A new world begins

by on Sunday, 23 January 2011 10933 hits Comments
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“Where land ends, the world begins.”
This quotation sets the tone as we present our Focus on Taiwan in the Pacific, transcending land’s natural boundaries and turning our attention to the ocean, as we explore a world so unfamiliar to Taiwan. Most of the authors in our Focus are members of the newly established Taiwan Society for Pacific Studies, the creation of which is not inconsequential to Renlai. As the publication and website of the Taipei Ricci Institute, Renlai and eRenlai are key components of the research organisation originally set up by a group of foreign missionaries. Back then, these Jesuits were also navigating bravely beyond the boundaries of their own lands in Europe and America, to experience their own new world beginning.

In 2004, after decades of study in the field of Sinology, the Taipei Ricci Institute established Renlai Magazine, a publication calling on readers to surpass set paradigms of thought and join us bathing in a sea of knowledge and debate. Seven years later, the Taipei Ricci Institute cooperated with the National Central Library in establishing for all Taiwanese the Matteo Ricci & Pacific Studies Reading Room, a space to study and to understand the ocean cultures of the Pacific – something all too often overlooked by Taiwanese people. Asides from the tangible location provided, the dissemination and exchange of this knowledge required the hard work of others with common ambitions. This is why the Taipei Ricci Institute worked to gather sufficient resources, culminating in 2010, when the Taiwan Society for Pacific Studies was established with the support of many other academics and organisations.

Pacific Studies is still an emerging field in Taiwan and the scholars can be counted on your fingers. Yet, this means there is a boundless future with unlimited possibilities in the field. The establishment of the Taiwan Society for Pacific Studies alone broke with the traditional concept of the Pacific; the ocean is now more than the Pacific Islanders' garden, becoming also ‘a new world beginning’ for the islanders on the brink of the Pacific i.e. the Taiwanese. The fledgling Taiwan Society for Pacific Studies will thus be holding a symposium ‘Mapping and Unmapping the Pacific’ on February 18th-19th, inviting Pacific scholars from all over the world to participate in this Taiwan-led observation and exploration of the Pacific. The island of Taiwan is bestowed with the highest peak along the suture between the Eurasian and Pacific plates (the Festoon Islands) and is also a cultural meeting point with the Asian continent. Not only is it the original home of the Austronesian language family, it was also a place of contention for both the western and eastern colonial powers and more recently a haven for South East Asian immigrants. On an island with such a colourful history, we Taiwanese naturally have different views and experiences when looking to and contemplating the Pacific. So as you peruse our articles and videos regarding Taiwan’s navigation towards the Pacific, we invite you to attend our international conference in February, and to embrace a new world through face to face cultural exchange.

Photo courtesy of the Taiwan National Museum of Prehistory

Last modified on Wednesday, 08 January 2014 17:35
Nakao Eki

Formosan Melon|Endemic to Tafalong


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