EditorialAbout Us

New Hope, New Taiwan

Ming-Yeh T. Rawnsley

Editing this issue of EATS News in Taiwan after the general elections, the atmosphere on the island is full of hope and excitement. The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won both the presidency and legislature in a landslide victory. Taiwan has elected its first female president; the DPP will for the first time enjoy a majority in the Legislative Yuan; and the New Power Party (NPP) won five seats in legislative elections to become the third-largest party in Taiwan, representing a triumph for the third force formed by civil activists associated with social movements over the past few years, especially the Sunflower Movement in 2014. There has also been much debate about the reform of the Kuomintang (KMT), as well as the issues of power transition from the Ma administration to the newly elected Tsai government. As Atsushi Sugano says in his article in this issue, Taiwan’s political changes since the mid-1990s have repeatedly caused paradigm shifts in Taiwan Studies—an increasing Taiwanese subjectivity—among Japanese scholars. There is no doubt that the island’s new political landscape will stimulate further interest in Taiwan Studies not only in Japan, but also around the world.

Michael Danielsen’s observation is equally encouraging as he notices that among European civil servants and politicians there is a new openness to engaging with a range of actors and new political voices in Taiwan. According to Danielsen, democratic development is Taiwan’s major asset because the commitment of European politicians to Taiwan is strongly correlated to Taiwan’s own commitment to democracy.

In addition to politics, the three conference reports published here demonstrate the diversity of subject matter in the field. Feng-yi Chu’s international conference, “In Search of New Perspectives, Methods, and Finer Factors of Identity Formation—From East Asia to the World”, took place in September 2015. Sponsored by the Taiwan Studies Programme of the Asian Studies Centre at St Antony’s College, University of Oxford, the conference brought together researchers from Taiwan, Japan, India, Ireland, UK and from across Europe to discuss innovative research frameworks which may link Taiwan to the world. Astrid Lipinsky hosted at the University of Vienna a comparative conference on “Gender & Intersectionality in Taiwan and Austria” in October 2015. The fruitful discussions there have triggered the preparation of a peer-reviewed academic publication in 2016, as well as a follow-up conference which will take place in the second half of 2016. Adina Zemanek organised a one-week student workshop, “Taiwanese Popular Culture in a Regional Context”, at Jagiellonian University in Krakow in November 2015. It can be seen as a continuation of similar events organised in 2013 at Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic (see EATS News issue 3), and therefore has placed Krakow within a network of universities that organise interrelated Taiwan Studies activities. We hope this may increase student mobility within the region. Among the participants were students who had also attended the Brno workshops and the 2015 EATS conference in Krakow, which testifies to a growing interest in Taiwan studies among young people from Eastern Europe.

We also feature Lara Momesso’s reflection on her experiences as a Research Fellow in Taiwan. She chose the Institute of Gender Studies, Kaohsiung Medical University, as her base. In her article Momesso traces the feminist grassroots movement in the 1970s to the emergence of gender studies in the 1980s on the island. Her affection for her host institution and passion for gender studies is infectious.

Tzu-yu Lin is one of the EATS Library Research Grant winners. She visited SOAS library in July 2015 to conduct a research project entitled “The Invisible Agents of Japanophone Taiwanese Literature”. By sharing the literature consulted in the SOAS library, Lin has offered us an insight into her research journey.

Last but not the least is Notice Board, in which we publicise news, movements and recent publications of EATS members and colleagues of Taiwan Studies. If you have anything that you wish to announce to the growing Taiwan Studies community, please write to the editor of EATS News at mytrawnsley@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing from you.

Ming-yeh T. Rawnsley is Research Associate, Centre of Taiwan Studies, SOAS, University of London and Associate Fellow, China Policy Institute, University of Nottingham. She is also Secretary-General of EATS and the editor of EATS News.