Taiwan ruling widens political divide with China

Source: Bloomberg News (5/25/17)
Taiwan Gay Marriage Ruling Widens Political Divide With China
By Ting Shi and Chinmei Sung

  • Landmark change faces higher hurdles under one-party rule
  • ‘It’s the system. This is a problem stemming from the system’

Same-sex activists hug outside the parliament in Taipei on May 24, as they celebrate the landmark decision paving the way for the island to become the first place in Asia to legalize gay marriage.Photographer: Sam Yeh/AFP via Getty Images

Taiwan’s historic court ruling this week did more than make it the first place in Asia to let same-sex couples wed: It also widened the political gap with China.

The decision by Taiwan’s constitutional court Wednesday to legalize gay marriage in two years — if lawmakers don’t do so first — underscored the differences between the democratic island and one-party China, which wants to unify the two sides. The Communist Party controls all branches of government and faces little public pressure to allow same-sex marriage. Continue reading

Five LGBT-themed movies from Taiwan

Source: SCMP (5/24/17)
Five great LGBT-themed movies from Taiwan, model of openness in Asia
In the week that Taiwan’s highest court made history by approving same-sex marriage, we look back at five films with lesbian, gay or bisexual themes
By Edmund Lee

(From left) Joseph Chang, Bryant Chang and Kate Yeung in Eternal Summer.

Taiwan’s top court made history this week by ruling in favour of same-sex marriage – the first Asian territory to do so. Taiwanese society has long been at ease with alternative sexuality, as reflected by these five great LGBT-themed films by Taiwanese directors.

The Wedding Banquet (1993)

Long before his modern classic Brokeback Mountain, Taiwanese-American filmmaker Ang Lee made his international breakthrough with this enthralling family dramedy, about a New York-based gay man who stages a sham marriage in order to please his conservative Chinese parents. Continue reading

Professional peasant revolutionary in Taiwan

Source: Taipei Times (5/14/17)
Taiwan in Time: ‘Professional peasant revolutionary’
Chien Chi left his job as a schoolteacher and devoted his life to fighting for peasant’s rights, later also becoming involved in communism
By Han Cheung  /  Staff Reporter

A portrait of Chien Chi, who spent most of his adult life fighting for peasant’s rights. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

He was born exactly 85 years before farmers traveled to Taipei on May 20, 1988 to participate in what is considered Taiwan’s largest peasant movement since World War II. It’s probably a coincidence that they marched on his birthday, but Chien Chi (簡吉) was a notable peasants’ rights organizer during the Japanese colonial era, also leading a group of farmers to Taipei in 1926 to protest the government’s agricultural policy.


Chien grew up in a farming family in what is today’s Fengshan District (鳳山) in Kaohsiung. He recalls that his parents had to “work like cows and horses,” and that his younger brother had to quit school to help in the fields. Chien was lucky enough to graduate from Tainan Normal School (台南師範學校) and became a local schoolteacher. Continue reading

National Chengchi University position

Faculty Positions Available

The Graduate Institute of Taiwanese Literature, National Chengchi University, invites applications for one teaching position.

  1. Positions available: One.
  2. The successful applicant will be expected to begin employment on February 1, 2018.

  3. Applicants should meet either of the qualifications: (1) as a holder of a Ph.D. degree, (2) as an assistant professor or a more advanced scholar.

  4. Specializations: Fields related to Taiwanese Literature.

  5. Required Application Documents (for checklist, please see attachment 2) Continue reading

Small Talk

Source: Taipei Times (4/20/17)
Movie review: Small Talk
After a lifetime of silence, making this documentary was Huang Hui-chen’s only means of connecting with her lesbian mother — and she takes the audience along on her arduous and deeply personal journey
By Han Cheung  /  Staff Reporter

Movie poster for Small Talk. Photo courtesy of Mirror Stage Films

As its title suggests, Small Talk (日常對話) is driven by conversation, specifically director Huang Hui-chen’s (黃惠偵) efforts to get her lesbian mother, A-nu (阿女), to open up about her past. She also speaks with other relatives and A-nu’s former lovers, asking very direct questions that clearly make some of them uncomfortable.

But what makes the film compelling is the lack of small talk. Huang reveals that even though they live under the same roof, she and her mother barely interact. A-nu cooks lunch and leaves for the day to hang out with her friends, and in one scene doesn’t even acknowledge Huang when she returns home.

