SOAS University of London

Centre of Taiwan Studies

Shifting Histories/Complex Ties: Diplomatic Imaginings, Discursive Constructions, and Performative Cultural Diplomacy in Tuvalu-Taiwan Relations 1970s to Present

CTS-IMG-Jessica Marinaccio2
Speaker: Jessica Marinaccio

Date: 7 December 2018Time: 1:00 PM

Finishes: 7 December 2018Time: 3:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: G51

Type of Event: Seminar


In March 1979, Tuvalu’s government newspaper reported on Tuvalu’s “Asian diplomacy,” highlighting the rapid development of official relationships with East Asian nations like Taiwan that occurred shortly after Tuvalu’s independence in 1978. Contemporaneously, the Taiwan government began reporting on early diplomatic forays into Pacific nations including Tuvalu. These Tuvaluan/Taiwanese reports are frequently characterized by narrativizations that suggest the complexities of early Pacific-Asia relationships and that provide a foundation for complicating recent analysis of Pacific-Asia diplomacy. In this presentation, I first outline understandings of diplomacy from the vantage points of Tuvaluan/Pacific diplomats in Taiwan and Taiwanese diplomats in Tuvalu, highlighting convergences in Pacific ideals for diplomatic practice and the sometimes striking divergences between these ideals and Taiwanese conceptions of diplomacy. Subsequently, I compare early official discourse on Tuvalu-Taiwan diplomatic relations with more recent leadership statements and briefly outline popular imaginings of Taiwan/Tuvalu in their diplomatic partner. Finally, I consider how analyzing cultural diplomacy conducted through performance (or “performative cultural diplomacy”) reflects the complexities and multiple narratives evident in the diplomatic imaginings and discursive constructions I discuss and highlights the myriad people (beyond simply diplomats) who participate in diplomatic practice. In so doing, I sketch the disparate elements that initially constituted Tuvalu-Taiwan relations and that continue to structure imaginings of Tuvalu, Taiwan, and their diplomacy today. I also challenge dominant arguments that Taiwan-PRC competition determines Taiwan’s relationships in the Pacific.

CTS-IMG-Jessica Marinaccio1


Speaker Bio

CTS-IMG-Jessica Marinaccio

After receiving a BA in History and Chinese language from Williams College in the United States, Jess Marinaccio moved to Taiwan in 2006. She received a Master’s in Chinese literature from National Taiwan University and, later, worked at the Tuvalu Embassy in Taiwan for two years. Jess is currently a PhD Candidate in Pacific Studies at Victoria University of Wellington (NZ), where she focuses on Tuvalu-Taiwan performative cultural diplomacy, as well as understandings of diplomacy and indigeneity in Tuvalu and Taiwan. Jess has presented extensively on these topics, and her articles on these subjects have been published or are in press at Issues & Studies, Asia Pacific Viewpoint, International Journal of Taiwan Studies, and The Contemporary Pacific. 

Organiser: Centre of Taiwan Studies

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