2018 Spotlight Taiwan in Estonia is held 12-13 October 2018

2018 Spotlight: Taiwan in Estonia: A Study on Taiwan Indigenous Cultures and
Roundtable for Taiwan Scholars in the Baltic Region
Organized by the School of Humanities, Tallinn University and the Taipei Mission in the
Republic of Latvia
Dates: 12-13 October 2018
2018 Taiwan Spotlight event (12 Oct)
In the Taiwan Spotlight opening event, Administrative Head Aigi Heero welcomed the guests on
behalf of the School of Humanities at Tallinn University, First Secretary Abigail Chu on behalf
of Taipei Mission in the Republic of Latvia, and Karin Dean on behalf of Asian Studies master´s
program she heads.
In this event, people could visit a small exhibition of Taiwanese indigenous costumes and a small
photographic exhibition about Grace I-An Gao`s own experiences in her home village. She is of
Tayal origin and gave an introduction based on her own childhood and education before the film.
The number of attendees at the opening event was 26 and the number of people who attended the
movie screening was 29. The participants of the event were the academics participating in the
Roundtable and also students from Tallinn University, Tallinn University of Technology and
other guests.
Next the film A Year in the Clouds about Tayal village called Smangus was shown at the Tallinn
University cinema hall.
In the end of the day, the Taipei Mission invited all participants of the Taiwan Roundtable for a
dinner in restaurant Von Krahli Aed in the Old Town. Unfortunately, Abigail Chu, Eiki Berg and
Aigi Heero could not make it. This dinner provided an opportunity for informal socializing to
facilitate networking between experts on different fields.
Academic Roundtable (13 Oct)
The Taiwan Roundtable had two parts. The morning session was open to all. In it, professor
Frank Kraushaar (University of Latvia) gave a presentation ``Reading without end`` on his
research and experiences of doing Taiwan Studies.
In his presentation, associate professor of Oriental Studies Märt Läänemets
(University of Tartu) introduced the history of the Republic of Formosa (1895) in light of
experiences in Estonia where the history of a former republic provided models for independence
after 1991.
PhD candidate Grace I-An Gao (University of Helsinki) introduced elderly care among the
indigenous Taiwanese comparing the perspectives of the government and of elderly aboriginals
Research fellow and docent Taru Salmenkari (University of Helsinki, former associate professor
at Tallinn University) in her presentation ``Journey from history to memory with Taiwanese
social movements`` introduced how social movements have contributed to the understanding of
history in Taiwan.
The open session was chaired by associate professor Alexander Horstmann. Apart from the
Taiwan Roundtable participants, some students and even some outsiders (in total 3 people) came
to listen to the presentations during the open session of the academic roundtable.
The closed session in the afternoon had gathered together representatives from Tallinn
University (Alexander Horstmann), the University of Tartu (Eiki Berg), the Tallinn University of
Technology (Peeter Müürsepp), the University of Latvia (Frank Kraushaar, Agita Baltgalve) and
Vilnius University (Justina Razumaite) and two scholars from the University of Helsinki (Grace
I-An Gao, Taru Salmenkari).
Originally, Aurelijus Zykas was registered to represent Vytautas Magnus University (Kaunas)
but had to cancel when he was invited to an official visit to Asia. The closed session discussed
ways to share resources between universities in the region and the needs universities have in
order to be able to give Taiwan-related teaching. It discussed possible sources of external
resources and possibilities to invite Taiwanese scholars to the universities in the Baltic region.
The session was chaired by docent Taru Salmenkari.
Social impact
We circulated information about the events through many channels. The events were advertised
to Asian Studies e-mail list, Institute of Governance e-mail list and through Facebook. We also
informed AUKE, which is an Asian research centre in Estonia. The information about the event
was on the school webpage and posters were put up throughout the school. A press release was
sent to the media and the members of the Parliament who are in the Taiwan Support Group were
also formally invited, but were unable to attend.
The events succeeded attracting students` interest in Taiwan and its indigenous culture, although
in a small country and in a capital where our event competed with many other happenings the
numbers remain relatively low. Nevertheless, Tallinn University Asian Studies students were
exposed to the possibility of studying Taiwan and studying in Taiwan. Feedback from visitors
and participating scholars was overwhelmingly positive. In general, our aims for the public
events were reached.
Academic impact
Academically this event exceeded expectations. The declared purposes of the roundtable in the
invitation for participating scholars were:
• to introduce individual scholarly work about Taiwan in the region
• to create a general picture about what universities and individual scholars in the region do in
regards to Taiwan Studies
• to discuss how to develop Taiwan Studies in the region
• to create networks both between academic institutions and between individual scholars
• to discuss how these networks can be used for future projects, such as for joint funding
applications, joint publications, and panels in academic conferences or for academic exchanges
and shared teaching resources
• to enable informal exchanges between individual scholars for cooperation or information
All of these aims were reached.
The roundtable gave the scholars from the region an opportunity to present papers in a specific
Taiwan Studies context. All presentations were followed by lively discussion. Presentations in
the open session and a round of introduction in the closed session provided an opportunity to
learn what colleagues do in relation to Taiwan.
As was noted in discussions, in the Baltic region Taiwan is seldom independently interesting
to scholars and students, but is examined as a part of sinology or as a case to examine certain
sociological or international relations approaches. The intended opportunity to make a specific
Taiwan-related interest visible and to create a Taiwan-related scholarly network in the region
was achieved.
After the event we will continue communicating through an email list.
We had an opportunity to share successful experiences about applying for external money for
teaching and publications for Taiwan-related projects. A concrete result was the decision to
apply money from the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation or One Asia Foundation for a specific
Taiwan-related course that can tour all three countries.
Alone, the interest in Taiwan in each university relies on one or two scholars and the pool of
interested students is small. However, a teaching program that is open to students from several
universities in one country and that can be repeated in the neighboring countries is a
cost-effective way to utilize existing teaching in the Baltic region across different specializations
and institutions together with the contributions of one or two visiting Taiwanese scholars.
There was no concrete results yet on collaboration in research, but contacts that were now
created will facilitate discussions on the email platform about shared research projects,
conference panels, or joint publications in the future.