Wei Desheng events

Wei Te-Sheng, director of “Cape No. 7” and “Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale,” will be speaking at two free online events this week. The talks are hosted by the Department of Asian Studies of the University of British Columbia, and sponsored by the Taiwan Ministry of Culture, as part of the speaker series “Indigenous Taiwan, Transpacific Connections.”

Wei will be speaking about the making of, as well as representations of Indigenous peoples in, his films.

On Thursday, October 21 at 4pm Pacific Time, Wei will be in conversation with UBC Assistant Professor of Chinese Popular Culture Dr. Renren Yang.

On Friday, October 22 at 4pm Pacific Time, Wei will be in conversation with UBC Assistant Professor of Indigenous Lifeways in Asia (and Indigenous filmmaker) Dr. Aynur Kadir.

Details and free registration for both events at: https://asia.ubc.ca/events/event/indigenous-taiwan-speaker-series-conversations-with-director-wei-te-sheng/

About the “Indigenous Taiwan, Transpacific Connections” speaker series:

4th World Congress of Taiwan Studies–cfp

The 4th World Congress of Taiwan Studies (WCTS) will be held at the University of Washington in Seattle, USA, from June 27th through 29th, 2022. The general theme of this Congress is Taiwan in the Making.

Our theme explores the processes, forces, and dynamics that made and continue to make Taiwan. We welcome applicants to propose research papers on Taiwan from the social sciences and humanities. The Congress will highlight a number of sub-themes throughout various panels and roundtables, such as (but not limited to):

  • “Worlding” Taiwan: Taiwan in Global Context
  • Contested Sovereignty: Taiwan in Comparison
  • New Directions in Taiwan Studies
  • Consolidating Taiwan’s Democracy
  • Gender and Society in Changing Taiwan
  • Environment, Ecology, and the Future of Taiwan
  • Ethnic Identity and Diversity in Taiwan
  • Taiwan History through Primary Sources

These topics are merely examples, and we encourage applicants to submit applications in any field or area of focus broadly under Taiwan Studies. Continue reading

Stories of the White Terror review

Source: Taipei Times
Book review: Fictionalizing Taiwan’s White Terror
Political persecution is revealed as a violence that extends beyond physical abuse to a trauma that scars the soul
By James Baron / Contributing Reporter

Transitions in Taiwan: Stories of the White Terror, edited by Ian Rowen.

Violence and oppression, we are told in the introduction to this collection of tales, are foundational to modern Taiwan, providing “a legacy that continues to influence its contemporary society.”

It is interesting, then, that an anthology subtitled “Stories about the White Terror,” offers few instances of physical violence, a notable exception being a neighborhood dust-up involving a gossip nicknamed Big Mouth Yang.

This incident, from Sung Tse-lai’s (宋澤萊) “Rice Diary,” is the first snapshot in a montage of quotidian happenings in the village of Daniunan (打牛湳), Yunlin County. The story forms part of a series focusing on life in this village in the 50s and 60s.

At first glance, the squabble is an insignificant personal grievance. Yet, this land rights wrangle points to something deeper. Acknowledging that he could simply divide the disputed property, Big Mouth’s assailant Ban-hok nonetheless concludes that “in this downturn, with so much craziness and thievery all around — well maybe he was thief, too.” Continue reading

Indigenous Taiwan: Transpacific Connections speaker series

Indigenous Taiwan: Transpacific Connections
A virtual speaker series, October-November 2021
Hosted by the Department of Asian Studies, University of British Columbia
Sponsored by the Ministry of Culture, Republic of China

Indigenous cultures make Taiwan and Canada unique. Taiwan has sixteen officially recognized tribes, and, like Canada, is engaged in ongoing public and community discussions about languages, land rights, self-determination, history, and reconciliation. How is indigenous life being represented and experienced by artists in Taiwan today? What commonalities of history, experience, or imagination might be found between Indigenous people of Taiwan and First Nations of Canada? This fall, join us for the first event of its kind in Canada: a series of conversations with writers and filmmakers who have been at the forefront of sharing Indigenous Taiwan with the world.

