Report on the First 2014 EH Workshop at Academia Sinica (February 21, 2014)
by Marlon Zhu (Post-doctoral Fellow, Institute of Taiwan History, Academia Sinica)
Professor Huei-Min Tsai (蔡慧敏), of the Graduate Institute of Environmental Education, National Taiwan Normal University, gave a report on “The Transformation of Social-Ecological System and Commons on Ponso-no-Tau (Orchid Island)” (蘭嶼「社會生態系統」與「共有財」機制的變遷). She shed light on the resource management of the Tau people on the Orchid Island, a Pacific island that close to the southeast coast of Taiwan. Following the insight of some anthropologists, Professor Tsai questioned the assumption by economists that “commons” (resources without personal property-right claim) in a society would be exploited to its maximum. Professor Tsai observed that Tau people had constructed and constructing sustainable ways of managing their fishing resource, land use and others, in face of recent challenge of intensified tourism and other capitalist economy.
Dr. Pin-tsang Tseng (曾品滄), Assistant Research Fellow of the Institute of Taiwan History, Academia Sinica, gave a report on “The Beginning of the Trade of Hogs: Environmental Change in Agriculture and Life in Nineteenth-century Northern Taiwan” (生豬貿易的展開──十九世紀末期臺灣北部的農業與生活環變遷). He explored the historical origin of hog husbandry and its significance in the daily life of Taiwanese. Pork served not only as a source of meat consumption but also major sacrifice to god and gift to families. Tseng pointed out, in comparison with coastal provinces of China, the hog-raising in Taiwan in the late nineteenth century was more popular in terms of the average number of hog raised in a household.Hog became the third major product in Taiwan next only to rice and tea. Moreover, the relatively high price of hog in Taiwan since the 1880s and the amount of imported-hog from Fujian (福建) and Zhejiang (浙江) represented a higher pork consumption in Taiwan than other places. Hog husbandry and consumption, therefore, was a key factor in the economic as well as environmental histories of Taiwan.
Dr. Ts’ui-jung Liu (劉翠溶), Adjunct Research Fellow, Institute of Taiwan History, Academia Sinica, introduced the concept and the journal of “Anthropocene” (人類世). According to geologists, we are now in the age of Holocene (全新世), which started since 8000 B.C. Some scholars proposed in recent years that the great extent of human impact on the environment had called for a need to distinguish our time as a distinctive era named as “Anthropocene”. Despite of various debates among researchers over the validity or the beginning time of the Anthropocene, most of them agreed that we need a far more extensive framework, or alternative thinking to deal with new problems we had encountered such as global warming or extreme weather. Dr. Liu then introduced the Journal Anthropocene by sharing extract of each essay in the first two issues of the Journal. She concluded with the new idea’s significance to the study of environmental history. The cross-disciplinary practice, the ever-wider scope in time and space, would be very useful to future studies.
Dr. Marlon Zhu (朱瑪瓏), Post-doctoral Fellow, Institute of Taiwan History, Academia Sinica, gave a reading report on Michael S. Reidy’s Tides of History: Ocean Science and Her Majesty’s Navy (2008). Focusing on the study of tides (“tidology”) in Britain since the second half of the eighteenth century, Reidy gave us a great picture of the rise of modern science as a collective enterprise. Not only included scientific elites such as those who run the Royal Society and the British Association for the Advancement of Science, but also the numerous “scientific associates” and “subordinate labourers” such as the calculators and makers of tide tables, almanac book-sellers, dock officers, underwriters, financiers, and seafarers who made coordinated observations. William Whewell, a Cambridge professor, in Reidy’s opinion, was the key figure to interweave these heterogeneous efforts during the first half of the nineteenth century. It was in this process, Reidy emphasized, the role of science and the profession of scientists in a society were firstly codified.
Report on the Second Conference of East Asian Environmental History (EAEH2013)
by Ya-wen Ku and Marlon Zhu (Institute of Taiwan History, Academia Sinica)
The Second Conference of East Asian Environmental History (EAEH 2013) was held on Oct. 24-26, in Hualien, Taiwan. This conference was co-organized by the Association for East Asian Environmental History, Academia Sinica, and National Dong Hwa University. With the general theme, “Transformation of East Asian Environment in Historical Perspective: Local Reality and Global Connection”, the conference consisted of 3 keynote speeches, a special session on GIS (Geographic Information System), 21 parallel sessions of paper presentation and a round table discussion. More than 100 scholars from China, Hong Kong, Korea, Japan, the Philippines, New Zealand, Europe, North America, and Taiwan were brought together for the conference.
