The Republic of China on Taiwan spent nearly four decades as a single-party state under dictatorial rule (1949-1987) before transitioning to liberal democracy. This talk is based on an ethnographic study of street-level police practices during the first rotation in executive power following the democratic transition (i.e. the first term of the Chen Shui-bian administration, 2000-2004). Summarizing the argument of a forthcoming book, Dr. Jeffrey T. Martin focuses on an apparent paradox, in which the strength of Taiwan's democracy is correlated to the weakness of its police powers. Martin explains this paradox through a theory of "jurisdictional pluralism" which, in Taiwan, is organized by a cultural distinction between sentiment, reason, and law as distinct foundations for political authority. An overt police interest in sentiment (qing) was institutionalized during the martial law era, when police served as an instrument for the cultivation of properly nationalistic political sentiments. Martin's fieldwork demonstrates how the politics of sentiment which took shape under autocratic rule continued to operate in everyday policing in the early phase of the democratic transformation, even as a more democratic mode of public reason and the ultimate power of legal right were becoming more significant.
Jeffrey T. Martin is an assistant professor in the Departments of Anthropology and East Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. He specializes in the anthropological study of modern policing, and has conducted research in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and the USA. His research interests focus on historical continuity and change in police culture, especially as this culture reflects specific changes in the legal, bureaucratic, or technical dimensions of police operations. Prior to joining the University of Illinois, Dr. Martin taught in the Sociology Department at the University of Hong Kong, and in the Graduate Institute of Taiwan Studies at Chang Jung Christian University.