Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Travels of Ibn Battutah

In his Great Voyages Lecture "Traveler's Tips from the 14th Century: The Detours of Ibn Battutah" (December 4th, 2013), Professor Paul Cobb offers his audience these five tips to travel: Keep an Open Mind, Go to School, Bring Snacks, Plan on Changing Plans and Make Friends

Despite of their ordinariness, we must also do these tips justice by recognizing their source of inspiration, that is Ibn Battutah (1304~1368 or 1369), a medieval traveler from the 14th century and a voice from the less-known Arabic world, to compared with his Venetian contemporary, Marco Polo (1254~1324). 

Monday, May 15, 2017

John E. Wills Jr. and "1688: A Global History"

Professor John E. Wills, recently deceased in January 2017 at the age of 80, is a wonderful writer and a great source of early modern world history. 

Like the Canadian historian Timothy Brook (1951-), they go far and wide, portraying for readers a world from bygone days, yet filled with so much life and even more vivid details. Under their pen, the world of the 17th century is as lively as the one we are living in now. 

The year of 1688 is Wills's focal point. He travels back and forth in time, journeying from continent to continent, from port cities to courts, from trade to religion, from material goods to metaphysical letters to bring us how the world looked like around that particular year...

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