Teaching and Learning  

Book Offers Postcolonial Critique of Legal Thought in Colonial Taiwan

NTU Press published the book Wandering the Modern “Paraíso”: Portraits of the Jurists in Colony in April. Written by Prof. Hao-Jen Wu of the Department of Law at Fu Ren University, the book marks a new addition to the university publisher's Series on Pioneers in Taiwan Studies.

Based on rigorous scholarship, this book provides a postcolonial critique of the history of legal thought in colonial Taiwan using the stringent approaches of the comparative history of ideas along with the perspectives of legal sociology. Prof. Wu traces the roots and distinctive characteristics of the ideas of the legal professionals, including legal scholars, judges, prosecutors, and lawyers, in Taiwan during the Japanese colonial era. He categorizes these ideas and goes on to offer anin-depth appraisal of their impact.

The first chapter of the book presents an analysis and evaluation of the achievements and legal thought of Santaro Okamatsu, a Japanese legal scholar who attempted to transform Taiwan's legal system from one based on customary law to one based on the German system of jurisprudence during the early period of colonial rule. In the second chapter, Prof. Wu examines from the perspective of private law the special legal attributes of the “chi-ssu-kung-yeh” institution (property-owning ancestral worship associations) under Taiwan's customary law. As “chi-ssu-kung-yeh” associations were a deeply-rooted aspect of Taiwanese people's self-identity, the author looks at how their decline changed the form and content of Taiwanese ethnic identity.

Chapter Three investigates the background and process of the first political legal judgment following the institution of a modern legal system in Taiwan. The chapter explores the tactics, and their limits, that Taiwanese intellectuals utilized in taking advantage of the legal dispute surrounding the Peace Act Incident in carrying out a resistance against the colonizers.