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From "Visitor" (Kezai) to "Loyalist" (yimin): Hakka Settlement and Social Disturbance in Southern Taiwan (1680-1740)

Wenliang LEE (National Taiwan University)
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This article deals with the process of Hakka settlement in Liudui, southern Taiwan. The author uses historical writings and local legends to show how the legends of the Hakka, or ‘guest people’, were linked to their securing of settlement rights. Hakka immigrants did not initially acquire government land reclamation licenses, so their migration legends often stressed their connection with such licenses. It was as tenants that they reclaimed and eventually came to control land, threatening the rights of absentee nominal landlords. As a result, in county gazetteers compiled in the 1710s, the Hakka were blamed as the cause of social disturbances. The Zhu Yigui uprising of 1721 marked a turning point in the transformation of their status. Some Hakka assisted in the pacification of the rebellion, earning the honorary title of “loyalist” (yimin). Many Hakka villages utilized this label by erecting plaques and enshrining the imperial edicts given to these individuals in temples. Through these efforts, the status of “loyalist” was expanded beyond specific individuals to the larger community, reducing the distance between the Hakka community and state orthodoxy. In this way, the Hakka legitimized their residence in Liudui.

Journal of History and Anthropology