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Monday, 19th May

2014 Chuan Lyu Lectures in Taiwan Studies

Prof. Leonard Blussé, Leiden University

Taiwan ‘Made in Holland’

  • Monday, 19th May, 2014
    5pm in Rooms 8&9 (Ground Floor)
    Faculty of Asian & Middle Eastern Studies (Sidgwick Site)
    Early Modern Taiwan as a Laboratory of Colonial Society (1623-68)


Photo for 19th May

When I enrolled in the department of anthropology and archeology of National Taiwan University in 1970, Taiwan was an exciting place for a young Leiden-trained sinologist-to-be.  In the academic sphere everything seemed in flux. Japanese- and mainland-educated professors were teaching, but a new generation of American-trained teachers was coming up. Owing to Western researchers such as Schipper, Sasso, Cohen, and Jordan and the Wolfs, anthropological research was broadened from research on aboriginal society to Han Chinese society. During fieldwork in the mountains and in the Penghu Archipelago I ran across many tales about the so-called Dutch period (1624–62).  Trying to make sense of these strange, often mythical tales, I was directed back to the bountiful archives of the Dutch East India Company at the Dutch National Archives in The Hague.

In the aftermath of my research stay in Taiwan, I initiated and co-edited two important multi-volume source publications on the Dutch colonial experience in Taiwan:  the Diaries of Zeelandia Castle and Formosan Encounters: Notes on Formosa’s Aboriginal Society. These two publications have profoundly changed our knowledge of what used to be called ‘The Neglected Formosa’. Drawing mainly on these two publications, this first lecture will show how the Dutch learned and failed to learn lessons from their experiments in colonising the western plains of Taiwan.