'Taiwan and Palestine: Comparison in Cultural and Political Terms'

'Taiwan and Palestine: Comparison in Cultural and Political Terms'

Thursday, 29 January 2015 - 5:00pm
Venue: 
Nissan Lecture Theatre, St Antony's College
Speaker(s): 
Professor Tsai Yuan-Lin (National Chengchi University)
Convenor: 
Feng-yi Chu
Series: 
Taiwan Studies Seminar Series

Abstract: Although Taiwan and Palestine have no commonality in geographical, cultural, political respects, they have run a similar historical course from the pre-colonial through colonial to post-colonial stages. Both the Taiwanese and the Palestinians had missed their golden chances to attain the independent statehood during the great wave of national liberation movements after the end of World War II. Located in the two opposite ends of the Asian continent and having geopolitical and strategic significance, the destiny of these two peoples had been overshadowed by the sophisticated game of the balance of power played by the superpowers in the Cold War era. Furthermore, the emergence of the “New World Order” in the early 1990s has benefited neither the Taiwanese nor the Palestinians at all in spite of the fundamental transformation in global power relations. Indeed, their ways toward the independent statehood encounter some new obstacles derived from the neoliberal global economy and the global war on terrorism.

My lecture tries to compare the cultural politics of colonialism/anti-colonialism, dependency/independency, and domination/resistance in contemporary Taiwan and Palestine in terms of the historical memory of their pre-colonial and colonial past, the representation of their self- identity and “enemies,” i.e., the colonial regimes, and the project of their “imagined communities.” I especially focus on how religion plays the distinctive roles for political and cultural identification in these two countries.

About the speaker: Dr. Yuan-Lin Tsai is Associate Professor and the Chair of the Graduate Institute of Religious Studies at National Chengchi University, Taipei, Taiwan. He received his Ph.D. in Religious Studies from Temple University in 1997. He had been one of the Board of Directors for the Taiwan Association for Religious Studies (TARS) from 2001 to 2009. His academic areas include Islamic studies, theories of religious studies, religious- political relationship in Southeast Asia, and post-colonial studies. He has published numerous books and articles on issues from those areas and also translated Culture and Imperialism (2001) by Edward W Said in Chinese.