Scott E. Simon, “Truly Human: Indigeneity and Indigenous Resurgence on Formosa” (U Toronto Press, 2023)

Similar to countries like the US and Canada, Taiwan also has indigenous peoples who’ve existed before the arrival of colonizers, and continue to grapple with the legacy of colonialism to this day. Scott Simon’s Truly Human: Indigeneity and Indigenous Resurgence on Formosa (U Toronto Press, 2023) explores lifeworlds, traditions, and political relationships in two of Taiwan’s indigenous communities—the Sediq and Truku. 

Simon is a Professor of Sociological and Anthropological Studies at the University of Ottawa, where he is also the Chair of Taiwan studies. Truly Human is the result of nearly two decades of field research and interactions among the Sediq and Truku; the book provides a deep yet accessible dive into matters such as hunting practices, belief systems, electoral politics, historical narratives, and how Taiwan’s geopolitical status may affect the island’s indigenous communities. 

As Taiwan becomes ever-more-prominent in international headlines, Truly Human helps readers draw parallels with indigenous peoples in other parts of the world, and learn about a dimension of Taiwanese and Austronesian society that often gets lost in discussions centered on conflict.

Anthony Kao is a writer who intersects international affairs and cultural criticism. He founded/edits Cinema Escapist—a publication exploring the sociopolitical context behind global film and television—and also writes for outlets like The Guardian, Al Jazeera, The Diplomat, and Eater.

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