The University of Washington Taiwan Studies Program (UW-TSP) had another eventful year, offering some of our most ambitious programming to date. Here is an overview of our events and courses from the past year, as well as a preview of the year ahead. If you missed any events, we invite you to view them on our YouTube channel. A complete list of events with links to YouTube videos is provided at the end of this newsletter.
Book Talk Series
Professor Seiji Shirane (City College of New York) will join UW-TSP for a discussion of his new monograph, Imperial Gateway: Colonial Taiwan and Japan’s Expansion in South China and Southeast Asia, 1895-1945 (Cornell University Press), on Thursday, January 19, 2023 from 3:30 to 5:00p.m. PT. This event is being offered in a hybrid format, so please stay tuned to our website and social media for details on how to join in-person and online.
On February 28, 2023 at 5 p.m. PT, Professor Wei-ping Lin (National Taiwan University) will join UW-TSP to discuss her book, Island Fantasia: Imagining Subjects on the Military Frontline between China and Taiwan (Cambridge University Press). This event will be hosted online via our Facebook page and YouTube channel. RSVP information will be announced in early 2023.
Professor Chien-Wen Kung (National University of Singapore) will join us in April, 2023 to discuss his new work, Diasporic Cold Warriors: Nationalist China, Anticommunism, and the Philippine Chinese, 1930s-1970s (Cornell University Press). Another online event, more information will follow in early 2023.
To conclude our Book Talk Series for 2023, Dr. Hsiao-ting Lin (Hoover Institution, Stanford) will join UW-TSP on May 11, 2023 to discuss his latest work, Taiwan, the United States, and the Hidden History of the Cold War in Asia (Routledge). Professor Lin will join us in-person, so stay tuned for further information about location details and more.
The 4th World Congress of Taiwan Studies
The major event of 2021-22 was our hosting of the 4th World Congress of Taiwan Studies, the first time for the World Congress to be held in North America. Co-organized with Academia Sinica, the Congress convened over 80 experts, both in person and online, to discuss research on Taiwan and the state of the Taiwan studies field. For a review of the event, please see our conference report on the UW-TSP website. To view conference sessions, please visit our website’s recording list.
In November 2021, following news that Lithuania will open a Taiwan Representative Office, UW-TSP and the UW Baltic Studies Program co-hosted a roundtable discussion of Taiwan’s relationship with Baltic nations and the EU more broadly. Challenging Hegemony: Taiwan, the Baltic, and the EU featured Professor Chih-Mei Luo (National Taipei University), Professor Daunis Auers (University of Latvia), and Dr. Zsuzsa Anna Ferenczy (National Dong Hwa University).
On Tuesday, November 15, University of Washington Jackson School of International Studies faculty discussed how the Ukraine War is affecting the increasingly tense situation in the Taiwan Strait. Providing deep insights into the positions of China, Taiwan, and the US, Storm Clouds Over the Pacific? Impacts of the Invasion of Ukraine on China-Taiwan-US Relations featured UW Professors Anand Yang, David Bachman, James Lin, and Tabitha Grace Mallory.
Book Talk Series
This year’s book talk series began with Dr. Melissa J. Brown’s (Harvard Fairbank Center) reassessment of her groundbreaking 2004 monograph on Taiwanese identity, Is Taiwan Chinese? Brown explored which of her original conclusions require revision, and which have been borne out.
Professor Ken Chih-Yan Sun’s (Villanova University) book, Time and Migration, provided key insights into elderly Taiwanese immigrants’ experiences in the United States and how their perceptions, feelings and views changed over time. Dr. Sun explained the ways that immigrants have changed their perception of Taiwan as Taiwan has changed from the agrarian society that they left decades ago. He noted that this disconnect between memory and modernity is particularly noticeable amongst immigrants that return to Taiwan, as they have to grapple with not only how their home country has changed but also how they themselves have changed.
To begin Winter Quarter 2022, Professor Shelley Rigger (Davidson College) joined UW-TSP to discuss her book The Tiger Leading the Dragon. Professor Rigger’s work explores Taiwan’s economic development during the 20th century as a former Japanese colony, through decades of conflict and tension with China, and into the present day where the Taiwanese and Chinese economies are inextricably linked.
