Taiwan Archive

  • 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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  • My animals and other family

    My animals and other family

    It sounds like a case of spectacularly misplaced priorities now, but the first thing I thought of when my then-wife and I agreed it was best for me to move out was my guinea pigs. It was early August 2014, and I’d just returned from six weeks in Latin America with my elder son. At […]

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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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  • Flight of the Aztec Eagles: When Mexico bombed Taiwan

    Flight of the Aztec Eagles: When Mexico bombed Taiwan

    An abridged version of the following article appeared in yesterday’s Taipei Times:  “Stand up anyone who didn’t learn anything just now,” says Michael Hurst. Nobody moves from the seats they’ve been glued to for the past 90 minutes. “I certainly learned a whole lot,” says Hurst, director of the Taiwan POW Camps Memorial Society. “But […]

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  • The glorious contradictions of Lee Teng-hui

    The glorious contradictions of Lee Teng-hui

    The following article was published in The Diplomat on August 18: “It was one of the few days in my life when I wore a suit,” remembers Hans Breuer. Back in 1996, Breuer, then a freelance translator, was contacted to work as an interpreter for German TV network ZDF, which was in Taiwan to cover […]

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  • Understanding remains key to changes in refugee situation

    Understanding remains key to changes in refugee situation

    A slightly edited version of the following feature appeared in today’s Taipei Times: A recent exhibition in Taipei highlights the lack of comprehensive refugee legislation — an issue politicians are unwilling to tackle In his 1958 book, A Nation of Immigrants, then United States Senator from Massachusetts John F. Kennedy wrote the following words: “Little […]

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