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

MEI-CHUN LEE, then a graduate student at University of California, Davis, California, was awarded a grant in October 2016 to aid research on ‘Open Government: Digital Activism in Post-authoritarian Taiwan,’ supervised by Dr. Li Zhang. Funding supported 17 months of fieldwork to study digital activism and the emergence of civic technologies as a new approach to democracy in Taiwan. The project particularly focuses on g0v, a hacker group that uses digital technologies to promote civic engagement and experiment on ‘direct’ democracy. These hackers propose a decentralized, open network, in which all citizens can collaborate in its governing process. By translating the idea of openness from open source software to government operations, they introduce alternative ways to engage in politics and thus ignite a movement of ‘save the nation by keyboards’. However, there have been increasing anxieties and conflicts among hackers regarding the institutionalization of openness since the Democratic Progressive Party took power in 2016. The idea of openness is constantly challenged as it swings between activism and governance. Using an ethnographic approach to study g0v, this study aims to ask: 1) how democracy is rearticulated and reimagined with digital technologies in this post-authoritarian state; 2) whether the politicization of technologies leads to the de-politicization of governance or vice versa; 3) how governance is mediated and transformed (or sustained) by digital technologies.