Reports by 2014-2016 LRG WinnersAbout Us

2016 EATS Library Research Grant: A Visit to Tübingen

Ambrus Gábor Szentesi
Selected Library:

The library chosen for this grant was the University of Tübingen, and in particular its collection on East Asia (i.e. the Asien-Orient-Institut, Abteilung für Sinologie und Koreanistik).

The Topic:

My topic has taken shape over the past academic year and it has been improved considerably since my application for the EATS library grant. I will hereby introduce it briefly. My research has two major phases. In the first part, I have developed two hypotheses:

I ask whether China might be consciously applying economic integration as a tool to resolve political conflict with Taiwan—for its own gain. The notion of consciousness as a mechanism of political and economic relations would bring fresh rationale to integration theories. This line of thought brought me to my first hypothesis:

  • The less China sees its political goals attainable with the progress of economic integration, and the strengthening of Taiwanese identity, the more likely it is to use economic ties, and its influence on the economic ties as tools for achieving its political goals. (H1)

This hypothesis shall be tested with an examination of change in Chinese economic strategies. To do so, this hypothesis thus calls for a second, which would, however, logically come first. The theoretical foundation requires that the two supposed counter-moving forces are charted: the impact of economic integration, as well as the maturing of Taiwanese (democracy, society, and) identity.

  • There are two basic, counter-moving forces that pull Taiwan into the opposite direction: in terms of economics it is the integration that gravitates the island to the Chinese mainland; while in regards of society, and politics the ever increasing Taiwanese identity pushes Taiwan into a direction of political secession, independence from the mainland. (H2)

The two hypotheses enumerate three factors: cross-strait economic integration, developing Taiwanese identity, and mainland political pressure. The ultimate goal here is to examine how each factor impacted the other, and what is the cause and effect mechanism among each three.1

The second phase of my research is on the role of the taishang. There are roughly one million Taiwanese businessmen who have a clear interest in peaceful and predictable cross-strait relations. They are regarded as highly important actors on both sides of the strait. In turn this qualifies them as having the largest potential to bridge the differences of the two sides. This research focuses on the potential of the taishang to withhold, and possibly resolve political conflict.

The Grant

The choice of Tübingen was straightforward, besides London and Leiden, it holds the largest collection of Taiwan-related books that are most relevant to this research. From a practical side, getting to Tübingen from Budapest is easier than to Leiden, and staying there is cheaper than in London. I spent a highly efficient week in this beautiful German university town. I was able to consult most of the books that I'd previously searched for, and on top of that I added six more relevant volumes to my list.

Among the books I consulted that proved to be particularly useful were Lin Cheng-yi's The future of United States, China, and Taiwan relations, of which the chapters of Jean-Pierre Cabestan as well as Wu Jaushieh Joseph on the US's role in the development of Taiwan's democracy, and on mainland China's struggle to "win Taiwanese hearts" respectively are of special value for me. Hu Weixing's New dynamics in Cross-Taiwan Strait relations: how far can the rapprochement go? was also highly relevant, especially chapters 1-3 and 9-11. I found Francoise Mengin's Fragments of an unfinished war useful in understanding the theoretical underpinnings of my research. Just as Schubert and Damm's compilation, Taiwanese identity in the 21st century; in particular chapters 4 and 8. Among the books that I encountered, but which I did not plan to consult previously, Lee Chun-yi's Taiwanese business or Chinese security asset? was the most relevant, and an interesting one in its pure methodology.

Personally, I‘ve spent a very nice week in Tübingen. The university‘s staff were very helpful with accommodation and all the relevant information concerning the libraries. The librarians were super nice, and helpful, too! Tübingen has a perfect infrastructure for Taiwan studies. I also engaged in the activities organized by the university's Sinology faculty as well as by the ERCCT. Meeting Professor Schubert and Mr. Braig of the ERCCT was a pleasure in itself, but they also provided invaluable help in locating more material.

