Tag: identity

Contents and Orientations of Chinese Nationalist Discourse

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 the interests of another.”2 This is not typical; as Linley notes, only about 40 percent of Japanese affirm such an “unconditional support” for their national interest.3      More importantly, China’s sense of nationhood appears to be highly salient at the individual level. More than four-fifths of PRC citizens polled in 2010 and 2014 agreed, “When other people criticize China, it is as though they are criticizing me.”4 As Dickson writes, “This is a clear indicator that the self-identity of many Chinese is intimately tied to their country.”5 So it was unsurprising when, in late May, a disparaging description of China’s air quality coupled with

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The Native Speaker: A Category in Need of Rupture

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 and vocabulary bigger than any one person. So how can a language belong to anybody? Sure, “my language” might simply be a form of shorthand, easier than having to say in full, “the language I speak,” all the time. It is also no different than the way people use the possessive pronoun to describe every aspect of their identity—“my nationality,” “my religion,” and so on. Yet, in the above sentence, I also use my supposed “ownership” of the English language as the basis for feeling comfortable asserting how “I love you” is used by all English speakers in the world, as though I could ever assert such

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

    “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 when I would have insisted I was American, and American only. That eventually gave way to my own sense of pride in how I saw myself—as both Asian American and Chinese American—and I decided that I alone could determine what those terms meant to me.      I came to Taiwan to do research for a novel based on the experiences of post-1949 immigrants from mainland China. As a descendant of three grandparents who came from China, and one grandparent, my maternal grandmother, who was Taiwanese, I was very interested in the stories of relocation, immigration, homesickness, and assimilation of these

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Identities, Past and the Present

For a long time, I have wanted to complete a manuscript contributing to understanding the complicated political and economic relationships between the Republic of China (ROC, or Taiwan), the People’s Republic of China (PRC or China), and the United States of America (USA). Part of the motivation is personal. While my parents and grandparents were born citizens of the ROC, currently headquartered in Taiwan, my daughter and I were born PRC citizens, and now we are both naturalized citizens of the United States. The other, larger part of my motivation comes from my academic training in both American and Chinese universities, and my enduring intellectual curiosity as a professor specializing in East Asian and Pacific Rim Studies at a private New England university about 90 minutes away from New York City. The journey to my time as a Fulbright Scholar in Taiwan started on the first day of my graduate studies at the University of La Verne (Southern California) in January 2000. When asked to give a self-introduction, one of my new classmates said, “I am Taiwanese, and I am from Taiwan.” Another student stood up saying, “I am Chinese from the Republic of China.” Having learned before class that

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My Reflections

    Taiwan is a welcoming, multicultural environment offering wonderful opportunities to international scholars. I have known Taiwan for 30 years, having first come at age 28 to teach English for a summer at the Tainan YMCA, and returning a year later for Chinese language study at the Stanford Center at National Taiwan University.  After earning my PhD in East Asian Studies from the University of British Columbia in 1990, I have made several more trips to Taiwan:  as a research scholar at Academia Sinica in the summer of 1996, as a guest professor of history at National Chengkung University in the spring of 2012, and now as a Senior Fulbright Scholar at Tunghai University.  Tunghai University is a highly regarded private university in central Taiwan, founded in 1955 by the United Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia.  Its motto is “Sustainability on the Foundation of Liberal Arts.” In the course of my fruitful five months at Tunghai, I have dedicated myself to collaborative work between Trinity University and the International College at Tunghai University.  I have contributed to the strong relationship between these two institutions and our two countries in three areas:  service, teaching, and research.    