Professor Zhuqing Li (Brown University) presented her monograph Daughters of the Flower Fragrant Garden in Fall Quarter 2022. A joint venture between UW-TSP and the China Studies Program, Professor Li’s writing investigates the lives of her two maternal aunts who were separated by China’s civil war.
Winter 2022 Environmental Lecture Series
UW-TSP and the Program on the Environment jointly organized a three-part lecture series addressing Energy Issues in East Asia. We welcomed Professor Wei-Ming Chen (University of Delaware) for her presentation titled “Energy Transition and Climate Action in East Asia.” Professor Pei-Wen Lu (National Changhua University of Education) joined us for the second talk entitled “Offshore Wind Power Development in Taiwan and its Spatial Impact,” The final lecture was by Professor Ker-Hsuan Chien (National Tsing-Hua University) who addressed the demands of shifts in international energy mixes with her presentation “Towards a Multi-Scalar Approach to Energy Transition in East Asia.”
UW-TSP held 4 short video interviews this academic year. The first featured Professor Jean-Pierre Cabestan (French National Center for International Research and Hong Kong Baptist University). Professor Cabestan joined James Lin and TSP alumna Jennifer Joy to discuss Taiwan’s relationship with Somaliland, and how unrecognized states may or may not be able to gain international recognition via ties with more powerful states.
Our second interview featured Professor Taiban Sasala (National Sun Yat-sen University), interviewed by Professor Emeritus Stevan Harrell. Professor Taiban described his experiences as an indigenous educator, his research on his own community and on other indigenous groupings in Taiwan.
Our third interview was with Professors Evan Dawley (Goucher College) and Wayne Soon (Vassar College). The pair discussed their new database project collecting and translating English language primary sources on Taiwan, seeking to make learning about Taiwan’s history easier and more accessible for both educators and students through a central website distributing documents related to Taiwan’s international relations, public health, education, and politics.
Our Spring Quarter interview featured Dr. Jing Xu (University of Washington). Xu discussed her current research involving children growing up in a rural Taiwanese village during the 1950s, based on analysis of unpublished data collected by the late anthropologists Arthur Wolf and Margery Wolf.
To begin Academic Year 2022-23, Ian Easton (Project 2049 Institute) discussed with James Lin (University of Washington) Taiwan’s current defense situation, including newly announced budget increases, institutional reforms, and changing threats.
UW-TSP Arts & Culture Program
Our Taiwan Arts & Culture Program is a special subset of our public programs. Funded by the Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Program brings Taiwan arts and culture to US audiences through collaboration with local, regional, and international cultural organizations.
Building off the collaborative network that UW-TSP has formed with local film festival organizations over the past few years, the Arts Program worked with existing film festival organizers and programmers to co-present Taiwan-centric special screenings and Q&A sessions.
We co-hosted Taiwan Film Day at the Dream Flare Film Festival (Nov 10 – 21, 2021, online) with the Taipei Film Festival, the Asian World Film Festival, and Asiania. A curated selection of three film productions from Taiwan was featured on the program: Yaosheng Chang’s A Leg (2020), Hung-I Chen and Muni Wei’s As We Like It (2021), and Hiroshi Okuhara’s Hotel Iris (2021). The DFFF Taiwan Film Day concluded with an online roundtable discussion on the topic of “Cross-Culturality at Film Festival” (Jan 1 – 8, 2022), which featured Director Hiroshi Okuhara and Producer Xiaoguai Wang of Hotel Iris, Naoyuki Ikeda (Director of Japan Film Festival Los Angeles), Chantelle Lin (Director of Dream Flare Film Festival), and Ellen Y. Chang (UW-TSP Arts Director). Discussion ranged from the significance of and the challenges associated with cross-cultural film productions to the complications of translation across different film festival contexts, screening settings, and audiences.
We partnered with the Seattle Asian American Film Festival (Mar 3 – 13, 2022, online) to present the North American Premiere of No Man is an Island, a feature-length documentary film made by Taiwanese American filmmaker Jay Chern. The online screening was accompanied by a Q&A session with Director Chern which included discussion of documentary filmmaking practices, film production and circulation during COVID-19, and Taiwan’s COVID prevention policies.
