Thesis ID: CBB603102752

Pluralizing Postcoloniality from a Standpoint of Margins: A Historical Detour of Global Health and Imperial Regimes in Postwar Taiwan Through the Traces of the Marginalized (2023)


Global health is never conducted in a detached, placeless laboratory. This dissertation delves into the overlooked history of Taiwan as a pivotal postcolonial laboratory for the U.S.-led global health campaign in the post-World War II era. How did this island, since the postwar period, become strategically significant yet historiographically neglected? Taking a postcolonial detour, this dissertation focuses on the marginalized aspects of the island, which served as a crucial hub for U.S.-led global health initiatives from the onset of the postwar period. Taiwan, along with other islands, played a role in shaping and sustaining the United States as a de-territorialized global power throughout the 20th century. To challenge prevailing historical narratives that primarily highlight expertise and success in Taiwan, a postcolonial feminist approach is adopted. The study centers around three marginalized actors, examining how powerlessness intersected with the U.S.-Sino cooperative regime in global health during postwar Taiwan. As Taiwan was already situated on the fringes of global health and academia, this dissertation further highlights the marginalized within the marginalized: children, monkeys, and female technicians of Taiwan, all involved in global trachoma campaigns in the postwar period. Their postcolonial trajectories are brought to light. Through the lens of marginalized actors, the argument is made that a logic of coloniality persisted on the island throughout this process, stemming from the Japanese colonial legacy, the Cold War agenda of Nationalist China and the United States, as well as the colonial conduct of U.S. scientists towards Native American children in the early 20th century. Primary sources include archival collections and historical documentation from the U.S., Taiwan, and Japan. The findings begin by examining the postcolonial imperial regime and the politico-economic power structure in Taiwan following the postwar transition from Japanese colonial rule to U.S.-Sino cooperation. In Chapter Two, the focus is on how Taiwanese children played a central role in the WHO-UNICEF trachoma program, transitioning from recipients of treatment to caregivers, health trainees, and financial donors over the course of nearly two decades. Chapter Three explores transnational connections between two marginalized groups of children in Taiwan and the Native American Nation, facilitated by global collaborative research on trachoma virus and vaccine in the postwar period. This chapter unveils layers of silence and exposes the logic of coloniality driven by imperial, racial, and capitalist objectives that sustained the intellectual and technical exchanges across countries, as well as the unethical practices and the dispossession experienced by marginalized communities across borders. Chapter Four shifts the focus to the encounters between the indigenous Taiwan Monkey and the imperial powers of the U.S., Japan, and the UK. It reveals how the Taiwan Monkey became subject to scientific study and incorporated into colonial projects, illustrating the imperial accumulation within the realm of modern science through the collection and utilization of animal species from the mountains, fieldwork, vaccine trials, urban pet stores, and zoological trades. Chapter Five centers around the life history of LIN Shou-Yin (林壽英), also known as Christine Yang (1943–Present), a Taiwanese-Hakka woman and former NAMRU-2 technician in the virology laboratory conducting trachoma virus research from 1965 to 1967. This chapter challenges conventional notions of significance and triviality concerning scientists and technicians, male and female, Whiteness and Yellowness, in historical writing and archiving. It responds to the fact that female technicians often left scant archival records of their lives and careers. Additionally, this chapter highlights how local Taiwanese women leveraged their temporary and often unseen scientific work at NAMRU-2, turning it into a steppingstone for professional migration to the U.S. during the martial law era in Taiwan when international travel was generally prohibited. The epilogue explores a postcolonial response to the imperial regime through the history of the Northern American Taiwanese Medical Association (NATMA). The current free clinic programs of NATMA in Latin America and the Caribbean have their roots in the overseas ethnic radical movements in the United States since the 1960s. The transnational identity of NATMA plays a pivotal role in shaping how Taiwanese medical diasporas perceive and engage in global health practices. The stories of postwar Taiwan will always be complex due to its significance as a hub for numerous global public health programs, research endeavors, and the political interests of various imperial powers. This complexity encourages critical examination of our own historical practices in terms of engaging with archives, narratives, perspectives, and cultivating connections that extend beyond borders, fostering a global solidarity rooted in justice with other historically marginalized and suffering communities.

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Authors & Contributors
Lin, Wen-yuan
Andréolle, Donna Spalding
Chiang, Howard Hsueh-Hao
Fu, Daiwie
Gaard, Greta
Harding, Sandra G.
East Asian Science, Technology and Society: An International Journal
Science, Technology, and Human Values
American Quarterly
Bulletin of the History of Medicine
Oumei Yenjiu (Euro-American Studies)
Social Studies of Science
Duke University Press
University of Washington
Cambridge University Press
Harvard University Press
UCL Press
Institute of Sociology, Academia Sinica
Feminist analysis
Science and technology studies (STS)
Global health
Time Periods
21st century
20th century, late
20th century
19th century
United States
East Asia
World Health Organization (WHO)

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