What drastic changes have taken place in the world since the Age of Discovery and the meeting of the East and the West? What influences did this opening of communication and migration have on the human self and social values? How are they reflected in people’s lives? And how have they accumulated and evolved in our society to this day?
This year at TAIWANfest, we look back at the significance of history and focus on those forgotten stories. Join us in diving into the positioning of the National Palace Museum, the Taiwanese diaspora of Southeast Asia during the Japanese Colonial period, the recovery of Indigenous traditional culture, and historical narratives that center Taiwan. Let’s discuss the impact of migration, war, and conflict on culture and race. Through research, dialogue, and artistic innovation, the resurgence of these topics give us lots to reflect on.
We examine the search for identity and the evolution of social values, and the challenges and opportunities born from these changes. Here we have different approaches: Looking at today’s gender equality discourse through folklore stories, reflecting on the relationship between Taiwanese craftsmanship and social aesthetics, creating a connection between the National Palace Museum and the present from a Taiwanese perspective, and driving the revival of Indigenous culture with electronic pop music.
We care about contemporary society and respecting cultural diversity within an international dialogue. The merging of craftsmanship with nature and community, the collision of traditional Indigenous and popular culture, and the varying roles of women in different eras within literature… TAIWANfest will deeply explore how these cultural elements connect with the world.
Don’t miss out on this Hope Talk series! Discover new perspectives and continue the dialogue with us.
What is your first impression of the National Palace Museum of Taipei? As an institution that collects historical cultural treasures, how do they break the long-standing framework, connect with the contemporary, and attract the attention of youth? How does the National Palace Museum establish its roots in Taiwan, and at the same time transcend geographical restrictions to communicate with the world?
As a cultural treasure that was once subject to closed governance, the National Palace Museum is now moving towards a new policy of publicity and cultural equality. Through international sharing and innovation, the National Palace Museum is showing its vitality in contemporary society. The Museum is also gradually integrating Taiwanese local elements to form a unique Taiwan-styled National Palace Museum. The localization process of the Museum is an issue worthy of our exploration. Through promoting community participation, a Taiwan-centered cultural sharing platform is created, and more people can benefit from the rich cultural resources of the National Palace Museum.
By passing on arts, crafts, and historical stories to the future generations, the National Palace Museum enhances the cultural heritage of Taiwan. In recent years, the National Palace Museum has used innovative digital technology to infuse modern elements with traditional culture, creating a modern and attractive cultural experience where young people can feel the charm of the traditional culture, and further promoting cultural inheritance.
During his tenure as the director of the National Palace Museum, Lin Jeng-Yi put forward the policy concept of “publicization of the National Palace Museum” to strengthen the new connections between the Museum and international and local cultures. He is committed to creating new value for the Museum. Director Lin will personally share with Canada how the National Palace Museum has transformed into a new form of openness, inclusiveness, and innovation. Let us unveil this new National Palace Museum together and witness the wonderful intersection of this ancient treasure house with the modern world.
Mr. Jeng-Yi Lin has held many important positions in his life: Director of the National Palace Museum, Director of the National Taiwan Craft Research and Development Institute, Director of the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, Chief Secretary of the Cultural Construction Committee of the Executive Yuan, and General Director of the Chimei Museum. He has an academic background in journalism, literature, and cultural heritage. With over 30 years of experience in Taiwan’s cultural and artistic field, he possesses bountiful experience in adapting operational management strategies to respond to changes in Taiwan’s social landscape, as well as engaging in international dialogues.
Driven by the vision of constructing Taiwan’s cultural subjectivity and promoting art education, his endeavors include conducting research, collection, exhibition, and educational work on Taiwan’s history and culture. He has also advocated for research and educational promotion centered around Taiwanese art, as well as the modernization and internationalization of Taiwanese craftsmanship, to establish Taiwan’s position in the international realm. He has proposed the concept of “publicization of the National Palace Museum” to strengthen its connections with international and local cultural innovations.
Are you afraid of ghosts? Why are female ghosts more spine-chilling than other spirits?
Myths of gods and ghosts are always fascinating; the untouchable mysteriousness is awe-inspiring. In the three realms of gods, ghosts, and humans, people naturally keep a safe distance from the first two. No matter their sex, humans become ghosts after death, but the most frightening ones are always the female ghosts. In fact, they could only gain powers and be “seen” after their deaths.
When people draw a self-portrait, a mirror is needed to see themselves; so when the Taiwanese tries to sketch a self-portrait of Formosa (Taiwan), what should be used as a mirror?
Folklore reflects all walks of life within society, which may serve as a mirror for us. In Taiwan, the powers of female ghosts are so strong that they can even overturn their original, living status and challenge the gods. This is a group of females with the same fate: they were miserably abused when alive, so they sought their revenge when they died and became ghosts. From girls, damsels, to women, Professor Shu-Chun Yu will analyze the social significance of various female ghosts, and guide the audience to glimpse the invisible constraints of traditional ethics from the female ghosts’ lived and unlived experiences and the rebellious power they symbolize.
