The Francophone Association for Taiwan Studies
Founded in 2010, the Francophone Association for Taiwan Studies (Association Francophone d’Etudes Taïwanaises, AFET) is a scholarly, non-profit association open to all French speakers in the world, with an aim to promote academic research into Taiwan conducted in the French language as well as to engage cultural and intellectual exchanges between the Francophone countries and Taiwan. To achieve these goals, it organizes scientific and cultural events (i.e. conferences, workshops, seminars and round tables), uploads documentary videos online, puts forward pedagogical methods, and provides a bibliographical database in the specific domain of Taiwan studies. When the occasion arises, it also organizes Taiwanese language-learning courses for the public. The association has offered three classes in the past — once in Taipei and twice in Paris. The association also tries to put researchers and students who work in the field of Taiwan studies in contact via online social networks. To do so, it assures the regular distribution of information concerning scientific or cultural activities related to Taiwan in the French-speaking world.
The major scholarly activity that AFET holds every year is its annual Conference for Young Scholars on Taiwan Studies. Each year, the conference is held at a different university, which mobilizes scholars from various parts of the world to enter into contact with diverse institutions that support academic research and the study of Taiwan. Since 2016, AFET awards young scholars of Taiwan studies with the Christian Ricourt Prize. Funded by private equity funds, a sum of 500 euros is awarded every year to the winning candidate whose written work and oral presentation are evaluated during this annual Conference. The examiners are composed of the board members of AFET as well as other prestigious researchers of Taiwan studies who participate in the organizing committee. The goal of this prize is to provide encouragement and financial aid for junior researchers who wish to conduct field research in Taiwan or publish part of their research.
This year, the association held its eighth annual Conference for Young Scholars on Taiwan Studies at the University of Paul-Valéry Montpellier III, with the collaboration of the Ethnology Department, the Center of Comparative Research Study in Ethnology (LERSEM-CERCE), the China Research Center (CRC) which belongs to the Institute of Research Intersite Cultural Studies (IRIEC), and the Department of International and Francophone Relations Office (DRIF). The conference was supported by the donation of the Taipei Representation Office in France (BRFT) and the Ministry of Education of Republic of China (Taiwan) as well as the participation of the French Association of Ethnology and Anthropology (AFEA).
Organized consecutively for the last seven years, the aim of this annual conference is to invite young scholars in all fields and different countries — including master’s and doctoral students as well as independent junior researchers — to present their current research projects or papers in front of their peers, lecturers, or other specialists in Taiwan studies. This year, eleven junior researchers presented their work at the conference. With their original ideas and groundbreaking thoughts, their presentations simulated rich conversation and exchange among scholars of various disciplines (i.e. sociology, literature, history, anthropology, geography, etc.). These junior researchers presented their works in front of a large audience (about forty participants), in which fifteen members represented the scientific committee. The role of the scientific committee was to offer critical perspectives and remarks to assist these junior researchers to develop competent academic work in their domain. The members of this committee came from various prestigious academic institutions in France, Belgium and Taiwan. Other professors in the Chinese Department and the Ethnology Department of the host institution, University of Montpellier III, as well as Ghislaine Gallenga, the president of AFEA, also kindly attended the conference and contributed their valuable ideas and remarks for the presentations.
Finally, AFET welcomed once again the Representative Ambassador Zhang Ming-zhong and Miss Lu Mei- chen (the director of Education Service) from the Taipei Representative Office who attended our two-day conference. At the end of the conference, His Excellency Ambassador Zhang also delivered the third Christian Ricourt Prize to the winning candidate, Mr. Pierrick Rivert, for his outstanding research on tongzhi literature in Taiwan, notably through the literary writings of Chi Tai-wei (紀大偉).
For the coming years, the association aims to improve its organizations of these intellectual and academic events, and further expand its networks or develop partnerships with various institutions working in similar academic research fields. AFET is currently preparing a large international conference which will be held in Paris in 2020. This conference will bring together researchers of various disciplines from all areas of Taiwan studies. Part of the conference will be dedicated to French speakers.
Ti-Han Chang is a Ph.D candidate at the Institute of Transcultural and Transtextual Studies at Université Jean Moulin Lyon 3 and a board member of the Association Francophone d’Études Taïwanaises. Her main research interests are the socio-political history of postcolonial countries, animal ethics, environmental justice, and ecocriticism.