CFP--Concentric: Literary and Cultural Studies 36.1 Transnational Taiwan

full name / name of organization: 
English department of National Taiwan Normal University

Guest Editor: Fang-mei Lin
National Taiwan Normal University, Taiwan
Deadline for Submissions: September 30, 2009

Tremendous changes have come about in Taiwan in recent times, especially in the last ten years. It would be no exaggeration to say that the entire cultural, social, economic, political, and demographic landscape of this country has been transformed. In the period following the lifting of martial law we have seen the emergence and growth of a Taiwanese national(ist) consciousness—a "turn" which became highly visible around the time of the 2000 presidential election but which has been accompanied, in the cultural and literary fields at least, by an opposing tendency to posit value in the experience of diaspora as part of a critique of Taiwanese nationalism. Fundamental to the post-nativist account of identity in Taiwan has been the belief that Mainlanders and their descendents, as well as indigenous people, should be encouraged to record their tribal and familial memories of displacement and migration.

  At the same time, a tide-wave of even greater proportions has swept across all aspects of society. From educational reform to election campaign sloganeering, television commercials and far beyond, "globalization" is not merely a buzz word denoting a fashionably international lifestyle; it encapsulates the reality for millions living in Taiwan today. One of the consequences of globalization for Taiwan has been the influx of foreign brides and workers. According to official statistics, one out of every eight new-born babies has a foreign mother. Meanwhile, Thai and Vietnamese restaurants and food-stands have become familiar sights – to pick a few of the most obvious examples of the many kinds of "immigrant" businesses that have flourished in Taiwan in the last decade.

The Spring 2010 issue of Concentric will be called "Transnational Taiwan." We welcome contributions in the form of research papers from literary and cultural studies. While the term "international" foregrounds the interaction between nations carried out by their respective representatives and thus maintains as axiomatic the significance of national boundaries and sovereignty in any group or personal identity, "transnational" brings into focus non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and civilians who have crossed national borders and maintained networks of social relations in both their "home" and "host" countries and arguably helps us to interrogate lingering presumptions. With these considerations in mind, we wish to address the following questions:
◆Do transnational approaches offer special theoretical insights not currently available to diaspora theory?
◆To what extent will "transnational Taiwan" as a cultural and historical imaginary mark a turning-point in the "China-Taiwan complex"? Could this way of thinking eventually lead to increasing levels of participation in Taiwanese cultural life for immigrants and (other) marginal groups? Are there grounds for skepticism about the usefulness of this term (a case of "old wine in a new bottle")? Will the Taiwanese national(ist) movement lose its relevance or will it continue to be productive of the forces at the center of our cultural and political debates?
◆What are the implications of KMT's return to power in the presidential election of March 2008 for a transnational Taiwan? Will there be a more critical assessment of globalization amid the wreckage of the global financial crisis – a tendency, perhaps, to see globalization as a form of capitalism from above? Will transnational studies – hopefully defined as diaspora and globalization studies from below – give us integrative perspectives with which to look back but also ahead?