Populism, Nationalism, and Neoliberalism: Reflection from Taiwan’s Trade Liberalization Experience
Populism and nationalism have commonly been conceived in a paradoxical relationship with neoliberalism. While some believe that their protectionist nature serves as a challenge to neoliberalism, others caution their tendency to embrace market economy and competition would buttress neoliberalism. Against this seemingly contradictory framing, how can Taiwan’s experiences provide a more nuanced understanding of the complex dynamics between the three? And What are the analytical tools do we have to gauge such dynamics?
Through genealogical analysis of trade and economic liberalization in Taiwan since the 1980s, Dr. Hsu provides a conjunctural reading of multiple crisis and hegemonic struggles over trade ranging from early trade disputes against US hegemony to the more current contestations over trade deals with mainland China. Specifically, by tracing the multiple faces of the “people” and identifying competing nationalist projects emerged since democratization, Dr. Hsu illustrates how populism and nationalism mediate external geopolitical-geoeconomic forces and internal social turbulence at different historical moments. Dr. Hsu argues that these social and political struggles have contingently contributed to neoliberalization while also opened up spaces for radical social change.
Szu-Yun Hsu received her PhD in Geography at the University of British Columbia. Her scholarly interests include geopolitical economy, hegemony, state theory, neoliberalism, critical geopolitics, nationalism, populism, and democratization. Specifically, she is interested in exploring the intersections between political dynamics and economic forces that have shaped the East Asian region since the Cold War. Her dissertation traces the hegemonic struggles in Taiwan through trade politics and its associated social and political struggles since the 1980s, including populist and nationalist politics. Szu-Yun is currently a faculty at the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research. She also serves as the Program Director for the 2019 Annual Conference for North America Taiwan Studies Association.
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