I'm thankful for EATS to grant me the library stipend, I think I made the best out of it. My advice for the upcoming grantees is to make sure each book they want to consult is on shelf at the intended time of their stay. Also it is great to engage in the activities organized by the local universities' respective departments, therefore the trip shall be planned accordingly. Also it is advisable to get into touch with other EATS grantees of the same year, as I accidentally met with one of them in Tübingen, and besides having some nice conversations, we could actually help each other's work significantly, as many of our consulted books were identical.

1. The fourth factor held determinant is the political (and economic) influence of the US, however, it is assumed to be constant for the sake of simplicity.

Ambrus Gábor Szentesi is PhD student at the Doctoral School of Management Sciences and Business Administration, University of Pannonia, Hungary.

2015 EATS Library Research Grant: A Visit to Leiden

Martin Boyle

In September 2015, I spent four days at the University of Leiden with the help of an EATS Library Research Grant. I managed to cram this in between teaching on a summer school for Chinese postgraduates at Queen Mary, University of London, running the Berlin Marathon, and then starting back at Queen Mary again for the new term. I have come to PhD studies in International Relations later in life than many; my background and interests are in English Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics, and I said when I embarked on my research project on Cross-Strait Relations that I was doing it for "fun" rather than an academic career in IR. The trip to Leiden was both fun and demanding. I travelled the traditional way via Hook of Holland by train and ferry. This is a cheaper, more convenient, and more civilized way of doing the trip than flying. Holland is flat and therefore good for last-minute marathon training; Dutch food is both tasty and filling; everyone speaks English; Leiden is pretty and historic; and the train from Amsterdam to Berlin is an adventure in itself.

During my stay, I consulted a range of materials in the Taiwan Resource Center for Chinese Studies (TRCCS) at Leiden. The resources are divided into a book collection and a digital archive. Access to the books on the shelves is free to visiting scholars and no registration is required. However, a fee is charged for access to the digital resources. The library staff kindly allowed me to carry out a quick survey of the digital resources for free. However, I decided that, given the length of time I was spending there and the subject area of my research, it would not be worth my while using these.

The digital resources consist of: (1) the Three History set, lidai san tao歷代三套, a historical database consisting of institutional histories, poetry and literary prose; (2) lianjing dianzishu聯經電子書 , a collection of e-books; and (3) a large digital collection of catalogues and databases of rare books 古籍與特藏文獻資源. This third area covers genealogy, digital images, metal and stone rubbings of epitaphs, the National Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations, 臺灣博碩士論文知識加值系統 containing abstracts of Taiwanese doctoral and master‘s theses, an index of Taiwanese periodicals and contemporary calligraphy, prose and poetry manuscripts. However, PDFs and images cannot be downloaded. I was particularly interested in the theses and dissertations and scanned the abstracts quite closely to see if there was anything related to my research area. Unfortunately, there was not. The ROC government is highly digitalised anyway and government websites in Taiwan contain a plethora of information that is useful for IR and political research. I was hoping to find something on SEF-ARATS negotiations since 1990, but there was nothing there that cannot be found online in other places. This was not really a surprise, given the nature of Leiden's research.

The TRCCS book collection consists mainly of encyclopaedias, yearbooks and gazetteers published in Taiwan and of books gifted to the University by Taiwan-based organisations. Prominent among these is a collection of anthropological, historical and cultural-historical publications in English and Chinese about Taiwan‘s indigenous population. Not surprisingly, given the Netherlands‘ historical interest in Taiwan, many of these books reproduce original documentary materials and records of the Dutch East India Company which ran the Dutch colony on Taiwan from 1624 to 1662. These records are an invaluable resource for scholars interested in the history and anthropology of the indigenous peoples. The collection shows the influence of Dutch colonialism in terms of education and religion and the development of a written script for local languages. This is evident in particular in the extensive collection of land-transfer contracts up to the late 19th Century, which contain both Chinese characters and the indigenous language in Dutch cursive script. The book collection appears to be heavily slanted towards indigenous history and anthropology rather than documenting Fujianese and Hakka migration, but perhaps I did not search hard enough for these.

