EditorialAbout Us

A Growing Field

Ming-Yeh T. Rawnsley

2015 has been an extremely exciting year for Taiwan Studies. Several major international conferences occurred in different countries and even on different continents, including ‘Taiwan: The View from the South’, hosted by the Australian National University in Canberra, 6-8 January; followed by ‘(In)Visible Taiwan’, the 12th annual conference of the European Association of Taiwan Studies (EATS), Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland, 8-10 April; ‘Motions and the Motionless: (Dis/Re-)Connecting Taiwan to the World’, the 21st annual conference of the North American Taiwan Studies Association (NATSA), Harvard University, 12-13 June; and then the 2nd World Congress of Taiwan Studies, co-organised by Academia Sinica and the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, which took place at SOAS, 18-20 June. This busy calendar may partly explain why this issue of EATS News becomes one of the fullest to date. It is gratifying to witness the rapid growth of Taiwan Studies as a vibrant academic discipline around the globe.

As the headline article points out, the Krakow convention was one of the most thematically driven EATS conferences so far. The approach allowed both social scientists and scholars of arts and humanities to intellectually engage with each other and to facilitate a cross-fertilisation of ideas. We are proud that the 2015 EATS Conference appealed simultaneously to different disciplines, an important goal of the EATS Board.

Both keynote speakers at the Krakow conference, Professors Gary Rawnsley and Chris Berry, made a deep impression on the participants. Their speeches stimulated lively discussion and enriched the debate throughout the gathering. We are grateful that Professor Berry of King’s College London agreed to summarise his talk for publication. He argued that many popular commercial local cinemas today manifest Taiwanese anxiety about the island’s global (in)visibility and the conditions engendering it.

After their papers were reviewed and their conference presentations were assessed, EATS awarded two Young Scholar Awards to Wei-lun Lu of Masaryk University and Joycelin Yi-hsuan Lai of the London School of Economics. It is our pleasure to introduce here the two outstanding scholars and their fascinating research projects. Lu’s paper is ‘What's in a Name? The Interplay of Metaphor and Synonymy in Lee Teng-hui’s Presidential Rhetoric’, while Lai’s article is on ‘Imaging “Taiwanese” in East Asia: The Taiwanese intra-Asian idol dramas in the twenty-first century’.

Lisa Bauer-Zhao was one of the 2014 EATS Young Scholar Award winners. Lisa was pregnant when she attended the 11th EATS Conference in Portsmouth. Shortly after she received the honour of the YSA, Lisa embraced the many rewards and challenges of being a new mother. We congratulate Lisa and are so glad that she is now able to return to work and to share with us her study on ‘Minimal Art or Chinese Traditional Painting? Taiwan's art historical self-narration mirrored in the reading of Richard Lin's oeuvre’.

In 2014 EATS established the Library Research Grant (LRG) to assist Europe-based postgraduate students to visit European libraries where they can find specific resources for dissertation research. The 2014 LRG helped 5 students complete their library research trips. Ti-Han Chang of the Lyon III Jean Moulin University was one of 2014 LRG winners. Her thesis compares the literary works of J.M. Coetzee and Taiwanese ecological writer Wu Ming-yi. The LRG enabled her to stay in London where she visited SOAS and UCL libraries and participated in a related conference.

After EATS matters, our attention turns to the 2nd World Congress of Taiwan Studies in London. It took three years of preparation to realise the largest Taiwan Studies conference in Europe. The two organisers, Dr Dafydd Fell of SOAS and Professor H. H. Michael Hsiao of Academia Sinica, jointly reflected on their collaboration. They believe that a key ingredient for the success of the conference was careful long-term planning. The World Congress in London did not only bring over 80 of the world’s leading Taiwan Studies scholars from Europe, North America and Asia to share their research, but also attracted an audience of over 500 people over three days. Two publications - one on the theme ‘State of the Field’ and the other on ‘Taiwan Studies Revisited’ - are now in the pipeline, which promise to be a significant legacy of the conference.

In the Institutional Profile section, we feature LSE’s ‘Taiwan in Comparative Perspective’. Dr Fang-long Shih reveals the challenges of running a Taiwan Research Programme in an institution that does not include Area Studies in its programmes. The unique characteristic of the LSE Taiwan Research Programme is that it aims to locate and contextualise Taiwan within a broader global agenda. Hence, Taiwan Studies at the LSE explores the changes that are leading to Taiwan’s greater incorporation into global affairs, and the impact and influence that Taiwan is having on the world.

Last but not the least is the article by Dr Yih-Jye Hwang of Leiden University. Yih-Jye attended the 21st NATSA annual conference in Harvard and pondered on the connections between Taiwan, Taiwan Studies and Taiwanese identity. He argues that Taiwan Studies as a field of study is a normative project and should be a more open, tolerant and inclusive study of Taiwan.

As usual, the final page of EATS News is our Notice Board whereby we publicise news, the movement and recent publications of EATS members and colleagues. If you have anything that you wish to announce to the Taiwan Studies communities, please do write to the editor of EATS News at mytrawnsley@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing from you.

Dr Ming-Yeh T. Rawnsley is Editor of EATS News. She is also Research Associate, Centre of Taiwan Studies, SOAS, University of London and Associate Fellow, China Policy Institute, University of Nottingham.