Culture Archive

  • The complexities of two worlds colliding (review of Ken Chih-Yan Sun’s ‘Time and Migration’ for Global Asia)

    The complexities of two worlds colliding (review of Ken Chih-Yan Sun’s ‘Time and Migration’ for Global Asia)

    The following review appeared in the June issue of Global Asia.  Time has become such a preoccupation of migration studies in recent years that the “temporal turn” the field has taken has itself become a research topic. What makes Ken Chih-Yan Sun’s approach in Time and Migration conspicuously different is not so much the longitudinal […]

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  • Of pigs and prudery

    Of pigs and prudery

    Anyone who has lived in Taiwan long enough, or for that matter any place where they stand out in terms of appearance or culture, will probably have experienced Othering. In Taiwan, it’s rarely of the nasty, aggressive kind nor, necessarily, even of the intentionally discriminatory type– though, as I’ve made clear elsewhere, that obviously exists, […]

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  • Time to stop ducking uncomfortable truths

    Time to stop ducking uncomfortable truths

    When it comes to social etiquette, Taiwanese society resembles the United Kingdom’s House of Commons in one key aspect: directly calling someone a liar is taboo. Since its introduction by a young Winston Churchill in 1906, the preferred euphemism for an untruth at Westminster has been “terminological inexactitude.” Churchill, who used the phrase to weasel […]

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  • The master of small things

    The master of small things

    The following feature appeared in today’s Taipei Times: But for a banana, I wouldn’t have met Chuang Hsin-li (莊新利). En route to the mountains of Yunlin County, I stop for sustenance at a fruit truck in Gukeng Township (古坑). It’s the second day of Lunar New Year; the vehicle is sparsely stocked: sprigs of lycees […]

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  • In Trump we trust

    In Trump we trust

    The following feature appeared in today’s Taipei Times: Taipei rally sees eclectic gathering united in support of outgoing US president Things get off to strange start as the gathering on Ketagalan Boulevard takes shape from 1:30pm on Saturday. A gathering of pro-Taiwan independence groups and activists marching in support of outgoing US President Donald Trump […]

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  • End of an era: Cartier-Bresson and the cross-strait diaspora

    End of an era: Cartier-Bresson and the cross-strait diaspora

    The following essay appeared in the December issue of University of California Press’ Afterimage magazine. The pdf is embedded here as the piece is behind a paywall online. (Use the scroll bar on the right-hand side to flick through the pages). 

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  • Seeing past Taiwan’s identity politics: a review of ‘The Great Exodus’ for Global Asia

    Seeing past Taiwan’s identity politics: a review of ‘The Great Exodus’ for Global Asia

    The following article appeared in the December issue of Global Asia magazine: Many China watchers see it as only a matter of time before Xi Jinping makes his move against Taiwan. The Hong Kong crackdown, the coming Biden presidency and the distraction of the Covid-19 pandemic, not to mention Xi’s own statements on the matter: […]

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  • Finding compassion for refugees: a review of ‘The Global Exodus’ for Taipei Times

    Finding compassion for refugees: a review of ‘The Global Exodus’ for Taipei Times

    The following review appeared in today’s Taipei Times: With calls to grant political asylum to Hong Kong dissidents, Taiwan’s refugee law has been in the spotlight recently. Exhibitions, workshops and presentations on the issue have been organized by NGOs and activists. However, absent from the discussion has been an examination of the role of refugeeism […]

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  • Anger with focus

    Anger with focus

    The following article appeared in today’s Taipei Times:  In language that belies her cherubic appearance, Julia Mariano calls for “revolutionary rage.” She is speaking at Taipei’s Vinyl Decision bar, alongside a portrait of Bob Dylan. This is the language of protest, for sure, but rather than channeling voices from a bygone era, Mariano is demanding […]

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  • The inside-outs of J.W. Henley’s ‘Migrante’

    The inside-outs of J.W. Henley’s ‘Migrante’

    The last time Joe Henley signed a book for me, he made it out to his “colleague in debasement.” Sounding like a possible song title for his next musical project, this was surely an accolade. We had worked – individually, together – on a series of textbooks, and the process had indeed been soul-destroying. Never […]

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