The lives, aspirations, and concerns of over 140,000 immigrants and 680,000 foreign workers from Southeast Asia will be showcased in “The New Tai-ker” exhibition running at the Tainan-based National Museum of Taiwan History from March 11 through Nov. 5.
Although these migrants are often called “new residents” in Taiwan, the moniker may be quite misleading. This exhibition will focus on those who moved to Taiwan over the past fifty years, many of whom were driven here by political factors during the 1960s and 1970s.
Those who came in the 1960s were mostly Hakka Chinese from Indonesia, seeking shelter from riots aimed at ethnic Chinese communities. By 1976, many Chinese Vietnamese also dispersed to Taiwan upon the founding of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
The violence targeting Chinese-related establishments in Southeast Asia were part of a wider anti-Communist movement that swept across the world. In response, the Republic of China on Taiwan reached out to ethnic Chinese populations in a bid to build its legitimacy by offering resettlement packages.
Relics from the Cold War, documentation of widespread anti-Chinese sentiments, as well as anti-Communism propaganda will be included in this exhibition to underscore the political powers behind this wave of immigration.
By the turn of the 1990s, demographics began to shift as citizens of Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines came to Taiwan out of their own volition. They sought jobs, studies, marital opportunities, and other methods of enriching their lives.
Today, the growing influx of migrant workers and immigrants have led to ever-higher demand for legal reforms regarding labor, immigration, social equality, and other civil rights. Communities and schools are transforming and accommodating children of Southeast Asian heritage as well.
As progress is beget by protest, the presence and strength of activist groups and volunteers deserve a place in this exhibition, too. These groups not only fight for migrant rights but also serve as the supervising force on such governmental regulations.
For this section, 14 migrant artists from various Southeast Asian nations have created visual artworks and video installations to narrate their personal tales and give voice to their identities. Boxes full of handwritten letters and journals submitted by workers and immigrants around Taiwan will also be on display.
They are our colleagues, our friends, our community members. Welcome the new “taiker (台客)” – a nickname the Taiwanese have given to themselves – on the block and hear their stories at this Tainan exhibition.
‘The New Tai-ker: Southeast Asian Migrant Workers and Immigrants in Taiwan’
- Date: March 11 – Nov. 5, 2017
- Venue: National Museum of Taiwan History
- Address: No. 250 Changhe Rd. Section 1, Annan District, Tainan City, Taiwan (ROC)
- Site: www.nmth.gov.tw
- TransAsia Sisters Association, Taiwan
- Cultural Advocate Chang Cheng
- SEAMi (SouthEast Asian Migrant inspired) Bookstore