University Filmworks

In recent years, the Taiwan (ROC) - China (PRC) relationship plays out on the geopolitical stage. However, Taiwan has its own rich history, which I have generally organized into six sections.

  • Early indigenous Austronesian-speaking peoples inhabited the island for an estimated 5,000 years.
  • Dutch, Spanish, French, British, and other cultures prior to Chinese colonization of the Taiwan.
  • A loosely administered territory of China during the Qing Dynasty.
  • The island's annexation by Japanese after the treaty of Shimonoseki in 1895.
  • Post WWII period, as Taiwan became a stronghold for the Chinese Nationalist regime supported by the USA, and the economic miracle which catapulted the country into the 21st century.
  • Democratic Taiwan, including the indigenous rights movement.

Ethnohistorical Research on the Bunun of Taiwan

The Bunun, an Austronesian-speaking peoples on Taiwan | In Our Hearts and Minds | Steven Martin 6:25

Other research and videos on indigenous Bunun and Paiwan ethnolinguistic groups in Taiwan

The Sage Hunter | Full movie 1:40:00

Eat Drink Man Woman 飲食男女 1994 Taiwanese film directed by Ang Lee

飲食男女 refers to the basic human desires and accepting them as natural as expressed in the Book of Rites, one of the Confucian classics.

Why this film is appropriate for students in Eastern Civilization

In this film, the ancient art of Chinese cuisine connects with the personal lives of a contemporary Taiwanese household. Through watching the film, students realize that the thinking, detail and complexity of cooking mirrors Chinese life and philosophy as intricate and integrated processes. In Eastern civilizations, food is prepared and served in accordance with age old traditions – socially, culturally and politically.

The way we eat is the way we think.

Eat Drink Man Woman | Official Trailer

Download and view Eat Drink Man Woman (Full Movie) here on Google Drive


INDIAN CIVILIZATION | Key Words for Student Presentations

Taj Mahal, Agra, India | Mughal Empire | Photo 2001

Choose a key word from the list below and develop a 15 minute PowerPoint presentation with text, images, maps and one video link.

Key words offered here reflect a variety of concepts, including art, civilization, culture, dynasty, empire, geography, language, literature, people, politics, and religion.

Key words: Indus Valley, Harappa, Dravidian, Aryan, Sanskrit, Vedas, Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Maurya, Ashoka, Taxila, Kushan, Bactria, Gandhara, Gupta, Islam, Sikhism, Mughal, British Raj, Scheduled Tribes, Pakistan, Bangladesh

Jivita's Story | Dr B R Ambedkar's social transformation through Buddhism | Original footage for "Arising Light" by David Blundell, content selection by Steven A Martin, and editing by Dean Karalekas

Kushan Empire | Connecting East & West

Gupta Dynasty | India's Golden Age

Mughals | Rise and Fall of an Empire


EASTERN CIVILIZATION | FINAL POSTER PROJECTS

ANTHROPOLOGISTS AND ETHNOLINGUISTIC GROUPS IN EAST AND SOUTH ASIA

PROJECT TYPE ACADEMIC POSTER PRESENTATION

Develop an academic poster using PowerPoint or other software which can incorporate text, maps, tables, and images.

PROJECT THEME | ANTHROPOLOGY, ETHNICITY, AND LANGUAGE IN EAST AND SOUTH ASIA

  1. Choose an anthropologist with deep experience in living among, or studying, an ethnolinguistic group in East or South Asia.
  2. Discuss the events or interests which led the anthropologist to study the ethnic group or culture.
  3. Emphasize the language, culture, history, and location of the ethnic group.
  4. Identify the significance of the ethnic group in terms of East Asian civilization.

