UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Populism, nationalism, and hegemonic struggles over trade and economic liberalization in Taiwan Hsu, Szu-Yun


This research examines trade and economic liberalization in Taiwan in relation to crisis and hegemonic restructuring. Drawing on Gramscian scholarship, postcolonial theory, and critical geopolitics, the analysis expounds on the multiple crises facing Taiwan since the 1980s, documents the trade-related social and political struggles, and illustrates their profound implications to neoliberalization. The first half of the dissertation tackles emerging populist politics along with democratization, the challenges it presented to state control of trade and capital flow, and the rise of economic deterritorialization as a consequence. It then explains how the state transformed itself into a populist authoritarian regime by articulating a deterritorialized national economy, which consisted of a neoliberal regionalist initiative and a series of geoeconomic maneuvers that variously invoked the people and the nation to regain leadership and legitimacy. The second half of the dissertation illustrates the ways in which the neoliberalist agenda has advanced since the 2000s, a non-hegemonic era marked by unfettered outward investment, polarized party politics, and broiling nationalist disputes. The prevalence of financial nationalism and the subsequent turn to embracing cross-Strait economic liberalization after 2008 are the foci of analysis. My dissertation concludes with a note on the 2014 Sunflower Movement, a populist frenzy opposing cross-Strait service trade liberalization. The study investigates the re-articulation of “the nation-people” through the movement and discusses its potentials and limits of challenging the trend of neoliberalization. Eventually, the analysis unravels the dialectical relationship between political democratization and economic liberalization, highlights the centrality of trade and economic liberalization in the hegemonic struggles, and indicates the fundamental role of nationalism and populism in shaping and conditioning the path to neoliberalization in Taiwan. My research contributes to the existing literature by highlighting the usefulness of conjunctural analysis and its theoretical implications. It demonstrates that neoliberalism neither presents a strong discourse nor a consistent policy regime. Rather, it is contingent and speculative in nature, articulating with different forms of populist and nationalist politics at particular historical conjunctures and advancing through the moments of crisis along the course of hegemonic restructuring.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International