Guest speakers:

Writer: Badai
Lecture: Thursday October 14 (4:00p.m PDT.; Online)
Conversation: Friday, October 15 (4:00p.m PDT.; Online), featuring Prof Chiu-Duke Josephine

Filmmaker: Wei Te-sheng
Conversation: Thursday October 21, (4:00p.m PDT.; Online), TBA
Conversation: Friday, October 22, (4:00p.m PDT.; Online), featuring Asst. Prof Aynur Kadir

Writer: Ahronglong Sakinu
TBA: Thursday October 28 (4:00p.m PDT.; Online)
Conversation: Friday October 29, (4:00p.m PDT.; Online), TBA

Filmmaker: Laha Mebow
Lecture: Wednesday November 3,
Conversation: Thursday, November 4, (4:00p.m PDT.; Online), featuring Asst. Prof Aynur Kadir

Register online to reserve your seat and for information on how to access readings and film screenings connected with each live event.

More info: https://asia.ubc.ca/news/a-virtual-speaker-series-indigenous-taiwan-transpacific-connections/ Continue reading

Taiwan Literature in the 21st Century–cfp

Call for Chapter Proposals: Taiwan Literature in the 21st Century
Taiwan Literature in the 21st Century: 16 New Chapters
Editors: Chia-rong Wu and Ming-ju Fan
Publisher: Springer (Sinophone and Taiwan Studies Series)
Proposal Submission Deadline: November 1, 2021


Co-edited by Dr. Chia-rong Wu (University of Canterbury) and Professor Ming-ju Fan (National Chengchi University), Taiwan Literature in the 21st Century: 16 New Chapters is an anthology of research under contract with Springer, one of the leading publishers in the world. It not only engages with the evolving trends of literary Taiwan, but also promotes the translocal consciousness and cultural diversity of the island-state. The list of topics includes but is not limited to human rights, political and social transitions, post-nativism, indigenous consciousness, science fiction, ecocriticism, gender and queer studies, and localization and globalization. The edited volume will contain sixteen chapters of approximately 6,000 words each, including footnotes and bibliographies. The editors will consider to extend the volume to twenty chapter upon the approval of Springer. Each chapter closely examines an individual author through vigorous research and engagement with current scholarship. The goal is to rethink existing prominent topics and further explore innovative takes on Taiwan literature. The book is scheduled to be published in 2023. Continue reading

Tsai Ming-liang’s “Days”

Source: Indiewire (8/11/21)
‘Days’ Review: Slow Cinema God Tsai Ming-liang Returns with One of the Year’s Most Touching Films
A man with severe neck pain and a handsome young sex worker share a chance encounter in Tsai’s achingly poignant return to feature filmmaking.


A plumber drills a hole between the basement of one apartment and the ceiling of another as a strange disease that causes people to act like cockroaches sweeps over Taiwan at the turn of the millennium. A depressed homeless man, desperate to provide for his family but invisible to the people who drive past his roadside advertising sign, violently mauls the cabbage that his young daughter has adopted as a friend. A Taipei cinema screens King Hu’s “Dragon Inn” during a torrential downpour on its final night in business as various patrons shuffle around inside the theater, each of them looking for a connection that seems to be flickering away forever before our eyes.

While Taiwanese auteur Tsai Ming-liang has long been associated with slow cinema, the non-linear deceleration of his style has been interjected with soaring dreamscapes, electric moments of self-reflexivity, and even a handful of sexually charged musical numbers. The pace of his films is perhaps their most immediate signature, but it’s also considerably less consistent than the social anxieties shared between them. From his debut feature (1992’s “Rebels of the Neon God”) to the installation pieces that he’s been making with muse Lee Kang-sheng in the years since his soft retirement in 2013, Tsai’s work has reliably probed the psychic dislocation of modern life, and it’s done so with a roiling fury that belies his arthouse poise. Continue reading

Wayfaring: Photography in 1970s-80s Taiwan

Journeys of self and society at the end of martial law
Australian Centre on China in the World, ANU
Curated by Dr Shuxia Chen and Dr Olivier Krischer

As Taiwanese society was coming to terms with a new political reality in the 1970s and 1980s, many artists and intellectuals addressed issues of locality, history and cultural identity. Despite the pressure on civil society, Taiwan’s visual culture flourished, with photography playing a key role as a visual medium that intersected many creative practices and platforms. Pioneering photographers produced groundbreaking works across these decades, from experimental art to photojournalism and much in between.

The exhibition adopts the concept of ‘wayfaring’ from the phrase ‘找路’, used by the seminal figure Chang Chao-Tang 張照堂 to discuss his work in these decades. Here, the term lyrically evokes both the actual journeys that artists undertook, searching for the real-life experiences and sentiments of their subjects, as well as their personal, introspective searches for a way forward, a new path, through creative experimentation with the photographic medium.