POSTER SIZE | INTERNATIONAL A3

Set slide dimensions for international A3, landscape (297 x 420 mm) (11.7 x 16.5 in)

Ethnic Uyghurs greeting tourists at the Gaochang ruins near Turpan, Xinjiang Autonomous Region, China, 2001

Examples | Scheduled Tribes of India


A FEW PHOTOS FROM MY EASTERN TRAVELS

Hindu Culture - Agra India - Eastern Civilization - Steven A Martin - Study Abroad Journal

Hindu Culture | Agra, India

Dawenkuo, China | Archaeological Site

Buddhist Culture | Lhasa | Click to Tibet page

Kung Fu School - Shaolin Temple China - Dr Steven A Martin

Kung Fu School | Shaolin Temple, China

Islamic culture | Kashgar, Xinjiang | Click to Silk Road page

Chinese Opera | Taipei, Taiwan | Click to Taiwan page


ONLINE RESOURCES

Thank you for visiting Eastern Civilization Online.

If you feel motivated to know more about my courses or Learning Adventures, or would like to arrange for me to give a public talk, please let me know – I’d love to hear from you.

–Steven A. Martin

Monks in Xian, China, at the start of Silk Road | 1995

My Story – Read More

My Story – Read More

From Homepage...

From GED to PhD –

After reading the Swiss Family Robinson at 15 years old, I left home in the Ohio rustbelt in 1978 and flew to Hawaii where I planned to live in a treehouse. I found work as cook and trained to become a chef.

 At the same time, I discovered Hawaii's big waves and surfing.

Over the following few years, I learned American Red Cross lifesaving skills, became a County of Hawaii beach lifeguard, and went on to start a surf school. I taught surf skills to hundreds of people including international celebrities, movie stars and astronauts from NASA.

 

Continued from Homepage...

My love for surfing, learning, and meeting new people led me to the University of Hawaii's Chinese philosophy summer program at Peking University. It was a great way to travel and earn a B.A. at the same time. This path led to study abroad in China, Costa Rica, South Africa, and Spain.

After graduating, I was fortunate enough to obtain a prestigious Taiwan Scholarship to study for a Master's degree. My research took me to the mountains of Taiwan to live among the world's last headhunters, the Formosan aborigines, and document their lives in ethnographic films.

But surfing remained my true passion, and after discovering perfect uncrowded waves on the Andaman Coast, I moved to Phuket, Thailand, to join the Faculty of International Studies at Prince of Songkla University.

My ongoing research on surf tourism and the environment has led to an MBA, a PhD, and a growing list of publications.

I hope others can benefit from my story and find success in their own lives.

Ethnographic Film

Ethnographic Film

Ethnographic film and Bunun oral history | Nabu Istanda (left) and his uncle (right) | Click to learn more...

ETHNOGRAPHIC FILM AND BUNUN ORAL HISTORY IN SOUTHERN TAIWAN

In 2003, I met David Blundell, founding anthropologist for the International Master's Program in Taiwan Studies (currently Asia-Pacific Studies) at National Chengchi University (NCCU) in Taiwan. David was teaching a course called Culture and Ethnic Structure of Taiwan, and ethnographic filmmaking was one of the topics in the class. Although I had very little experience in this area, I tagged along with David to learn more.

 

 

I was a first-time graduate student, and was looking for an adventurous and rewarding research topic. Through David and senior students at the university, I was introduced to Filmmaker Tommie Williamson (1955-2017) (see my Taiwan Studies page) and Nabu Istanda with the Bunun Cultural and Educational Foundation (Bunun Village) in Taitung, southern Taiwan.

Nabu encouraged me to come to the Bunun Village and meet his family who were from the Bunun tribe, an indigenous ethnolinguistic group who had resisted Japanese subjugation in the 1920s and 30s and taken refuge in a remote area of the high mountains named Laipunuk (Chinese Nei Ben Lu 內本鹿).

Nabu Istanda at home in the mountains of Laipunuk | Nei Ben Lu 內本鹿

Nabu explained that the Bunun elders in their village, now 70 to 90 years old, were being lost to old age, and with them, their stories of traditional life, beliefs, language, trade, values, and their relationships with one-another, other indigenous tribes, the Chinese, and the Japanese, were being lost forever.

Nabu was asking for rescue ethnography.

Without hesitation, I agreed to help.

The next four years of my life alternated between the classroom in Taipei and the remote mountains of southern Taiwan. I spent most of my life savings on travel, camera gear and mountaineering equipment.

