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UW Taiwan Studies 2023-2024 Newsletter

May 14, 2024

The University of Washington Taiwan Studies Program (UW-TSP) had another eventful year. Here is an overview of our events and courses from 2023, as well as a preview of what’s coming up.  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.

Upcoming Events:

Professor Meredith Schweig (Emory University) will join UW-TSP for a book talk on Thursday, May 16 from 3:30 to 5pm PST to discuss her latest book Renegade Rhymes: Rap Music, Narrative, and Knowledge in Taiwan.  Renegade Rhymes invites readers into Taiwan’s vibrant underground hip-hop scene to explore the social, cultural, and political dynamics of life in a post-authoritarian democracy.  This will be a hybrid event hosted by TSP, RSVP on Ticketleap to join us online or come in person to Thompson 317 for the talk.

Professor Henry Yeung (National University of Singapore) will join UW-TSP for a book talk on Thursday, May 23 from 3:30 to 5pm PST to discuss his research on the highly contested and politicized nature of semiconductor global production networks since the US-China trade war and the Covid-19 pandemic. Based on his book, Interconnected Worlds: Global Electronics and Production Networks in East Asia, and his research in his Global Value Chain Development Report 2023 chapter, Dr. Yeung will provide a rich analysis of the need for strategic partnerships with technology leaders towards building national and regional resilience in the US, Western Europe, and East Asia. RSVP on Ticketleap here.

Public Events 2023-2024:

Conference: Southeast Asia and Taiwan – Politics, Aesthetics, Indigeneity

UW-TSP, the East Asia Center, and the  UW Center for Asia and its Diasporas hosted a joint two-day conference on April 25-26.  Scholars from around the world gathered to discuss the conference’s themes: politics, aesthetics, and indigeneity. This two-day workshop was open to UW students, faculty, staff, and the broader community.

Conference: Chips and Chains: Trends in US-Taiwan Business

As US-China relations grow increasingly tense, Taiwan has found itself in the middle of a decoupling of the two largest economies in the world. To address this development, the East Asia Center, Foster Global Business Center, and the Taiwan Studies Program hosted a two-day conference inviting experts from academia, think tanks, journalism, and industry to discuss Taiwan and US business trends. Three panels took place discussing the semiconductor industry, supply chains, and US-Taiwan trade took place. Ryan Hass, Chen-Fu, and Cecilia Yen Koo Chair in Taiwan Studies at the Brookings Institution, gave the keynote address.


On November 1, 2023, we hosted a fall reception to kick-start the new academic year and afterward hosted our annual public roundtable “Making Waves: Taiwan’s Presidential Election 2024.”  We gathered in HUB 337 to welcome new and returning faces to the program.  Our guest speaker was Kharis Templeman (Hoover Institution), followed by presentations from our own TSP members Ellen Chang, David Bachman, and James Lin on the topic of Taiwan’s upcoming presidential election and the Taiwanese Netflix show Wave Makers.  Find their remarks here or on our YouTube channel. Following this discussion, on December 14th, 2023, Ellen Chang interviewed Kharis Templeman (Hoover Institution) on the Taiwanese 2024 Presidential election race. This interview is published on YouTube

Book Talks:

Professor Wendy Cheng (Scripps College) joined UW-TSP as part of our book talk series on Wednesday, April 24 from 3:30 to 5 pm PST to discuss her latest book Island X: Taiwanese Student Migrants, Campus Spies, and Cold War Activism. Raising questions about historical memory and Cold War circuits of power, Island X  is a testament to the lives and advocacy of a generation of Taiwanese American activists.

On March 6, 2024, we welcomed Professor Niki Alsford (University of Central Lancashire) to discuss his newest release Taiwan Lives: A Social and Political History.  Alsford’s book is the first in our new scholarly publication Taiwan and the World in partnership with UW Press.  The second book in the series will be Good Wife, Wise Mother by Fang Yu Hu, and the editors are our own UW Jackson school faculty James Lin, William Lavely, and Madeleine Yue Dong.  Please stay tuned for updates! In Taiwan Lives, Alsford provides a comprehensive exploration of the island’s intricate past by recounting the life stories of its inhabitants.  You can find the conversation on our YouTube channel @UWTaiwanStudies.

