Yu Liang


Liang Yu, also known as Leeve Palrai, is a PhD candidate in anthropology at Cornell. As an indigenous anthropologist hailing from ‘oponoho community (Rukai) in Southern Taiwan, Liang Yu’s research interests are driven by a set of empirical questions: What does the term “indigenous people” signify across different geographical locations, political contexts, and historical nuances? How does the identification and categorization of “indigenous people” hold more significance than other political and cultural identities?

Liang Yu’s dissertation investigates how different actors mobilize diverse notions of historical justice and temporality to claim indigeneity in contemporary Taiwan. Titled “Being Native or Being Indigenous? Contesting Indigeneity in the Justicescape of Settler Colonial Taiwan,” the project looks at the debates and negotiations around the contested concepts of nativeness and indigeneity between Han Taiwanese and indigenous Taiwanese in an era of transitional justice. This project particularly situates settler colonial studies in a non-Western, non-White context, arguing how languages of democratization and decolonization are employed to reinforce the settler colonial present in contemporary Taiwan. By drawing on multiple scenarios of indigeneity-claiming and justice-making, including indigenous youth activism, cultural preservation sites, and an indigenous transitional justice office, this project shows how the definitions of “Taiwanese” and “indigenous peoples” are constructed, contested, and maintained in these intersecting discursive fields.

Liang Yu’s dissertation project has received support from Wenner-Gren Foundation, Mellon Foundation, National ChengChi University, and the Ministry of Education in Taiwan. Before coming to Cornell, Liang Yu earned her BA in political science at National Taiwan University in Taiwan, followed by a MA in anthropology from Peking University in China. In her master thesis, Liang Yu worked with the nomadic Kazakh community in Xinjiang to understand their social world and ecological knowledge through the practice of ethnic tourism, and to examine how the contemporary Chinese nation-state manages and imagines its frontier through translating settler colonization into liberative narratives.

ANTHR Courses - Fall 2024