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Taiwan Research Programme
London School of Economics and Political Science
Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE


Professor Stephan Feuchtwang

Dr Fang-Long Shih

Precarious Belongings: Presbyterian political and theological responses to minority in Taiwan and Ireland

With Reverend John Scott (LSE and University of Birmingham)

Series:  Regional Comparison: Taiwan and Ireland in Comparative Perspective

Date: Thursday 18 March 2010, 6pm-8pm

Venue: Room U110, Tower One, London School of Economics (LSE)

Chair: Professor Richard Madsen (University of California, San Diego)


Taiwan and Ireland have significant minority Presbyterian communities which have played pivotal roles in the political development of their respective islands. Despite common theological origins, ecclesial structure and initially similar approaches to state power, and situation in societies marked by sub-ethnic cleavages, their institutional responses to their respective contexts contrast strongly. The Taiwanese Presbyterian experience is marked by a strong commitment to the political and social interests of the majority community as it achieved coherence through the period of Japanese colonial rule and the early years of Kuomintang government. In Ireland, a tradition of dissent was largely eclipsed by the formation of a defensive pan-Protestant identity in the mid-1800s, in response to a resurgent Catholic Irish nationalism. Both situations are defined by the experience of minority and the negotiations of identity and interest that such a status required.

This paper adopts an historiographical approach to explore the dominant Presbyterian "narratives of unfolding" in (and about) Ireland and Taiwan that emerged. It attempts to relate the Presbyterian experiences in Taiwan and Ireland in ways that might make them recognisable each to the other, and to locate the particular moments of experience, intra-communal and inter-communal, that defined and concretised the socio-political experiences of both communities.

About the Speaker

Reverend John Scott is Free Churches Chaplain to the London School of Economics and Senior Chaplain to the University of London for Reformed and Presbyterian churches. Ordained in the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, he is a doctoral student at the University of Birmingham's Centre for East Asian Christianity researching Taiwanese Contextual Theologies.