Together with JSIS Joint Outreach, we co-sponsored the Seattle International Film Festival (Apr 14 – 24, 2022, hybrid). As part of the sponsorship, we co-presented the Taiwan Feature Films & Shorts series with SIFF, celebrating film productions from and about Taiwan, both in-person and online. The lineup spotlighted both feature-length and short films that feature filmmakers and actors from Taiwan: Chih-Lin Yang’s Listen Before You Sing (2021), C.B. Yi’s Moneyboys (2021), Hsing Lee’s Execution in Autumn (1972), Joe Hsieh’s Night Bus (2020), Alan Chung-An Ou’s Part Forever (2021), and Erich Rettstadt’s Tank Fairy (2021).
In March, we collaborated with the Taiwan Film and Audiovisual Institute (Taiwan) and the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Cambridge (UK) to co-host the Taiwan Film Series: Political Violence, Historical Trauma (Mar 7 – 19, 2022, in-person & on-demand). The film series featured two documentaries, one feature-length film, and one short that revolve around the theme of violence, trauma, and memories: Chi-jan Hou’s Taiwan Black Movies (2005), Kek-Huat Lau’s Absent Without Leave (2016), Jen Wan’s Super Citizen Ko (1994), and Hsin-I Lin’s Letter #69 (2016).
The Taiwan Film Series opened on March 8, 2022, with an in-person (live-streamed) opening panel and screening of Super Citizen Ko at Cambridge with Rachel Leow (Associate Professor, University of Cambridge) and Po-hsi Chen (Post-Doctoral Fellow in Taiwan Studies, University of Cambridge). Chen threaded the film selection through a historical overview of the February 28 Incident in 1947 and the theme of state violence as well as the complex dichotomy of victim versus hero/fighter. Leow walked the audience through a careful contextual discussion on Absent Without Leave. The opening panel was live-streamed via TSP’s Facebook and YouTube channels for audiences in the US. The film series closed with a special online screening of Taiwan Black Movies, followed by a live Q&A with Director Chi-Jan Hou and film scholar Ting-Wu Cho. The Q&A session revisited the making of Taiwan Black Movies, the cultural and literary contexts “nurturing” the film genre, and the continuation of the Taiwan Black Movies sensibility seen in recent commercial films and television productions. The discussion took place in Mandarin and was translated into English for non-Chinese-speaking audiences.
To celebrate Pride in 2022, we partnered with SIFF Cinema, the Taiwanese American Professionals–Seattle, and the Taiwan Academy in LA for a Pride Month special screening of Moneyboys with a live Director Q&A (Jun 29, 2022, in-person). The special screening welcomed an audience of over 100 members to the cinema and connected the TSP with the local film audiences and LGBTQ+ communities to celebrate Pride. The discussion with Director Yi included the impetus for writing and directing this story, the visual aesthetics and the music genre explored in the film, and the various challenges queer communities face in China as reflected through the film narrative and its production choices.
The Arts Program also explored new terrain to promote Taiwan’s performing arts with our new cultural partners. We worked with Town Hall Seattle to co-present the world premiere of the Golden Melody-nominated Small Island Big Song: Our Island (Jan 29, 2022, hybrid), which was further celebrated by a collaboration with the Seattle Sacred Music & Art for an interview with the co-producers of Small Island Big Song. The concert brought 161 audiences to Town Hall Seattle, in-person and online combined. Weeks after meeting SIBS vocalists, singing the indigenous voice from Taiwan and across the Pacific, music lovers in Seattle were still raving about SIBS’s captivating performance that integrates artistry with movement-building. The live concert was featured in The UW Daily (Feb 2022 Issue).
We also worked with FIUTS to bring Taiwan Indigenous culture to the UW campus with Margaret Tu (Pangcah/Amis) opening the CulturalFest Performance Showcase (Feb 19, 2022, in-person) and the Taiwanese Youth Alliance of Pacific Northwest curating the International Expo (hybrid).
