From someone, to no-one, to a new- one: a subjective view of Taiwan’s immigration policies in the context of multiculturalism

Momesso, Lara orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-4042-9384 (2016) From someone, to no-one, to a new- one: a subjective view of Taiwan’s immigration policies in the context of multiculturalism. Berliner China-Hefte - Chinese History and Society .

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Since the 2000s, the efforts made by the Taiwanese government and those expected of the local society to favour social integration and recognition of immigrant communities were significant. On the other hand, several scholars criticise the approach of Taiwan’s multicultural policies building on an assimilationist model and educating migrant communities on local habits and culture, rather than recognising and encouraging their original cultures. Yet, as I argue in this paper, assessing migrants’ integration and recognition in receiving societies should not only entail analyses of governmental policies and social responses to these. Instead, it is important to also consider the heterogeneity of identities and interests existing within immigrant communities, possible changes in an individual’s status during the process of migration, and migrants’ responses to the structural system shaping their lives.
Building on critical literature that suggests considering the different needs and interests making up ethnic and national communities, and looking at migration as a long-term process of transformation starting before the actual departure and continuing after arrival, this paper will offer a subjective analysis of the impact of immigration policies on a sub-category of migrants, developed in a stage when Taiwan was forging its image as a multicultural nation. By building on the subjective experiences of migration and adaptation in the receiving society of three marriage migrants from the People’s Republic of China (PRC), this paper suggests that multiculturalism should be assessed in light of individual’s negotiation with structural inequalities depending on their different positions in the social hierarchies they belong to. As this paper will show, being better-off in the sending society and enjoying great recognition there, does not always play a positive role in an immigrant’s process of adaptation and sense of recognition in the receiving society.

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