On February 7, 2024, we welcomed Professor Ian Rowen (National Taiwan Normal University) to discuss his book One China, Many Taiwans: The Geopolitics of Cross-Strait Tourism.  Based on an ethnographic study, Rowen argues in his book that contrary to the PRC’s efforts to incorporate Taiwan as part of an undivided “One China,” tourism aggravated tensions between the two polities, and pushed Taiwanese sentiment further toward support for national self-determination.  You can watch Rowen’s presentation on our YouTube channel @UWTaiwanStudies.

On January 17, 2024, we welcomed policy director Bonnie Glaser (German Marshall Fund) to discuss her book U.S.-Taiwan Relations: Will China’s Challenge Lead to a Crisis?  This book talk addressed the rising Chinese military pressure and the intensifying gray-zone campaign tactics (economic coercion, disinformation, diplomatic pressure) that threaten Taiwan.  You can view Glaser’s presentation here or follow us on our YouTube channel @UWTaiwanStudies. 

On October 12, 2023, we welcomed Professor Janet Chen (Princeton University) to discuss her book The Sounds of Mandarin: Learning to Speak a National Language in China and Taiwan, 1913-1960.  The Sounds of Mandarin traces the surprising social history of a spoken standard, from its creation as the national language of the early Republic in 1913 to its journey to postwar Taiwan, and its reconfiguration as the “common language” of the People’s Republic after 1946.  You can view Chen’s recorded talk on our YouTube channel @UWTaiwanStudies. 

UW-TSP Arts and Culture Program:

Performing Arts:

On February 25 and 26, 2023, the UW Taiwan Studies Arts & Culture Program and the Seattle Festival Orchestra hosted the “Triumph” in-person music concert at Town Hall Seattle. The concert featured the US Premiere of Taiwanese composer Ching-Mei Lin‘s Paean for Warrior and Love, inspired and adapted from songs of Taiwan’s Indigenous Rukai (Drekay) followed by Beethoven’s glorious Symphony No. 7 in A major. To finish out the concert, the young emerging Taiwanese American pianist Karina Tseng (鄭佳莉) performed Rachmaninoff’s powerful Piano Concerto No. 2. With this concert, the orchestra celebrated not only triumphant music but also some of the great gifts that Taiwan continues to offer classical music.

The UW Taiwan Studies Arts & Culture Program hosted its first-ever kids program on April 15 and 22, 2023, Pangcah (‘Amis) Kids Storytime & Workshop. During the storytime session, the book titled “LOKOT: the Fish that Lived in a Tree” showcasing the cultural stories of one of the 16 indigenous communities of Taiwan, the Pangcah (‘Amis) people, was read. At the workshop session, our young attendees learned the history and cultural significance of the ‘alofo (lover’s bags) that are made by the Pangcah (‘Amis) People. Attendees had an opportunity to take a close look at the ‘alofo hand-crafted by our instructor, Chu-mei Lin, as she introduced the process of making ‘alofo and how they are used at ceremonies and as everyday accessories. After learning everything about these ‘alofos, attendees customized their built their own ‘alofos.

In partnership with Town Hall Seattle, the UW Taiwan Studies Arts & Culture Program co-hosted renowned jazz bassist Richie Goods and rising star vibraphonist Chien Chien Lu for the West Coast premiere of their collaborative album, “Connected.” Joined by Matt Wong on keys, Quintin Zoto on guitar, and Jerome Jennings on drums.