I have now documented this story and research into several pages and videos on this website. If you're inspired to learn more, please review this page and other pages and videos by following links below.

Cornerstone webpages, photos, and videos

In Our Hearts and Minds | Project backstory | 2004

ETHNOGRAPHIC FILM AND RESEARCH | BUNUN ORAL HISTORY

Memories of a Culture, the Istanda Family of Laipunuk 內本鹿 

Filmed primarily at the Bunun Cultural and Educational Foundation (Bunun Village), Taoyuan Village, Yenping Township, Taiwan.

The sample footage provided here includes ethnographic narratives from four siblings, namely two brothers, Biung and Nabu, and two sisters, Ibu and Langus. Each informant recounts their personal experience in the high mountains of southern Taiwan, including historical and cultural events of their forced relocation to the lowland areas surrounding Taitung.

This research is the original work of Tommie Williamson, Nabu Istanda, and Steven Martin, and is intended for academic and cultural purposes. If you would like to use a video for research, gain access to the complete archival footage, or collaborate on a project, please contact me through this website and I will be happy to help.

Tama Biung Istanda | Oral History | Bunun | Laipunuk 內本鹿 | Taiwan | Steven A. Martin | University Filmworks

This video, one of 15 clips, is an oral history audio/visual recording of Tama Biung Istanda (1920-2007), recounting his life experience in the mountains of Laipunuk 內本鹿 , southern Taiwan. The interview was conducted in the Isbukun dialect of the Bunun language by his nephew Nabu. Laipunuk was among the last frontier areas of Taiwan to be annexed into Imperial Japan, and the informant tells of his childhood experiences, cultural traditions, and arrival of Japanese police who forced his family to move.

Accepting that the Japanese were a "Great and powerful tribe", Biung joined the Tagasako Volunteers, a group of Taiwan aborigine soldiers. His on-camera story includes events during WWII and his survival in the jungles of Papua New Guinea.

Tama Biung Istanda 1920-2007 | Ethnohistorical Research | Bunun of Laipunuk, Taiwan | Steven Martin | University Filmworks

Sections of this ethnography series have been published in SAGE Ethnography and Religion, law and state: Cultural re-invigoration in the new age as referenced below.

Nabu (Uncle) Istanda 1929-2005 | Oral History | Bunun | Laipunuk | 內本鹿 | Taiwan | Steven A. Martin | University Filmworks

This video, one of three clips, is an oral history audio/visual recording of Nabu "Uncle" Istanda, recounting his life experience in the mountains of Laipunuk 內本鹿 (Nei Ben Lu), southern Taiwan. The interview was conducted in the Isbukun dialect of the Bunun language his nephew Nabu. Laipunuk was among the last frontier areas of Taiwan to be annexed into Imperial Japan. The informant tells of his youth and cultural experiences, the arrival of Japanese police, and his family's forced relocation to the Talunas area (Taidong County).

Sections of this ethnography series have been published in Religion, law and state: Cultural re-invigoration in the new age as referenced below.

Nabu (Uncle) Istanda 1929-2005 | Ethnohistorical Research | Bunun of Laipunuk, Taiwan | Steven Martin | University Filmworks

Langus Istanda | Oral History | Bunun | Laipunuk | 內本鹿 | Taiwan | Steven A. Martin | University Filmworks

This video, one of five clips, is an oral history audio/visual recording of Langus Istanda (1926-2015) recounting her life experience in the mountains of Laipunuk 內本鹿 , southern Taiwan. The interview was conducted in the Isbukun dialect of the Bunun language by her son Nabu. Laipunuk was among the last frontier areas of Taiwan to be annexed into Imperial Japan. The informant tells of her childhood experiences, cultural traditions, and arrival of Japanese police who forced her family to move.

An English-language translation of this video has been published in the International Journal of Asia Pacific Studies (IJAPS) as referenced below.

