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Director's MessageFrom 2020 to 2021, we experienced an unusual year. Starting from the beginning of 2020, we have witnessed the COVID-19 pandemic spreading rapidly over the globe. Whereas the global pandemic has not ceased, waves of COVID-19 variants have exacerbated the spread of infection and the deadly effect. Until August this year, the number of global confirmed cases has reached nearly 200 million, and the death toll has reached more than 4 million. In addition to the staggering number of confirmed cases and deaths, there are restrictions on cross-border movement, the breakdown of production chains, the rise in unemployment and extreme poverty, the impact on ways of teaching at schools of all levels, and the collapse of the medical system. The pandemic is an unprecedented catastrophe in human history, and there is no end in sight.
Although the situation we are facing in Taiwan is relatively mild, the global pandemic influences one country to another, and there is no region that can be isolated from the threat of this infectious disease. The International Center for Cultural Studies (ICCS) also faces this challenge: face-to-face academic events have been cancelled, and international visiting scholars and international conferences have been repeatedly postponed due to the border control measures during the pandemic.
However, this unexpected situation has also prompted us to adopt various alternative solutions. The Ministry of Education’s Sprout Project conducted by ICCS, “Conflict, Justice, and Decolonization: Critical Studies in Inter-Asian Societies,” still demonstrates brilliant results through the input of our conveners and researchers of the sub-projects. I am honored to introduce you to the progress of these projects: Subproject I, “The Politics of Memory and the Art of Governance,” convened by professor Jui-Hua Chen at National Tsing-Hua University; Subproject II, “Inter-Asian Decolonization of Knowledge under the Shadow of Post/Cold War Culture,” convened by Nai-Fei Ding at National Central University; Subproject III, “The Emerging Political Economy of the 21st Century: The New Rise of China, Neoliberalism, and Neocolonialism,” convened by Allen Chun at Yang Ming Chiao Tung University; Subproject IV, “Unequal Citizens and Legal Reform in the Inter-Asian Context,” jointly convened by Yu-Fan Chiu and myself at Yang Ming Chiao Tung University; Subproject V, “Toward a Society of Equal Coexistence and Socio-Artistic Intervention,” convened by Wen-Shu Lai; Subproject VI is a talent cultivation project jointly convened by Lawrence Zi-Qiao Yang and myself. These fruitful results are all displayed on the ICCS website, and part of the activities are recorded in our yearbook.
The most noteworthy event conducted by ICCS is the Global Humanities Institute (GHI): “Migration, Logistics and Unequal Citizens.” GHI links the partnerships of 12 transnational academic institutions, 36 senior international scholars and 24 transnational young scholars, jointly discussing the social infrastructure vulnerabilities and the intensification of xenophobia exposed by the rapid spread of the global epidemic. Under the organization by the project manager Dr. Ko-Lun Chen, we invited senior and young scholars from research institutions, human rights organizations and NGOs over the globe to organize a series of online forums and seminars. From June 2020 to July 2021, GHI has held monthly online forums, two-day workshops, seven closed-door workshops for scholars and students, and one week of intensive summer school. In this process, although we were unable to go abroad for meetings, these online forums allow us to contact researchers from different regions. We also contact human rights organizations and NGOs over the globe that have been committed to the rights of migrant workers for many years. This “short-distance” continuous discussion group formed on the Internet has practically become a transnational academic alliance for the critical studies of inter-Asian society. The average number of participants in these online forums is 70 to 110, and more than 100 people have signed up for each event. All online forums are planned for publication and recorded into YouTube videos. These videos accompanying the reading materials are accumulated as online teaching materials. We will establish an online database for all people who are concerned about this topic at home and abroad.
Another accomplishment worth mentioning is the graduate student research groups and online journal publication projects encouraged and supported by ICCS. From 2020 to 2021, ICCS has supported a total of 9 research group projects. The results of the graduate group project are presented in the forms of zines and online articles published on ICCS Working Paper Series and CJD Online Platform. In addition to publishing the research results of graduate student research groups, CJD Online Platform also continues to call for papers that will undergo a double-blind peer review process. As of 2021, 3 issues of print journals and 87 online articles have been published.
I am also very pleased that ICCS has accepted applications for postdoctoral fellows in the Humanities and Social Sciences of the Ministry of Science and Technology since last year. Dr. Hui-yu Tang, Dr. Poonam Sharma, Dr. Hsiu-ju Stacy Lo and Dr. Jeffrey Nicolaisen have successively joined our research team.
We are honored to be supported by Professor Alain Brossat as a Yushan Scholar of ICCS since 2018. In the past three years, Professor Brossat continued to give lectures, present papers, publish books, assist graduate students in organizing research groups, and invite international scholars to visit our university. He has made a lot of contributions to the university and ICCS. Beginning next year, Professor Brossat will change his track by going to National Cheng Kung University in Tainan as a visiting scholar. In terms of long-term friendship and an academic partner who has engaged in our discussions and collaborations for many years, I feel deeply reluctant. Still, I sincerely wish him and his wife, Ms. Huei-Jhen Luo, to embark on another journey in life.
National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University International Center for Cultural Studies has been established for six years since its founding in 2015. Since the beginning of its establishment, the purpose of ICCS has been to promote cross-major cooperation in the humanities and social science fields within the university, to support the inter-university research center of the University System of Taiwan and International Master’s Program in Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, and to actively establish a platform for transnational academic cooperation. I have always believed that the research center in the university is like a distribution center where many talents converge. For this platform of convergence to take effect, various research topics and research plans have to be proposed, and like-minded researchers are invited to discuss common research issues, exchange thoughts, stimulate new ideas, and accumulate publications. Both teachers and graduate students can act as advocates for these research topics. The creative achievements of the past years, series of workshops, international forums, international summer schools, film festivals, exhibitions, and academic publications, have shown the abundant creative energy of our researchers and graduate students. You can get a glimpse of these events from our yearbook. We also look forward to the endless stream of academic creativity that can happen here.
Aug 9, 2021, at Shanhu Village
Professor, International Program in Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University, Taiwan
Director, International Center for Cultural Studies, NYCU
Director, International Program in Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, University System of Taiwan