Dr. Jens Damm and visiting scholar Dr. Taru Salmenkari, both affiliated to the Graduate Institute of Taiwan Studies of Chang Jung Christian University, participated on the conference "Social movements, rights discourses and citizenship: Social and political developments in Taiwan in a regional perspective." The conference was held at the National Chengchi University on November 6-7, 2012.
Jens Damm presented his paper “The Impact of the Taiwanese LGBTQ Movement in Mainland China.” He dealt with the question how cross-Strait cyberspace may offer LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered people, queer = in Chinese: tongzhi 同志, and lala 拉拉, a specific female expression) communities a space for the exchange of concepts and ideologies. In addition, he dealt with newly established workshops of the “Lala Chinese Alliance” (拉拉華人聯盟), the most important trans-regional LGBTQ organization. The results of his research shows that although the mainland Chinese LGBTQ communities online are localized to a certain extent and influenced by socio-cultural specifics, cross-border and cross-Strait communities of sexual minority groups do exist, and, Taiwan as well as Hong Kong, as the most liberal of all Chinese-speaking “entities,” has heavily influenced the discourse and social practices of LGBTQ on the Mainland during the “internationalization” process of the Chinese LGBTQ movement which started after 2005. In the discussion the issues were raised if one should speak of a Taiwanese impact or if it makes more sense to speak of an international impact brought to China via activists having been educated in the West, and also to which extent the cyberspace plays really such an important role as postulated in much of the research literature.
Taru Salmenkari presented a paper “Building Taiwanese identities from below: the role of NGOs and social movements.” She argued that, while the modernist project typically created a single national identity, typical for our contemporary era is that the production of identities is a more dispersed, personal and multivocal process. As the national identity itself is highly politicized and contested in Taiwan, there is a tendency to seek meaningful Taiwanese identities in one’s own community and through one’s personal contacts and experiences instead of nationalistic party-led definitions based on a sovereign nation (whichever it is). Taiwanese NGOs and social movements participate this process to create Taiwaneseness in the grassroots. The presentation led to discussion about how the emergence of more multivocal and personally experienced histories has led to changed perceptions of justice and nationalist countermovements.
As the conference was organized bilaterally with the University of Vienna, it provided also an opportunity to discuss cooperation with Austrian scholars specializing in Taiwanese studies.
Further cooperation for next term is envisoned in cooperation with Dr. Astrid Lipinsky.