Watch out! The female ghost is right by your side!
Professor Shu-Chun Yu specializes in folk beliefs, contemporary novels, and gender studies. She has been engaged in the study of Taiwan’s folk beliefs and festival culture for many years. She has personally participated in the many major community celebrations, including the “Keelung Mid-Summer Ghost Festival,” held in her hometown of Keelung in the seventh month of the lunar calendar. This is one of the most unique rituals in Taiwan.
As a female researcher, she found that the greatest obstacle to gender equality lies in the strong constraints of folk customs, which are revealed in traditional folklore. In the past, the inheritance of folk beliefs was mostly limited to men, and women were sometimes even excluded from the ceremony. In analyzing the image of women in Taiwanese proverbs and folklore, she unearths the hidden social meanings, and also examines the gender discrimination that still exists in contemporary folk activities in hopes of creating positive change.
What is the purpose of human migration?
Is it for seeking better living conditions? Is it for escaping political and religious persecution, racial discrimination, or social injustice?
Or is it for pursuing happiness and opportunities that the heart yearns for?
Dr. Shu-Ming Chung’s book Taiwanese in Nanyang During the Japanese Colonial Period fills in Taiwan’s forgotten immigration history, particularly the story of Taiwanese migrating to Nanyang during the Japanese colonial period. As a student of academian Ts’ao Yung-ho, Dr. Chung was influenced and devoted herself to fully presenting this period of history.
“Yoshino Village” is a childhood memory of Dr. Chung, and the first government-run immigrant village established by then Government-General of Taiwan. Because of her own experience, Dr. Chung cares about immigration activities. The colonial government used land to attract Japanese rural youths to immigrate and cultivate. The colonial rule favouring the Japanese provided them with the opportunity to seek a better life, but created cultural and social conflicts with the Taiwanese. The Taiwanese who were unwilling to be second-class citizens in their homeland migrated to Nanyang (Southeast Asia) in search of a new life.
Through years of visits and oral records, Dr. Chung reconstructed the history of prisoner-of-war camps as places of forced migration during World War II, showing the impact of war and conflict on human migration. The plight faced by these prisoners and the experience of migration remind us that human migration is affected by both voluntary will and external, often political forces. Migration goes beyond individual or group actions. It involves interactions among social, political, economic, and cultural factors. By studying the stories of historical migrations, we can better understand human movement and the formation of diverse cultures throughout time.
Dr. Shu-min Chung is from Hualien, Taiwan, and holds a Ph.D. in Literature from the University of Tokyo, Japan.
She is currently a researcher and Deputy Director at the Institute of Taiwan History, Academia Sinica, and was awarded the Outstanding Research Award by the National Science Council in 2021.
Dr. Chung’s research focuses on topics such as colonial policies, war, and crime, and the history of Taiwanese overseas activities. Her representative work is Taiwanese in Nanyang During the Japanese Colonial Period, which provides a comprehensive overview of the activities of Taiwanese people in Southeast Asia during the Japanese colonial era (1895-1945). It explores how Taiwanese individuals, caught between the competition and conflicts of imperialist countries, including the southward expansion of the Japanese Empire and the colonial rule of various Western empires, as well as the historical entanglement between Taiwan and Japan, have developed their history in various Southeast Asian regions today.
In the current context of the government’s extensive promotion of the Southbound Policy, Dr. Chung’s research holds significant relevance.
“Why can’t electronic music merge with Indigenous music?” This question spins like a record in Dungi Sapor’s head. And so, Dungi began experimenting with electronic music as the background, inviting the elders of her tribe to adapt and re-interpret the traditional melodies of their ancestors. This became the first single of great significance in her life.
As an Indigenous person, she has experienced invisible discrimination when she was growing up. But the tenacity of Cikusuan people flows in her blood, and she does not want to forget her pride and uniqueness. She even had the name “Cikusuan” tattooed on her body, a constant reminder of who she is and where she came from.
In the traditional songs of the Amis people, there is a ballad called “Farewell Song”, which tells the story of the tribe’s farewell to the young people conscripted to fight in Nanyang during the Japanese colonial period. It is full of melancholy for the parting. As change comes with time, young people heading off to the military have a different attitude than in the past. Dungi still hopes that the younger generation will not forget these stories experienced by their ancestors. This historical memory resonates with the forgotten and unsung heroes of Indigenous Canadians in North America’s war history. Using pop music elements to narrate the past, Dungi aims to make connections across generations.
DJ Dungi Sapor strives to find new ways to bridge tradition and contemporary culture. She travels all over the world, exploring and learning with curiosity, resulting in many wonderful in-depth exchanges with various cultures. She believes this process will lead to exciting new discoveries and unique ideas, and to a richer fusion of traditional and modern cultures. She looks forward to bringing these inspiring experiences back to the stage in creative and refreshing ways. Get ready, world, to listen to her one-of-a-kind musical journey!
