IIAS | IIAS Newsletter Online | No. 21 | Institutes


The North American Taiwan Studies Association (NATSA)

With Taiwan's rapid political, economic, social, and cultural transformation in recent years, Taiwan Studies have become a field that is attracting growing academic interest from both Taiwanese and Western scholars. Coupled with this growing interest was a greater demand for a substantial scholarly exchange channel that could serve to facilitate the communication between Taiwanese and Western scholars so as to enrich germinating Taiwan Studies with a comparative and interdisciplinary perspective. It was for this reason that 47 Taiwanese graduate students and scholars from 20 US universities initiated the establishment of a 'Preparatory Council for the Holding of the First North America Taiwan Studies Conference' in April 1994.


We aim to promote Taiwan Studies, enhance interaction between the academia of Taiwan and the North America (with hopes of increasing contacts with Europe) and facilitate communication among graduate students and scholars concerned by Taiwan Studies. Our primary objectives are holding an annual North American Taiwan Studies Conference and publishing the research papers collected from the annual conferences. The Constitution of the Preparatory Council of the Annual North America Taiwan Studies Conference (NATSC) was passed on June 4, 1995, and in 1999, the Preparatory Council was reorganized as the North American Taiwan Studies Association (NATSA), a non-profit, tax-exempt organization.

The First and Second Annual Conferences were held at Yale University on June 2-4, 1995 and at Michigan State University on May 24-26, 1996, respectively. The Third and Fourth Annual Conferences were held at University of California at Berkeley on May 29 ­ June 1, 1997 and at the University of Texas, Austin on May 29 ­ June 1, 1998. The Fifth Annual Conference took place at the University of Wisconsin, Madison on June 4 ­ June 7, 1999. So far, 171 papers have been presented and approximately 700 people have participated in the first five conferences, whose fields of specialty have included history, sociology, political science, economics, law, public policy, anthropology, cultural studies, religious studies, literature, education, etc. This interdisciplinary forum has featured such prominent speakers as Dr Thomas Gold, Dr Edward Friedman, and Dr Robert Marsh.

A content analysis of the 126 selected papers of the first four years of conferences has revealed the following primary focus of contemporary academic interest in Taiwan studies.

­ Taiwanese history: 7 articles cover Taiwan's political, social, religious, military and cultural history, from the years of the Ching Dynasty, the Japanese colonization, to the post-war period.

­ Ethnicity and nationalism: 22 articles focus on ethnic identity of Mainlanders, Taiwanese, and overseas Formosans; social elites, political leadership, and national identity; the 2-28 Incident, collective memory, and nation-building; social classes and ethnic conflicts; democratization, stateness, and nationalism; civic nationalism vs. ethnic nationalism, Taiwanese nationalism vs. Chinese nationalism; baseball and national identity; national imagination in global era.

­ Taiwanese Aborigines: 3 articles discuss politics of coalition and confrontation between the Aborigines and the Han immigrants; construction and deconstruction of Aboriginal origins; Presbyterian representations of Taiwanese Aboriginality.

­ Language and culture: 7 articles are related to characteristics of the Taiwanese language; the gender-marked pronoun 'Lang' in Taiwanese; language and national identity; language policy and political control; the influence of Hanji on people's linguistic perception; Vietnam, Korea, and Japan's experience in abolishing Hanji; indigenization of Taiwanese culture; the development of Chinese painting in Taiwan.

­ Social structure and social movements: 9 articles are related to state corporatism and the labour movement; gender and labour's social history; married women's working patterns; physicians and the civil society; social classes and political liberalization; generations of Taiwanese; the operation of independent unions; environmental movements; and activists of overseas Taiwan independence movement.

­ Gender and woman studies: 10 articles discuss woman's place in politics; gender in Taiwan's industrialization; married women's working patterns; Taiwan's women writers; gender roles and housing arrangements; critique of Taiwan's feminism; the non-obliteration of Taiwanese women's names; feminist urban research and housing studies; the concept of slenderness; the body images of female students; study of modernized homosexuality.

­ Political institutions and political organizations: 11 articles concentrate on electoral systems, party nomination, and local factionalism; social cleavages and party competition; political elite and democratization; economic development and regime change; constitutional design and democratic consolidation; equity and democratization; founding elections and party realignment.

­ Regime, state, and development: 6 articles cover the nature of the KMT regime and the authoritarian state; applicability of the bureaucratic authoritarian model and the developmental state model; the state and the professional power of medicine; the state and central-local relations; state-business relations.

­ Welfare state and social policies: 6 articles focus on state transformation and the system of national health insurance policy; democratic transition and old-age welfare programme; non-profit organizations and child welfare policy; historical origin and political process of welfare policies in Taiwan; national identity formation and welfare state making.

