Ashley Esarey and Ryan Dunch are editing a book that emerged from the conference held at the UofA in 2013. Tentative title is Taiwan in Dynamic Transition: Nation-Building and Democratization in a Global Context

“The co-edited volume illuminates areas of transformation in Taiwan politics during the postwar area. Distinguished contributing scholars address nationalism and the effect of China’s rise on national identity, constitutional reform, grass roots democratization, social movements and opposition to new trade agreements, responses to international pressure for legal reform, and the evolution in civil-military relations. The book contains cutting-edge original research; its chapters have been written to appeal to a broad readership.” – Ashley

Allison Balcetis “Reunion, Collaboration, Improvisation: A Concert Tour in Taiwan” 

“This research project had two components: artistic and pedagogical, both connecting the music of Taiwan with North America. Taiwanese saxophonist Po-Yuan Ku was the first to complete his Doctorate of Musical Arts from the University of Alberta in 2009. He and I were classmates under the supervision of Dr. William Street for the two years that our studies overlapped from 2007-2009. For the artistic half of this project, I worked with Ku, who now teaches at the National University of Tainan, and prepared a duo concert featuring works by Taiwanese composers, some by University of Alberta Department of Music alumni, and finally an improvisation with Ku inspired by traditional Taiwanese music. Using folk music as a musical springboard we will wove together our shared experiences, creating real-time musical synthesis. The pedagogical entailed working with Ku’s saxophone students in a masterclass setting. Several students performed in a public setting and I gave them a short public lesson, benefitting the performer but also those watching. This is a commonly used and highly effective way of exchanging ideas in music because it benefits the students, but also their teachers. With that spirit of exchange in mind, also observed Ku’s teaching in one-on-one lessons and conducting a large ensemble.” – Alison

Noels, K. A., & Lou, M.  “Mindsets, goal orientations and language learning: What we know and where we need to go”Contact (2015) 41(2), 41− 52.

“My research shows that some people ascribe successful language learning to a natural talent or an innate ability that cannot be further developed (i.e., an entity mindset) while other people believe that language intelligence is a flexible ability that can be improved (i.e., an incremental mindset). Across two correlational and one experimental studies, I found that students from University of Alberta (sample size is more than 2000 students) who believed in incremental mindsets were more motived in their language courses and more persistent to continue learning the language. This research provides important implications for language teaching and learning.” – Nigel

Junhong (Summer) Ma “Tea Culture Across the Taiwan Strait”

“Nowadays, with its diverse ways of interpretations–socially, economically, symbolically and ritually–tea culture has become an extremely popular topic in both academia and mass media in Asian countries. Portrayed as a traditional healthy drink from ancient China, the status of tea in contemporary Chinese society has ascended to a high status. Embedded in the network of global commodity chains, tea and its relative business not only entail economic significance, but also getting involved in the construction of cultural identity.

Ever since the grand economical opening up in 1978, the industrialization process brought numerous challenges from world giant retail brands, KFC, Coca-Cola, and MacDonald. What the local tea entrepreneurs did was to work in concert with intellectuals and relative government departments to elevate the status of tea industry by all cultural ways.

Thanks for Taiwan Studies Grant, in the summer of 2015, I conducted field work on tea culture in tea growing areas in Taiwan and Mainland China.Outsiders of tea industry could easily get lost in the overwhelming culture complexity. In this case, it`s the “rejuvenation” or new invention of tradition of tea culture across the Taiwan Strait. Thanks to my supervisor, Professor Jean DeBernardi, who provided me with much background materials and connections to Tea Colleges and merchants, I was able to meet quite a few important tea masters and business owners during my visit in Taiwan. Through the analysis of my interaction with those business people and artists, I hope to get a chance to interpret the insiders’ perspective to unfold the layers of cultural complexity.” – Summer

Chee-Hann Wu “Inter-cultural Theatre in Taiwan”

 “Intercultural theatre production has seen a significant increase recently on the world stage; however, most well-known intercultural productions are built on Western traditions incorporating elements from other cultures mostly as exotic embellishment to enrich the original plays without reorienting cultural position and significance. In this project, I would like to pay attention to the methods and aesthetics of intercultural performances in Taiwan, emphasis will be especially put on Wu Hsing Kuo, the artistic director of Contemporary Legend Theatre, who has devoted to creating productions through innovative performance styles of applying traditional Chinese opera to the interpretations of well-known classical plays. Furthermore, through this project, I hope to observe the cultural importance of intercultural theatre in Taiwan which would help to enhance the multi-aspects of my thesis that focuses on shifting the main narrative in intercultural discourse from the West to the Rest, and try to deconstruct conventional limitations and redefine intercultural performances beyond the established framework. How intercultural theatre in Asia reacts to the encounter with classic texts not simply through reproductions and mixture of cultures but base on personal or cultural collective experiences and provide cultural significance with reinterpretations will also be studied.” – Chee-Hann


Ashley Esarey, My Fight for a New Taiwan:  One Woman’s Journey from Prison to Power, with Lu Hsiu-lien (University of Washington Press, 2014). Click here to access reviews on the University of Washington Press website.


University of Alberta Graduate Student Scott Habkirk used Taiwan Studies funding to complete a short documentary on the goddess Mazu and spirit mediums: