Spring Newsletter 2023

by Sabine Frühstück, Interim Director

Dear Friends of Taiwan Studies,
I am thrilled to reflect on a glorious series of events this past Winter and Spring and to also make some delightful announcements. CTS programming continued attracting large audiences and often more than 100 participants at TaiwanTalks, Sounds, Screens & Stages from Taiwan, and the Taiwan Studies Workshop.

Expanding the Center’s contributions to social and political debates, TaiwanTalks included the medical anthropologist Yu-Yueh Tsai’s (Academia Sinica) critical take on “Taiwaneseness,” shared in a talk on “Indigenous DNA as Metaphor: Scientific Debate of the Rediscovery of Taiwanese Ancestry and Nation-Building.” Interdisciplinary scholar Kristina Kironska (Palacky University Olomouc) examined Taiwan’s asylum legislation in a talk on “Formosa as a Safe Haven? Taiwan’s Asylum Situation and What People Think of It.” And Pi-Chen Liu (Academia Sinica) reflected on “Sticky Cereals, Wild Plant-Women, and Ecology.” 

Literature, a longstanding CTS stronghold, was represented by “Ghost Town: An Author Talk with Kevin Chen,” which was expertly moderated by Hangping Xu (EALCS) in the context of EACS 4B: Introduction to Modern East Asian Cultures, a course attended by 260 students and co-taught by Frühstück and Xu. CTS was also honored to host a panel discussion with Nicholas de Villiers (University of North Florida), Howard Chiang (UC Davis), and Beth Tsai (EALCS) on “Queering Space and Time in Taiwan New Cinema” at the occasion of the publication of Tsai’s monograph, Taiwan New Cinema at Film Festivals (Edinburgh University Press, 2023).

A new topical strength of CTS programming over the last three years has included Indigenous Studies, which was represented in Spring by Yoshiaki Otta’s (University of Tokyo) fascinating talk on “Taiwan & Modern Japanese Literature: The Politics of Representing Indigenous Taiwanese Anti-Colonial Resistance Movements.” The final TaiwanTalk was delivered to a captivated audience of about 200 by Michael Berry (UCLA), who shared the harrowing details of a transpacific cyber campaign in “Translation, Disinformation and Wuhan Diary.”

In April, CTS hosted the “Global Storytelling Workshop,” which brought together student scholars-in-training with international experts and community members of four generations to engage in critical, collective reflections about ethnographic methods, qualitative inquiry, and stories of life in Taiwan. Attendees from three continents learned from and with each other in short presentations, roundtable discussions, methodological training sessions, and collective reflections. The workshop was the first such event based on Made in Taiwan (MiT), a project housed in CTS. MiT is at once a public oral history project, a global open access digital research hub, and an archive-database of childhood memories in Taiwan. Read a report on the MiT project, co-authored by curator Silke Werth (Anthropology and Westmont College and a CTS Research Fellow) and Frühstück in the forthcoming issue of The International Journal of Taiwan Studies (December 2023). Highlights of the workshop included keynote speeches by Beatrice Zani (McGill University) on “The Lived Lives of the Global Supply Chain: Commodity Circulation, Migration, and Transnational Labour—Ethnographic Insights from Global Taiwan” and by Robert Weller (Boston University) on “Noise, Silence and Unmoored Boundaries in Taiwanese Funerals,” along with “American Girl,” a film screening and conversation with director Feng-I Fiona Roan with Beth Tsai (EALCS), followed by audience questions. The workshop was generously co-sponsored by the Society for the History of Childhood and Youth, a Spotlight Taiwan grant from Taiwan Academy, the Ministry of Culture (Taiwan), and several divisions and departments at UC Santa Barbara. Watch a video of the workshop on the CTS website or its YouTube channel.

The graduate student-run Taiwan Studies Workshop, an interdisciplinary collaboration of scholars at all career stages, was curated by Li-Ting Chang (EALCS), Yi-Yang Cheng (Linguistics), and Kandra Polatis (History), and featured “Settlers/Brokers/Citizens: The Taiwanese and the Development of the Ishigaki Pineapple Industry, 1930s to 1970s” with Catherine Tsai (Harvard University), and “The Cross-Frontier Perspective and the Native Taiwan Literature: Zhong Lihe from Manchuria to Taiwan” with Miya Qiong Xie (Dartmouth College).

