Narrating Taiwan: Re-imagining, re-writing, and re-connecting Taiwan

The 17th EATS Conference is co-organised by the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) and KU Leuven Campus Brussels and takes place at the ULB, Brussels, 6-8 April 2020.

Submission Deadlines: extended to 15 September 2019

Host institutions

EASt, centre for East Asian Studies, is a research unit within the Maison des sciences humaines of the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB), Belgium. The key role of EASt is to be a central hub of the ULB to foster Asia-related activities and research across the university. EASt offers high quality research on current developments in the East Asian region, and established research projects and networks focusing on Asian studies.

BCCDS (Brussels Center for Chinese Discourse Studies) is a research network, embedded within the research unit BCJS (Brussels Center for Journalism Studies) of the Faculty of Arts, KU Leuven (Catholic University of Leuven), Brussels Campus. It focuses on the connecting role of discourse between various research disciplines related to China and Taiwan and aims to give a forum to a plurality of voices from and about the region.

Keynote speakers

Dr Sophie McIntyre, Lecturer, Queensland University of Technology, Australia Professor. Taeku Lee, Professor of Political Science, University of California, Berkeley, US

Narrating Taiwan: Re-imagining, re-writing, and re-connecting Taiwan

The history of Taiwan has been constructed as a complex narrative, interweaving memories of invasion, occupation, (de-)colonization, refuge, and nation-building. Its identity is also at the heart of disagreements and controversies. As Taiwan has traditionally been seen as a strategic asset between the two economic powerhouses that are the PRC and the US, Taiwan’s past and future remain in debate. During presidential and parliamentary election periods in Taiwan, the issue of national identity is especially significant, and will most likely be prominent on the campaign agenda for the 2020 elections, given the changes to the status quo in cross-strait relations. 2020 also marks the 20th anniversary of the first change of ruling party, a watershed event in Taiwanese history, ushering in a new phase in the democratization of the island.

From the Dutch colonisation in the 17th century to the present, Taiwan has been the subject of diverse, sometimes conflicting narratives from various actors within and outside Taiwan. This hybridity has resulted in a myriad of creative modes of narrating Taiwan. How do intellectuals, writers, poets, artists, and media professionals engage with grand narratives created by China and Taiwan’s successive governments? What alternatives have been established? How is Taiwan’s isolation and marginalisation being portrayed and challenged from different perspectives? Beyond imagining or inventing the Taiwanese nation, how is Taiwan perceived through different modes of narrating the local, the regional and the global? How have narratives on Taiwan changed and intersected over the centuries to shape Taiwanese identity?

We invite contributions from all fields, pertaining to all periods, to analyse the multiple perspectives from which Taiwan’s past, present and future have been narrated. To facilitate systematic analysis of the global varieties of forms and practices of narrating Taiwan, both in historical depth and in regard to current debates, this conference is intended to include a wide range of topics focusing on the ways in which narrative structures our perception of, and gives meaning to, Taiwan. The conference is interested in how Taiwan is narrated and generated as a national object by political discourses (how did the government create a public interest in narrating Taiwan’s model role as a democracy, for instance), but also by sociocultural practices. It also seeks to investigate how Taiwan is imagined and constructed by media, literature, music, theater, performance, film, photography, language and art. Other areas of interest include the dynamic processes of knowledge at play: production and circulation in travel narratives, stories and self-narratives.


Please use this form for submitting your abstract to (subject: abstract of SURNAME, Given Name) and cc by 15 September 2019.

EATS welcomes submissions from students currently enrolled in MA programmes. MA panels are not restricted to the theme of the conference, although it should be relevant to the broadly defined field of Taiwan Studies. To submit to MA panels, please use this form for submitting your abstract to (subject: MA abstract of SURNAME, Given Name) and cc by 31 October 2019.

After a double-blind review process, EATS will announce the successful submissions by 30 November 2019. Accepted postgraduate presenters (PhD and MA students) who are affiliated with European institutions, or the 2020 Young Scholar Award finalists, will receive a travel grant of €150