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If Taiwan is part of China, then is Taiwan studies part of Chinese studies?


Harrison, M, If Taiwan is part of China, then is Taiwan studies part of Chinese studies?, Chinese Studies Association of Australia 16th Biennial Conference, 1-3 July, La Trobe University, pp. 7. (2019) [Non Refereed Conference Paper]

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This paper explores the scholarly boundary between the study of China and the study of Taiwan. It argues that the study of Taiwan destabilises the scholarly boundaries of Chinese Studies with academic work that as its premise necessarily identifies and describes Taiwan’s distinctiveness. However, the inescapable politics of the study of Taiwan are effaced through the formalisms and norms of objectivity and disinterest in scholarship in the western traditions. Taiwan has been embedded in well-established paradigms of area studies and comparative politics that write as if Taiwan is present as a site of analysis free from epistemological and institutional politics. For many years, these features of the study of Taiwan in relation to Chinese Studies have been truisms. However, in the Xi Era, these scholarly politics have become far more sharply defined. In Australia, United Front organisations have been working actively to weaken Australia’s One China policy and normalise the party-state position on Taiwan in public institutions, particularly universities.

The paper suggests that in the study of Taiwan we see more clearly than most areas the way Xi’s China is redefining the politics of scholarship on China. The norms of scholarly objectivity begin to present as complacency in the face of the hard politics of the Xi era as scholarship on Taiwan is redefined inexorably by Beijing as an act of resistance and even dissent. This poses critical questions for the future of Chinese Studies in Australia, including its willingness to accept its own politics and its capacity to defend and cultivate areas that challenge Beijing’s totalising worldview in Australian institutions and public life.

Item Details

Item Type:Non Refereed Conference Paper
Keywords:Taiwan studies, society, politics
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Other human society
Research Field:Studies of Asian society
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in human society
UTAS Author:Harrison, M (Dr Mark Harrison)
ID Code:135192
Year Published:2019
Deposited By:Office of the School of Social Sciences
Deposited On:2019-10-04
Last Modified:2019-10-09

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