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It can be traced back to various historical works and research findings from the Qing dynasty to Japanese colonial period, with reference to the time of regime change, the final war date of 15 August 1945 was used as a dividing line to define the pre-war and post-war periods.

Pre-World War II

Traditional Chinese historiographical concepts

Prior to the Japanese colonial period, the histories of Taiwan were written by Taiwanese in the traditional Chinese historiographical style, mostly continuing the Qing government's habit of compiling the local chronicles, but after the cession of Taiwan in the Yi-Wei, these Taiwanese literati turned to a Taiwan-based writing structure, of which Lian Heng's General History of Taiwan is an example.[1]

Japanese colonial period

The tradition of colonial studies during the period of Japanese rule can be divided into the early, middle and later periods. The early period was mainly about survey reports on the whole island of Taiwan, setting a milestone in writing Taiwanese history, for example, Taketoshi and Saburo's Journal of the Ruling of Taiwan (1905) and Goto Shinpei's investigation of old habits; The middle period focused on the compilation of Taiwan's historical materials, such as: 1922 Taiwan Historical Manuscript by the Taiwan Governor's Office Historical Compilation Committee, and Yi Nengjia's Cultural Journal of Taiwan;The later period focused on the study of Taiwan's history and folklore, represented by the magazine Folklore Taiwan.[2]

Post-World War II

From 'Chinese local history' to Taiwanese history

After World War II, the government of the Republic of China took over Taiwan, and officially set up the Taiwan Provincial Documentation Society to preside over the revision project and compile the 'General History of Taiwan Province'. As a result, the history of Taiwan was treated as part of the 'local history of China' in the 1960s; in addition, European and American scholars also regarded Taiwan as a laboratory to study China and made Taiwan the object of regional studies; overseas opposition campaigners also wrote the history of Taiwan as a means of uniting Taiwan's consciousness; while local scholars devoted to the study of Taiwanese folklore and monuments. After the 1970s, the Republic of China withdrew from the United Nations, Taiwan-based historical research gradually emerged in the historiography, such as the Ben-Yuan Lin’s Culture and Education Foundation, which greatly funded Taiwan studies; and the officially Taiwan Historical Traces and Sources Research Association was established. In 1981, the Council for Cultural Affairs was established officially to promote antiquities administration, it also deepened the study of Taiwan's history when designating monuments; the Council for Cultural Affairs also established cultural center (later upgraded to bureau) in each county and city to strengthen the study of local history; since then, historical site surveys and oral histories accumulated gradually, and then expanded to "villages" as revision units; adding aborigines (including the Pingpu ethnic group).[3]

In 1986, Taiwan's strictures were lifted, the history of Taiwan course in the college was changed from elective to compulsory, giving rise to the 'Taiwan History Program'. PhD and MA theses in history also included works on Taiwanese history, accounting for around 30-40% so far.[3] In 1988, the Taiwan History Field Studio, the predecessor of Taiwan History Institute at Academia Sinica, was established by the suggestion of academician Kwang-chih Chang in the mid-1980s, with the study of the Pingpu ethnic as one of main projects in the early stages. The Pingpu ethnic group of the South Island ethnic group were the masters of Taiwan before the arrival of the Han Chinese, and the study of Taiwanese history shall begin with the Pingpu ethnic group at the latest. However, in the 20th century, especially after the World War II, the Pingpu ethnic group 'disappeared', which is why Mr Kwang-chih Chang’s 'Inaugural Address' for the Taiwan History Field Studies Newsletter says that the opening of the Field Studio is of great symbolic importance. While this research orientation was related to the localization movement at that time.[4] In 2004, Taiwan History Institute at Academia Sinica, the Graduate Institute of Taiwan History at National Chengchi University, and the Institute of Taiwan History at National Taiwan Normal University were established to set up a major town for academic research on Taiwan history. Besides, the publication and digitization of a large number of historical materials, the compilation of tools and cross-border research made the study of Taiwan history reach its peak[3]

The study of Taiwanese history by Western scholars

Apart from William Campbell's Formosa Under the Dutch and James Davidson's The Island of Formosa in 1903, most Western scholars came to Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macao and Thailand in the late 1960s for research in Chinese communities. Related organizations are: Taiwan Study Group of the association of Asian studies, Harvard-Yenching Institute, etc. Among them, the Utah Genealogical Society was dedicated to genealogical research in Taiwan and elsewhere, and compiled ancient folk documents collected as "Ancient Documents in Public and Private Collections in Taiwan" (5,691 items) with the help of Wang Shih-ching; In the 1970s, many masterpieces on Taiwan's history were published, and Kwang-chih Chang, the US-based archaeologist, hosted collaborative research projects on science and technology, such as the "Research Project on the Natural and Cultural History of the Turbid Great Basin" and the "Regional Research Project on China's Modernization" in the Institute of Modern History. While nurturing new talent for Taiwan history research, the "aboriginalization" and "interiorization" proposed by Li Guoqi and others also became important topics in Taiwanese history in the 1980s,[2] opening up new issues on the structure of urban-rural and urban settlement systems in Taiwan.[5]

From school of thought to dangerous school

The history of Taiwan in the post-war period, in the government's anti-communist restoration ideology in the early post-war period, Taiwan was built as ' anti-communist restoration base', only living for the Republic of China, hence the focus of official education was on Chinese history. Taiwanese had rather limited resources to study Taiwanese history. After the war, Yang Yun-ping advocated Taiwanese history, and it was not until 1983 that the first doctoral dissertation in Taiwanese history was published in the Institute of History in Taiwan. Between 1993 and 2004, the study of Taiwanese history moved towards school of thought, with forty percent of doctoral dissertations in history being on Taiwanese history. However, Chinese Taiwan Literature Collection and the Archives of Taiwan Studies in Collections surpassed the Taiwan Literature Series, which numbered in the hundreds of volumes in Taiwan; In addition to the task-based research on Taiwan history at Xiamen University, the Institute of Modern History of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Nanjing and Wuhan, as well as the rapid training of students at Graduate Institute for Taiwan Studies of Xiamen University, there was a tendency to close in on local research on Taiwan history. In contrast, there are only two Taiwan History Institutes and no departments, so Taiwan history is in a dangerous school.[3]: 97–98 


  1. ^ Wu Mi-cha (2006). "「歷史」的出現:台灣史學史素描" [The Emergence of "History": A Sketch of Taiwan's Historical History]. Contemporary (in Chinese) (224): 42-49.
  2. ^ a b Zhang Longzhi. "斷裂與匯聚:當代臺灣史研究的多重知識系譜" [Rupture and Convergence: Multiple Spectrums of Knowledge in Contemporary Taiwan History Research]. Weekly Report (in Chinese). Academia Sinica (1274): 6–8.
  3. ^ a b c d Xu Xueji (2010). "台灣史研究三部曲:由鮮學經顯學到險學" [A trilogy of studies on Taiwan history: from Xianxue through Xianxue to Dangerology]. Ideas (in Chinese). 16 (71–72).
  4. ^ Du Zhengsheng (30 December 2016). "後現代與前近代之間──我的轉折所見臺灣史學的一些面向" [Between postmodernity and premodernity – my turning point in Taiwanese historiography – some aspects]. Taiwan Research Institute (in Chinese). Evergreen University. 29 (18).
  5. ^ Lin Yuru; Lee Yuzhong. "戰後以來臺灣地區臺灣史研究的回顧(1845-2000)" [A Review of Post-War Research on Taiwan History in Taiwan (1845-2000)] (PDF). Academia Sinica (in Chinese) (8–9).