Written by Ko-Hang Liao. The joint statement between US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on April 16, 2021, once again caught everybody’s attention on serious concerns of the peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait upon the continuing escalation of challenges from China on possibly changing the status quo by force or coercion. This was the first time that Taiwan was mentioned in a US-Japan leaders statement since 1969. Although the situation seems to be frequently changing, it is essential to understand the current tension historically. Indeed, studying the early Cold War period can reveal much about what is happening and how Taiwan has come to the recent position.
Written by Gerrit van der Wees. On 30 April 2021, the London-based The Economist published an article with the sensationalist headline referring to Taiwan as “The most dangerous place on earth.” The essay highlighted the increasing tension between the United States and China over Taiwan and the dangers of an armed conflict if China decides to use force against the democratic island.
Written by Isabelle Cheng. Women have a complicated relationship with the wars waged by the nation-state. Women are the reproducers and boundary ma(r)kers of the nation, so women, notably when they embody the nation’s image, are said to be protected by the state as a reason for going to war. They are also projected as the victims of war when the state loses to its enemy, mainly when the enemy uses rape as a weapon to weaken national morale. On the battlefield, women are used as fighters, porters, carers, entertainers or sex slaves to enhance war fighting capacity physically or mentally. During the two world wars, in the state’s propaganda, women were encouraged to ‘give away’ their husbands and sons to the state or were recruited to fill the vacancies left by men to work in the manufacturing, agricultural or transport sectors. Their homemaking and thrifty cooking were characterised as contributing to war efforts. Regardless of which of these roles they play, they are instrumentalised by the state.
Written by Fatimaah J Menefee. Culinary diplomacy, food diplomacy, gastronationalism, and gastrodiplomacy are applied liberally to describe food and diplomacy in contemporary international relations. Culinary Arts as a medium in diplomacy dates to the genesis of humankind. Consider Peaches of Immortality, protected by the Queen Mother in Ancient China, that served as a reward to all faithful mortals and immortals.
Written by Sui Lam Cheung. Taiwan’s international status and sovereignty have always been closely related to US international policies. As a result, the US-Taiwan relation has always attracted widespread attention and discussion. Thus, scholars have begun to pay attention to the American aid culture in economic and cultural fields. For instance, Wang Meihsiang and Chen Chienchung have analysed the US aid literature system from a sociology of literature perspective to explain how Taiwanese intellectuals received direct or indirect economic assistance from the United States. This assistance was used to introduce or develop related cultural production literary works and cultural phenomena. In addition to examining the development of Taiwan’s literary field, US aid culture can also be another perspective to examine non-official views other than the official discourse of the US and Taiwan.
Written by Tabea Muehlbach. February 28, 2017, marked the 70th anniversary of the 228 Incident, a bloody crackdown on Taiwanese civilians by Nationalist troops in 1947. In 2017, Tsai Ing-wen’s spoke for the first time as a president at the central commemorations in the 228 Peace Park in Taipei. Such ceremonies had become a regular annual instalment not long after Lee Teng-hui apologises to the victims in 1995.
Written by Chun-yi Kuo. From a personal point of view, this essay attempts to shed light on the opening sequence of Huang Ya-Li’s film Le Moulin (2015) by explaining the metaphor of the sequence and the film. I will clarify the history of Taiwan’s cinematographic work, along with that of surrealist poets, and their connection to Taiwan’s national history.
Written by Min-Erh Wang. Historical musicologists focus on studying Western classical music written by Western or Western-trained composers, while ethnomusicologists primarily concentrate on traditional and vernacular music research. Against this background, music scholars in Taiwan tend to pay attention to the musical works and composers or the cultures of traditional genres, such as nanguan and the music of aboriginal people, while leaving the reception of Western classical music overlooked. However, from the late nineteenth century onwards, Western classical music has deeply rooted in Taiwan as well as other East Asian countries as part of the modernisation agenda. Furthermore, during the Cold War, Western classical music was adopted by both the US and Soviet Russia to disseminate their influence over Third World countries.
Written by Sandrine Marchand. In Taiwan, 1945 marks the end of the Japanese colonisation. For many Taiwanese intellectuals and writers, it also means the abandonment of the Japanese language for Mandarin. But a language cannot be erased as quickly as architecture or other material goods. The language of childhood – the language of education – stubbornly persists. After this initial silent period, in the 1970’s – thanks to the Nativist movement – there has been a revaluation of pre-war Taiwanese writers gathered under the appellation of “a translingual generation” as they emerged from the shadows.
Written by Dominika Remžová. Despite the recent 228 Incident commemoration, along with the latest exonerations of White Terror political victims, the lack of retributive justice from criminal trials or other perpetrator-focused measures remains the case in Taiwan. In fact, the legality of the only perpetrator-focused act related to the KMT’s party assets has been continually contested by the party, despite the ruling of the Council of Grand Justices that upheld the constitutionality of the act’s provisions. A similar lack of retributive justice occurred in another country with a recent authoritarian past, Slovakia
Written by Chee-Hann Wu. Puppets are mysterious creatures with lives and narratives different from that of humans. With its poetic and metaphorical nature, puppetry can unfold untold stories, censored or silenced. Flip Flops Theatre’s Lala: The Singing Bear (2019) and I Promised I Wouldn’t Cry (2019) are examples of puppets’ potentiality to access and tell these stories. Both pieces, designed for adults and children, adopt puppetry as a medium to address trauma under the White Terror.
Written by Kuan-Wei Wu 吳冠緯. Like his East-Asian contemporary intellectuals, Joshua was a product of both Western and Eastern traditions during those divided times. His reflection on statehood enfolds different trends of twentieth-century thought. This makes him a complex but intriguing thinker. When previous studies emphasise his political and nationalistic engagement, it should be noted that his way of thinking and philosophical methodology is also worthwhile to research.