in earlier posts, i’ve referred to the ‘amis music festival as engaging in diplomacy. here, i’d like to expand on how the ‘amis music festival provided a context in which the performers could imagine a broader world of indigenous interconnection, configured by ongoing struggle and sharing
from the first ‘amis music festival, suming and other organizers have centered indigenous perspectives, with coveted time slots given to groups from the ‘atolan ‘amis nation. this year followed this pattern with the kapah no niyaro’ (the youth) taking the stage during suming’s closing performance on sunday night and the “‘amis pk show” the feature performance on saturday. additionally, the “village schoolhouse” (buluo xiao jiaoshi) gave space for performers on the festival’s bill to share their perspectives on relationships between musical performance and activism, as well as teaching different styles of dance and engaging in interactive performances.
nonetheless, this year felt more focused, as performers brought political statements to the stage. maybe it’s because taiwan is in the run up to elections?
two moments in the festival give a sense of how this year placed the politics of solidarity in the spotlight.
in one, ado kaliting’s new band, featured on her 2019 album “saslaan” , underscored their commitments to a shared sense of austronesian struggles. already a multi-austronesian band with members from taiwan, easter island, and new caledonia, ado’s band moved beyond a kind of world music multiculturalism as they sang “We Are Mauna Kea,” featuring biung mixing bunun vocal styles with the hawai’ian protest anthem. the performance made the ongoing struggle at mauna kea a feature of shared concern for all austronesian people, comparing it for a taiwanese audience with ongoing land rights struggles on taiwan
another moment was the inclusion of the adju band, a band of indigenous LGBTQ+ artists, as performers in this year’s event. over the past year, the issue of LGBTQ marriage rights has been a hot-button political issue, particularly divisive in indigenous communities, in which church organizations have considerable power. many indigenous LGBTQ+ youth have felt frustrated by alarmist accounts on family and other line groups, where anti- marriage equality and blatantly homophobic video and memes have circulated. by inviting adju to perform, the festival placed an indigenous progressive politics in the center of its concerns. in order to make this point more clear, in her role as host ado summed up the meaning of adju’s performance, noting that there are LGBTQ+ people in your families and communities; they deserve our respect and love
although these moments stand out, a sense of political interconnection pervaded the festival this year. perhaps with hong kong and mauna kea always in mind this year’s festival, the sense that indigenous struggles for land and language were connected more broadly–were intersectional–might have emerged more forcefully. however, i would suggest that the organization of the music festival including the performers it chooses to engage, where and when the performances happen, and how performers frame their performances all contribute to the meaning of the festival. depending on its design, a music festival can be just another commodified spectacle or a context in which indigenous people share their struggles, finding a sense of interconnection. while it is difficult given the ongoing election on taiwan for this context to escape entanglement with settler nationalism, organizers and performers employed the festival as a means to explore solidarity