Placing Relationship over the Project: Filmmaking in Oceania

Written by Cheng-Cheng Li. My filmmaking story in Oceania started with the Re/presenting Oceania course at the University of Hawai‘i. My Kumu (professor) Tarcisius Kabutaulake, who comes from the Solomon Islands, has been teaching and researching across the region for decades. His course invites me to critically engage with and discuss how the Pacific Islands have been represented in scholarly and other mediums. He brings me onto the ‘voyage’ across the ‘storyscapes’ of scholars, artists, performers, poets, and filmmakers to understand the politics of representation. This article will first discuss my filmmaking experience in Hawai‘i with the Pacific Island community. In the second section, with an increasing number of Indigenous Taiwanese wishing to connect with Oceania, I will address the interconnection story between Taiwanese Indigenous filmmakers and the Oceanic community. The theme of ‘relationship’ as ‘Priority’ will be interwoven into the stories. 

A Possible Cultural-Political Alliance to Address Concurrent Struggles between Taiwan and Oceania: Music as a Means

Written by Chun Chia Tai. For many Indigenous peoples in Taiwan, music is a lively cultural medium that facilitates allying with other Austronesian peoples residing in Oceania. Such a musical way of fostering cultural diplomacy has currently been popular in Taiwan, especially after the release of the album Polynesia in 2014, emphasising the shared cultural genealogy of Austronesian under the collaboration of an Amis singer Chalaw Pasiwali and a Madagascar musician Kelima. In the same year, another project called the Small Island Big Song aimed to establish a network between Pacific Islands and Taiwan through music and film. Musicians in this project released their 2018 album Small Island Big Song and a sequential album named Our Island in 2021. Moreover, all these musical works focus on fusions of traditional folk music(s). Positive public perception reflects Taiwanese people’s rising demand for establishing a cross-Pacific Austronesian community between Taiwan and the Pacific Islands.

A Proposition of Indigenous Diplomacy for Taiwan-Australian Indigenous Peoples

Written by Suliljaw Lusausatj. Although Australia’s Indigenous Peoples are not Austronesian language speakers, with direct historical links to Taiwan’s Indigenous Peoples, they share a broadly similar experience of colonial histories, national governance, social and economic environments, and most importantly, reliance on traditional subsistence practices and the importance of ancestral territories. Both peoples have experienced a gradual process of formal recognition. For example, the Prime Minister of Australia and the President of Taiwan issued formal apologies for the injustice done to Indigenous communities in 2008 and 2016, respectively. Despite these similarities, the Indigenous Peoples of Australia and Taiwan have not yet opened a constructive dialogue due to geographic distance, national policies and approaches to academic studies. This also applies to educational disciplines and uneven historical memories of colonialism. Therefore, perhaps it is important to think about the possibility of using new forms of diplomacy to build these relationships drawing on the traditional practices of Australian and Taiwan Indigenous Peoples.

Indigenous/Islander Fanaticism Across the Pacific: A Perspective from Films

Written by Yawi Yukex; translated by Yi-Yu Lai. A type of Taiwanese is extremely fond of anything about the Indigenous peoples of Taiwan. They are captivated by all the totems and material cultures associated with Indigenous peoples, yet they frequently only believe what they already know about Indigenous cultures. Besides, they usually turn a deaf ear to Indigenous peoples’ enormous burdens and struggles. I call these individuals “Indigenous fanatics.” In the early 2000s, a series of Taiwanese films, such as “The Sage Hunter” (2005) and “Fishing Luck” (2005), portrayed Indigenous communities as shelters for those wishing to escape reality and contrasted cities with the communities. People believe that the expansion of civilisation causes problems, whereas mountains and forests represent the solution.

Representing Taiwan’s Pacific Connections

Written by Chuahua Lin. How are Trans-Pacific connections remembered and maintained in the literary works of the Tao people, one of the 16 officially recognised Indigenous tribes of Taiwan? In this article, I will read Syaman Rapongan and Yung-chuan Hsieh’s works, and I will discuss how they exemplified the ways in which Tao people endeavour to revitalise the navigation tradition of their people and maintain the connection to the ocean. As I argue in this article, Tao people, as well as other Pacific Islander writers, represent the centuries-old navigating traditions of their people and thus keep these Trans-Pacific connections alive. 