Drawn from the collection of the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, with some additional works loaned directly from the artists, this broad selection of photographs reflects the diversity and shifting experiences of Taiwanese society and culture at this pivotal time. Wayfaring features 35 still images by 12 artists, including Chang Chao-Tang 張照堂, Chien Yun-Ping 簡永彬, Chuang Ling 莊靈, Ho Ching-Tai 何經泰, Hou Tsung-Hui 侯聰慧, Hsieh Chun-Te 謝春德, Hsieh San-Tai 謝三泰, Juan I-Jong 阮義忠, Kao Chung-Li 高重黎, Lien Hui-Ling 連慧玲, Wang Hsin 王信, Yeh Ching-Fang 葉清芳.

Exhibition info:
http://ciw.anu.edu.au/…/wayfaring-photography-1970s-80s… Continue reading

The Landscape of Historical Memory review

MCLC Resource Center has published James Flath’s review of The Landscape of Historical Memory: The Politics of Museums and Memorial Culture in Post-Martial Law Taiwan, by Kirk A. Denton. The review appears below and at its online home: https://u.osu.edu/mclc/book-reviews/flath/. My thanks to Jason McGrath, MCLC media studies book review editor, for ushering the review to publication.

Kirk Denton, editor

The Landscape of Historical Memory:
The Politics of Museums and Memorial Culture in Post-Martial Law Taiwan

By Kirk A. Denton

Reviewed by James Flath

MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright July, 2021)

Kirk A. Denton. The Landscape of Historical Memory: The Politics of Museums and Memorial Culture in Post-Martial Law Taiwan Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2021. 284 pp. ISBN: 978-988-8528-57-8 (hardback).

Following his previous study of museums in China (Exhibiting the Past: Historical Memory and the Politics of Museums in China2014), Kirk Denton has extended his analysis to the museums of Taiwan. As in the former volume, the author is interested in the evolution of exhibition space and the ways in which historical narratives are shaped by present-day politics. However, whereas Chinese museums seem to be caught up in the ambiguity of belonging to a neoliberal state burdened with a communist history, Taiwan museums offer a master class in how to construct a pluralistic national identity.

Taiwan is a uniquely interesting case because the citizens of that island are intensely concerned about their identity and with positioning themselves in relation to their gigantic neighbor. During the Cold War, Taiwan’s few but notable historical museums followed the Guomindang (KMT) mandate of promoting reunification with the mainland and identifying Taiwan as the “real” China. That “blue” mandate continues to influence museum culture, but Denton explains how in post-martial law Taiwan the museum culture has grown to include the nativist “green” mandate of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). As Taiwan’s government changes hands, the “national” museums and memorial spaces adjust their narratives—sometimes in ways that seem intended to infuriate the opposition, but often in ways that accommodate diverse points of view. Continue reading

Was Taiwan ever really a part of China

Interesting piece on the realities of Taiwan, — but I think the author of the piece is fundamentally wrong about the spineless American actor John Cena. He doesn’t have “opinions,” he’s only performing them. In this, even though he’s compelled only by cold cash and no other concerns, he’s still very much like the parroting enforced in China itself, in those scripted, forced TV confessions preceded by torture. The contrast between the Chinese victims and Cena makes it necessary to pay homage to all those Chinese intellectuals who clearly do have a spine, and some self-respect, to the point that it was necessary for the regime to torture them and threaten their families, before they would sink to this type of self-humiliation. But Cena is cheaper: He sold his integrity for free.

The piece is also interesting in the light of yesterday’s abysmal radio “debate” between various American “experts” on the topic of whether the US should do to Taiwan what they did to the Kurds, and so many others (= abandon an ally, because cheap Trumpian Realpolitik, and here above all, because of weakness and lack of purpose). The main giveaway is how the defaitist, pro-China “experts” are unable to talk about anything other than “China” and its supposed unified will to invade and to be able to enjoy all those martyrs. Yeah, that is what it looks like to these narrow-minded, callous, American defeatists! As if it is the Chinese mother’s wish to send their sons to die in another pointless conquest. As if that is what the “tang-ping” youth wants. Indeed, as if that war of conquest would be something wanted by the Chinese people, — and not just by the obsessed, paranoid, genocidal slice of the elite, that holds power in China today.