DJ Dungi Sapor grew up in the glorious Cikasuan village of the Amis tribe in Hualien. She was discriminated against and excluded by her peers because of her Indigenous identity when she was a child, but this did not destroy her confidence in her identity. She even studied finance law in hopes of helping her tribe and her people, and was also briefly an assistant at the National Congress of Taiwan. By reinterpreting and innovating with new music, she integrates Indigenous culture into contemporary sound, breaking the stereotype of Indigenous music. At the same time, she appreciates the traditional sounds of the world’s Indigenous population. She is currently experimenting with integrating the hand drum of the Indigenous Peoples of Canada, and will be sharing her new creation for the first time at this event.
Both Canada and Taiwan are modern independent countries transformed from the status of colonies of Japan, China, and the British Empire after World War II.
Cities and buildings are physical representations and extensions of corresponding social, cultural and government systems.
Hence It is a meaningful topic to compare the different contexts and phenomena of architectural and urban developments between the two countries.
The order, law, and conditions to livability of cities, lie not only in the appreciation of aesthetic of the residents, but also in the establishment of standards for ensuring people’s life, security, and health, and welfare based on the inherited legal norms and political systems, and the constitution on which the country is founded.
Ron Shieh completed his Master of Architecture from the University of Toronto after immigrating to Canada from Taiwan, and has operated his own firm for almost 40 years. An active member in the Taiwanese community, Ron has supported many initiatives and community projects over the years.
Ron Shieh is a member of Ontario Association of Architects and Royal Architectural Institute of Canada with a registered architectural practice in Ontario.
Catch this fascinating talk that weaves stories, theories, and images, to connect continents and centuries using Irwin’s own Dutch family’s stories.
With the recent Dutch King’s apology for slavery on July 1, 2023, the public dialogue in the Netherlands is catching up on Canada’s efforts at reconciliation, but who can teach who? We explore how we tell our migration stories, how the history of Dutch colonialism by the VOC is presented or denied, and how Canada and the Netherlands have much in common with how national memory is constructed.
Join Irwin and TAIWANfest for a mix of lecture and stories, and a dialogue with the audience to reminisce on the Dutch, share learnings, and consider difficult questions.
Irwin Oostindie is a public scholar based in Vancouver who brings an interdisciplinary approach to decolonizing public policy, communications, and urban studies. As a Dutch settler and parent, for three decades he has led local and international media, arts and social justice projects, including journalism, public spaces, and festivals. He has worked for First Nations, municipalities, and communities, always looking to work cross-culturally at complex solutions. From 1989-1995, he coordinated the Canadian Youth Network for Asia Pacific Studies (CYNAPS) which connected the voices of youth and students in East Asia with Canada.
Irwin is an Associate with the Institute for Humanities at Simon Fraser University, and has an MA in Communications for his work on the spectacle of reconciliation and the need for place-based redress. He has a Graduate Diploma in Urban Studies for researching urban Indigenous governance and property geography, and a Post-Graduate Certificate in Media Arts for his work on western relations with North Korea. As an urban planner, his company Voor Urban Labs, connects public policy, decision makers, and communities to design multi-stakeholder solutions for complex urban challenges in several Canadian cities. He volunteers as the President of the Wild Bird Trust of BC and is a Director with the Dutch Cultural Association of BC.
Want to delve into the stories behind Chinese orchestral music?
Curious about how Taiwanese Chinese music has developed its unique identity?
The National Chinese Orchestra Taiwan (NCO) will personally share their journey, from its establishment to the present, and how they have incorporated Taiwan’s diverse cultural elements through innovative approaches. They have created a distinctive style of Chinese orchestral music that not only belongs to Taiwan but also tells the beautiful stories of Taiwan through music. In addition, the National Chinese Orchestra Taiwan will introduce the four major instrument families of Chinese orchestras—bowed strings, plucked strings, winds, and percussion—and explain their individual characteristics and roles. Through lively demonstrations by the members, we will gain a deeper understanding of the diverse sound palette of Chinese orchestral music.
Challenge your traditional perceptions of Chinese orchestral music and let the musicians of the National Chinese Orchestra Taiwan immerse us in a vibrant world of enchanting melodies.
Administered by the National Center for Traditional Arts, the National Chinese Orchestra Taiwan (NCO) is the national-level Chinese orchestra under the Ministry of Culture. NCO is dedicated to preserving tradition, while also embracing contemporary Taiwanese culture. In recent years, the NCO has strived to use traditional music to recount the best stories Taiwan has to offer, selecting local material and talent that can connect Taiwan with the rest of the world through music. The NCO incorporates a variety of other elements into its performances, including drama, dance, painting, poetry, and literature, giving their work a style that blends the innovative with the traditional. Their ultimate aim is to build a brand of orchestral music unique to Taiwan, providing prominence to both traditional and contemporary Taiwanese music on the international stage, for all to enjoy.
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TAIWANfest Toronto is grateful to be held on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territories of many nations, including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples, that is now home to many diverse First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. We acknowledge our privilege to be gathered here, and commit to work with and be respectful to the Indigenous peoples of this land while we engage in meaningful conversations of culture and reconciliation.