The hybrid event format allowed the Arts Program to bring exhibitions and performances taking place in Taiwan to international audiences in real-time. In memory of the February 28 Incident, we partnered with Aikhun to co-present Symphony 47 (Feb 26 – Mar 13, 2022, online), a multi-media human rights festival that broadcasted the Gong Sheng Music Festival in Taiwan and featured Voice Infinity Radio Drama Studio as well as roundtable and interview discussions with activists, historians, scholars, editors, and journalists from various organizations including Harvard Fairbank Center, National Chung Cheng University, shesaid.so, New Bloom Magazine, and almost.co.
Collaborating with our new cultural partners, Weiwuying, the National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts in Taiwan, and with the support of the Taiwan Academy in LA, our program worked with musicians from the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, Pacific Northwest Ballet, and Seattle Opera to present the international premiere of Tshiū-á Siann Whisper of Trees: Visual Soundscapes of Taiwan, an in-person multimedia musical journey, at Seattle’s Benaroya Hall on November 2, 2022. The concert featured the collaboration between emerging Taiwanese artists–composer CHOU Hsuan-Hung, filmmaker WEI Zhao-Yi, and pianist HUNG Li-Cheng–and local Seattle musicians: violinist Andy Liang, violist Olivia Chew, cellist Nathan Chan, and double bassist Will Langlie-Miletich. The event was honored by the King County Proclamation of County Executive Dow Constantine proclaiming November 2, 2022, as the “Tshiū-á Siann” Whisper of Trees Day in King County.
As part of the Arts & Culture Program’s commitment to bringing Indigenous culture and knowledge of Taiwan to the Pacific Northwest and to build relationships with both the local Indigenous communities and overseas Indigenous Taiwanese communities, we collaborated with the Burke Museum, led by Holly Barker (Curator for Oceanic and Asian Culture at the Burke Museum) and Kathy Dougherty (Collections Manager of Oceanic and Asian Culture at the Burke), and Jiun-Yu Liu (Instructor of JSIS 484E / ANTH 469A: Taiwan Indigenous Cultures), to host a series of class-based Taiwan Indigenous talks and museum visits, at the Burke during the AAPI Month (May, 2022).
Links to Videos
- Book Talk: Tigers on the Mountain: Assessing “Is Taiwan Chinese?” with Professor Melissa J. Brown
- Book Talk: The Tiger Leading The Dragon with Professor Shelley Rigger
- Book Talk: Time and Migration with Professor Ken Chih-Yan Sun
- Roundtable: Challenging Hegemony: Taiwan, the Baltic, and the EU
- Roundtable: Storm Clouds Over the Pacific? Impacts of the Invasion of Ukraine on China-Taiwan-US Relations
- Interview: Taiwan & Somaliland: Q&A with Jean-Pierre Cabestan
- Interview: Taiwan Primary Sources Project: Interview with Professors Evan Dawley and Wayne Soon
- Interview: The Journey of an Indigenous Educator: Interview with Prof. Taiban Sasala (一位原住民教育者的路線：台邦撒沙勒教授訪談) Part 1, Part 2
- Interview: Childhood Development in Mid-20th Century Taiwan: Interview with Dr. Jing Xu
- Interview: Defending against Invasion with Ian Easton
- Winter 2022 Lecture Series
- Energy Transition and Climate Action in East Asia with Dr. Wei-Ming Chen
- Offshore Wind Power Development in Taiwan and its Spatial Impact with Dr. Pei-Wen Lu
- Towards a Multi-Scalar Approach to Energy Transition in East Asian with Dr. Ker-Hsuan Chien
- 4th World Congress of Taiwan Studies Video Recordings
- Post-Screening Interview: No Man is an Island (2022) Q&A with Director Jay Chern at the Seattle Asian American Film Festival
- Post-Screening Interview: Taiwan Black Movies Q&A with Director Chi-Jan Hou and film scholar Ting-Wu Cho at the Taiwan Film Series: Political Violence, Historical Trauma Closing Event.
- Film Panel Discussion: Taiwan Film Series: Political Violence, Historical Trauma Opening Panel with Professor Rachel Leow and Post-Doctoral Fellow Po-Hsi Chen
- Concert feature & Interview: Small Island Big Song Co-producers with the Seattle Sacred Music and Art