The Sounds, Screens & Stages from Taiwan series, curated by Hangping Xu (EALCS) and Alenda Chang (Film & Media Studies) presented Lily Wong’s (American University) talk on “Transpacific Alliance: Coalitional World-Making across Taiwan and Asian/America.” “Imagining Taiwan Through Games: Ecology, History, and Cultural Politics” featured the co-founders of Analgesic Productions, Melos Han-Tani and Marina Kittaka, who created the games Anodyne (2013) and Even the Ocean (2016) and spoke about their recently released game, Sephonie (2022), an innovative puzzle-platformer about three scientists of Taiwanese descent tasked with studying the ecology of a mysterious island. 

CTS also stepped up its support of student training and research, providing summer research funding for Daigengna Duoer’s (Religious Studies) project, “Mapping the Tibeto-Mongolian Buddhist Diaspora in Taiwan: Transnational Religion in the Cold War and Beyond” and for Kyle Kaplan (Religious Studies) to pursue intense high-level literary Chinese and modern Mandarin language training in Taipei. For placing second in the 47th annual Chinese Language Teachers’ Association in California (CLTAC) Chinese Speech Contest, college level beginning Chinese division, CTS awarded undergraduate student Daniel Badilla a prize. The CTS Audio Interview Awards were given to Athenas Guerra (Anthropology), Sabrina Misra and Ben Yeom (both Westmont College). Please listen to these and more than 50 other MiT interviews on the CTS Youtube channel. 

Last but not least, it is my privilege to welcome, as new Director of CTS, Howard Chiang, who is also the new Lai Ho & Wu Cho-liu Endowed Chair at UC Santa Barbara. Trained as a historian and interdisciplinary scholar of gender, sexuality, and medical science in East Asia, Chiang shares CTS’s vision to enrich public understandings of Taiwan with respect to its history, literature, society, and cultural production. The importance of diversity, bioethics, and social justice has been a major focus of his research and teaching interests. We couldn’t be more delighted about Chiang’s plans for CTS programming, which will continue to feature interdisciplinary, transnational, and critical approaches to Taiwan and Taiwan studies, further expand the local visibility and global impact of CTS, and forge new synergies with fields as diverse as Asian American studies, critical area studies, science and technology studies, feminist and queer studies, global studies, Indigenous studies, and Sinophone studies. 

I look forward to my successor’s arrival and hope that you will all continue your support of CTS.

With best wishes for a lovely summer,

Sabine Frühstück
Center for Taiwan Studies, Interim Director

Fall Newsletter 2022

by Sabine Frühstück, Interim Director

Dear Friends of Taiwan Studies,

I am delighted to share the latest news and information on upcoming CTS activities. For Fall 2022, the CTS program will continue with renewed energy—TaiwanTalks, Sounds, Screens & Stages from Taiwan, and the Taiwan Studies Workshop, along with the in-house research project Made in Taiwan. We also look forward to a new round of award competitions to reward and encourage critical research in Taiwan Studies.

Dr. Beth Tsai will be teaching two courses through the Department of East Asian Languages & Cultural Studies: “Chin 126A: Advanced Readings in Taiwan Literature” and “EACS 181: Transnational Cinema and Food” are now open for enrollment.

The graduate student-run Taiwan Studies Workshop, an interdisciplinary collaboration of scholars at all career stages, will be curated by Yi-Yang Cheng (Linguistics), Kandra Polatis (History), and Li-Ting Chang (EALCS). TSW aims to foster conversations among scholars concerned with the literature, history, linguistics, media politics, and culture of Taiwan and its ties to other parts of Asia and the world. This series will offer the first event of the fall, “Worlding Modalities of Taiwanese Literature: Family Saga, Autobiographic Narrative, and Bildungsroman” by Dr. Lin Pei-Yin (Hong Kong University). She will explore Taiwanese literature as world literature from the perspectives of circulation—including the understudied dimensions of “back” circulation and “non-Western” circulation—and writers’ globally minded imagination. The talk will take place via zoom on October 27. Stay tuned for time and zoom link.

