The "Indian gift" and the Taiwan indigenous literary hunter's gift

    Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review


    My basic observation is that gifts in Taiwan aboriginal literature tend to be given by hunters, and that hunters tend to give gifts. My thesis is that Taiwanese indigenous writers of stories about gift exchange are constructing or reconstructing indigenous individual, social and ecological identities in a modern social context. I emphasize that I am discussing literary gifts rather than actual gifts because this concerns the critical context for this article. One would assume that this context would include the wealth of scholarly literature on the gift as a social institution, a body of scholarship to which anthropologists, sociologists, psychologists, and philosophers have contributed. It does, and a literary scholar interested in gift giving will find this tradition to be of inherent interest. But a study of literary gift-giving has an awkward place in this scholarship. Thus, I shall very briefly trace the broad outlines of this tradition, then introduce some qualifications that relate to the study of the literary gift. I apply this qualified model to the interpretation of four Taiwanese literary hunter’s gifts and offer some preliminary reflections on the results of the interpretation. I end the article with a self-critique of my method, which is to ‘apply’ a simplified anthropological model to the study of local indigenous literature without doing the kind of local fieldwork that illuminates and makes possible the refinement or interrogation of the model.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)79-100
    Number of pages22
    JournalStudia Orientalia Slovaca
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2012


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