Langus Istanda 1926-2015 | Ethnohistorical Research | Bunun of Laipunuk, Taiwan | Steven Martin | University Filmworks

Ibu Istanda | Oral History | Bunun | Laipunuk | 內本鹿 | Taiwan | Steven A. Martin | University Filmworks

This video is an oral history audio/visual recording of Ibu Istanda who was in her mid-80s at the time of filming. On-camera support for the interview was provided by her younger sister, Langus. The first of two short interviews of Ibu "Auntie" Istanda before her passing, she tells of the hardships experienced in her youth. As with other family informants in this series, Ibu recounts her life experience in the mountains of Laipunuk 內本鹿 , southern Taiwan. The interview was conducted in the Isbukun dialect of the Bunun language by her son Nabu and her sister Langus.

Ibu Istanda | Ethnohistorical Research | Bunun of Laipunuk, Taiwan | Steven Martin | University Filmworks

AUDIO-VISUAL RECORDINGS FROM BUNUN INFORMANTS WITH EXPERIENCE IN LAIPUNUK

Zu Mei Lin (Bunun name Shiwa) | Ethnography | Bunun | Laipunuk | 內本鹿 | Taiwan | Steven A. Martin | University Filmworks

This video is an audio-visual recording of Shiwa (Chinese name Zhu Mei Lin). The interview focuses around the informant's understanding of her Hakka Chinese grandfather's marriage to Bunun and their relocation to Laipunuk from Lakuli, a Japanese trading station across the Central Range, west of Laipunuk. Shiwa's father, of Hakka Chinese and Bunun mixed blood, lived in Laipunuk and made and traded guns and gunpowder in the villages of Takivahlas, Halipusun, and Mamahav. Shiwa explains her family grew corn, millet, pumpkin, sweet potato, taro and tobacco.

Lin Zu Mei (Shiwa) | Ethnohistorical Research | Bunun of Laipunuk, Taiwan | Steven Martin | University Filmworks

The interview was conducted in the Isbukun dialect of the Bunun language by Nabu Istanda. An English transcript of this video is available upon request and interview content is appears in the publications listed below.

Gu Song Shan | Ethnography | Bunun | Laipunuk | 內本鹿 | Taiwan | Steven A. Martin | University Filmworks

This video is an audio-visual recording of Bunun Gu Song Shan. On-camera support for the interview was provided by Langus Istanda. The first of two interviews, his talks about his life experience, villages and places in the mountains of Laipunuk 內本鹿 , southern Taiwan. The interview was conducted in the Isbukun dialect of the Bunun language by Nabu Istanda.

Gu Song Shan | Ethnohistorical Research | Bunun of Laipunuk, Taiwan | Steven Martin | University Filmworks

Gu Yu Chun Lan | Ethnography | Bunun | Laipunuk | 內本鹿 | Taiwan | Steven A. Martin | University Filmworks

This video is an audio-visual recording of Bunun Gu Yu Chun Lan. On-camera support for the interview was provided by her friend, Langus Istanda. The second of two interviews, she answers questions about Haisul, the notorious Bunun rebel and the events leading to the Laipunuk Incident and forced removal of the Bunun from Laipunuk by the Japanese field police. As with other family informants in this series, she recounts her life experience in the mountains of Laipunuk 內本鹿 , southern Taiwan. The interview was conducted in the Isbukun dialect of the Bunun language by Nabu Istanda.

Gu Yu Chun Lan | Ethnohistorical Research | Bunun of Laipunuk, Taiwan | Steven Martin | University Filmworks

Yu Xing Yo (Bunun name Biung) | Ethnography | Bunun | Laipunuk | 內本鹿 | Taiwan | Steven A. Martin | University Filmworks

This video is an audio-visual recording of Bunun Yu Xing Yo. On-camera support for the interview was provided by Langus Istanda. The first of two interviews, his talks about his life experience, including the village of Takivahlas, where the Istanda family first built their home in the mountains of Laipunuk 內本鹿 , southern Taiwan.

The interview was conducted at the Bunun Village (Bunun Buloa 布農部落) in the Isbukun dialect of the Bunun language by Nabu Istanda.