The second fall event will be put on within the Sounds, Screens & Stages from Taiwan series, curated by Dr. Hangping Xu (EALCS) and Dr. Alenda Chang (Film and Media Studies). “Imagining Taiwan Through Games: Ecology, History, and Cultural Politics,” will welcome the co-founders of Analgesic Productions, Melos Han-Tani and Marina Kittaka, who created the games Anodyne (2013) and Even the Ocean (2016). Han-Tani and Kittaka will talk about their recently released game, Sephonie (2022), an innovative puzzle-platformer about three scientists of Taiwanese descent tasked with studying the ecology of a mysterious island. Dr. Chang and Patrick Fryberger (EALCS, PhD candidate ) will join the post-presentation discussion that will include the still nascent Taiwanese game scene and its complicated cross-strait relations with China. The event will take place on November 7. Stay tuned for time and location.

TSW will round out the fall program, featuring Dr. Dan Kaufman (Queens College, CUNY & Endangered Language Alliance) who will give a talk on nominalism in Formosan languages. This talk will examine the pervasive nominal properties of verbal predicates as it applies to Formosan languages, the Indigenous Austronesian languages of Taiwan. It will especially draw on Tsou and Amis. Dr. Kaufman will also address the notion of lexical categories across Formosan languages in general. The talk will take place via zoom on November 17. Stay tuned for time and link to view.

If you are interested in genres of listening and/or global storytelling, please do check out new interviews told about childhoods in Taiwan and shared by undergraduate students from McGill University, courtesy of Dr. Beatrice Zani (CTS Research Fellow and Postdoctoral Scholar at McGill University), and UCSB, courtesy of Dr. Silke Werth (CTS Research Fellow and Lecturer in Anthropology) in the Made in Taiwan archive and the CTS YouTube channel.

Thank you for your interest in Taiwan Studies and have a lovely fall,

Sabine Frühstück
Center for Taiwan Studies, Interim Director

Spring Newsletter 2022

by Sabine Frühstück, Interim Director

Dear Friends of Taiwan Studies,

I am pleased to share the latest on upcoming and recent CTS activities. Two exceptional highlights: On April 26, CTS will host the musicians and performers of Small Island Big Song, in collaboration with the Multicultural Center and the gratefully acknowledged co-sponsorship of the Center for the Interdisciplinary Study of Music and the Department of Theater and Dance. Framed in a theatrical narrative amongst panoramic visuals of the artists’ homelands, the audience will experience a musical journey across the breadth and into the soul of island nations of the Pacific and Indian Oceans, meeting an ancient seafaring ancestry and confronting the impacts of climate change, as the performers and youth ambassadors share their islands’ voices. Drawing on a roster of respected first nation artists, including members of the Indigenous population of Taiwan, the concert will feature oceanic grooves to soulful island ballads. The event is free but please do register on Shoreline here.

This feast of music will be followed by a celebration of literature. CTS will welcome a feature of the LA Times Festival of Books on April 27! UCSB’s own Hangping Xu (EALCS) will engage Howard Chiang, historian at UC Davis and editor of Queer Taiwanese Literature: A Reader, in a public conversation on queer literature from Taiwan and its cultural politics and circulation in the world.  

Please also check out other upcoming events in the CTS series Sounds, Screens & Stages from Taiwan, Taiwan Studies Workshop, and Taiwan Talks here.

