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


Professor Stephan Feuchtwang

Dr Fang-Long Shih

The Mapping of Taiwan: Desired Economies, Coveted Geographies

With Dr Jerome F. Keating

Seminar on Taiwan in Global Comparative Perspective

Series:  Seminar on Taiwan in Comparative Perspective

The author, Dr Jerome Keating, will give a presentation about this book, followed by intensive discussion. It is about how Taiwan became involved in the desired economies of competing nations; it is a story of economies, scientific advances, life, and nationhood and also a story of profit, greed, colonization and power struggles.

Time: Monday June 6 from 6-8pm

Venue: Seligman Library, 6th Floor, Old Building, LSE

Speaker: Dr Jerome F. Keating

Chair: Dr Fang-long Shih (LSE Taiwan Research Programme)

Discussants: Professor Kent Deng (LSE Economic History), Stuart Thompson (SOAS)


Trade, commodities, greed and monopolies are all part and parcel of the desired economy of any nation. These in turn lead those nations to seek out geographies that must be mapped. As Reginald Hargreaves puts it, to say that trade follows the flag is an apothegm that puts the cart before the horse; in reality, the flag follows trade. Using the medium of maps (1500s to present), The Mapping of Taiwan traces how a beautiful island, (Formosa a.k.a. Taiwan) was drawn into the world of the desired economies and trade of competing nations. Taiwan would subsequently be mapped with ever increasing accuracy and detail. 

Before nations colonize, they have to covet. Before they covet, they need a reason to covet. The reason to covet may include prestige and power, but at bedrock it is economic, a desired economy. It was the distant Spice Islands and the silk of China that drew the West to Asia and subsequently involved Taiwan in the international world of trade.

In international trade, the story of any nation, whether continental or not, becomes a story within many stories, one where to paraphrase John Donne, "no nation can be an island." From jade to deer skins, tea and camphor and ultimately to bicycles, motherboards, and computer chips, the story of Taiwan and its mapping has been one of such discovery, trade, and mapping.

This presentation should be of interest to all fascinated with the interplay of cartography, economics and the destiny of Taiwan. It demonstrates how past cartography can be a prism to visualize the interest and power plays of nations. Included is Taiwan’s strategic military importance to China’s blue-water access to the Pacific.

About the Speaker

Armed with degrees from Notre Dame, Michigan and Syracuse Universities and an inbred Taoist skepticism on most anything, Dr Jerome Keating chose a career as a sojourner, resolving whether money did make the world go round.

In the late 1980s Keating left the Dallas Transit System in the US to join Bechtel Engineering as Manager of Technology Transfer on the Taipei Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) System. He followed that as Manager of Technology Transfer for DeLeuw Cather International on Taiwan’s Kaohsiung MRT. Still with DeLeuw he went to the Philippines where he designed magnet science high schools for USAID. That done, he returned to Taiwan and continued to watch that nation transform from martial law and a one-party state to its present vibrant democracy. He rounded out his career there as an Associate Professor, eventually retiring from National Taipei University.

In the last two decades he has written four books on Taiwan: Island in the Stream: a quick case study of Taiwan’s complex history, Taiwan: the struggles of a democracy; Taiwan: the search for identity; and The Mapping of Taiwan: desired economies, coveted geographies as well as three books on language learning and innumerable articles on life, art, and culture. He also writes political commentary.


Jerome Keating