Anthropology graduate student Christy DeLair spent her summer (2011) in Taiwan collecting contemporary indigenous craftwork for the Haffenreffer Museum. She shared some of her experiences during this presentation of her research on February 23, 2012. Dominant narratives suggest that to be indigenous is to be stuck in the past, tied to tradition, and antithetical to ever encroaching development. In this view, indigenous cultures will disappear unless they are preserved in their historic forms and sheltered from the changing world around them. Yet indigenous artists in Taiwan are constantly challenging these preconceptions through their revitalization of local culture and the development of craft industries. In their daily crafting of traditional material culture using new materials, forms, methods, and designs, these crafters are also involved in creating new meanings and shaping new perceptions of indigeneity. While tradition and history remain significant, to be indigenous may also mean to be creative.

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