Following two quarters of exciting new courses, Beth Tsai (CTS) is offering the course, “Chinese 138: Visual Culture in Taiwan,” featuring a number of guest speakers. While the course itself is for enrolled students only, the guest speakers’ talks are public and on zoom. They will include “Collective Voicing, Community Building: Intersecting Moving Images with Protest Concerts and Music Videos” (Ellen Y. Chang, University of Washington), “Taiwan Cinema during the Cold War: Li Han-hsiang and the Grand Motion Pictures” (I-In Chiang, Tamkang University), and “Tsai Ming-liang’s Cruisy, Sleepy, Melancholy Queer Metacinema” (Nicholas de Villiers, University of North Florida). Stay tuned for more details via our mailing list and website

The Taiwan Studies Workshop is continuing its vibrant discussions of ongoing research with Joseph W. Ho’s (Albion College) presentation on “Imaging History, Historicizing Images: Visual Materials in Transnational Taiwan” on April 21, and Lillian Tsai’s (Brown University) talk on “Sweetening the Empire: Japanese Western-style Confectionery in Colonial Taiwan and Beyond” on May 19—entirely organized by two of TSW’s three fearless leaders: Linshan Jiang (EALCS) and Kandra Polatis (History). The popular Screens, Sounds & Stages from Taiwan series will host Alexa Alice Joubin’s (George Washington University) talk on “Representing East Asia on Screen: Gendered and Racialized Discourses” on April 18. And, last but not least, the TaiwanTalks series will welcome Beatrice Zani (McGill University) for a talk on “An Orange Bra between China and Taiwan: Women Migrants, Emotions and Digital Entrepreneurship” on May 3.

CTS regularly awards student scholars for work in Taiwan Studies. Late in spring we will again be considering applications for the CTS Audio Interview Award (May 30), the Undergraduate Student Taiwan Studies Writing Award (May 30), and the Graduate Student Summer Dissertation Research Grant (May 20). Please visit our website for more award information.

I am also delighted to report on our late fall and winter activities. Lauren Lee, a UCSB anthropology major is the winner of the Center for Taiwan Studies Audio Interview Award for Winter 2022. The award recognizes outstanding contributions to CTS’s research project, Made in Taiwan—interviews conducted by students of individuals who grew up in Taiwan. Please check out Lauren’s interview of Vicky on the CTS Youtube channel here. Thus far, all student interviewers were trained and advised by Silke Werth (Anthropology). That said, our network is growing fast and, come end of spring, we expect to add to the Made in Taiwan archive dozens of additional interviews that are currently emerging from both Werth’s anthropological methods course and a similar course taught by Beatrice Zani (McGill University), among others.

CTS continued the TaiwanTalks series on critical issues in the history and culture of Taiwan with “Transgressive Taiwan.” This online panel discussion focused on Taiwan’s transgressions of nation-state norms and common suppositions about East Asian societies. A young democracy consolidated through waves of social movements, its experiments in radical political expression continue to reverberate across the region. A group of young scholars engaged Audrey Tang, Taiwan’s digital minister charged with social innovation, in a critical conversation on the circumstances of the legalization of same-sex marriage in Taiwan, its emergent commitments to human rights and social justice, and other challenges to assumptions about regional conservatism.

In January, Sounds, Screens & Stages from Taiwan featured “Documenting Native Science, Decolonizing Taiwan Studies,” a conversation of Syaman Rapongan with Hsinya Huang centering on Indigeneity within settler colonialism. The event examined Indigenous epistemology and cosmology to challenge the national borders of contemporary Taiwan (settler) nation-state in order to highlight Indigenous-to-Indigenous relationships. 

The Taiwan Studies Workshop presented “Coastal Formosan, Nuclear Austronesian, and Beyond.” The speaker, Victoria Chen (Victoria University of Wellington), connected current historical and comparative linguistics research with archeological evidence, describing what can be learned from linguistics about migrations of Austronesian-speaking peoples. TSW leader Yi-Yang Cheng (Linguistics) moderated a vibrant discussion with the audience that was as diverse as the talk might have suggested, including individuals originating from Taiwan, the Philippines, Indonesia, different Pacific Islands, Australia, New Zealand and here and there in the US. With best wishes for a cheerful spring,

