Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Renaissance of Formosan Languages

Lecture given at National Dong Haw University (Hualien, Taiwan) on 7th March 2017.


"Punctuation and Writing Format of Indigenous Written Languages", published in Aboriginal Educational World 73 (March, 2017), pp.  66-69.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Natalie Zemon Davis and "The Return of Martin Guerre"

When I was doing my Research MA in history at Leiden (2010-2012), the type of history that I was trying to write brought my supervisors to recommend Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie (1929-, French), Carlo Ginzburg (1939-, Italian) and Natalie Zemon Davis (1928-, American/Canadian Jew) to me.

History people would probably spot why now. 

Le Roy Ladurie wrote a fantastic book about a rural village called Montaillou in the early fourteenth century (1973); Ginzburg's book on the religious beliefs and world views of a miller Menocchio from the sixteenth century is equally inspiring (1976); and Davis's Martin Guerre from another village Artigat in Southern France of the early sixteenth century remains a popular read ever since its publication (1983). 

What their craftsmanship commonly celebrates is the possibility for a historian to, in Davis's words, "recreate...reinvigorate...and give" ("Being Speculative is better than not to do it at all", 2015) to the people or individuals who are often otherwise passed by, if not silenced, in the history of mankind. They have worked on Europeans to show that; perhaps, as my supervisors thought, it would be nice for the novice, me, to attempt the same for indigenous peoples. 

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Monday, August 22, 2016


This article was published in Indigenous Peoples Quarterly (Summer, No. 2), 2016: pp. 60-63.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Badai (Pinuyumayan): Part I

I've been meaning to write about Badai for a while. The plan got stalled kind of because he is one of the most prolific indigenous writers in Taiwan, publishing often two or three times a year since his debut in 2007.

The books I've been reading recently, for example, all came out in 2009. All of them, too, were either about or directly developed from the art of traditional healing or shamanism he studied first-hand between 2000 and 2008 in Tamalakaw, his birth village. The Pinuyumayan word for that art is 'taramaw' (or spelt as daramaw). 

Monday, June 20, 2016

Sunday, June 19, 2016

FestPac Day 5: Unexpected islanders

FestPac Day 5: Unexpected islanders on 27th May 2016 by Johanna Salinas from The Guam Daily Post.

12th Festival of Pacific Arts (22nd May - 4th June, Guam)

This is by far the most emotionally-charged official trip I've ever been on: my first time at FestPac and Taiwan's fourth time (as for as I know) since the 9th in 2004 on Palau, the 10th in 2008 on American Samoa, and the 11th in 2012 on Solomon Islands.

I know I can consider myself lucky, being often invited to international events such as FestPac as part of the indigenous delegation from Taiwan. My function is often that of interpretation. But for those who've been on the same trip with me, they would know why I am invited.

I always deliver much more than what is asked of me. This is certainly also the case in Guam this time. My roles were many, including

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the Word (1982)

First published in 1982 by Methuen & Co. Ltd, Jesuit scholar Walter J. Ong's classic study of the development from orality to literacy has been a constant reprint for the past three decades.

This cover (photo left) is from the edition of 2002. Amazon is selling a yet new edition celebrating the book's thirty-year anniversary.

Ong premises that primarily orality society is a society "totally unfamiliar with writing" (p. 6), whose "oral university of communication or thought" (p. 2) is very difficult for readers like us born in the age of 'secondary orality' to conceive.

In order not to mistaken oral societies for being inferior or secondary to chirographci (writing) and typographic (print) societies, which is absolutely incorrect too, it is essentially approach them diachronically or historically. That is what Ong did in this book by contrasting "orality with alphabetic used in the West" (p.3).