Shinzo Abe: A True Friend of Taiwan? “Post-”colonial Critique on Taiwan’s National Identity Forming

Written by Ti-han Chang. 11:30 am on the 08th of July in Japan, unexpected news of Shinzo Abe 安倍晉三 being shot during his public speech travelled quickly on the international news media. However, the very fact of this happening has profoundly shaken societies in the East Asian region. For Japan, it appears there is a need to reflect deeper on the homogeneous nature of its internal political structure; for other countries in the region, on their indissociable geopolitical dynamics with their close neighbour over the last few decades.

How Democracy Boosts Taiwan’s National Security

Written by Jie Chen and Ratih Kabinawa. Taiwan has become widely regarded as an exemplary consolidated democracy, albeit with some defects. In Freedom in the World 2022 report, Freedom House gives Taiwan a 94 of 100 ratings, meaning the country counts as fully free. Freedom House also notes that “Taiwan’s vibrant and competitive democratic system has allowed three peaceful transfers of power between rival parties since 2000, and protections for civil liberties are generally robust”. Taiwan’s democratic standing has become more pronounced considering the rapid mainlandisation of Hong Kong under the repressive National Security Law.

Taiwan Decriminalized Adultery, But Does the Public Support The Change?

Written by Madelynn Einhorn, Josie Coyle, and Timothy S. Rich. In June 2021, the Taiwanese legislature removed a nearly 90-year law criminalizing adultery, punishable with up to 12-months in prison and fines averaging 90,000 NTD (roughly USD 3000). In May 2020, the Constitutional Court overruled Article 239 of Taiwan’s criminal code, which criminalized adultery, because it violated the Constitution. The legislature removed the article from the legal code approximately a year later. South Korea removed a similar law in 2015 and India in 2018. Taiwan was one of the last liberal democracies to keep adultery illegal and the last East Asian country aside from the Philippines.

“I’m on PrEP, hbu?” – The Meaning and Influence of PrEP among Taiwanese Gay Community 

Written by Yu-Chuan “Daniel” Lin. Although PrEP medication solves the HIV epidemic, research has found an inadequate number of MSM receiving it. For example, a 2015 U.S. CDC report has indicated that at least one of four gay men should be taking PrEP daily to effectively avoid more extensive HIV transmission, requiring the participation of roughly 1,200,000 MSM nationwide. However, its data showed that no more than 50,000 MSM are doing so, which translates into a poor execution rate (around 3%) of the government’s PrEP project designated to combat the HIV epidemic.  

The Rivalry Between Mainland China and Taiwan: How They View Each Other’s Application to Join the CPTPP

Written by Liqiao Guo. This article clarifies how the mainland and Taiwan view each other’s applications and tries to find the similarities and differences by addressing three vital questions. First, what are the motivations for both sides, respectively? Second, Who and why do they think they can finally join? Third, what would the final result be and its impact on cross-strait relations and the Asian-Pacific region’s economic order? This research details some of the essential official statements and academic contributions to the overall debate on both sides. Although I primarily draw on official statements and academic contributions to elucidate the discussion, I also consider newspaper articles, mainly because they provide an insight into an influential and growing antagonistic perspective. 

Taiwan’s Catalytic Role for Resilient Development in the CPTPP

Written by Peter C. Y. Chow. The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Transpacific Partnership (CPTPP) was considered as one of the pathways to a Free Trade Area of Asia Pacific (FTAAP) during the APEC meeting in 2014. Hence, membership enlargement in this trade bloc will enhance its sphere of regional influence, leading toward the path of free trade in the Asia Pacific. CPTPP is the highest standard of trade accord which includes what is not in the WTO-the WTO extra and those beyond the WTO- the WTO plus. Therefore, it symbolises a gold standard of trade liberalisation in the 21st century.

The Political Challenges to Taiwan’s Bid to Join the CPTPP

Written by Tian He and Michael Magcamit. Taiwan is becoming increasingly isolated in the regional economy. The virtual signing of the RCEP on 15 November 2020 was a milestone for Asia’s regional economic integration. Although it is debatable whether the RCEP is a Chinese-led initiative, China is undoubtedly a significant player capable of shaping regional economic rules. Taiwan was excluded from this major trade deal despite being a technology powerhouse and an important trading nation that has spurred Asia’s integration with the world economy in the post-war period. Taiwan’s main regional economic competitor, South Korea, is far ahead of Taiwan regarding regional integration. It is believed that South Korea has free trade agreements (FTAs) with around three-quarters of regional economies. Under these circumstances, the CPTPP can be an opportunity for the Tsai administration to overcome its diplomatic isolation and revive the economy through deepening regional economic integration. Accordingly, Tsai has stressed the importance of the trade pact, stating that joining the CPTPP would strengthen Taiwan’s key strategic and economic position by further integrating the island-state with the rest of the world.

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