Written by Peter C.Y. Chow. By the end of the 20th century, most former colonies had become independent though few qualify as modern states. Taiwan is an exceptional case in modern development history. Although still a Japanese colony until WWII, Taiwan became a modernised country with remarkable achievements in socio-political and economic developments by the end of the 20th century. Its unique development trajectory is worthy of in-depth analysis such that other developing countries can share its experience in the struggle for modernisation.
Weave for an Identity: Learning Indigenous Weaving as a Han Person
Written by Nai-Wen Chang. It all started from my experience representing Taiwan at an international youth forum in 2010. A section required every participant to introduce one’s country, offering a chance to engage in cultural interactions. It was our turn to present after India, Russia, Germany, the United States, and China. Everything went smoothly until an Indian participant in a dazzling sari raised a question. The Indian representative, out of pure curiosity, asked, “What does your traditional dress look like?” A moment of embarrassed silence filled the air. My senior, the eldest of us, eventually replied, “We don’t wear traditional dress much, but we do have cheongsams.” A Chinese participant immediately countered, “Cheongsam is Chinese dress, not Taiwanese.”
An Insider or Outsider? Lessons from the Recognition of Mixed-Background Indigenous and the Pingpu Peoples in Taiwan
Written By Nikal Kabalan’an (Margaret Yun-Pu Tu). Regarding identity formation in Taiwan, the historical context of colonialism plays a crucial role because the arrival of each foreign ruler has resulted in varying degrees of assimilation. Such a theme has inspired numerous Taiwan Studies scholars who have produced a great number of pertinent works, including “Is Taiwan Chinese?” by Melissa Brown,“Becoming Japanese” by Leo Ching, and “Becoming Taiwanese” by Evan Dawley. One of the contestable issues in this field is the Indigenous status and recognition.
Reflections on the 2022 Taiwan Local Elections: Demise of Taiwan Identity Politics?
Written by Chia-hung Tsai. From the perspective of identity politics, the 2022 local election results are puzzling. Tsai Ing-wen remains popular, partly because the DPP government successfully contains the Covid-19 pandemic in general while maintaining economic growth. China’s military exercises as revenge for the visit of the US speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, seem to drag down Chinese’ image to a lower level. These achievements and events should boost Taiwanese identity and hence favour the DPP candidates. However, the DPP was not credited for the Covid-19 measures, economic growth, and closer relations with the US. Instead, the DPP was criticized for delayed nomination, mismanagement of quarantine policies, and long-standing income inequality. In other words, identity did not play a big part in this election.
How Europe looks at Taiwan – and how Taiwan fails to send out a clear message
Written by Gunter Schubert. The Taiwanese people and their political representatives must decide if they want to forge a national consensus on their relationship with China and communicate this clearly in Europe and beyond – or if they would rather prefer to adhere to an unclarified stance on their national identity and the concept of ‘unification’, giving in to uncompromising viewpoints and undermining any chances as gaining the lasting support of the countries that cherish democracy and admire their struggle for survival.
Whiteness Intertwines with Taiwaneseness: Taiwanese Heavy Metal Music and its Decolonial Paradox
Written by Mark Hsiang-Yu Feng. It is common to see that many Taiwanese musicians employ Western compositional concepts, theories, and approaches to express Taiwanese identity through music and musical performance. For example, during the 2020 presidential and general election in Taiwan, Legislator Freddy Lim, the vocalist of a renowned Taiwanese metal group called ChthoniC, gave a live concert called Taiwan Victory to congregate voters and solicit votes in front of Taiwan’s Presidential House. Many Taiwanese people showed interest in his performance, as he sang heavy metal songs to gather voters and fight against political infiltration from China. After the concert, The Guardian’s report highlights Lim’s unique career trajectory from a musician to a politician in Taiwan and the creativity of bringing music to the campaign.
Taiwanese Mountains and Plains Indigenous Peoples: Facing Different Trials, Yet the Same Fate
Written by Chen I-Chen. Is Indigeneity a self-evident category? Or is “Indigenous” defined differently by the policies and politics of each nation-state? On June 28, 2022, a constitutional review of the Supreme Court’s debate on the Indigenous Status of the “Plains” peoples (the “Pingpu,” 平埔族群) shed light on the discussion surrounding Taiwan’s national recognition of Indigenous status. The “Plains” peoples, headed by the Siraya, had fought for more than three decades to have their Indigenous status recognised under the category of the “lowland” Indigenous peoples (平地原住民)”. As a crucial result of the long struggle for the Plains peoples’ legal status, the final judgement will be declared no later than this late November.
Ukraine War and Conscripts: Lessons Taiwan Should Not Learn
Written by Shih-Yueh Yang. By preserving the Chinese identity, Taiwan can mitigate its political differences with the Mainland and thus be the sustenance of the whole Chinese people for a free, democratic, and equally prosperous China. With such a great and just cause for the future of the Chinese nation, Taiwan will get its strongest defence, and the danger of wars will also be minimized in the first place.
A Further Response to Sinology’s Involvement in Taiwan Studies
Written by Hung-yi Chien. In short, I would argue that “being Sinitic” is not inconceivable. New students of Taiwan studies in overseas countries need elements of sinology to grow up. The lesson from the Taiwan studies programmes in Taiwanese universities suggests that a new discipline requires a fertile ground to nurture it. In countries where sinology is available, this “politically incorrect” discipline is inevitable to play an important role in recruiting new students to Taiwan studies.
A Dialogue about Situating Taiwan Research within Academia
Written by T.Y. Wang and Christopher H. Achen. We believe, however, that Taiwan’s distinctness requires focused scholarly attention from those who study it. The academic infrastructure that will make real progress and productivity possible is one in which the study of Taiwan is its own academic specialisation, equal in standing to the study of China, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Vietnam, or any other part of Asia with a distinct identity. In our opinion, the distinct institutional structures for Taiwan studies that have developed should be continued and strengthened. Journals dedicated to research on Taiwan should also be encouraged and strengthened to make them visible and widely cited as flagship publications like China Quarterly.
Shared but Particular: A Proposal to Pitch Taiwan Research in Sinology and beyond
Written by Josie-Marie Perkuhn and Hung-yi Chien. Therefore, we call for a more comprehensive cross-perspective and interdisciplinary academic dialogue to encounter the current segregations and broaden the community by strengthening the interconnectivity. Although some topics, such as identity politics and the cross-strait tension, have caught particular attention in recent years, Taiwan studies still lack some ‘infrastructure’ that helps new students of Taiwan to grow upon it. With this sort of infrastructure, even if Taiwan lose its existence as an independent entity in the future, the shared discipline of sinology researching Taiwan, in particular, will last, and Sinitic knowledge will become the common heritage of human beings.
The International Community Should Follow the U.S. by Referring to Taiwan’s Missions Abroad as the “Taiwan Representative Office”
Written by Milo Hsieh. During the Olympics, Taiwan’s “Chinese Taipei” name was on display for two weeks, reminding the world that “Taiwan” remains not to be mentioned at the Olympics. That name, a less than preferred one for the people of Taiwan, was introduced in 1979 due to the Nagoya Resolution. That year, the People’s Republic of China representatives agreed to participate in the 1980 Olympics only if athletes representing Taiwan used the name “Chinese Taipei.” Though the name is today unrepresentative of the country Taiwan has become, it was nevertheless accepted by Taiwan’s Republic of China government at the time.