NEW EATS BOARD MEMBERSAbout Us

Isabelle Cheng

Becoming EATS Secretary-General (2018-2020)
Isabelle Cheng

I often feel that in the summer of 2012, not only did I graduate from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) with a PhD in politics and International Studies, but also received a doctoral training in Taiwan Studies by attending the annual EATS conferences since 2008 with the only disruption in 2009. To serve as the Association’s Secretary-General is not only an honour but also a timely opportunity for me to pay back to the Association’s support for my PhD and the following development of my research.

Since 2007, my research has been focusing on marriage migration from China and Southeast Asian to Taiwan. Examining migrant women’s subjective understanding of the citizenship legislation, their use of the Chinese language in everyday life and their experiences in motherhood, I argue that, from being an outsider, a migrant woman may become an “in-between” in her relationship with the host Taiwanese state, as she transits from being a daughter to a wife and mother after migration. Later expanding to include labour migration into my study, my research has also investigated Taiwan’s claim to multiculturalism and sovereignty, its self-image of protecting migrants' human rights, migrant spouses' political participation in voting and rights-claim movement, migrant women’s struggle in negotiating their in- betweenness in the context of cross-strait relations and sports events, and the reform of migration legislation as a way of nation-building. The state as well as the society of Taiwan continue to provide rich material for me to explore how migration has become a field for the island to ascertain its internationally challenged sovereignty, project a benevolent image towards migrant spouses and workers, and pursue selectivity for its accommodation of the people of foreign ethnicity and different political socialisation.

Studying Taiwan’s learning curve for migration governance is a humbling experience as it opens up many aspects of the so-called Taiwanese consciousness that are often overlooked by the citizens of this island republic. It is even more so after I started to study the unexpected survival of the island nation during the 1950s-60s. Chiang Kai-shek’s relentless pursuit of prolonging the civil war which he had lost in mainland China and which was now re-framed as part of the Cold War is a challenging puzzle that can be understood from sometimes contradictory perspectives. These two seemingly unrelated research interests have been supported by the funding from the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation, Taiwan Fellowship and the China and Inner Asian Council of the Association of Asian Studies which allowed me to either conduct fieldwork in Taiwan or organise conferences in the UK.

My participation in EATS has been more than beneficial, which has motivated me to join the Board and hope to contribute to serving the growing Taiwan Studies community. Throughout the years since my first membership in 2008, at EATS conferences I have seen many a colleague having similar experiences in receiving constructive feedback to our research, identifying committed partners for research collaboration, networking with colleagues of overlapped interests and publishing together under a common theme. It is more than satisfying to see student members returning to EATS conferences as faculty members with fresh research projects. It is a sign taken by us as the effectiveness of EATS conference in regard to dissemination, networking, collaboration and publication. The incumbent board, including myself, is fortunate enough to inherit the strong legacy built under the leadership of Dr Ming-yeh Rawnsley. It will be the asset of the incumbent Board to further fulfil our mission of promoting Taiwan Studies.

Dr Isabelle Cheng is Senior Lecturer in East Asian and International Development Studies, University of Portsmouth, UK. She is also a Research Associate of the Centre of Taiwan Studies, SOAS, University of London. She served on the Executive Board of the European Association of Taiwan Studies (EATS) between 2012 and 2017. She is currently the EATS Secretary-General for 2018-20.

Beatrice Zani

New EATS Board Member: Beatrice Zani

I graduated from the Institute of Political Studies of Lyon (IEP de Lyon), completing also a MA in Asian Studies at the École Normale Supérieure of Lyon (ENS Lyon), and I am currently a Ph.D candidate in sociology at Lyon 2 University, TRIANGLE UMR 5206 Laboratory. I am also research assistant at the International Associated Laboratory (LIA) Post-western Sociologies in Europe and in China, CNRS-ENS Lyon/CASS and teaching assistant at the Institute of Political Studies of Lyon, as well as short-term resident fellow at the European Research Center on Contemporary Taiwan (ERCCT), Tübingen University.

My Ph.D dissertation, entitled Urban and Professional Careers of Migrant Women from China to Taiwan: Solidarity and Resistance in a Globalized Context, explores the complex link between gender, labour and migration, through empirical cases of women’s migrations within mainland China and from China to Taiwan. I investigate the transnational dimension of women’s migratory careers, focusing on the creative strategies of solidarity and resistance they develop in order to cope with a subaltern status. For this purpose, in 2016/2017 I was Junior Visiting Associate at the Institute of Sociology of Academia Sinica, Taipei, conducting ten months of multi-sited ethnographical work in Taiwan; in 2018 I also carried on three months of fieldwork in the South of China, funded by the French School of East-Asian Studies (EFEO).

My MA dissertation about migrant working women’s labour exploitation and resistances in Chinese urban factories won the 11th Prize for Human Rights (2016) by Lyon’s League of Human Rights. I was also awarded the Christian Ricourt Prize for the Young Researcher in Taiwanese Studies by the French Association of Taiwanese Studies (AFET) in 2017.

Beatrice Zani is Ph.D candidate in sociology at Lyon 2 University, TRIANGLE UMR 5206 Laboratory.