The three keynote speeches were respectively delivered in three days. The first one entitled “Sustainable Empire, An Oxymoron?” was delivered by J. Donald Hughes, Professor Emeritus at University of Denver. The second one on “Listening to Bamboo: The Literati’s Attitude and Behavior to Nature Sounds in Pre-modern China” was given by Lihua Wang, Professor of Nankai University. And the third one entitled “Two Types of ‘Industriousness’ and Changing Attitudes toward Nature in Early Modern Times: an International Comparison” was delivered by Satoshi Murayama, Professor of Kagawa University. The three keynote speeches covered a long temporal span from ancient to contemporary periods and a wide spatial sphere from Europe to East Asia.
The 21 parallel sessions covered various themes such as conceptual view of environmental history, attitude toward nature, environmental policy history, nature Hazard, disaster and prevention, disease and health, marine resources, forest management, biological resources and imperialism, land use, water resources, pollution, nature in 20th century East Asia, Taiwan’s post-war local environmental history, and American environmental legacies in the Philippines. Altogether, 67 papers were presented and discussed. Furthermore, a special attention was given to the use of GIS. In this special session, I-chun Fan, the Executive Director of Center for GIS, introduce the historical maps and GIS databases established in Academia Sinica.
On the last day, the conference ended with a round table discussion chaired by Prof. Hughes and five introducers including Phillip Brown, Andrea Janku, Shiyung Liu, Satoshi Murayama and Lihua Wang. They summarized the main achievements of this event and suggested some important issues for further research in the future.
Finally, at the General Meeting of the Association, the active members of the Association elected Professor Satoshi Murayama (村山聰) as the new President of AEAEH for the following two years (2013-2015). They also elected seven members,Professor Lihua Wang (王利華), Dr. Andrea Janku, Professor Michael Shiyung Liu (劉士永), Dr. Ts’ui-jung Liu (劉翠溶), Professor Philip Brown, Professor Donald Hughes, and Professor David Bello, for the Council of AEAEH.
In addition, two separate field trips were arranged in the afternoon of the third day. At the visit to Cidal Hunter School (吉籟獵人學校) participants learned how to make a crown with the leave of shell-flower (Alpinia zerumbet) and some techniques for living in the wild such as making ropes, setting a trap and lighting a fire. At the guided tour of the Dong Hwa University Campus, participants enjoyed the beautiful scene and biodiversity in the campus.
Report on the Third 2013 EH Workshop at Academia Sinica (August 23, 2013)
by Marlon Zhu (Post-doctoral Fellow, Institute of Taiwan History, Academia Sinica)
Professor Bor-wen Tsai (蔡博文), Associate Professor of the Department of Geography, National Taiwan University, gave a report on “The Change and Adaption of the Agricultural Landscape of Bu-nun People along the Chen-yu-lan River. With tool of Public-Participation Geographical Information System (PP-GIS) and fieldwork in Wansian (望鄉部落) and Shenmu (神木聚落) in the mountainous area in central Taiwan, Professor Tsai analyzed and compared the change of land use between the two villages, which mainly comprised of Bu-nun and Han (more specifically, Hakka) people respectively. In both villages, the alluvial lands in the valleys, instead of hillsides, were their major area of agriculture. The Actor-Network Theory was employed to explain the change of major crop. Different networks for every major crop with specific feature were established with and “translated” various actors such as the water resources, churches, clans, families, communities and the trade middlemen (行口) from lowlands, and the policies of central and county administrations.
Dr. Ya-wen Ku (顧雅文), Assistant Research Fellow of the Institute of Taiwan History, Academia Sinica, gave a report on “Catastrophic Floods: The Flood Disasters and the Enterprise of Flood Regulation in the Japanese Colonial Period of Taiwan.” Contrary to the prevailing narratives on the “successful” and “modern” achievements under the Japanese Colonial Government, Ku argued that the embanking projects by concrete (混凝土) under the Japanese administrative was making more problems than mitigating the risk of flood. The cost of such project was high and not affordable for the whole riverbank of a flooding river. Petitions from residents along different section of the river had always haunted the colonial administrators and burdened the governmental finance. In contrast, “dispensable construction” of embanking in the Qing period, such as the “snake-shaped wired basket” (鐵線蛇籠), was the adequate technology to most occasions. Furthermore, modern institutions and regulations employed by the Japanese government gave less flexibility to the flood than the Qing period, while in the former period there was a loose regulation of land and tax which could adapt easily to the changing landscape after each flood.
