The 15th Annual North American Taiwan Studies Conference
"Locating Taiwan: Space, Culture and Society"
June 26-28, 2009
The College of Liberal Arts Building, BATS Hall and MEZ Hall
at the University of Texas at Austin
In the past two decades, Taiwan has experienced major transformations in the remapping of space. The operation of Taipei and Kaoshiung's Rapid Transit Systems and the High Speed Rail has integrated more people into the metropolis and fosters different lifestyles. The direct weekend flights between Taiwan and China not only attract Chinese tourists but also allow Mainland-based Taiwanese entrepreneurs to reconnect to their homes with greater convenience. Apart from the implementation of transportation infrastructure, digital communication technology also constructs a virtual geography. While the (re)generation of spaces, virtual or real, bring people into intimate contact, a reconfigured landscape might also mean destruction. For instance, the demolition of mainland veteran quarters and the relocation of Le-Sheng Rehab jeopardize the wellbeing of local communities and disown the already marginalized minorities. The challenges as well as the possibilities make it an urgent task to reexamine how a shifting geography bears on the domains of Taiwan's culture, politics and society.
This year's conference is defined under the rubric of "Locating Taiwan: Space, Culture and Society." First, we invited scholars from all disciplines to situate Taiwan in terms of space and explore the relationships between the changing landscape and various realignments in cultural and social formations. While our attention was focused on Taiwan's physical localities, we also encouraged our presenters to explore the evolving definition of space. In particular, global capital flows interface and destabilize familiar territorial demarcations and as a consequence, "interstitial spaces" emerge to accommodate new social groupings, the bloggers and Otaku for instance. The conference explored any number of questions, including how these new communities enable political empowerment and/or aggravate economic inequality. To what extent are these new spatial identities embedded in or uprooted from the physical environment and what are the impacts?
Taiwan Research Fund
Ministry of Education, Taiwan
Center for East Asian Studies, University of Texas at Austin
Department of Sociology, University of Texas at Austin
Department of Asian Studies, University of Texas at Austin