French Taiwan Studies Project

Island of traditions and contrasts, Taiwan attracts the interest of many academics and students throughout the world. The many articles, theses, dissertations, films and projects deserve to be collected and widely diffused. This is what our site intends to do. Enthusiasts, browsers, professionals and all are welcome to discover the research on Taiwan carried out in France and elsewhere.

Presentation of the half-day conference


© Wang Xihao

Since 2017, the seminar dedicated to Taiwan and its Places of Memory has been examining Taiwan’s process of affirming its identity as well as its cultural and memorial roots. For Pierre Nora, “realms of memory are not what we remember, but rather the point where memory operates”. Thus, by focusing on how Taiwanese actors are operating on their own memory, we looked into the debates around historical, cultural and identity legitimacy in the constitution of a “common”. As Maurice Halbwachs argued, posing the question of the “social frameworks of memory” ultimately means questioning what binds us together as a group. What stories do we pass on? What narratives do we construct? What emotions do we mobilise? Which protagonists do we remember? Whom do we address? With what words, in what languages, through which reference points?


This year, we approached the issues of memory in Taiwan through the prism of bond, to which we added the terms space and distance. However, these terms ought not to be apprehended  as mere spatial and geographical categories. Whether material, social or symbolic, space is a locus where meaning and significance are produced. The dynamics of memory that traverse it and operates on it construct the near and the far, the ‘us’ and the ‘others’. A fourth term emerges from this triptych of ‘bond, space, distance’: the boundary that delimits the space, constructs the distance, and is traversed by the bond.


Our lines of questioning mobilised have been wide-ranging and the terms polysemous. This is a deliberate choice, in order propose a common reflection based on what is concrete: our fieldwork (whether geographical or textual, in Taiwan or elsewhere). Thus we discussed the Waishengren people’s link to their homeland, the boundary between sacred and profane spaces in the Ba Jia Jiang ritual, or broadened our horizons by thinking Koreans’ bonds with and distance from Kazakhstan.


For this half-day conference, the students enrolled in the seminar will take the floor and explore these issues. What spaces are investigated? What borders are observed? What bonds are forged t and how are they maintained? What distances do these bonds traverse? What narratives and memories are mobilised? How can the construction of a ‘common’ be observed?


The objective is to set up a benevolent setting where the  reflection  on these issues, in the light of our own fieldwork and in the presence of our colleagues and established researchers, may be stimulated. However, the question of the bond should not be confined to Taiwan. This workshop is also intended to de-compartmentalise our work and make it accessible to those interested in Formosa, and will therefore be open to the wider public.


Guest researchers: Stéphanie Homola (CNRS), Vincent Goossaert (EPHE), Jérôme Soldani (Université Montpellier 3), Xiaohong Xiao-Planes (Inalco), Beatrice Zani (McGill University).

Organisers: Luc Castaneda and Wang Xihao, with Samia Ferhat.

Panel 1

2.00 pm – 3.30 pm

Same-sex marriage rituals in Taiwan: the initial stages of a survey

Nausica Rivière, doctoral student (IFRAE – INALCO)

From monolingualism to multilingualism: democracy in Taiwan’s language policies

Chen Shen-Bin, doctoral student (Université Sorbonne Nouvelle)

Coffee break

3.30pm – 4pm

Panel 2

4pm – 6pm

Diplomacy and missionary strategy of the Holy See towards the Republic of China from 1928 to 1946

Father Landry Védrenne, doctoral student (FASSE, Institut Catholique de Paris)

The Bodhisattvas of the 13th arrondissement: Tzu Chi, from Taiwan to Paris and from Paris to Taiwan

Luc Castaneda, Master 2 in Asian Studies (EHESS)

Complementary sessions with Tsai Yu-yueh (26 May and 2 June 2023)

Conférence Yu-Yuah TSAI



Tsai-Yu-yueh (IOS -Academia Sinica) will speak on the occasion of two complementary sessions of the seminar “Taiwan and its Realms of Memory: Bond, Space and Distance”. These lectures are part of the cycle of conferences “Taiwanese Perspectives”.






