Between Centralizing Orthodoxy and Local Self-Governance: Taiwanese Intellectuals, the Chinese Revolution, and the Search for a Just Integration


 Conference Room 2, Research Center for Humanities and Social Sciences, Academia Sinica
Mark McConaghy (National Sun Yat-sen University)

Between Centralizing Orthodoxy and Local Self-Governance: Taiwanese Intellectuals, the Chinese Revolution, and the Search for a Just Integration

Mark McConaghy (National Sun Yat-sen University)

In-person seminar
Friday, 18 February 2022
Conference Room 2, RCHSS, Academia Sinica

In an era where the president of the Republic of China, Tsai Ing-wen, has declared that she governs a state called “Republic of China-Taiwan,” in which she has declared that the greatest political consensus for the society is “Resistance to Communism, Protection of Taiwan” (反共保臺), a stance which she has openly praised the late Chiang Ching-kuo for embodying, this talk will ask the question: do Taiwanese intellectuals dare to think of the Chinese revolution today in a Sino-positive, broadly integrative manner? And what are the costs of this loss of historical vision today?

To answer that question, this talk will discuss the various resources that history provides us for understanding the question of the Chinese revolution from a Taiwanese perspective. Specifically, this talk will analyze the political praxis of Xie Xuehong and other Taiwanese socialists in the wake of their failed uprising against the GMD state in 1947, upon which time they fled to Hong Kong in political exile. While there, they published a journal called The New Taiwan Series (新台灣叢刊), in which they sought to dialectically integrate Taiwanese self-governance within the larger Chinese revolutionary project led by the CCP. Adamant that it was only by Taiwan’s participation in the larger socialist revolution that the island could built a materially and ideologically just society, they also insisted that governance structures on the island be democratic and locally rooted among Taiwanese.

Their writings provide us with important resources for re-imagining cross-strait relations today, caught as they are in a seemingly unending ideological and affective cycle of exogenous assertion and endogenous reaction. The writings of The New Taiwan Series provide a vision of a Sino-positive, integrative federalism, one in which self-governance is still firmly intrenched on the island itself. Do we have the courage to think in these terms today?

Mark McConaghy is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chinese Literature at National Sun Yat-sen University in Kaoshiung, Taiwan. His research focuses on modern Chinese and Taiwanese history and literature. His writings can be found (or are forthcoming) in journals such as China Information, Modern Chinese Literature and Culture, The International Journal of Taiwan Studies, Modern China, The Journal of Asian Studies, and Open Cultural Studies. He was a contributing translator to the volume Voices from the Chinese Century: Public Intellectual Debate from Contemporary China (Columbia, 2019), as well as the forthcoming multi-volume translation of Wang Hui’s The Rise of Modern Chinese Thought (Harvard).

The talk will be given in English. Participants shall wear a mask and respect social distancing during the talk.