SOAS University of London

Centre of Taiwan Studies

Representations of Formosa: Spatial Politics and Cultural Images in British Travel Writings in Taiwan during the 19th Century

Professor Lin Shu-hui

Date: 14 June 2019Time: 3:00 PM

Finishes: 14 June 2019Time: 5:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: 4426

Type of Event: Talk

Lin Shu-hui Talk 1


Lin Shu-hui Talk 2

Travelogues contain the value in cultural representation and could be one of the ways to understand self and the world. The travelogues written by British in Taiwan during the 19th century remain nearly unexplored. The British Empire had dispatched ships to Keelung for coal mines exploration early back in 1847. After the opening of the treaty ports for international commerce in 1860, the British Consulate in Taiwan was set up, and visitors of various identities began to come to Taiwan. The travelogues of the British visitors preserved the process of cultural interactions and revealed the goals of transnational politics and economic exploration. Consul in Formosa Robert Swinhoe (1836-1877), Royal Navy’s ship’s doctor Cuthbert Collingwood (1826-1908), staff member of foreign firm and jerquer of customs William Alexander Pickering (1840-1907), Presbyterian missionary to Southern Formosa William Campbell (1841-1921), missionary and teacher to Southern Formosa from the Presbyterian Church of England Rev. Hugh Ritchie (1840-1879), English merchant in Northern Taiwan John Dodd (1838-1907), and educator and missionary from Church of Scotland George Ede (1854-1908), etc. Among them, Robert Swinhoe, as a foreign diplomat, was able to go deep into the wooded hill for field research, bringing back to England the knowledge of other countries. He published and exhibited the research findings in international exposition to enhance the reputation of British Empire and himself.

Lin Shu-hui Page

Lin Shu-hui Talk 3

Travelogues relate to culture diffusion closely, providing later generations an access to understand the structures of feeling during that time. This project uses British’s travelogues about 19th century Taiwan as research materials to analyze the motivation behind the variety of visitors’ coming to Formosa and to explore the strategies of the representation of otherness. Knowledge construction of these travelogues serves official governing, preaching, or business purpose. I collect background information and texts to explore how the authors of the travelogues spread Taiwanese culture and contextual meanings through the writings. 

Speaker Biography

Lin Shu-hui

Lin Shu-hui is a professor in the Department of Taiwan Culture, Languages and Literature at National Taiwan Normal University. Her academic works include A Collection of Taiwan Customs(2004), Taiwanese Prose during the Qing Dynasty(2007), Customs & Memories and Enlightenments: A Digital Archive of Taiwanese Cultural Discourse(2009), The Mood of the Travelers: Taiwanese Travel Writings during the Colonial Period (2014), Represent Culture: Imagined and Discourse of Moving during Modern Period in Taiwan(2017).

Professor Lin specializes in research on travel writing, the history of Taiwanese literature, and Taiwanese culture. She is a visiting scholar at SOAS and has been a visiting scholar at Harvard University, Academia Sinica of Taiwan in the Institute of European and American Studies and as well as their Institute of Taiwanese History, Chinese Literature and Philosophy. She has received many awards in Taiwan, including the Academic Award for Research, the Award of Taiwanese Literature Research, and a publishing award from the Research Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences. She had participated in study of the U.S. Institutes on U.S. Culture and Society in New York University (2016), TUSA‚ÄźHarvard Collaboration Program (2018).In 2019, she got the Fellowship by the Ministry of Science and Technology to pursue advanced research in the UK.

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Organiser: SOAS Centre of Taiwan Studies

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