Sabine Frühstück
Center for Taiwan Studies, Interim Director

Fall Newsletter 2021

by Sabine Frühstück, Interim Director

Dear Friends of Taiwan Studies,

I am delighted to share the latest news and information on recent and upcoming CTS activities. This past year, Morgan Christen, a major in Anthropology and minor in German Studies, received the Undergraduate Student Taiwan Studies Writing Award 2021 for her interview and associated paper, “A Tale of Two Taiwans.” The selection committee found her work “exceptionally thoughtful and mature” and deemed the interview “more than worthy to serve as a model for the growing Made in Taiwan archive.” Morgan produced the interview and paper as assignments in the UCSB methods course Anthropology 129, under the guidance of Dr. Silke Werth (Anthropology) in spring. Dr. Werth is teaching the same course again this fall and we are looking forward to more such high-quality contributions. We are also pleased to share that EALCS graduate student Ursula Friedman was the recipient of a CTS Graduate Student Summer Dissertation Research Grant for her project, “Creative Subversion in Self-Translation: Pai Hsien-yung, Ha Jin, Regina Kanyu Wang, and Rosario Ferré.” Congratulations, Morgan and Ursula!

We are looking forward to submissions for the 2022 CTS awards (see information below). 

The CTS team warmly welcomes three new members of the Taiwan Studies community at UCSB. Beth Tsai, Visiting Assistant Professor in Taiwan Studies (EALCS, 2021-22), is teaching two entirely new upper-division courses, “Advanced Readings in Taiwan Literature” (Chin 126A) and “Special Topics in East Asian Studies” (EACS 181A) in fall. Li-Ting Chang, a new graduate student in EALCS with interests in Chinese and Taiwanese Literature as well as Gender Studies, will be assisting with CTS projects throughout the year. And, last but not least, Karanina (Laszlo) Zim, a major in Computer Science and minor in Chinese, will beef up our data management capabilities as CTS Intern. Way to go, team!

We continue a multi-disciplinary series of events this year. In fall, I will present a panel on “Transgressive Taiwan” in the Taiwan Talks series. Moderated by Ian Rowen (Nanyang Technological University, Singapore), the panel will engage in conversation Audrey Tang (Digital Minister of Taiwan), Howard Chiang (UC Davis), and Adam Dedman (University of Melbourne). The Taiwan Studies Workshop—an entirely graduate student-run operation that is currently led by Yi-Yang Cheng (Linguistics) and Linshan Jiang (EALCS)—will feature Andre Goderich’s (National Changhua University of Education) research on “Atayal Reconstruction and Subgrouping” and Chi Ta-wei’s (National Chengchi University) treatment of “Taiwan Queer Literature in the Martial Law Period.” And Hangping Xu and Alenda Chang, curators of Sounds, Screens & Stages from Taiwan, will present Kyle Shernuk’s (Queen Mary University of London) “The Oceanic Epistemology of Syaman Rapongan and Competing Taiwan Identities.” We look forward to seeing many of you back in the CTS zoom box!

As planned, we have launched Made in Taiwan, an archive of childhood memories shared by people who grew up in Taiwan. We are taking Made in Taiwan global this year.

To see the complete newsletter, click here.

Spring Newsletter 2021

by Sabine Frühstück, Interim Director

In December 2020, Tu Kuo-Ch’ing, a pioneer in the field of Taiwan Studies and the founder of Center for Taiwan Studies, stepped down as director after seventeen years of service to the Center. I am honored to serve as Interim Director as we expand our activities to increase the Center’s local impact and global visibility. 

This Newsletter reports on the series “Sounds, Screens and Stages from Taiwan,” co-curated by Hangping Xu (EALCS) and Alenda Chang (Film and Media Studies). Looking to Spring, I am also pleased to announce Taiwan Talks, a series of expert panels on the topic of “Taiwan Makes History,” guest-directed by Kirsten Ziomek (Adelphi University), the Taiwan Studies Workshop, a forum organized entirely by graduate students with Taiwan Studies research interests, and new awards for undergraduate and graduate students. 

This is only the beginning of our expanded offerings, as we conceptualize “Made in Taiwan,” a project that is part undergraduate research, part global community outreach, designed to create an e-archive of childhood memories about growing up in Taiwan (thus “Made in Taiwan”). 

Lastly, I am delighted to announce the new CTS website’s design, created by Angela Borda (CTS), along with a new logo designed by Angela Pasagui, an undergraduate student in UCSB’s Art Department.

To read the rest of our newsletter, click here.