Hung-Jen Tsai
Research Interests:
My main academic interests concern the possibility of forming a Taiwanese national identity, and how to shape such identity. National identity mentioned herein does not refer to the past sense of nation formed on the basis of ethnicity, of territory and  of familial and neighboring relationships, but rather referring to the concept of a nation state founded on the basis of modernity, which is often known as national identity in various literature. However, the forming of a contemporary nation state bonds closely in with the clogs of capitalism beyond national borders. Therefore, first, my research utilizes politico-economic analytical approaches to examine the formation of Taiwanese national identity. That is to say, my research focus on how the historical development of Taiwanese national identity embeds in the vicissitudes of modern capitalist world-system.
Second, as a vulnerable and small community, the formation and rupture of Taiwanese national identity are often dominated by external powers. The key factor here lies in the unique geopolitical situation of Taiwan, namely Taiwan’s pivotal location between North-East Asia and South-East Asia, and as the gateway to China and to the Pacific Ocean. Therefore, in order to comprehend the complexity and diversity of Taiwanese national identity, it has to be seen in the context of world history, or at least in the regional history of East Asia.
Third, Chinese nationalism is a significant other to the Taiwanese identity. Not only do both sides of the Taiwanese Straits share linguistic and cultural affinities but China regards herself as a claimant country to Taiwan’s sovereignty. With the expansion of China’s economic scale in the past 30 years, the pressure China exerts on Taiwan has become greater than ever. Paradoxically speaking, under the process of such history, Taiwan has gradually formed a concrete and clear national boundaries through democratic elections and a national identity other than one of Chinese nationalism. Therefore here my questions are as follows: how do we understand the history of Chinese nationalism formation in light of politico-economic analysis? Is it possible for Taiwan to maintain its autonomous rule under China’s crushing pressure when the autonomous national identity of Taiwan has just emerged in history for the first time?