­ Economy and society: 12 articles are related to transformation of the export industry; dynamic analysis of the industrial structure; technology, social networks, and governance structures; foreign workers and labour practice in Taiwan; cultural formation of direct sales in Taiwan; women and industrial development; economic organizations in global capitalism; population growth, industrial structure, and economic development; moral discourse in economic restructuring.

­ Religion and folklore: 7 articles cover the development of Buddhism in Taiwan; Yiguan Dao and Taiwan's capitalism; and Formosan Christians and Taiwanese self-determination; religious rituals and social life; social psychology of fortune-telling; institutionalization of the Tzu-Chi Association.

­ Education: 3 articles focus on Taiwan's elementary school textbooks; effects of goal setting on children's self-efficacy and skills; task value and self-efficacy on Taiwanese college students' effort and achievement.

­ Literature and cinema: 10 articles cover Yeh Shi-tao's literary discourse and Taiwanese consciousness; comparison of the works of Wu Cho-liu and Dong Fang Pai; anti-Communist literature in the 1950s; history of Taiwanese literature in the 1950s; Japanese and British Motifs in Taiwanese and Quebecois Fiction; contemporary literature of the 1990s; Chang Hsiao-Feng's essays; the positioning of Taiwan in contemporary cinema; films of Lee Ang.

­ Environmental polices and politics: 6 articles are on environmental movements and environmental protection; environmental regulation; participation of environmental interest groups; political institutions and environmental policy formation; environmental discourse; environmentalism and the state.

­ Public policies: 8 articles focus on industrial policy; intercity transportation system and Taipei Urban Commuters; national parks; banking policy transformation; policy and politics of community-making; water transferring policy.

­ Taiwan-China relations and foreign relations: 10 articles discuss Taiwan Strait crisis in the 1950s; the three Taiwan Strait crises; Taiwan's defence policy and national security; Taiwan's pragmatic diplomacy and China policy; the Taiwan Relations Act; Taiwan's 'Name card' diplomacy at the UN; Taiwan's sovereignty in international law; economic interdependence; political confrontation between Taiwan and China.

­ Resources for Taiwan Studies: 3 articles examine the role of academic libraries in Taiwan's continued development, the need for core and comprehensive bibliographies of Taiwan Studies; disputes of social science indigenization.

The NATSA has over 150 active members. We keep an up-to-date homepage, http://www.natsc.org. We can be reached through e-mail at board@natsc.org. Current NATSA officers are: Mr Tze-Luen LIN, President (tllin@udel.edu), of the University of Delaware, Ms Chien-Juh GU, Vice President (guchienj@pilot.msu.edu), of Michigan Sate University, Mr Stephane CORCUFF, Secretary (stephane.corcuff@noos.fr), of Paris Institute of Political Science and Ms Li-Fang YANG, treasurer (lyang@ssc.wisc.edu) of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The NATSA has five executive committes, and you may want to contact their respective chairpersons directly: human resources (Mr Keelung HONG, keelung@itsa.ucsf.edu, of the University of California at San Francisco), publication (Mr Wei-Der SHU, ShuWeider@aol.com, of Syracuse University), funding (Mr Chia-Lung LIN, poll@ccunix.ccu.edu.tw, of Chuncheng University in Taiwan), electronic newsletter (Ms Huei-Ying KUO, hueiying@hotmail.com, of the State University of New York at Binghamton), and database management (Mr Wen-Hua KUO, whkuo@mit.edu of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology).

The sixth North American Taiwan Studies Conference will be held at Harvard University on June 16 ­ 19, 2000. We encourage papers in the following areas: 1. Political and social changes: democratization, electoral politics, nationalism, state and society relations, social movements, class relations, identity, ethnicity and ethnic relations; 2. Literature, history, and cultural studies: languages, literature, collective memories, cultural and religious beliefs and practices; 3. Economic development and environmental studies: economic restructuring, global challenges, urban and rural development, environmental policy and politics; 4. Aboriginal studies: Aboriginal languages and cultural heritage preservation, public policies toward Aborigines, Aboriginal heritage and national identity questions; 5. Gender and Sexuality Studies; 6. Education; 7. International Relations: national security, Taiwan-China relations, and Taiwan-U.S. relations. *

To follow regular updates on this year's conference at Harvard, please visit our web page at http://www.natsc.org and should you have any questions, feel free to write to the NATSA officers.

For more information:
Stephane Corcuff
NATSA Secretary
E-mail: stephane.corcuff@noos.fr

   IIAS | IIAS Newsletter Online | No. 21 | Institutes