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Über dieses Buch

This book is an analytical of study of Taiwan interspersed with personal elements from the author's life there in the last 20 years. Taiwan's unique confluence of colonial histories, Chinese nationalism and democratization offers a tangible alternative to the status quo in mainland China, albeit one that is becoming more marginal with time. With this in mind, the author offers a concise introduction to the politics and culture of contemporary Taiwan, investigating the Taiwanese identity, aesthetic and its future.
A guide to navigating the coming years for Taiwan and greater China, this book will be of interest to scholars, political scientists and historians.

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Frontmatter

Chapter 1. Introduction

Abstract
As an expatriate living in Taiwan, a nation seen by some as a heart of Asia, I have experienced many amazing experiences that have bridged cultures, languages, education, politics, attitudes, behavior, identity, and the views and chronicles of varied peoples. Looking across Taiwan’s history, with its mostly unknown origins, to the 1600s when the colonial eras began, to control under the Chinese Qing dynasty in the nineteenth century, to the short-lived Republic of Formosa in 1895, to the Japanese colonial dominion from 1895 to 1945, to the Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang, KMT) authoritarian era from 1949 to 1987, and to the nation’s breakthrough into a free, democratic republic after the 1980s—Taiwan, a “light in the East,” is an amazing multicultural country, a rich and varied polity, which has much to offer in terms of politics, culture, history, aesthetics, esprit de corps, learning, literacy, identity, and being.
David Pendery

Chapter 2. Taiwan: History, Politics, and Culture

Abstract
To begin, let me turn to Taiwan’s history. Admittedly, before the 1600s, not much is known about this nation. It is known that people have lived here for 20,000–30,000 years, and bone fragments and various artifacts have been unearthed and can be seen in museums in Taiwan. In spite of such archeological finds, however, not a lot is known in terms of Taiwan’s early history. There is, however, one fascinating probability that is being examined by scientists, linguists, and anthropologists. This is the “out of Taiwan” thesis, which indicates that the ancestries and disbursement of nations and empires in the Austronesian area may have originated with the odysseys of peoples from Taiwan. Evidence has shown that “Pacific populations originated in Taiwan around 5200 years ago,” and migration from Taiwan “played a major role in the spread of people throughout the world” (Science Daily, Jan. 27, 2009). This possible source of Austronesian peoples and their great civilizations is compelling and is probably at least in part true (although the possibility that Austronesia was founded by peoples from China or other Asian nations is also a probable likelihood). This theory was originated by linguist Robert Blust (currently professor in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa) and later voiced from an archaeological perspective by Professor Peter Bellwood (emeritus professor of archaeology at the School of Archaeology and Anthropology of the Australian National University). I find this theory fascinating, in that it indicates how the Taiwanese are a diasporic people, settling far and wide, inhabiting new regions and founding new nations and even empires (Fig. 2.1). This can also be seen in recent Taiwanese history, with Taiwanese settling in and creating new communities in many areas around the world (part of the “Chinese diaspora”). With this idea in mind, I would like to introduce the first of my published works, “Taiwanese settling far and wide: A global view,” published in the Taipei Times on February 5, 2018. I view this actuality from the standpoint of Taiwanese identity, mindfulness, and consciousness and even call the modern movements of Taiwanese peoples my own “out of Taiwan” thesis. Much of this examination looks at how “diaspora is a powerful challenge to the hegemony and boundedness of the nation-state and any pure imaginary of nationhood” (Wang, 28), suggesting how leaving and breaking out of one’s “bounds” relieves feelings of “boundedness.” If all of this is true, we may see that Taiwan has contributed to the modern world in important developmental ways.
David Pendery

Chapter 3. Taiwan: Students, Education, and Academia

Abstract
To be sure my role as an educator in Taiwan has been of primary importance in the last 20 years. I have taught countless classes and innumerable students in dozens of schools and homes, from children to high school students to university classes. As well, I have taught countless others in local businesses, government offices, cram schools, and one-on-one tutoring situations. Much is going on in education in Taiwan, and important changes have been made recently. Notably, a 12-year mandatory educational system has been instituted, which has raised the level of education in Taiwan to international levels. Student scores on international tests have been high, indicating how students can respond well to the best teaching methods (to be examined below). The nation recently organized the 2019 International Conference of Curriculum Leadership for Principals, seeking to facilitate the implementation of the 12-year program, internationalize elementary and secondary schools, and develop curriculum direction. The Ministry of Education has also launched its Life Education Middle-Term Project, with the aims of developing life skills and values in young students. I find this to be a very positive development in youth education in Taiwan, perhaps outside of my university focus, but no doubt an important area of research and development (I have written on Life Education before). The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also launched its Teen Diplomatic Envoys Program, which dispatched a group of teen students to Indonesia and New Zealand in January 2020 “to engage in academic and cultural exchanges with non-governmental organizations and high schools” (Taipei Times, January 21, 2020). I quite like this idea. In another important area, Taiwan is seeing a new focus on industry-academia collaboration, which is branching into many new areas of research and development. I am myself participating in one such industry-academia project at this time. Other developments in Taiwan education have been rich and worthwhile, including “exam free” pathways to upper secondary school (more on this below), relaxation of an overly restrictive curriculum (particularly aimed at young students), subsidies for students from disadvantaged homes, support for physically impaired students, improved vocational education, widely available arts education, and the promotion of e-learning.
David Pendery

