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The Dichotomy of Han Nationalism

As a carrier of social memory, baseball’s history in Taiwan goes though the era of Japanese colonisation (1895-1945), the Chinese nationalist domination under the Kuomintang (KMT or Chinese Nationalist Party, 1945-1987), and the emergence of a Taiwanese consciousness after the lifting of martial law (1987-). As a ‘national sport’, it has also transcended the boundaries between Japanese colonisers and the colonised in the1920s and between the later Chinese mainlanders in 1970s, thus becoming a potent symbol of Taiwanese nationalism.6 By analysing the ethnic proportions further, we find a so-called ‘over-representation’ of aborigines in baseball.7 While aboriginal people accounted for only 2% of the overall population, during the 18th season of the Taiwan Professional Baseball League in 2007, there were 76 aboriginal players, nearly 41% of the total number of players. In the 22nd Asian Baseball Championship in 2003, the Taiwanese team which were runners-up and gained automatic entry into the Athens Olympics of 2004, had 45% aboriginal players on its roster.8 Even though Taiwanese aborigines and baseball have become synonymous, their disposition of identity is rarely discussed either in national discourses or in sport studies.