September 23: A Book Talk on “Taiwan Studies Revisited” with Dafydd Fell and Hsin-Huang Michael Hsiao

September 23: A Book Talk on “Taiwan Studies Revisited” with Dafydd Fell and Hsin-Huang Michael Hsiao

Wednesday, September 23 from 9:00 AM-10:00 AM (EST)
Webcast Only

Event Description:

The Global Taiwan Institute (GTI) is pleased to invite you to a book talk with Dr. Daffyd Fell and Dr. Hsin-Huang Michael Hsiao on their edited volume, Taiwan Studies Revisited. Seeking to provide a comprehensive overview of the growing field of Taiwan Studies, Fell and Hsiao’s book assembles insights from leading researchers and practitioners from a variety of backgrounds, including sociologists, anthropologists, and international relations scholars. In doing so, it helps to demonstrate the discipline’s remarkable diversity and complexity. Fell (a scholar of comparative politics) and Hsiao (a sociologist) each bring unique perspectives to the volume, taking a truly interdisciplinary approach to Taiwan Studies. This book talk will delve deeper into the contents of Taiwan Studies Revisited, featuring a discussion of the past, present, and future of Taiwan Studies.

The event webcast will be broadcasted live on our website and YouTube on Wednesday, September 23 starting at 9:00AM EST. Questions for the panel may either be sent by e-mail to contact@globaltaiwan.org or through the chat function on the YouTube page. 


Dr. Dafydd Fell is the Reader in Comparative Politics with special reference to Taiwan at the Department of Political and International Studies of the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. He is also the Director of the SOAS Centre of Taiwan Studies. In 2004, he helped establish the European Association of Taiwan Studies and subsequently served as its secretary-general for eight years. He has published numerous articles on political parties and electioneering in Taiwan. In addition, Fell has published several books on Taiwan and its domestic politics, including Party Politics in Taiwan (Routledge, 2005), What has Changed? Taiwan’s KMT and DPP Eras in Comparative Perspective (Harrassowitz, 2006), and Government and Politics in Taiwan (Routledge, 2011). 

Dr. Hsin-Huang Michael Hsiao is Chairman of the Taiwan-Asia Exchange Foundation and Chairman of the Center for Southeast Asian Studies at National Chengchi University. He is also an Adjunct Research Fellow with the Institute of Sociology, Academia Sinica and a Professor of Sociology at National Taiwan University and National Sun Yat-Sen University. Hsiao is also Chair Professor of Hakka Studies, National Central University. He served as National Policy Advisor to the President of Taiwan between 1996 and 2006, and is currently Senior Advisor to the President of Taiwan. His recent publications include Middle Class, Civil Society and Democracy in East Asia (2019), Citizens, Civil Society and Heritage-making in Asia (2017) and Coping with China Risk: The Challenge to Japanese, Korean and Taiwanese Firms (2016).

Event Summary:

On September 23, 2020, GTI Executive Director Russell Hsiao was joined by Dr. Dafydd Fell and Dr. Hsin-Huang Michael Hsiao to discuss their book Taiwan Studies Revisited, an in-depth analysis and overview of the field of Taiwan Studies. In the book, Fell and Hsiao use insights from leading scholars as well as their own backgrounds in political science and sociology to look at the history and future of Taiwan Studies as a discipline. 

Fell began by explaining that the motivation behind writing Taiwan Studies Revisited was a desire to plot the evolution of Taiwan Studies from a humanistic perspective, not based on statistical evidence like past efforts. He described this as an autobiographical process that was quite enjoyable, as analyzing the careers of Taiwan Studies scholars revealed how they developed their interest in Taiwan. When asked to explain exactly what Taiwan Studies entails, Hsiao defined it as a field that studies Taiwan for its own merits, a subject matter in its own right. He explained that this field must stand on its own, because we cannot solely study Taiwan in the shadow of China. Taiwan has its own history, culture, and issues separate from those of China, Hsiao said.

A majority of the discussion focused on the evolution of the field. Both Fell and Hsiao recognized that we are currently in a “golden era of Taiwan studies,” characterized by great diversity in scholars and subject foci. However, the current state of Taiwan Studies is the result of long period of development. Hsiao divided the history of the discipline into three generations. The first, in the 1960s and 1970s, was when scholars first began studying Taiwan’s history and culture, despite lacking the purposeful intention to do so. Often, these were anthropologists who, unable to enter China at the time, viewed Taiwan as a substitute research subject. It was not until the 1980s and 1990s that Taiwan Studies became an independent concept, which Hsiao called the second generation. He attributed a significant portion of this movement-building work to Academia Sinica, a national academy of research located in Taipei that opened new offices of Taiwan history and began funding new programs during that time. The third generation spans from 2000 onward, when Taiwan Studies was established as a distinct field of intellectual pursuit, attracting younger scholars who are building careers in the field. 

When asked about key issues in Taiwan Studies, Hsiao highlighted the Indigenous Literature Movement (鄉土文學) in the 1970s, the New Cinema (新電影) that grew from that movement, as well as the formation of a national identity in relation to democratization, indigenous issues, and cross-Strait relations. Questions from the audience focused on ingrained biases that challenge Taiwan Studies, as well as situating the field within regional studies of neighboring countries. To this, both Hsiao and Fell acknowledged that Taiwan Studies has been looked down upon for a long time. Recently, however, the interest and publishing ability of this field has increased. This is due in part to the interdisciplinary nature of the field. Hsiao and Fell are both hopeful that other countries will establish Taiwan Studies programs, and are looking forward to more collaboration in that direction. Establishing these programs in Asia is key to challenging Western-dominated theories in the social sciences, Hsiao mentioned, and could have a broader impact in the Southeast Asia region.

This summary was written by GTI Fall 2020 intern Annabel Uhlman.

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