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UCSB International Conference on Taiwan Studies

The University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) was one of the first universities to recognize the importance of studying Taiwan and its cultures on its own—rather than as a minor subsidiary of China—since before the turn of the century, and since 2010 the Ministry of Education in Taiwan has provided funding for UCSB to set up and offer a Taiwan Study program to promote the study of Taiwan’s literature, history, society and culture from a comparative perspective and adopting an interdisciplinary approach.

ICSB’s Center for Taiwan Studies in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultural Studies was established in 2003 and promotes scholarly work and intellectual exchanges on Taiwan’s literature, culture and society. Its Taiwan Studies program enables a better understanding of other topical issues in Asian Studies: such as the subjectivity of Taiwan in any intellectual discourse on Taiwan’s cultural identity, the relations between China and Taiwan, the Taiwan issue in global politics, China studies from Taiwan’s perspectives, and security in the Asian-Pacific area during this century of globalization and China’s ascendance in the global community.

Professor Tu Kuo-ch’ing, the Director of the Center for Taiwan Studies is helping to position the campus as an international center for the exploration of Taiwan’s literature, history, and culture. The Center’s goals are to promote scholarly research related to Taiwan, enhance international understanding of Taiwan and its culture, and advance the study of Taiwan and its people, history, and culture worldwide. Its guiding principles are to explore and understand the pluralistic society and multicultural phenomena of Taiwan today, through cultural exploration, and examining different academic, and international perspectives.

The Center regularly organizes conferences and various panel discussions. The 2016 International Conference on Taiwan Studies was held on May 10 and 11. Its theme was East Asian Colonial Cultures and Modern Societies - Comparative Perspectives, and it was designed to explore the colonial cultures and modern societies, based on “our understanding of democratization and globalization in Taiwan and East Asia in the new century”.

As the conference invitation pointed out “The impact of colonial imperialism on Taiwan and the [neighboring Southeast Asian] region has proved to be an exemplary subject within the context of global colonial and post-colonial studies. Transnational cultural studies in the post-colonial East Asia context, with a focus on Taiwan and its cross-cultural interactions with other parts of East Asia, have thus attracted considerable scholarly attention in recent years.”

2016 UCSB International Conference invited 29 scholars: 12 from Taiwan, 13 from the USA, and 4 from Japan, Korea, and Hong Kong. The conference was co-sponsored by the Ministry of Education in Taiwan, the College of Letters & Science at UCSB, and the Institute of Taiwan History at Academia Sinica in Taipei.