Following the Transfer of Technology: The Embedded Social Connections in Taiwan’s Tobacco Settlements
This paper examined the way in which the transfer of technology of the tobacco curing method shaped the local social relationships in Taiwan’s tobacco settlement. Ever since the tobacco industry had been initiated by Japan’s colonial policy, the tobacco leaves had been cured in tobacco buildings, which had a distinctive Japanese design. The farmers perceived the curing process to be the hardest part of their work. Using tobacco buildings to cure leaves was a complicated process, since it involved a combination of labour power exchange, time management and personal knowledge of temperature and humidity control. In this situation, a particular “labour power exchange” emerged, which helped farmers to manage their time and labour power on the one hand, and on the other hand, an intimate social relationship was formed and tobacco buildings became a social centre in the local area. However, following the development of technology, curing machines were introduced to replace the traditional tobacco buildings in the 1970s. This transformation not only changed the curing method, but it also had an impact on local social relationships. By drawing on documentary research and interviews conducted with farmers and residents in tobacco settlements in Taiwan, this paper attempts to explore the story of how people, places and the tobacco industry are connected by this transfer of technology in the contemporary society.