Magnus Fiskesjö nf42@cornell.edu

Source: The Diplomat (6/10/21)
Was Taiwan Ever Really a Part of China?
John Cena’s apology is a good opportunity to look back at the historical reality of Taiwan’s status and identity over the last 200 years.
By Evan Dawley

The actor and professional wrestler John Cena recently made news around the world for first referring to Taiwan as “the first country” where people would be able to see his new movie, “The Fast and the Furious 9,” then apologizing for an unspecified error in that statement when it brought a backlash from people within China.

Not to criticize Cena – indeed, I applaud him for his rare decision to learn Chinese and interact with native speakers in their own language – but these events nevertheless reveal important and persistent misunderstandings about Taiwan. Continue reading

Taiwan prays for rain

Source: NYT (5/27/21)
Taiwan Prays for Rain and Scrambles to Save Water
Some of the island’s lakes and reservoirs have nearly run dry. And water restrictions have forced many residents to modify how they shower, wash dishes and flush.
By Amy Chang Chien and Mike Ives; Photographs by Billy H.C. Kwok

Tourists taking pictures at Sun Moon Lake in Nantou, Taiwan.

Tourists taking pictures at Sun Moon Lake in Nantou, Taiwan.

TAICHUNG, Taiwan — Lin Wei-Yi once gave little thought to the water sluicing through her shower nozzle, kitchen faucet and garden hose.

But as Taiwan’s worst drought in more than half a century has deepened in recent weeks, Ms. Lin, 55, has begun keeping buckets by the taps. She adopted a neighbor’s tip to flush the toilet five times with a single bucket of water by opening the tank and directly pouring it in. She stopped washing her car, which became so filthy that her children contort themselves to avoid rubbing against it.

The monthslong drought has nearly drained Taiwan’s major reservoirs, contributed to two severe electricity blackouts and forced officials to restrict the water supply. It has brought dramatic changes to the island’s landscape: The bottoms of several reservoirs and lakes have been warped into cracked, dusty expanses that resemble desert floors. And it has transformed how many of Taiwan’s 23.5 million residents use and think about water.

“We used too much water before,” Ms. Lin said this week in the central city of Taichung. “Now we have to adapt to a new normal.” Continue reading

Alone together in Taipei

Source: NY Review of Books (June 10, 2021)
Alone Together in Taipei
Intimacy in Tsai Ming-liang’s films is an elusive possession, but the desire for it is constant and always particular.
By Max Nelson

Lee Kang-sheng in Tsai Ming-liang’s Days

Grasshopper Film. Lee Kang-sheng in Tsai Ming-liang’s Days, 2020

In 1997 the Taiwanese film and theater director Tsai Ming-liang premiered a movie called The River. It starred Lee Kang-sheng, who has had major parts in all eleven of Tsai’s feature films, as a young man living with his parents who develops agonizing, mysterious neck pains after visiting a film set and agreeing to play a floating corpse. Tsai’s previous two theatrical releases, Rebels of the Neon God (1992) and Vive L’Amour (1994), had been tense, entrancing portraits of young people rattling through Taipei’s streets, parks, arcades, restaurants, and apartment buildings, making brief contact and simmering in isolation. In both of those films, Lee plays a voyeuristic onlooker who follows an outlaw played by Chen Chao-jung and watches him have a fleeting love affair with an equally adrift woman. When we last see Lee in Vive L’Amour, he’s hiding under the bed and masturbating while the couple has sex above him, then slipping out and giving Chen’s sleeping character a kiss on the cheek.

The River carried the tone of those films past where many viewers were willing to follow it. “I was almost boycotted by the entire Taiwanese audience,” Tsai said in a 2003 interview with the critic Chris Fujiwara and the scholar Shujen Wang. At the core of the controversy was a single five-and-a-half-minute-long shot: a scene of inadvertent incest between Lee’s character and his father (Miao Tien) in a dimly lit gay bathhouse.

That scene was a breakthrough for one of Tsai’s career-long projects: emphasizing his characters’ material needs and hungers. The River is about “a family, a wife, husband, son,” he told Wang and Fujiwara. “But in their attitudes I make them go back to the very beginning, to zero. So they are just three bodies.” And yet what made that scene in the bathhouse so startling might have been what the scholar Rey Chow has since called its “reciprocal tenderness.” Continue reading

Risk of nuclear war over Taiwan in 1958

Source: NYT (5/22/21)
Risk of Nuclear War Over Taiwan in 1958 Said to Be Greater Than Publicly Known
The famed source of the Pentagon Papers, Daniel Ellsberg, has made another unauthorized disclosure — and wants to be prosecuted for it.
By Charlie Savage

Soldiers in 1958 on Kinmen Island, also called Quemoy. According to an apparently still-classified document, American officials doubted they could defend Taiwan with only conventional weapons. Credit…John Dominis/The LIFE Picture Collection, via Getty Images

WASHINGTON — When Communist Chinese forces began shelling islands controlled by Taiwan in 1958, the United States rushed to back up its ally with military force — including drawing up plans to carry out nuclear strikes on mainland China, according to an apparently still-classified document that sheds new light on how dangerous that crisis was.