Chapter 4. Identity: Being Taiwanese

Abstract
To begin with identity, proper, at one high level I reflected in a letter to the Taipei Times on Taiwanese identity, saying that “people in Taiwan are much more varied and profound than the true believers would have us believe, while the nation has been subject to unusual conditions of development, autonomy, government, settlement and cultural development” (January 14, 2018). By “true believers” here I mean the hard-nosed “dictators versus democrats” types, as often as not anti-China zealots. I went on that Chinese history and culture have had a weighty impact on Taiwanese people and their views. I believe I had made this point already, in addition to the impact of various colonizing peoples in Taiwan, and the current impact of many visitors and homemakers from around Asia and the rest of the world in Taiwan. I reject a notion of flattened “Taiwaneseness” as a way to see the people here (though I acknowledge this is their birthright). In the end, I say that “Taiwan, with its amazing variety of communities intersecting with one another, is a country of many ellipses, a contingent, mutable land wherein people can—must—at once retain and pare away essentialist conceptions of race, ethnicity, culture and nationality. In doing this they will discover delightfully robust—thought admittedly decentered—new identities…I may no doubt here sound Utopian, but our challenge may be to combine Taiwan’s many identities—the new arrivals, the isolated others, the merchant strangers, the true believers, the assimilated citizens, the angry activists, the proud natives, the disoriented aliens—in a many-hued identity that will evince a fruitful, inclusive, cosmopolitan transnationality of creative coexistence and combinatory human potential.” Enough said! I think I have captured all that is Taiwanese (and a whole lot more) with these words. In a related turn, I might add that “Taiwanese have often been characterized as some of the friendliest people in the world” (Lonely Planet, Taiwan), and I have in the main discovered exactly this in my life in Taiwan. A Chinese phrase, “人情味” (rénqíngwèi) “human touch” catches this.
David Pendery

Chapter 5. The Taiwan Aesthetic

Abstract
I turn now to an idea I have communicated to others in the past, the existence of a “Taiwan aesthetic,” that is, a set of ideas about style, taste and expression, and a world view expressed through outward appearance, behavior, and actions. This might be called a “philosophy of ideas,” a conception much too complex to be taken on completely here. But let it stand as I have conveyed it: a Weltanschauung, something of a cosmology, a posture from which we view the world and its visual principles (optic, discernable, sensible, and even that which is being, to say nothing of that which is innovative). This is all sounding like identity, which we have examined.
David Pendery

Chapter 6. The Future in Taiwan

Abstract
As I consider possible futures in Taiwan, I admit to the reader that as I sit here at my desk on an ordinary Tuesday evening, I have not framed any grand plan or strategy, some impressive tome about that which is forthcoming, to impart to humanity. As to my own future in Taiwan, I will reflect on this in the conclusion of this book. As I reflect on the future and its relation to the past and the present, I am drawn to St. Augustine, who wrote, “What about those two times, past and future: in what sense do they have real being, if the past no longer exists and the future does not exist yet? As for the present time, if that were always present and never slipped away into the past, it would not be time at all; it will be eternity.” (296)
David Pendery

Chapter 7. The Termite and Taiwan

Abstract
All I have examined in this work points to two views onto Taiwan, including that (1) the nation is an important international agent and independent entity, a dignified presence in global matters, and a distinguished eminence in international proceedings and transactions; but an alternative view is that (2) Taiwan is a non-entity, a wholly non-independent and in effect powerless international operative—not a “nation” at all, little more than an onlooker, one which can be all but ignored in world affairs. I need hardly inform readers that this has been an important issue in international relations for many years, pitting two very different views of just what Taiwan is and means, and in turn giving rise to many polarized and often fierce opinions in the argument. Readers of this book can clearly see which side of the dispute I am on—a fierce defender of the universal aims of pluralist democracy, citizen interests and privileges, human rights, egalitarianism, and emancipations. This view is in opposition to the world of authoritarian dictatorship, autocracy, absolutism, and despotism, wherever they may be lurking in the world.
David Pendery

Chapter 8. COVID-19: Taiwan and the World

Abstract
The COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak took the world by storm from January to May 2020, and it went further after that, and the fear in the air was no different in Taiwan—but fortunately the situation on the ground here was better than average. Though the virus posed a looming threat, and commentators were saying that there was no end in sight, the Taiwan government was recognized internationally for its effective handling of the crisis and keeping the infected to a minimum. The island was commended for its actions during the pandemic. According to Wikipedia:
David Pendery

Chapter 9. Conclusion

Abstract
To be sure, life in Taiwan has been good for even simpler reasons than all of the above. That is, I have simply liked it here on a personal level. I have expressed this in my Something Super memoir, which readers may find informative and yet more intimate in terms of the subjects we have examined in this book. I again point readers to this work for a very complete picture of life in Taiwan, from an expatriate’s perspective. In Something Super, I expressed a simple feeling of just what Taiwan has given me, and I relate “my sometimes-agitated initiation into Taiwanese life and culture…my rich teaching life and experiences with students, my assiduous studies and attainment of a PhD, my memorable wedding, my further-agitated studies of the Chinese language, and comments on the heated politics and other issues in Taiwan” (these views may relate to this work). I add that “what has been great about Taiwan for me” is that, “although I have encountered my share of difficulties and trials since I moved here, I have…experienced a veritable wealth of good fortune, growth, and change. Taiwan has been good to me” (Fig. 9.1).
David Pendery

Backmatter

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