Film Screening:

The UW Taiwan Studies Arts & Culture Program was thrilled to host a special screening of Chen Hui-Ling’s documentary film, A Letter to A’ma 給阿媽的一封信 (2021), on March 29, 2023 at the Northwest Film Forum. In A Letter to A’ma, Taiwanese art teacher/filmmaker Hui-Ling returns to her childhood home to mourn the passing of her grandmother. As she pieces together the fragmented memories of her youth, she finds herself coming face-to-face with the problematic issue of her country’s fractured history. Through a student art project guided by this teacher that has lasted for over a decade, a representational portrait of the island’s collective memory begins to emerge, initiating a process in which Taiwan, an island nation forgotten by the world and in the midst of forgetting itself after centuries of colonization and decades of dictatorship, can now remember its past and re-envision its postcolonial identity through art. The screening was followed by a Q&A session with Director Chen, moderated by Neve Lin.

The UW Taiwan Studies Arts & Culture Program presented the memorial film screening and lecture honoring Dr. Hu Tai-Li a pioneer of ethnographic documentaries of Taiwan on April 18, 2023, at the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture. In memory of Dr. HU Tai-Li, the evening featured an in-person screening of the first Taiwanese ethnographic film, “The Return of Gods and Ancestors,” by Dr. Hu, and a lecture by Professor Scott Simon on Dr. Hu’s work and the influence of her pioneering ethnographic documentary practice in Taiwan. Following this screening, UW Taiwan Studies Arts & Culture Program hosted an exhibit, “Encountering Hu Tai-Li: The Anthropologist Behind the Camera,” in memory of Dr. Hu. The exhibit was a visual tour of Dr. Hu’s ethnographic films and publications. Each of her films was paired with pieces of reflection written by Dr. Hu and QR codes that directed viewers to our online film series and the UW Library Resources for further exploration.

The UW Taiwan Studies Arts & Culture Program hosted a screening of Laha Mebow’s award-winning film, GAGA 哈勇家 (2022), on May 22, 2023. GAGA is a heartwarming story at the joint effort of Do You Love Me As I Love You producer Eric Liang, Your Name Engraved Herein producer Arthur Chu, and the Taipei Film Awards Best Director winner Laha Mebow (for Lokah Laqi). GAGA portrays the new generation’s connections and complexes to families and lands in a unique way. It’s the most touching and beautiful movie in 2022.

In partnership with the UW East Asia Center, the Taiwanese Association of Greater Seattle, and the Seed Kite Foundation, the UW Taiwan Studies Arts & Culture Program hosted an in-person screening of Invisible Nation (2023) on the UW campus. With unprecedented access to Taiwan’s sitting head of state, director Vanessa Hope investigates the election and tenure of Tsai Ing-wen, the first female president of Taiwan. Thorough, incisive, and bristling with tension, Invisible Nation is a living account of Tsai’s tightrope walk as she balances the hopes and dreams of her nation between the colossal geopolitical forces of the U.S. and China. Hope’s restrained observational style captures Tsai at work in her country’s vibrant democracy at home, while seeking full international recognition of Taiwan’s right to exist.

Kuroshio Odyssey: Maritime Memories, Culture, and Landscapes

The Kuroshio Odyssey was a serial program hosted from October 14 to November 28, 2023, showcasing the diverse Indigenous communities of eastern Taiwan and their stunning natural environment. The program featured in-person displays, online exhibits, crafting workshops, film screenings, and scholarly roundtables across the UW-Seattle campus.

The program was named after Kuroshio 黑潮, meaning the Black Current in Mandarin which is a warm ocean stream flowing from the tropics to the arctic zones of the west Pacific. Since time immemorial, the Indigenous People in eastern Taiwan have fused their way of living with Kuroshio and have developed distinctive cultures from their relation to this stream.

Exhibitions hosted at the Burke Museum and the UW Tateuchi East Asia Library showcased collections from multiple Indigenous communities in eastern Taiwan and included an immersive element as visitors used QR codes to access images and detailed information about selected pieces. Additionally, two Indigenous Taiwanese guest curators working in Taiwan and New Zealand selected collections from the online database of the Indigenous Peoples Cultural Development Center to display at the exhibition. 

Links to Videos: