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Northern Institute of Taiwan Studies

The Northern Institute of Taiwan Studies (NorITS) is an interdisciplinary hub of teaching, research, public policy and cultural activities, whose main aim is to promote the development of academic study on Taiwan and take part in social and cultural exchanges between the British world and Taiwan.

NorITS is nestled under the Institute for the Study of the Asia Pacific (ISAP) which serves as the umbrella institute for Asia Pacific Studies at the University of Central Lancashire.

About us

Established in June 2018, NorITS is the outcome of a coordinated effort by five experts in Taiwan Studies, Prof Niki Alsford and Dr Lara Momesso, as NorITS Co-Directors, Dr Adina Zemanek, Dr Ti-han Chang and Dr Moises Lopes de Souza as members of the team, each approaching Taiwan from a different disciplinary angle, including history, anthropology, gender studies, migration studies, cultural studies, environment studies, literature and international relations.

Their coordinated efforts have contributed to the development of a new narrative of Taiwan Studies looking at Taiwan as a central and autonomous actor in the Asia Pacific region. Historically, it was a centre from which the Austronesian people expanded their cultural and linguistic influence throughout the Asia Pacific, and, in contemporary times, it is a hub between local, regional and global socio-political dynamics.

NorITS enjoys the support of an international network of renowned scholars as part of its Steering Committee. These include Professor Thomas Gold (University of California Berkeley), Professor Ann Heylen (National Taiwan Normal University), Professor Michael Hsiao (Academia Sinica), and Professor Gunter Schubert (University of Tübingen).

NorITS' mission is to nurture the next generation of Taiwan scholars through an engagement with teaching and research practice.

Taiwan Travel Seminar

The Taiwan Travel Seminar is a student experience trip to allow a group of selected students who attended the module ‘Taiwan in the Asia Pacific’, to get to know Taiwan first-hand.

Accompanied by University lecturers, the trip involves a week of scheduled activities, events and meetings. Previously the group has visited the National Chengchi University in Taipei, National Taitung University in Taitung, National Dong Hwa University in Hualien, the National Palace Museum, Shung Ye Museum of Formosan Aborigines, and National Museum of Prehistory. It also spent some days experiencing the Maokong area, enjoying Taiwanese local food in teahouses, exploring the Tamshui district to learn its colonial history, visiting the Taitung area to experience the Austronesian roots of Taiwan, learning Barkcloth techniques and staying in the Amis aboriginal village in Dulan.

"The Taiwan Travel Seminar was the highlight of my year! It was a great opportunity to experience what I have learnt in the classroom in real life and being able to visit such a beautiful place is something I never thought would happen. I learnt a lot about myself along the way while also discovering new areas of research for future projects as well as meeting so many amazing people! If you haven't been to Taiwan I recommend going!"

Atlanta Waples, Asia Pacific Studies student

Honorary professors

Thomas Gold is Professor of the Graduate School at the University of California, Berkeley. He taught in the Sociology Department there from 1981–2018. He served as Chair of the Center for Chinese Studies and Associate Dean of International and Area Studies, as well as Executive Director of the Inter-University Program for Chinese Language Studies at Tsinghua University in Beijing. His research addresses a range of issues in Taiwan and China. He is currently writing books on social and political transformation in Taiwan since the end of Martial Law and a memoir of his year in China, 1979–1980.

Gunter Schubert is Professor of Greater China Studies at the Department of Chinese and Korean Studies, University of Tübingen. He is also the founder and director of the European Research Center on Contemporary Taiwan (ERCCT) at this university and Associate Research Professor at the Graduate School of East Asian Studies, Freie Universität Berlin. Prof. Schubert specializes in local governance and private sector reform in the PRC, cross-strait political economy and Taiwanese entrepreneurs operating on the Chinese mainland, and domestic politics in Taiwan and Hong Kong. He is also interested in theorizing the policy process in the PRC and in China’s “periphery politics”.

Hsin-Huang Michael Hsiao is the Adjunct Research Fellow of Institute of Sociology, in Academia Sinica and Chair Professor of Hakka Studies, National Central University. He is also the chairman of both Taiwan-Asia Exchange Foundation (TAEF) and the Executive Committee of Center for Southeast Asian Studies (CSEAS), National Cheng-Chi University. He currently serves as a Senior Advisor to the President of Taiwan since 2016. His areas of specialization include: middle class, civil society and democratization in Asia; environmental movements, sustainability and risk society; and comparative Hakka studies in Taiwan and Southeast Asia.

Ann Heylen, PhD. K.U.Leuven in Chinese Studies is Professor at the Department of Taiwan Culture, Languages and Literature, National Taiwan Normal University (NTNU), and Executive Director of the International Taiwan Studies Center (ITSC), at the College of Liberal Arts, NTNU. She is a founding member of the European Association of Taiwan Studies (EATS) and editor-in-chief of the East Asian Journal of Popular Culture (EAJPC, Intellect, UK). Her research covers the history of Taiwan, from 17–20th century, with special attention to Dutch Formosa, the Japanese colonial period (1895–1945) and more recently 19th century relations between the Low Countries and East Asia.

PhD students

The Formosan aborigines and the Spanish (1626–1642)

Previous histories of the Spanish settlement on Taiwan (1626–1642) have focused on the Spanish experience. The literature, however, contains some of the earliest written accounts of the island's aborigines. I hope to look at the current literature on the Spanish in Northern Formosa and extract details regarding the aborigines. I then hope to advance this research, finding new sources and reinvestigating the old ones to compile as complete a story as possible of aborigine life in Northern Taiwan in the early 1600s.



The Role of Social Media in Shaping (Un)Democratic Processes

On 9 March 2020, we hosted an international roundtable at the People’s History Museum in Manchester. It featured talks from 11 participants.


  • George Ogola, UCLan
  • Nicole Yung Au, Oxford Internet Institute
  • Haddas Emma Kedar, Independent Scholar
  • Brian Ball, New College of Humanities
  • Wu Min Hsuan, Deputy CEO of Doublethink Lab
  • Dickens Olewe, BBC Journalist
  • Omar Al-Ghazzi, Assistant Professor from the LSE
  • Filip Jirous, Prague-based Sinopsis Organisation.
  • Gizem Gültekin dr.Várkonyi, LLM in European Public Law University of Szeged
  • Lara Momesso, UCLan
  • Ti-han Chang, UCLan
  • Adina Zemanek, UCLan

Asia Pacific Film Festival 2020

The Asia Pacific Film Festival took place in February 2020, bringing together films from across the Asia Pacific for screenings and Q&A sessions with the Directors. Films screened included: The Road, Anotes Ark, The Rice Bomber, Let It Be, Plastic China, Sanggye-Dong Olympic, Garden, Zoological, Whispering Star, and No Mans Zone. There were also talks from Sabrina Qiong Yu, Irena Hayter, Director Zanbo Zhang, and Director Toshi Fujiwara.