American military leaders pushed for a first-use nuclear strike on China, accepting the risk that the Soviet Union would retaliate in kind on behalf of its ally and millions of people would die, dozens of pages from a classified 1966 study of the confrontation show. The government censored those pages when it declassified the study for public release.

The document was disclosed by Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked a classified history of the Vietnam War, known as the Pentagon Papers, 50 years ago. Mr. Ellsberg said he had copied the top secret study about the Taiwan Strait crisis at the same time but did not disclose it then. He is now highlighting it amid new tensions between the United States and China over Taiwan.

[CRISIS OVER TAIWAN STRAIT: Read the full version of an apparently still-classified document or just its previously censored pages.] Continue reading

Taiwan confronts a Covid flare-up

Source: NYT (5/20/21)
‘This Day Was Bound to Come’: Taiwan Confronts a Covid Flare-Up
The island’s border controls had shielded it from the worst of the pandemic. But new variants and a slow vaccine rollout gave the virus an opening.
By Raymond Zhong and Amy Chang Chien

Amid a sudden rise in Covid-19 cases, the Taiwanese government has ordered residents to stay home whenever possible and to wear masks outdoors, though it has not declared a total lockdown. Credit…Ritchie B Tongo/EPA, via Shutterstock

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Closed schools and restaurants offering takeout only. Lines around the block at testing sites. Politicians on television urging the public to stay calm.

If the scenes around Taiwan this week have a distinctly early pandemic feel, it is because the coronavirus is only now washing up on the island’s shores in force. A crush of new infections has brought a swift end to the Covid-free normality that residents had been enjoying for more than a year.

By shutting its borders early and requiring two-week quarantines of nearly everyone who arrives from overseas, Taiwan had been managing to keep life on the island mostly unfettered. But all that changed after enough infections slipped past those high walls to cause community outbreaks. Continue reading

Transitions in Taiwan: Stories of the White Terror

Transitions in Taiwan: Stories of the White Terror, edited by Ian Rowen, has just been published.

This book is part of the Cambria Literature in Taiwan Series, headed by Professor Nikky Lin (National Taiwan Normal University), a collaboration with the National Museum of Taiwan Literature, the National Human Rights Museum, and National Taiwan Normal University.

Paperback (ISBN: 9781621966975)  $32.99 • 290pp. • E-book editions start at $19.99—Order from Cambria Press.

Taiwan’s peaceful, democratic society is built upon decades of authoritarian state violence with which it is still coming to terms. At the close of World War II in 1945, after fifty years of Japanese colonization, Taiwan was occupied by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT). The party massacred thousands of Taiwanese while it established a military dictatorship on the island with the tacit support of the United States. Continue reading

Queer Taiwanese Literature: A Reader

New Publication: Queer Taiwanese Literature: A Reader, edited by Howard Chiang (Cambria)

As the first state to legalize same-sex marriage in Asia and host the first annual gay pride in the Sinophone Pacific, Taiwan is a historic center of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer culture. With this blazing path of activism, queer Taiwanese literature has also risen in prominence and there is a growing popular interest in stories about the transgression of gender and sexual norms. 

Since the lifting of martial law in 1987, queer authors have redefined Taiwan’s cultural scene, and throughout the 1990s many of their works have won the most prestigious literary awards and accolades. This anthology provides a deeper understanding of queer literary history in Taiwan. It includes a selection of short stories, previously untranslated, written by Taiwanese authors dating from 1975 to 2020. Readers are introduced to a wide range of themes: bisexuality, aging, mobility, diaspora, AIDS, indigeneity, recreational drug use, transgender identity, surrogacy, and many others. The diversity of literary tropes and styles canvased in this book reflects the profusion of gender and sexual configurations that has marked Taiwan’s complex history for the past half century. Queer Taiwanese Literature: A Reader is a timely and important resource for readers interested in Taiwan studies, queer literature, and global cultural studies. Continue reading