Mei-chun Lee

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

California, Davis, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9343

Approve Date

October 5, 2016

Project Title

Lee, Mei-chun, U. of California, Davis, CA - To aid research on 'Open Government: Digital Activism in Post-authoritarian Taiwan,' supervised by Dr. Li Zhang

Preliminary abstract: This research examines the open government movement carried out by digital activists to resist guanxi (interpersonal relationship) networks and elite politics in post-authoritarian Taiwan. By translating openness from digital technologies to the realm of governance, these activists aim to rebuild a collaborative, open government. The primary objective is to replace the government bureaucracy with a de-centered network, in which all citizens can collaborate in its governing process. Openness is not only viewed as the promise of technologies to democratize the government, but also discloses the attempt to reimagine Taiwan as an island of inclusiveness by recalling its history of hosting various groups of people. Moreover, openness also serves as the ideological weapon against Communist China as it claims that Taiwan is part of its territory. By revealing how the activists translate, practice, and play with the multiplicity of openness, I ask if open government is an effective challenge to guanxi networks of the elite and if it leads to new forms of closures and produces more subtle forms of social control with digital technologies? This research pays attention to the interplay between digital technologies and the practice of governance. I further ask: how do digital vernaculars emerge on the ground? Under what circumstances do technologies allow for enduring historical themes and issues to reemerge in a new context and how are these enduring themes transformed by technologies?