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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

Some Thoughts on Irish Studies as a Comparator for Taiwan Studies

With Mr Stuart Thompson (School of Oriental and African Studies)

Series:  Regional Comparison: Taiwan and Ireland in Comparative Perspective

Date: Thursday 18 October 2007, 6pm-8pm

Venue: Seligman Library (Room A607), Old Building, London School of Economics (LSE)

Chair: Professor Stephan Feuchtwang (Taiwan Culture Research Programme)


A comparative approach to the study of Taiwan can bring the island to the attention of scholars working in other fields, and give a wider significance to research on Taiwan. However, comparison should not be based on typologies of particular 'units' to be compared, and older comparative research that adopted this method has been shown to be unfruitful. Rather, there should be a plurality of perspectives unbounded by any kind of 'grand theory', and we should question how the discursive parameters of Taiwan studies are decided upon.

With its settler-colonial history, anomalous political status, and diaspora, Taiwan has been described as 'the Ireland of East Asia'. If we consider the established field of Irish Studies, we can see a particular interest in literature, followed by modern political history. Taiwan studies, by contrast, is acephelous and discursive, concerned with identitarian politics, democratization, and international relations, but also interested in literature and cinema. Dialogue between Taiwan studies and Irish studies would encourage the re-thinking of a range of processes and contested areas.

About the Speaker

Mr Stuart Thompson is Research Associate and was formerly Lecturer in Asian Anthropology at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. He is also a committee member of the LSE Taiwan Culture Research Programme, where he has been the Chair of the London Taiwan Seminar since 2003. He taught a variety of courses, but focused on Chinese culture and society, and devised courses on the anthropology of education. He was also Convener of, and a teacher on, the interdisciplinary MA Contemporary Taiwan course. He has been researching Taiwan since his initial fieldwork in 1980. He specializes in the study of education, cultural literacy, social aspects of food, and death-related rites and representations. He is co-editor of Consuming China (Routledge, 2006), and an editor of the Journal Taiwan in Comparative Perspective.