Yu Xing Yo (Biung) | Ethnohistorical Research | Bunun of Laipunuk, Taiwan | Steven Martin | University Filmworks

Bia Shirakimura 白木村 | Ethnography | Paiwan | Bia Culture 白聖賀 | Taiwan | Steven A. Martin | University Filmworks

This video is an audio-visual recording of Bia Shirakimura. On-camera support for the interview was provided by his Bunun wife, Langus Istanda. One of four clips in which Bia talks about his life experiences, including the Paiwan village of Bia (白聖賀 Bia Culture), growing up in Tubabalu (now called Tudan) South of Taidong City, and joining the Japanese military as a Takasago Volunteer. He tells us about meeting and marrying his Laipunuk Bunun wife, Langus Istanda, in Bashkal, near today’s Bunun Buloa, and the issues he faced from marrying out of his culture. The interview was mainly conducted in Japanese by Nabu Istanda.

Bia Shirakimura 白木村 | Ethnohistorical Research | Paiwan | Steven Martin | University Filmworks

ETHNOMUSICOLOGY AND THE STAGE AT BUNUN VILLAGE

Indigenous Music of Taiwan | Part 1 | Steven A. Martin | University Filmworks

The stage at the Bunun Cultural and Educational Foundation in Taidong, Taiwan, allowed an opportunity to record the musical traditions of the Bunun and other indigenous groups. The majority of the participants' families were originally from Laipunuk. Though personal interviews with the participants in this video, English-language synopses were developed (see bottom of the Ethnographic Research page).

As European powers contacted and influenced ethnolinguistic Austronesian-speaking peoples in Southeast Asia, vocal folk songs were particularly influenced by the introduction of new musical instruments. In contrast, the Bunun held on to acappella traditions, and vocal music retained rich and complicated in style and content. The acappella styles featured here range from the most basic to some of the the most complicated of all modern vocal music. With songs for nearly every occasion of life, content includes those for religious ceremonies, worship, nature, work and recreation.

Indigenous Music of Taiwan | Part 1 | Steven A. Martin | University Filmworks

Please visit my Ethnographic Research page (bottom of page) to learn more.

THE ETHNOGRAPHIC MOMENT | MUSIC AND SOLIDARITY IN TAIWAN

Remastered from "Nikar's Hot Springs Moment"

Filmed at the Hong Ye Hot Springs, Taitung County, Taiwan, three friends from different ethnolinguistic backgrounds meet coincidentally.

  • Nikar/ female/ granddaughter of an Amis shaman and singer.
  • Hawai/ male/ Puyuma/ guitarist
  • Asui/ male/ Kavalan/ wood carver

This recording was unplanned and the artists’ cultural expressions are spontaneous, songs blending and changing tempos and lyrics as each person interjects their own feeling and cultural background when singing their part.

The blending of aboriginal music in this film exemplifies the contemporary trend of solidarity among Taiwan’s indigenous cultures. For example, Amis melody is usually one step faster than Puyuma, and individuals must adjust to each other, while Japanese and Chinese influences on indigenous music reflect the events of last century.

Notes on the content of the video based on personal interviews with the participants. Six pieces of music.

  1. Amis
  2. Amis/ same as song 1 but with Puyuma melody.
  3. Puyuma/ melody from Nanwan area near Taidong/may be the type of song and feeling when meeting a friend from your home town.
  4. Amis/ new melody with Japanese influences.
  5. Amis/ Puyuma/ from Katiputa (Puyuma village)/ new creation/ melody may come from Ziben Hotsprings area (on the road to Kaohsiung from Taitung)/ an Amis/ Puyuma composition with some Chinese language/many aboriginals sing this song today/words indicate solidarity/we are all family.
  6. Amis/ Puyuma/ song used to bring the spirit of friends together/usually sung a-cappella style/ it has the sense of crying out for recognition.

The Ethnographic Moment | Music and Solidarity in Taiwan | Steven A. Martin | University Filmworks

Thank you for visiting my Ethnographic Film page.

I hope you enjoy the videos and the information in the links provided. If you feel motivated to learn more about my experience in ethnographic researchTaiwan Studies, or would like to arrange for me to give a public presentation, please let me know – I’d love to hear from you.

–Steven Martin