Our very first Taiwan Festival brought together two anthropologists and two illustrators, various kinds of stories, links and forms of belonging
Professor David Blundell told us the fascinating story of Austronesia and Taiwan’s place within this regional network: a story of seafaring, trade, cultural exchange and the formation of languages throughout many centuries.
This is also the story of Professor Blundell’s own career as a researcher mapping Austronesian languages and cultures since the 1990s, and of his role in a vast project based at the University of California Berkeley: the Electronic Cultural Atlas Initiative, whose outcome to date is introduced here.
Dr. Futuru Tsai told us a more personal story linking academic career, filmmaking and cultural identity. An ethnic Hakka, Futuru became integrated into an Amis community, a process expressed through both film and anthropological research. We watched his first documentary, Amis Hip-Hop, which shows how a group of young men incorporated modern elements into ritual dance performances, thus marking their own contribution to a local cultural identity. It was followed by a presentation providing more details about his documentaries and Amis community in A’tolan, eastern Taiwan, where he hosted our students on their April trip (more details about the trip are available here).
For the Taiwanese comics roundtable, Li-chin Lin told us two stories about Taiwan: the national history written by the authoritarian regime (1947-1987), and the new narrative emerging later that revealed painful truths hitherto suppressed. These two stories were interlinked with her own, told in the graphic memoir My Youth, My Formosa, which shows her both uncritically adopting the official version at school, and restoring traumatic events during her university studies. Chien-fan Liu presented her own works and Bo_Ing Comix, a series of short graphic narratives authored by young Taiwanese artists, co-edited with Ruei-yi Fang. Lin and Liu also discussed their connections with France and the UK, where they studied and are now developing their careers, as well as the strong links they maintain with Taiwan.