With a painful past involving an arranged marriage with an abusive man, A-nu prefers to keep everything to herself. Huang admits in the film that she wouldn’t know how to approach the subject if she hadn’t picked up the camera, and through her lens she attempts to understand A-nu and release them both from the shackles of the past. Continue reading

Taiwan Studies: New Directions and Connections

Taiwan Studies: New Directions and Connections will focus on the challenges and potentialities of Taiwan studies. Sponsored by the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation, the workshop will take place on April 7-8th 2017 (Friday-Saturday), at Harvard University.

With the workshop, we seek to provide a new forum in which young scholars from different disciplines can present their ongoing projects, challenge existing frameworks and methodologies, and explore possibilities of interdisciplinary cooperation.

Participants are invited to present concrete case studies from Taiwan which enable them to engage with current theoretical and methodological issues in the humanities and social sciences. They are encouraged to situate Taiwan within diverse cultural and geopolitical networks and historical trajectories. We look forward to innovative theories deriving from transcultural and interdisciplinary dialogue. The keywords of their presentations include:

  • Resistance politics: journalistic freedom, student activism, media connectivity
  • History and futurity: localism, modernism, post-colonialism, post-loyalism, sinicization and de-sinicization, East Asia and beyond
  • Cultural articulation: transculturaion and translation, mediality and visuality, lyricism and affect, Sinophone sphere

The schedule of the workshop appears below. Continue reading

Translingual generation poet Tu Pan Fang-ko

Source: Taipei Times (3/5/17)
Taiwan in Time: The sweet sound of the mother tongue
A member of the ‘translingual generation,’ poet Tu Pan Fang-ko wrote in languages imposed on her by the Japanese and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) regimes, but turned to her native Hakka after the lifting of martial law
By Han Cheung  /  Staff reporter

Tu Pan Fang-ko, third from left in back row, poses for her high school graduation photo. Photo courtesy of National Central Library

March 6 to March 12

Last month, the family of the late poet Tu Pan Fang-ko (杜潘芳格) donated 340 manuscripts to the National Central Library. The three languages these documents were written in — Japanese, Mandarin and Hakka — represent Tu Pan’s literary journey through Taiwan’s turbulent history.

Living through the Japanese and Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) regimes, the political climate dictated what language Tu Pan wrote in for most of her life. It wasn’t until she was in her 60s that she began to use her native Hakka.

Writers like Tu Pan are often included in the “translingual generation” (跨語言的一代), a term coined in 1967 by poet Lin Heng-tai (林亨泰) to describe those who were educated in Japanese but were forced to pick up Mandarin under KMT rule. He specifically referred to those who came of age under the colonial government’s Japanifcation policy, which officially began in 1936. Continue reading

Professors in Taiwan petition to protect academic freedom

For more Taipei Times reports on this story, see here and here.–Kirk

Source: Taipei Times (3/7/17)
Professors petition to protect academic integrity, saying freedom is ‘not for sale’
By Wu Po-hsuan and Jonathan Chin

A Taiwanese professor on Sunday launched a petition to protect academic freedom following allegations last week that a majority of the nation’s universities signed letters agreeing to censor topics Beijing deems offensive.

Shih Hsin University on Thursday last week was accused of signing a letter promising Chinese universities that its faculty would not discuss sensitive political topics in classes offered to Chinese exchange students, such as “one China, one Taiwan,” “two Chinas” and Taiwanese independence. Continue reading

2/28 still echoes in Beijing and Taipei

Source: SCMP (2/28/17)
70 years on, Taiwan’s crushed uprising still echoes in Beijing and Taipei
Mainland China marks ‘228 Incident’ as part of bigger push to underscore one-China policy
By Lawrence Chung

Hundreds of people form the words ‘Do Not Forget 228’ during a sit-in in front of the Liberty Square to commemorate the 228 Incident in Taipei, February 28, 2009. Photo: Reuters

It may be seven decades since the massacre of thousands of Taiwanese by China’s then Kuomintang government but the event is still causing political waves.