26 May :

我會建議附檔我初稿的題目Indigenous DNA as a Metaphor: Scientific Debates on the Rediscovery of Taiwanese Ancestry and Nation-Building



The development of genealogical science in the twenty-first century has important implications for national and racial/ethnic construction. In Taiwan, genetic research on the origins of Taiwanese has involved racial/ethnic issues but also the dispute over Taiwan’s national identity with the People’s Republic of China, which claims that “we have the same roots” or “blood is thicker than water.” After the end of martial law (1945-1987), scientific research on multi-origins and genetic makeup of Taiwanese emerged. In particular, Marie Lin,M.D., widely known as “the mother of the research on Taiwanese blood,” and her teams have been devoted to revealing the origins of the ethnic groups in Taiwan. My research pushes the concept of co-production between science and politics (Jasanoff, 2004) further by addressing the “nationalization of biomedicine” and the “biomedicalization of the nation”. I explore how the Taiwan’s changing identity politics, including the emergence of the new categorization of four great ethnic groups, multiculturalism, and Taiwanese nationalism, has profoundly influenced genetic research on Taiwanese genealogy and how scientific findings produced in the lab have then spilled out into both Taiwan and the PRC through journals, media, history textbooks, and public disputes since the 1990s. For genealogical science to play a constructive role in identity-making, this research shows that we need to remain vigilant to genetic technology, scientific knowledge formation, and methodology by looking at scientists’ works and discourses through an STS perspective to extend the epistemological reflection.

2 June :

From strategic scientific essentialism to de-essentialism: Genetic Science and the Name Rectification Movement of the Thao Indigenous peoples in Taiwan


Using the name rectification movement of the Thao people in Taiwan as an example, this article analyzes how name rectification activists used human genome research to achieve their re-naming goal. I use historical and field data to argue that Thao ethnic activists used DNA evidence as an example of “strategic scientific essentialism” in Thao identity formation. After the Thao was officially recognized by the Taiwan government in 2001, DNA evidence was deemphasized compared to land ownership, the establishment of a Thao national council, and the promotion of Thao language learning in the construction of Thao ethnicity. This shift from “strategic scientific essentialism” to “strategic scientific de-essentialism” confirms that ethnic identity is not primordial, but a product shaped by social and political change. The Thao’s successful re-naming campaign demonstrates how genetic knowledge can generate significant social effects on resource access and power redistribution by shaping ethnic identity and differences.


A discussion on the issue of “Narratives and memory” with Évelyne Ribert and Sébastien Ledoux, based on the book “Le Temps des mots, un dialogue sino-taïwanais”

affiche atelier taïwan studies Samia Ferhat“In France and other places across the world, Chinese and Taiwanese students happen to meet. They are keen to make better acquaintance but at the same time they feel some embarrassment due to the profound sense of otherness. They gain awareness of their divergent representations of each other: the Chinese evoke the belonging they share with the Taiwanese, whereas the latter point up to the “rift”; separating them. They are here observed by their professor, a specialist of Taiwan, who set up a workshop where the roles played by official, institutional and family memories in their identification dynamics have been probed. The discussions unfurled within the framework of an original research project — conducted in 2009 and 2010, involving ten participants — which was based on the screening of films looking into the Chinese and Taiwanese pasts (…). More specifically, this book explores family memories spanning two, three or even four generations and, in the process, it exposes the collective social frameworks of memory. Pieced together from 2009 until 2021, these are the memories of the generation born in the 1980s, at a time when democracy was established in Taiwan and the Chinese government urged its people to seek prosperity.”


Academic Year 2022-2023

The French Taiwan Studies team is happy to announce that its seminar is returning for its seventh year. The first session will take place on 14 November 2022.

About the Project

Find out more about the story of our project and the team behind it.

The Seminar

FTS is centred around a seminar conducted each year at the EHESS.

Bridging The Strait

In front of a camera, young Chinese and Taiwanese students share their outlook on cross-strait relations.

Taiwan Studies

Directory of archives of academic works on Taiwan.