My personal history is inherently international, as someone who had grown up in Germany and moved to the US first to study abroad and eventually for graduate school (a Ph.D. in Latin American history). But I had never traveled to any place on the Asian continent other than eastern Turkey! I had no clear expectations of what I would encounter in Taiwan. The only familiarity I had with East Asia was from general news coverage and conversation with my colleagues at the University of Mississippi, where I direct the Croft Institute for International Studies. The Institute’s program and faculty have a strong focus on East Asia: we offer Chinese, Japanese, and Korean as languages, require our majors to spend a semester abroad in the country where their chosen language is spoken, and host the Chinese Flagship program in our building. We have long had Chinese language instructors from Taiwan, but it was not a country that our Institute focused on until the recent tensions between the US and mainland China when all of our student programs moved from China to Taiwan. I was curious to learn about this place struggling for political recognition. After the two weeks spent there with
Author: Oliver Dinius
Dr. Oliver Dinius is the Executive Director of the Croft Institute for International Studies at the University of Mississippi and an Associate Professor of History. He was born in Germany, started his studies in Heidelberg, and then moved to the United States – first as exchange student for a year at the University of Oregon and then permanently as PhD student in Latin American history at Harvard University. His specialty is the contemporary history of Brazil, with a particular interest in the country’s economic development since the 1950s. He has published two books, one on “Brazil’s Steel City”, and the other on “Company Towns in the Americas.” Since 2016, he has been the director of the Croft Institute, which offers a B.A. in international studies that attracts some of the very best students in the southeastern US. Students have to choose one foreign language and study it throughout their four years in the major, including a semester abroad in junior year. They also take a series of lower-division social science classes, followed by upper-level regional and thematic classes that allow the students to specialize. They complete a two-semester thesis in their senior year, leaving them with excellent training in writing and analysis – in addition to language proficiency.