Deconstructing Care from below: ‘Toona Tamu' As Resistance to Pathological Subjectivity for Indigenous Elders in Taiwan

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 11:25
Location: Hörsaal 6C P (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Frank WANG, Graduate Institute of Social Work, National Chengchi University, Taiwan
Taiwanese government is launching a long term care insurance to cope with rapid aging population. However, current long term care system fails to meet the needs as well as to reflect the worldview of indigenous peoples in remote areas. An alliance to advocate on behalf of indigenous peoples has been formed to challenge current LTC policy and practices. This paper analyzes how IE is adopted by the alliance to work with indigenous communities in order to disrupt the ruling apparatus of LTC in which elders are constructed as frail and dependent and the care provider as professionally trained workers. Two strategies were applied to mobilize community for change. First, service statistics of LTC are collected and analyzed at the level of township, rather than county, in order to make the shortage of services visible to the community. Community members are invited to interpret the stories behind the service figures to map out the care system at work, especially the informal care work. Secondly, community workers are invited to present their daily work on elder care, which is in sharp contrast to current LTC. ‘Toona Tamu’, which means a land guided by elders’ wisdom in the Kanakanavu tribe, is analyzed how elderly persons are empowered as heritage of culture rather than a frail dependent; relationship between the cared and the carer is reframed as inheritance of traditional knowledge with a collective mission to cultural revival, rather than individual physical care; elders, women and children are brought together as a community, rather than as divided client groups in needs of help; and most importantly, care/healing comes from deep spiritual connection with motherland, rather than professional knowledge/training. This activist process illustrates IE’s potential for social change in its emphasis on the binary of institutional and everyday perspectives, which gives voices to indigenous experiences.