Keynote Speaker: Shelley Rigger – Davidson College

Shelley Rigger

Shelley Rigger is the Brown Professor of East Asian Politics, Chair of Chinese Studies, and Assistant Dean for Educational Policy at Davidson College.

Her research focuses on Taiwan’s domestic politics, a perspective she brings to policy-oriented conversations about cross-Strait relations and US-PRC-Taiwan relations. She has a PhD in Government from Harvard University and a BA in Public and International Affairs from Princeton University. She is a professor of Political Science at Davidson College (North Carolina, USA) and has worked as a visiting researcher at National Chengchi University in Taiwan (2005) and a visiting professor at Fudan University (2006) and Shanghai Jiaotong University (2013 & 2015) in Mainland China. She is a non-resident fellow of the China Policy Institute at Nottingham University and a senior fellow of the Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI).

Rigger is the author of Why Taiwan Matters: Small Island, Global Powerhouse (Rowman and Littlefield 2011), a book for general readers that introduces Taiwan’s history, politics, economics, and society. She has written two academic books on Taiwan’s domestic politics, Politics in Taiwan: Voting for Democracy (Routledge 1999) and From Opposition to Power: Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party (Lynne Rienner Publishers 2001), and she is a co-editor with Lynn T. White and Kate Zhou of Democratization in China, Korea, and Southeast Asia?(Routledge 2014). Her monograph, “Taiwan’s Rising Rationalism: Generations, Politics and ‘Taiwan Nationalism'” was published by the East West Center in Washington in November 2006. Rigger has published articles, book chapters, and policy papers on Taiwan’s domestic politics, the national identity issue in Taiwan-China relations and related topics. Currently she is working on a study of Taiwan’s contributions to the PRC’s economic take-off.

Professor Rigger will deliver a keynote address to the EATS Annual Conference entitled, “Sustaining Taiwan through the 21st Century.”

Abstract: For the better part of seven decades, Taiwan has occupied a unique position as the only self-governing entity in the world to thrive without widespread diplomatic recognition. It has resisted isolation and rejection and built a dazzling economy and effervescent society. It has endured political and military pressure and transformed its governing system from single-party authoritarianism to dynamic liberal democracy. It has even reversed some of the environmental effects of its rapid industrialization. So far, then, Taiwan has defied the predictions of those who said a small island nation lacking natural resources and menaced by the world’s most populous power could not possibly survive without international support. Here we are, 70 years on, and Taiwan is more recognizably itself than ever. Nonetheless, the challenges confronting Taiwan in the 21st century are daunting and new; the path through those obstacles is hard to envision. Are Taiwan’s successes – economic, cultural, political, and social – sustainable in the face of rising PRC power? What strengths does the island bring to the task, and what vulnerabilities must its people address if they are to carry Taiwan’s achievements forward for another 70 years?