For most of its postwar history, Taiwan’s government promoted a perception of the nation as a bastion of authentic Chinese culture. This changed in the 1990s, when Taiwan began to embrace its multicultural heritage, including the languages and cultures of the indigenous population. What does Taiwanese multiculturalism look like? How does the uncertain status of Taiwanese sovereignty shape local identity politics? And what are the effects of these policies on indigenous groups? To answer these questions, this essay combines a historical and ethnographic analysis of Taiwanese hegemony with an investigation into the shifting ideologies of scale underlying the chronotopes of Taiwanese identity politics. It argues that indigenous Taiwanese were not the intended beneficiaries of this new multiculturalism, which was primarily designed to head off the rise of ethnic nationalism by the Han Chinese majority. As a result, Taiwanese multiculturalism emphasizes local differences over questions of sovereignty, including indigenous sovereignty.

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