I spent the first two days browsing and making notes from the printed materials. I found the self-study room very useful as a quiet space for my research using the materials on the shelves and the notes I had brought with me. I spent the second two days drafting ideas for papers unconnected to my PhD research, but based on the materials I had read in the library. A common danger in PhD research is the temptation to 'take your eye off the ball' when you come across fascinating material that is only tangentially related to your research. So, with this in mind, these will have to remain in draft form until I have dealt with the more immediate demands of my core research. However, I shall certainly revisit them once that work is done. In this regard, then, the visit proved more than fruitful.

Martin Boyle is a PhD student at Kent University.

2014 EATS Library Research Grant: A Visit to Oxford and Cambridge

Denisa Hilbertova
Research Subject:

British Diaspora in Taiwan, 1860-1895: The Tea Industry


The 2014 EATS Library Grant helped me to finish my dissertation research which focused on The Tea Industry in Taiwan between 1860 and 1895. During this period Taiwan experienced a dramatic change in industrial and economic development. My work concentrated on British involvement in the island's newly developed tea trade, which required me to work with English-language primary sources. I visited two libraries in the UK in September 2014:

  1. Bodleian Library, University of Oxford
    a. John Johnson Collection—an archive of printed ephemera
    b. Secondary literature
    c. Electronic sources
  2. Cambridge University Library
    d. Archive of Jardine, Matheson &Co Ltd.
    e. Secondary literature
    f. Electronic sources

During my visits to libraries in Oxford and Cambridge I identified materials that cannot be found in the School of Oriental and African Studies in London or in the British Library. I studied mainly the archive collections, but also I copied some secondary sources and used the opportunity to download some electronic material.

My overall experience with the EATS Library Grant could hardly be better. I applied for the grant at end of June 2014 and within 11 days I got a decision from the EATS Board. EATS also provided letter of endorsement, which turned out to be a great help when applying for permission to study in the archives. At the time of my application to EATS, I planned to visit Oxford for a week and the Archives of the Chinese Maritime Customs Service (CMCS) at the University of Bristol for another week. During my email communication with the staff from the Chinese Maritime Customs Project at Bristol University it turned out that my request might be solved through electronic means, namely scanned documents that are now freely available. I am in huge debt to Robert Bickers who replied promptly to my never-ending questions, gave me a lot of great research tips, and helped me to navigate through the archive collection.

Because of this great assistance from Mr. Bickers my visit in Bristol was no longer necessary, so I wrote to the EATS Board to change my plans: I asked to spend a week in Cambridge instead, a request which EATS approved within a day.

My experience at the John Johnson Collection and the archive of Jardine and Matheson & Co Ltd. was a stark contrast to the help I received from colleagues in Bristol.

It took almost two months to receive a confirmation email from the John Johnson collection curator indicting that I could visit, while the curator of the Jardine and Matheson & Co Ltd. archive never replied to my emails. But fortunately everything worked out when I arrived to Cambridge.

Research Materials

1) Bodleian Library, University of Oxford
a. John Johnson Collection—an archive of printed ephemera.
The collection holds labels of Formosan Oolong tea. Some of them are catalogued and it is possible to find them online if you have access. but most of the labels are not digitalized, and they are mixed with later produce from the japanese period (1895-1945). because of the enormous amount of material and limits to the time i could spend on research i was not able to go through all the boxes i had planned to, but i was lucky to find some very interesting images.
b. Secondary literature
c. Electronic sources
Such as The Directory and Chronicle for China, Japan. Each library, including SOAS, provide access to different years.

2) Cambridge University Library
a. Archive of Jardine, Matheson &Co Ltd.
Jardine, Matheson & Co Ltd. was one of the most important British trading houses that operated in imperial China. I focused on the firm‘s correspondence, accounts, and other records connected with Taiwan. My research tracked the company's business interests on the island. Because this archive collection is also gigantic and I had only one week, I completely relied on the recommendations of archive staff and examined only the later years of the company's involvement in Taiwan. I believe there is available in the archive a sufficient amount of material to produce a single study about Jardine, Matheson & Co.'s affairs on Taiwan.

I would like to thank the EATS Board for this opportunity which allowed me to complete my dissertation research. I also appreciate their flexibility, support, and prompt replies to my questions.

Denisa Hilbertova is a PhD student at Charles University. She also teaches at Masaryk University, Czech Republic.