The becoming of immigrants from outsiders to in-betweens
: the national identity of immigrant women in Taiwan

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis aims to explore the shift of national identity of marriage immigrant women in Taiwan. With regards to the citizenship legislation being used as the state’s integration scheme, it aims to answer the following questions: how is the citizenship legislation shaped to integrate immigrant women? How do immigrant women react to the legislation? How does this interaction affect their national identity? Taking a temporal perspective and viewing their transition to mothers and citizens as their rite of passage, this thesis argues that immigrant women from China, the Philippines, Vietnam and Indonesia develop an in-between identity towards Taiwan and their country of origin. The in-betweenness is brought about by their perception of the citizenship legislation, their adoption of the Chinese language, and their fulfilment of motherhood duties. Along the rite of passage, immigrant women experience the in-betweenness whilst simultaneously playing the roles of daughter, mother and citizen. In these roles, they experience the infusion and tension of the two senses of belonging.

On the other hand, their self-identification with Taiwan is contested by the host society and the contestation reinforces the in-betweenness. The contestation results from the categorisations of Chinese, Southeast Asian and Overseas Chinese from Indonesia by the host society. Incorporated into the citizenship legislation, these categorisations are integral to the nation-building project. They are instrumental to consolidate the proclaimed statehood of Taiwan and to safeguard its self-identity as that of a multicultural nation that upholds democracy, prosperity and human rights protection. Being differently affected by the three variables, immigrant women follow different paths to the in-betweenness. Whilst democracy and prosperity are positive inducements for generating identification, the discourses of multiculturalism and human rights protection are insufficient for integrating the immigrant outsiders. This inadequacy may be a driving force for the political participation of immigrant-turned citizens. These findings enrich the understanding of the relationship between women and the state, and facilitate an ‘outside-in’ perspective with which to examine the conduct and impact of the Taiwan’s nation-building.
Date of AwardAug 2012
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of London
SupervisorDafydd J. Fell (Supervisor)

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