Inside Taiwan's Sunflower Movement

Written by Ian Rowen 伊恩 Thursday, 02 August 2018 15:15
       “Say goodbye to Taiwan,” wrote political scientist John Mearsheimer in a widely read article in the March-April 2014 issue of The National Interest.1 Threatened by China's rising economic might and abandoned by a weakening United States, one of Asia's most vibrant democracies was facing, in his “realist” analysis, an almost inevitable annexation via economic if not military force. “Time,” he wrote, “is running out for the little island coveted by its gigantic, growing neighbor.” But only days after publication, on March 18, activists and armchair analysts alike said hello to a new reality.        That evening, the…
     I spent my Fulbright year engaged in ethnographic research on Taiwan’s indigenous communities and their practices, and the ways in which these practices are being addressed under Taiwan law. This year has been a year of returns for me. My family lived in southeastern Taiwan when I was young boy. At that time, the area in which we resided had a high concentration of indigenous peoples, and members of the Amis, Puyuma, and Paiwan tribes were some of our closest friends and neighbors. As a result, this year has been an opportunity for me to return to an…

Putting Memory to Work: The Ming Court and the Legacy of the Mongol Empire

Written by David M. Robinson 魯大維 Wednesday, 25 July 2018 10:18
       Empires create legacies that successors use in diverse ways.  My project explores the court of China’s Ming dynasty (1368-1644) on a broad Eurasian stage.  It focuses on a moment when much of Eurasia shared a common reference point, the Mongol empire.  In the thirteenth century, the Mongols created the greatest land empire in history; their courts in China, Persia, and southern Russia were centers of wealth, learning, power, religion, and lavish spectacle. Scholars have rightly stressed the Mongol empire’s lasting impact on later ages, drawing attention to the emergence of an early modern global economy, the rise…

Everyday Life on Yongkang Jie

Written by Kay Duffy 杜圭 Wednesday, 25 July 2018 09:37
     In 2016-2017, I conducted research for my dissertation on early medieval Chinese literature in Taipei as a Fulbright Fellow. Upon arriving in Taipei in early September, my husband and I set to work trying to find a home for the year. Over the summer, I had spent hours “researching” life in Taipei (reading food blogs), but our main concern upon arrival was finding a place accessible to our respective research institutions, National Taiwan University and Academia Sinica. After a few disheartening weeks sifting through online apartment listings, we found a place near Yongkang Jie, a street in Da’an…

Contents and Orientations of Chinese Nationalist Discourse

Written by Daniel Glockler 葛樂德 Tuesday, 14 November 2017 14:26
       Chinese nationalism continues to be an important but inadequately understood phenomenon. On the one hand, it is evident that nationhood and national identity are deeply embedded in Chinese society. Polling conducted in 2005 and 2010 among the publics of thirteen Asian countries ranked PRC citizens first in positive feelings towards their nation.1 This unusually strong sense of national pride appears to be supported by a particularly nation-oriented worldview. In but one example, a 2008 survey showed that 84.3 percent of Chinese respondents agreed with the assertion, “Your country should pursue its national interest even if it could harm…

Visiting a Buddhist Statue Factory in Taiwan

Written by Kevin Buckelew 呂凱文 Thursday, 02 November 2017 11:53
       During my 2016–17 Fulbright fellowship in Taiwan, I had the opportunity to visit the Taoyuan factory of Sheng Kuang 聖光 (Sacred Radiance), a leading manufacturer of Buddhist statuary whose finished work can be found in temples and sacred sites across Taiwan and other parts of Asia. While the company produces Buddhist images of every size, some of their statues are remarkably large, including the Ushiku Daibutsu 牛久大仏 in Japan, which at 390 feet is (as of this writing) the third-tallest statue in the world. They have also produced large-scale statues for temples in Taiwan, such as the 236-foot tall…

The Native Speaker: A Category in Need of Rupture

Written by Gina Elia 艾真 Friday, 06 October 2017 16:56
           In my language, we say “I love you” a lot.       Think about that sentence for a minute. Really think about it. Does it strike you as odd? I speak of my native language, which happens to be English, as though it belongs to me.  But how can something as massive and unruly as a language belong to anybody? The largest category of words in almost any language is technical—specialized jargon unknown to the majority of native speakers. Languages are created by human beings, but they quickly grow into giant, complex webs of syntax…

Wild, Tame, and In-Between: Traditional Agricultural Knowledge of Taiwan Indigenous People

Written by Pei-Lin Yu 余琲琳 Wednesday, 23 August 2017 12:30
  Introduction and Background      Many of us would agree that Senator J. William Fulbright’s vision of “a world with a little more knowledge and a little less conflict” will feature healthy ecosystems, appreciation of cultural diversity, and of course, delicious food. However, the world has been moving in the wrong direction over the past century. Today, 75% of the world’s plant food is made up of only 12 species. As of 2010, three (rice, maize, and wheat) provided nearly 60 percent of the calories and proteins that humans derive from plants (F.A.O 2010, 1999) and this trend continues…

I Am Who I Think I Am: On Finding My Identity in Taiwan

Written by Yin-Han Karissa Chen 陳盈涵 Wednesday, 23 November 2016 15:14
       “Where are you from?” is a question almost every Asian American has grown up hearing (in addition to its ruder close cousin—“What are you?”). I've bristled at that question, swinging from being patient and polite—“You mean where are my parents from?”—to snarky—“New Jersey.” It's a question that rankles because it assumes foreignness and otherness, one that, in my own country, feels unfair. In America, aren't we almost all, in some shape or form, descended from somewhere else? And yet Asian Americans are usually the ones perpetually called out for it. There was a short period of time…

Facebook, Busy Weekends, and Young Startups in the Sharing City

Written by Jeffrey Hou侯志仁 Wednesday, 23 November 2016 14:24
   I arrived in Taipei in late June of 2015 to begin my sabbatical leave and my Fulbright research focusing on the “sharing city,” part of a phenomenon that is going on worldwide. From Europe to Asia, activities such as food sharing, co-working, and all forms of commoning are redefining social relationships in cities as well as how urban spaces can be used, activated, and transformed. Specifically, I am interested in how these activities are organized and by whom, as well as the broader implications for city-making.       This time around, my research approach was quite simple. I happen…
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