chapter  1
Comparativism and Taiwan studies: Analyzing Taiwan in/out of context, or Taiwan as an East Asian New World society
Pages 20

In the past three decades, the rise of the Taiwanese consciousness has been accompanied by the emergence of a new Taiwan-centered history and the development of the international academic field of Taiwan studies. Comparative research has, however, not been a significant part of the academic effort to investigate the diverse aspects and dimensions of Taiwan’s past and present societies. This paper presents some reflections about the possible objectives and use of comparativism in the study of Taiwan. Looking in particular at the issues of state, nationalism, and aboriginality, comparisons with the farther-the New World-and the closer-the East Asian region-are proposed to highlight the possible contribution of regional and comparative frameworks in drawing new perspectives on Taiwan’s historical experience. I shall start by looking at Marcel Detienne’s recent call for an experimental comparativism in historical and anthropological research, and its relevance for Taiwan studies.