« Re-examining CCS's rare Chinese papercut collection | Main | Fall 2011 CCS Noon Lecture Series - Maram Epstein »

November 10, 2011

Call for Panels and Papers - The 2012 North American Taiwan Studies Association Conference

Taiwan: Gateway, Node, Liminal Space

Abstract Submission Deadline: December 25, 2011

Abstracts can be submitted at http://www.na-tsa.org/new/2012conference/call-for-panelspapers.html.

Taiwan has historically served as a gateway and node for different empires and actors. In the 17th century, the island served as a gateway for Dutch trade in Asia, in the later 19th century, an important key node in the global economy. During the Japanese colonial period, Taiwan served as a gateway for Japan's ambition to dominate Asia, a critical node of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. During the Cold War, Taiwan became a link in the United States' chain of bases to contain Communist influence in East Asia, a gateway to China in terms of surveillance operations, academic research, culture and later, investment, all the while transforming into a key node in the global economy, home to the world’s third largest container port and the greatest second-level node in the global science network. This history has contributed to the modern, multi-cultural society that Taiwan is today. We see not only “Taiwaneseness”, but also the combination and reconstruction of “Chineseness”, “Japaneseness” and “Americanness” on the island. The fact that Taiwan, seemingly neither here or there, apparently continues to occupy a marginal position, whether geopolitically or academically, makes it tempting to see it, as Prof. Stéphane Corcuff (Lyon Institute of Political Studies) suggests, as a liminal space, the idea being in a contribution to post-colonial studies and the theory of globalization.

Following the expansion of links to China in 2008 and the signing of ECFA in 2009, Taiwan’s interstitial position between China and the “West” has become even more complicated; especially when trying to make Taiwan an analytical unit in the westphalian system of states. Given that one of the motivations of Taiwan studies has been to “center” Taiwan, the current debate regarding the content and scale of Taiwan’s perceived growing marginalization have inspired some to hopefully argue that liminality is not a weakness, but a competitive strength for positioning Taiwan within the global economy and the international community more generally. During NATSA’s 2011 conference in Pittsburg, Prof. Joseph Wong (University of Toronto) challenged the economically-deterministic fear that closer economic ties with China inevitably leads to an independent Taiwan’s marginalization, arguing instead for a constructive debate in Taiwan society about the political and economic advantages of being an independent and autonomous gateway economy to China and the rest of the world. Prof. Stéphane Corcuff argued in the same debate that what he describes as “Taiwan’s liminality” has three dimensions: "[1) Taiwan as] an excellent topos to understand China...because China reveals itself on this delicate topic…; [2) Taiwan as] a ‘conservatory/laboratory’ due to its multicultural society where Chinese culture is the most important matrix, but not the only one; and [3) Taiwan as] “a threshold in a strategic place of the world since the early 17th century [that] continues today to give Taiwan a relevance as a legitimate actor in the global interconnected world, especially in the economic sector, and this, even in the absence of full political recognition.”

These raise both practical, as well as deeply theoretical questions that 2012’s conference of the North American Taiwan Studies Association would like to explore: re-examining Taiwan from the perspective of its position as a gateway, node and liminal space. What is Taiwan's changing role in the global economy and international community? For whom does Taiwan serve as a “gateway” for in various transnational flows and supply chains? How have these been transformed under different historical conditions? Will a new role in a global economy translate into more peaceful relations on a political level, or instead exacerbate existing issues? What is the significance of Taiwan’s liminal political status? How does the in-betweeness of this status actually affect the passages (political, economic, cultural or otherwise) increasingly occurring between Taiwan, China and elsewhere? And where exactly does a tendency to even describe Taiwan in such terms come from? Is there ever an actual fixed and stable point that never changes for any geographical object of study? Many more questions on this line could be raised from different disciplinary, methodological and/or theoretical approaches (click to see some examples). We invite scholars from all backgrounds to explore such questions from a wide variety of frameworks, models, and theories. We believe that Taiwan is not just an area to be studied, but also a way to expand the current understandings of human societies and enable a more complex reflection on changing global conditions.

Special invitation to social scientists!

This year's NATSA conference is still open for both individual paper and panel proposals. Each panel should consist of THREE or FOUR presenters. Papers or panel proposals in all disciplines are appreciated, but we especially encourage submissions in the SOCIAL SCIENCES. NATSA was founded in 1994, a time when Taiwan was experiencing rapid political, economic, social, and cultural transformation. Such a background led to strong presence of social scientists, in particular political scientists, in its early days. Since 2000, however, the composition of NATSA’s participants has been changing and a significant decline in social scientists has been observed. Is it possible that the shift itself reflects the changing landscape of Taiwan Studies? If yes, what exactly is happening in this field? What is the implication for Taiwan Studies as a research field? As an effort to answer these questions and to reflect on the future of Taiwan Studies, this year NATSA plans to revive the participation by social scientists. Submissions in social sciences therefore are warmly encouraged and might receive a slight advantage in the review process.

However, this special invitation should not in any way be seen as a discouragement to other potential participants. It cannot be emphasized enough that NATSA has always been an interdisciplinary forum. Please take a look at the list of invited scholars who have agreed to attend the NATSA 2012 conference, which includes prestigious scholars on anthropology, literature, film studies, and political science. In the past few years, contributions from legal studies and humanities accounted for the majority of participants. This year we still expect a solid presence of scholars in these disciplines, and researchers from other fields are also highly welcomed.

Posted by zzhu at November 10, 2011 01:41 AM