I have conducted research about the traditional singing practices of the Tao since 2005. In the past, the traditional songs of the Tao were used to mediate social and economic relationships and to transmit different forms of cultural knowledge, e.g. how to sustain the living environment and how to pass on individual experiences and collective history within family groups or of the island. This means, traditional songs are like “books”, a medium for storing and transmitting knowledge from generation to generation.
Among the Tao, young people are most often not proficient in their native language. In addition, traditional singing practices have been almost totally abandoned. These dramatic changes are a result of discriminatory policies as applied by the Taiwanese government since the 1950s. For example, most of the houses used as the primary cultural transmission sites were demolished between 1966 and 1978. Furthermore, the compulsory state schools’ curriculum is not designed to replace the traditional transmission process, thus causing conflicting value perceptions between the young and middle-aged generations. This prevents the potential of successful transmission.
In this context I apply Activist Research in order to use research for creating suitable and sustainable forms and spaces for transmitting local knowledge. Through the two on-going projects The Tao Classroom and Transform based on the methodological framework Participatory Action Research (PAR), we will be able to achieve this goal together with the involved team members and project collaborators.