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Sidenotes to the 8th FUTH Summer University (I)

2018-09-06

ICCS of NCTU and IICS of UST have held the 8th FUTH Summer University “Toward Decolonizing Cold War Knowledge: Facing Contemporary Border Politics” at NCTU HA Building 2, between July 9 to 13, 2018.
 
With the support of Ministry of Education’s Taiwan Experience Education Program (TEEP), this summer school was a result of continuous collaboration with the Flying University of Transnational Humanities (FUTH), after the 2016 and 2017 “Transnational Network for the Critical Inter-Asia Cultural Studies” winter camps. Course contents of the summer school were planned and developed by core researchers from ICCS & IICS’s SPROUT project “Conflict, Justice, and Decolonization: Critical Studies in Inter-Asian Societies”, while the lecturers involved scholars from East Asia and Southeast Asia.
 
Renowned scholars such as Jie-Hyun LIM, Frank Hadler, John Hutnyk, Alfred Gerstl, Friedrich Edelmayer, Ute Wallenboeck, Agnes Schick-Chen, Rusaslina Idrus, Davorn Sisavath, Viren Murthy and TSUBOI Hideto had lectured in the summer school, covering a variety of topics including (post) Cold War studies, memory, history and civil rights etc. During the program, a total number of 33 participants (including 7 postdoc fellows) from South Korea, Japan, Turkey, Poland, Romania, Malaysia, Indonesia and other countries formed four study groups, in which they shared individual research projects related to the topics among themselves.
 
The entire program was conducted in English to facilitate international exchanges and for the participants to share their research problematics. The Taiwan-based “International Institute for Cultural Studies” strives to locate Taiwan as a hub to connect Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia and South Asia through historical links and contemporary common problems in these regions. The Institute continues to put “critical studies in Inter-Asia societies” as the subject of research, as to observe different forms of associations between Asian societies in terms of migration, history, conflicts, mutual influences and benefits etc. In doing so, we hope to build up a forward-looking and sustainable international academic platform.

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From 9th to 13th July we participated in the summer school held by International Institute for Cultural Studies in National Chiao Tung University. Meeting with researchers that have common concerns but different life experience impressed me a lot. Besides the lectures and seminars, we had a field trip to Lo-Sheng Sanatorium in Taipei to visit the admirable residents and student volunteers there. 
 
The keywords of this summer school included Cold War, decolonization and border politics. On the aftermath of Global Cold War, Professor Jie-Hyun Lim concerned about the passage of memories in postwar areas, relating to the complicated politics of victimhood and transitional justice. Professor Frank Hadler elaborated the decolonization process of Eastern European since World War I. In an extended but heterogenous sense, Professor John Hutnyk re-opened a decolonizing reflexive space, from Marx and progressive students in Europe, to colonial Indochina and Vietnam. His - problematics focused more on the production of knowledge that shapes young students’ mind and thinking approaches. 
 
Compared to such theoretical discussion, the panel of “Learning from the Subaltern People” invited scholars that had multiple positions towards the topic. Professor Rusaslina Idrus researches on Orang Asli, the minority ethnic groups in Malaysia. She also playsd a role as an activist that engages in Orang Asli’s civil rights protest movement. Professor P. Kerim Friedman gave a broad introduction on Taiwanese documentary films, while the director of the films he analyzed sat beside him. Salone Ishahavut, the Taiwanese indigenous film maker, explained the on-going movement of Taiwanese indigenous groups on land problems. The form of the panel was well-prepared that it provided diverse practical dimensions of one topic and not restricted only in academic works.
 
It was funny that the Wi-Fi account of the lecture room is named “Border”. Several participants were working on border issues under political frameworks of nation-state and citizenship. I was interested in historical and experimental research focusing on political dilemmas in the the Third World areas, especially about the immigrant problems and border controversies. That is why I joined the discussion group led by Professor Tsuboi Hideto. Professor Tsuboi specializes in Japanese literature studies. He gave a wonderful lecture in the summer school about Japanese laborers detained in Manchuria at the end of the war. The Japanese laborers were required to stay in China and engaged in the Chinese Communist Revolution in 1940s and 1950s. They worked in factories, coalmines and hospitals there, and were involved in some cultural activities. Professor Tsuboi did his fieldwork in Hegang in northeast China, where the Manchukuo Film Association was located. The film association was firstly established by the Japanese in 1945 before it was taken over by Chinese Communist Party one year later. As far as I know, the history of the Manchukuo Film Association was considered as a symbol of postwar solidarity among people in China, Korea and Japan. Although the complexity of war still existed, people worked together and lived quite equally in the film association. Professor Tsuboi talked more about the Japanese laborers’ involvement in the Northeast Construction Shock Troops and the connection between Communist Party of China and Japan after the war, to rethink the notion of “refugee” in northeast Asia in 1950s. 
 
However, we did not have enough time to discuss more on the book he suggested us to read, which is on the refugee issue in the aftermath of the second world war. During our seminar sessions, each member of our group gave a 20-minute presentation on our own works. Some of the group members had specific research cases about the people who moved cross border due to the state management or wars. OH Se Young’s presentation focused on the Zainichi people, the ethnic Koreans living in Japan. Many members of Zainichi had the family background of experiencing Jeju uprising. He shared an interview experience with a young Zainichi women who lived in Japan but moved to South Korea after the 311 earthquake. From his research, the inherited memory and the identity contradiction of Zainichi people arouse serious problem to the society. Comparatively, Intaek Hong shared his research on the Korean War orphans who moved to Poland during 1950s. His analysis of some letters written by the orphans provided interesting perspectives to rethink the post war structure in the socialist bloc of North Korea and Eastern Europe; he also unfolded on how did those historical texts reflect the private emotion of individuals in the post war period. Another South Korean PhD student Myung-ah Son concerned about the family migrants of North Korean defectors. Her experience of working with the “North Defectors” gave her special access to the research. As a consequence of border regulations, the displaced population of migrants are prevalent. From those researches, people’s struggle against the border mechanism actually opened a possible imagination of cross border solidarity.
 
As for the agenda of the summer school, it would be better if group discussions can be more flexible. Some presentation topics in other groups seem interesting but we had no time to listen to and discuss about. The overall  experience of the summer school was quite glad to me, including the unexpected typhoon. Thanks to organizers for their considerate arrangement and hard work.
 
Writer: LI QI (Institute of Social Research and Cultural Studies, National Chiao Tung University)

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