Taiwan Studies Program Launched at the University of Oxford
An opening ceremony to launch the Oxford Taiwan Studies Programme was held at St Antony’s College at the University of Oxford on the 28th of November, 2022. The launch was jointly organized by the Oxford School of Global and Area Studies, the Asian Centre, St Antony’s College, the Oxford Taiwanese Students Society, and the Education Division of the Taipei Representative Office in the UK. It was open to the general public.
Dr. Nicole Yen-Yi Lee, the Director General of the Department of International and Cross-strait Education of the Ministry of Education in Taiwan, Mr. Kelly Wu-Chiao Hsieh, the Representative to the UK, and Professor Timothy Power, Head of the Social Sciences Division of the University of Oxford were invited to give opening remarks to commemorate the beginning of this new academic cooperation between Taiwan and the University of Oxford. Mr. Hsieh spoke about the importance of Taiwan Studies, commenting on Taiwan’s achievements and expressing Taiwan’s commitment to further cooperation with like-minded partners around the world.
The Oxford Taiwan Studies Programme that was launched was initiated and promoted by Dr. Nicole Lee when she was serving as Director of the Education Division of the Taipei Representative Office in the UK, from 2019 to 2021. She remarked that Taiwan is committed to delivering high-quality education and advancing transnational exchanges of students.
The new Oxford Taiwan Studies Programme represents a milestone for research on Taiwan in the United Kingdom. It is expected to cover topics in a wide range of disciplines, including social sciences, politics, economics, and science and technology.
Professor Paul Chaisty, the Head of the Oxford School of Global and Area Studies, and Professor Rachel Murphy, Research Director there and Professor of Chinese Development and Society at St Andrew’s College, also gave opening remerks. Each commented on how, considering the primary role that Taiwan plays in East Asia, the awareness of Taiwan-related issues is fundamental to better understand the development of world events. The experience of Taiwan’s economic development, for example, is of particular interest and will constitute one of the main topics of research. Furthermore, given that the challenges faced by Taiwanese society are similar to those faced by other industrially advanced countries, they provide valuable lessons for international societies. They are both looking forward to collaborating with scholars and other British universities to further promote Taiwan related research.
The opening ceremony was followed by a conference during which scholars and experts presented the results of their Taiwan-centred research, on themes related to gender studies, identity and national identity, party politics, cultural politics, migration, and civil society to an audience of approximately 80 people.
Dr. Sarah Liu, a Senior Lecturer in Gender and Politics at the University of Edinburgh began the conference with a keynote lecture on the gendered experiences of soldiers in the Taiwanese army. In the afternoon, Professor Paul Irwin Crookes from the Oxford School of Global and Area Studies, chaired a panel on Taiwanese Nationalism and Identity, discussed by Dr. Adina Zemanek, a Lecturer in Asia Pacific Studies at the University of Central Lancashire, and an executive board member of the European Association of Taiwan Studies, Dr. Christopher Hughes, Emeritus Professor of International Relations, Department of International Relations, London School of Economics and Political Science, and Dr. Jonathon Sullivan from the School of Politics and International Relations at the University of Nottingham. This was followed by a panel on Cultural Politics and Citizenship in Taiwanese Society chaired by Dr. Ssu-Han Yu, Senior Research Fellow at the Oxford School of Global and Area Studies, with discussants Dr. Po-Hsi Chen, a postdoctoral fellow in Taiwan Studies at the University of Cambridge, Dr. Chen-Yu Lin, a lecturer in Creative and Cultural Industries at Cardiff University, and Dr. Lara Momesso, a senior lecturer in Asia Pacific Studies at the Northern Institute of Taiwan Studies at the University of Lancashire.
Dr. Shelley Rigger, the Brown Professor of Asian Studies at Davidson College in the United States gave the closing keynote lecture on Taiwan Studies and the future of Taiwan, asking: What are scholars’ obligations to their research subject?
The launch is evidence of the growing interest on the part of British academia in Taiwan Studies, a discipline that is sure to attract significant attention in the upcoming years.