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Finding a Home

     “Where is home?”  For most people, this is a very straightforward question. But for me, it’s a little more complicated. Although I was born in the United States, I spent most of my life living in Asia, including Singapore, Hong Kong and Beijing. I have grappled with the concept of “home” for as many years as I can remember. I knew my Fulbright year would be special, but when I reflect on my experience, I realize that I walked away with lifelong friends who are a second family to me, and with memories that truly symbolize the feeling of “home” I have for Taiwan.      Before I went to Taiwan, I promised myself to live every day to the fullest. I ran two marathons, traveled throughout the country, attended religious and cultural ceremonies, and even earned my Taekwondo black belt.      However, it was my work as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) that really meant the most to me. On weekdays, I worked with a local English teacher, where I co-taught to over 1,000 elementary students. Teaching in a foreign country had both its rewards and challenges. Whenever students were excited to learn, it was

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Kurt Stallmann: Discovering the stories through “Sounds of Taipei”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7jaMbe5I_6k     Sounds in the city are everywhere but can be easily ignored. However, they are very dynamic and precious for sound artists. The sounds of scooters, the voices selling in the night markets, the bell in the temples, every sound has profound meanings which shape a city’s identity.     Dr. Kurt Stallmann, an artist/professor from Rice University, sponsored by Fulbright scholarship, devotes himself to breaking the boundary between sounds and music. Dr. Stallmann collects and analyzes the unique identity of Taipei’s sounds and collaborates with the Taiwan Music Institute and several Taiwanese musicians to tell stories about the “Sounds of Taipei.” 台北的聲音:傅爾布萊特系列講座     城市中無處不在而卻常被忽略的聲音,聲音藝術家卻總能聽出不同的端倪。機車聲,夜市叫­賣聲,寺廟的鐘聲,每一種環境聲都有其背後的意涵,而每一座城市都有其獨特的聲音個性­。來自萊斯大學的史特丞教授暨藝術家透過傅爾布萊特獎學金的贊助,致力于打破聲音與音­樂之間的界限。他與台灣傳統藝術中心音樂館及多位台灣音樂家合作,透過蒐集與分析臺北­獨特的聲音個性,記錄了一個又一個的臺北聲音故事。     史特承博士同時身兼作曲家、表演者、即興演奏家等角色並時常跨領域與不同的藝術家合作。他不只擅長於樂器演奏同時也使用科技音樂與環境聲音進行創作。史特承博士現任美國萊斯大學薛弗音樂學院電子音樂中心主任及副教授。

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Amber Kao: Dance to strengthen my roots

     Through dancing, Amber Kao tackles the ethnicity and identity issue she deals with every day. Dance brought her to her parent’s homeland and she has learned a whole new choreographic language with the master Lin Hwai-min and the Cloud Gate Theatre Dance Company. As a Fulbright fellow, Amber has also actively participated in performances around Taiwan sharing her passion for arts with the elementary students.     透過舞蹈,高恩倍致力於詮釋她常需面對的種族身分議題。也是經由舞蹈,她重新踏上台灣的土地,向林懷民老師與雲門舞集一同學習全新的語言。身為傅爾布萊特青年學人,在練舞、表演之餘,高恩倍也積極前往中小學演出,將她對藝術的熱情與台灣學生分享。

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Amber Kao: Mirrors of Time

Mirrors of Time – Amber Kao, dancer and choreographer in collaboration with pianist and composer, Ming-Hsiu Yen premiered, Mirrors of Time, on October 18th, 2013, at Taipei National University of the Arts. The colossal size of the two-story, membership-only wholesale club had me mesmerized before I entered. I was stunned at the sight of the massive warehouse vibrant with business. I walked through the aisles of Costco gathering items off my grocery list, happily noticing familiar brands from back home. Spotting “Pepperidge Farm” and “Ziplock” products momentarily transported me out of Taiwan. I tightly clutched an extra-large sack of string cheese like a prized possession. That evening, I contentedly piled my harvest into a tall tower with the jumbo pack of toilet paper as the base and the super-sized bag of carrot sticks at the top. As I stepped back to gaze at my stash of goods, a rush of familiarity flooded my senses. Oddly, the bulk-sized convenience-driven products reminded me of home. Somehow, large super-sized bundles just didn’t seem to fit with my impressions thus far of Taiwan. The trip to Costco revealed how I had ventured from my previous comforts and habits and highlighted the path that I

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