SOAS University of London

Centre of Taiwan Studies

Imagining San Mao Across Time, Space and Language

Professor Adam Lifshey

Date: 8 July 2020Time: 6:00 PM

Finishes: 8 July 2020Time: 7:30 PM

Venue: Virtual Event

Type of Event: Summer School

As part of the 2020 SOAS Centre of Taiwan Studies Summer School, we kindly ask that you register to attend.

This event will be held online through Blackboard Collaborate.

*Please be aware that all Summer School event times follow British Summer Time (BST)


What are the obstacles and opportunities in trying to write a book that interlaces Taiwan and the Spanish-speaking world along literary lines? And what would be the point of undertaking such a project? In this book-in-progress talk, I will discuss my current efforts to tell a transhistorical, cultural story about Taiwan and the Spanish world: the origins and rationales for the book, the research and resource challenges along the way, the issues and ideas that are still for me in a state of development. I will focus in particular on the transmutations of the Taiwanese writer San Mao when her hugely popular anthology Stories of the Sahara, first issued in Mandarin in 1976, finally appeared in other languages, as twin Barcelona editions in Castilian (“Spanish”) and Catalan in 2016. These volumes offer a new version of San Mao and Stories of the Sahara, not only due to the fact of translation and other significant editorial decisions, but also to the radically distinct interpretive frameworks at hand: a Spanish readership today brings an entirely different cultural and national context to approaching San Mao than her original Taiwanese audience. In my talk, I will discuss these issues and raise questions whose answers I am still trying to develop, such as: how might San Mao be considered part of the Spanish literary canon? What does she have in common with the 17th century priest Jacinto Esquivel, who wrote from Taiwan and, like San Mao, during a failing Spanish colonization attempt? And what might any of this have to do with a new way of seeing Taiwan in general?


CTS-Adam Lifshey

Adam Lifshey is Professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. His books include The Magellan Fallacy: Globalization and the Emergence of Asian and African Literature in Spanish, which won a worldwide competition for the best book written in English, French or Portuguese between 2009 and 2015 on any topic linking Asia and Africa. Adam’s work in Taiwan Studies includes the essays “On the Third Hand: Why to taiwan World Literature,” available from the NTU journal Ex-position at, and “Translating Taiwan Southward,” available in the volume Positioning Taiwan in a Global Context: Being and Becoming, edited by Bi-yu Chang and Pei-yin Lin. Adam holds an M.A. in Taiwan Studies from SOAS, a Ph.D. in Hispanic Languages and Literatures from the University of California, Berkeley, and a B.A. in United States History and Literature from Harvard University.

Organiser: SOAS Centre of Taiwan Studies

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