Taiwan: The Crisis of Identity and Ownership

The Island of Taiwan has been a prize for many nations. It has been colonized by the Dutch, the Spanish, the Manchus, the Japanese, and the Chinese. The Island has developed its own social and religious organizations from its indigenous Austronesian groups, its immigration of refugees, and its international trading operations. Taiwan’s history is the narrative of a decentralized and vibrant society. It has the characteristics of a Maritime nation. Today, the ownership of Taiwan is contested. The Chinese government in Beijing has announced that Taiwan is a Chinese Island province and must be reunited to the Mainland. If not, China has the right to use military force to bring the Island into Chinese rule. The majority of Taiwanese feel they are not Chinese, and they argue that they do not want to be united with China. The position of the United States in this matter is that the ownership of Taiwan is still undecided.

This course will present the history of Taiwan, explore its complex identity, and analyze its predicament in the international struggle for survival. The course will be three weeks. Week one is history, week two is identity, and week three is the issue of sovereignty.

Instructor: Richard Kagan

Three Mondays: 6–7:30pm
October 15, 22, 29

Richard Kagan

Richard Kagan is professor of history emeritus at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota. He has a PhD in history from the University of Pennsylvania, with a specialization in Asia. He has written extensively on China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam. He was recently appointed visiting professor in the history department at Wesleyan.