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Title: Working together : relatedness and economy amongst the Rukai of Taiwan
Author: Cheng, Weining
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2007
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This dissertation examines the mutual construction of relatedness and the economy amongst the Rukai of Taiwan. A person is imagined as the embodiment of a couple’s collaborative efforts at work and hence practises of work are central to making a person the site of relatedness. Significantly, work refers to both human efforts and human agency – in contrast to ritual performance. With respect to their experiences of capitalism, I suggest that money not only embodies the fruit of labour for the Rukai, but is also thought to be a living thing with fertility that is important for domestic reproduction as well as the realisation of inter-house relations. Rukai workers consider work for kin paid by piece rate to be the enactment of kinship morality rather than undertaken just for payment. With kin-employer’s provision of gifts to kin-workers, an act of exploitation is transfigured into a practice implying reciprocity. Above all, workers emphasise conviviality in doing piecework in the company of kin, and such work enacts domestic sociality in the Rukai context. By contrast, labour paid in daily wages is viewed as toil, and a wage is seen as ‘bitter money’. This is associated with experiences of unreasonable labour time on the shop floor. In the wake of increasing unemployment, the moral code stemming from kinship in turn underpins the provision of food to jobless kin. Meanwhile, the Rukai expect the government, viewed as a superior, powerful caretaker, to offer them opportunities of employment in terms of ‘having pity’ on the unemployed. However, Rukai engagement in wage labour is, strikingly, experienced as bodily affliction. I argue that Rukai participation in charismatic healing practices for the purpose of repairing distress and affliction is tantamount to implicit resistance to the encroachment of capitalism.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available