Taiwan and the mainland are both holding a series of high-profile activities to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the “228 Incident” in which KMT leader Chiang Kai-shek sent in troops to suppress an uprising on the island on February 28, ushering in the “White Terror” period. Continue reading

Pornography’s Global Impact

I think this documentary will be of interest to the readers of the MCLC list! Could you please forward to the list?–Ming-Bao Yue <mingbao@hawaii.edu>

Pornography’s Global Impact: A Case Study in Asia

Online pornography is big business. At any given moment, 1.7 million Internet users around the world are streaming pornography, one-third of all online content is pornographic, and one in four Internet searches are porn-related. But despite these astonishing figures, there are relatively few media education resources that investigate pornography’s impact on cultural attitudes and norms.

In her riveting new short film Pornography’s Global Impact, Dr. Chyng Sun, the director of The Price of Pleasure: Pornography, Sexuality, and Relationships and a professor at NYU, explores how Internet pornography has shaped attitudes and behavior in Taiwan, one of the world’s most lucrative porn markets. Continue reading

Taiwan ranks ahead of US in freedom report

Posted by Joseph Allen <jrallen@umn.edu>
Source: Taipei Times (2/2/17)
Taiwan ranks ahead of the US in freedom report
LANDS OF THE FREEBrazil, Denmark, France, Hungary, South Africa, South Korea and the US all experienced setbacks in political rights, civil liberties or both last year
By Jake Chung  /  Staff writer, with CNA

Taiwan receives a score of 91 out of 100 in the 2017 Freedom In The World report published by US rights watchdog Freedom House on Tuesday, outperforming the US. Photo: Screenshot from the Freedom House Web Site

Taiwan has been rated ahead of the US in Freedom House’s latest Freedom in the World report.

In the annual report released by the Washington-based rights watchdog on Tuesday, Taiwan scored 91 out of 100, beating out France (90), the US (89) and South Korea (82).

Taiwan was given a perfect score — one out of seven, with one representing the most free and seven the least free — in both political rights and civil liberties, as well as receiving one for overall freedom. Continue reading

Qiu Miaojin documentary

Source: SCMP (1/13/17)
Taiwanese novelist who killed herself in Paris at 26, Qiu Miaojin, remembered and reassessed in RTHK film
Lesbian writer whose death is credited with seeding LGBT movement in Taiwan is the subject of Hong Kong filmmaker Evans Chan’s documentary, which comes amid renewed interest in her books
By Enid Tsui

A screen grab from Evans Chan’s RTHK documentary about late Taiwanese writer Qiu Miaojin. Photo: Courtesy of Evans Chan

Think of Qiu Miaojin, and the first thing that comes to mind is the Taiwanese writer’s melodramatic death; the second, perhaps, is her sexuality. In June 1995, the lesbian novelist killed herself in Paris shortly after completing Last Words from Montmartre, a semi-autobiographical novel in which the protagonist decides to commit suicide. She was 26.

Continue reading

Bolton backs US forces in Taiwan

Source: Japan Times (1/18/17)
Top Trump adviser Bolton backs U.S. forces in Taiwan, says move could lessen Okinawa burden

John Bolton, an adviser to President-elect Donald Trump and former ambassador to the United Nations, stands in the elevator of Trump Tower in New York on Dec. 2. | BLOOMBERG

Amid increasingly tense Sino-U.S. ties, John Bolton, a former American ambassador to the U.N. and a top adviser to President-elect Donald Trump, has called for a closer U.S. military relationship with Taiwan to help counter a “belligerent” Beijing.

In a commentary published Tuesday in The Wall Street Journal likely to stoke anger in China, Bolton said Washington “could enhance its East Asia military posture by increasing U.S. military sales to Taiwan and by again stationing military personnel and assets there.” Continue reading

On taking gay rights from Taipei to Beijing

Source: Sinosphere, NYT (1/18/17)
On Taking Gay Rights from Taipei to Beijing: Don’t Call It a Movement

Lai Jeng-jer, a gay rights activist from Taiwan, at Two Cities, the cafe he opened after moving to Beijing in 2012. Before that, he had run a pioneering gay-themed bookstore in Taipei, Taiwan’s capital. Credit: Giulia Marchi for The New York Times

Taiwan moved one step closer last month to becoming the first place in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage, when a legislative committee passed draft changes to the island’s civil code. The proposed amendments have been sent to party caucuses for negotiation and possibly further revision before a final version is approved outright or goes to a vote by the Legislative Yuan, a process that is expected to take months. Still, the development was applauded by gay rights advocates, not just in Taiwan but in mainland China as well. Continue reading