Dr. Shao-hua Liu (劉紹華), Associate Research Fellow of the Institute of Ethnology, Academia Sinica, gave a reading report on Hans A. Baer and Merrill Singer’s Global Warming and the Political Ecology of Health: Emerging Crises and Systemic Solutions (2009). The authors argued that the solution for the global warming was not “green capitalism,” which was calculating on the cost-effect of various remedy and engaging in winner-and-looser analysis. Those neo-liberal approaches were too superficial and partial to deal with the global issue. Instead, the authors advocated, a radical reflection on the global capitalism, which emphasized in the analysis on the world system in an “eco-socialist” perspective, by examining comprehensively the core (the trans-national corporations, the wealthy countries), the semi-periphery (“developing countries”) and the periphery (the “global south”).
Mr. Jia-lun Chan (張家綸), Ph.D. Candidate, Department of History, National Taiwan Normal University, gave a reading report on Jeffrey K. Wilson, The GermanForest: Nature, Identity, and the Contestation of a National Symbol, 1871-1914 (2012). Wilson connected the construction of the image of German forest with the formation of the German nationalism. An agricultural romanticism, rather than idea of modernization, which permeated in various genres of contemporary writings, upheld the forest as a national symbol. Wilson analyzed with cases which concerning the making of the Field and Forrest Law in 1880, the conservation of the Grunewald Woods near Berlin, the annexation of Tuchel Health of Poland, as well as the contemporary ideas of socialists and liberal reformists. The forest discourse in German even continued to explain the rise of Fascists. By comparison with other European countries, Wilson observed that the Nazi member also embraced of the image and value of the forest, which was typical among the German middle class.
Report on the 2013 Second EH Workshop at Academia Sinica (May 24, 2013)
by Marlon Zhu (Post-doctoral Fellow, Institute of Taiwan History, Academia Sinica)
Professor Hui-Min Lai (賴惠敏), Research Fellow of the Institute of Modern History, Academia Sinica, gave a report on “Qing Court’s Population Management and Its Change in Kulun (庫倫).” Focusing on Qing’s policy towards the seasonal immigrants of Han merchants in Kulun, a trade entrepôt, Professor Lai pointed out the significance of the policy; for it was a key for the Qing Empire to cope with the multilateral relation with Mongols, Tibetans, and the Russians. To ensure the coming back of the Han merchants after trading season, several regulations were made. For instance, women were not allowed to enter Kulun. However, Lai observed, there still existed illegal Han residents who stayed in Kulun and engaged in agriculture and other business, which might change the environment of the town. Following this report are two studies by members of the archival reading group led by Professor Lai.
Mr. Shih-Ming Wang (王士銘), a Ph.D. student of National Tsing Hua University, presented several types of cases regarding these illegal Han immigrants in Kulun from official archives. Focusing on details regarding merchant immigrants’ land-tenure in the eighteenth century, Wang pointed out that Qing’s regulations had their limit to entirely exclude the Han immigrants from Kulun.
Dr. Hua-Yen Lee (李華彥), who just earned her doctoral degree from National Tsing Hua University, examined the official cases of these merchant immigrants and echoed Professor Lai’s point that the Court’s immigration policy of Kulun corresponded to the strategic scheme of the Qing Empire in Mongol. Lee pointed out that the key to maintain a territorial unity of the Empire was the close relation between the Mongol rulers and the Qing Court. Banner system was adapted to Mongol societies in which the Court gave subsidies to them differentiated by rank and hierarchy; and the regular presenting of Mongol rulers to the Court also played an important role.
Professor Chung-Lin Chiu (邱仲麟), Research Fellow of the Institute of History and Philology, Academia Sinica, gave a reading report on Hai You Feng Qian: Huang Bo Hai De Yu Lei Yu Huan Jing Bian Qian (《海有豐歉：黃渤海的魚類與環境變遷》), 1368-1958 (2011), written by Yu-Shan Li (李玉尚). In this collection of essays, Li demonstrated his comprehensive knowledge in the fishery over the north China coasts with a long historical perspective. Detailed pieces of evidence, both physical and documental, were insightfully integrated into his enquiry of the interaction of human society and the marine environment. The change of the amount of specific school of fish, such as herrings (鯡魚), Li proposed, served as the indication to fathom environmental impact in different historical periods. He argued, not only human and institutional but also natural factors, such as the global climate change in temperature, counted for the growth or decline of fish in numbers.
Dr. Marlon Zhu (朱瑪瓏), Post-doctoral Fellow, Institute of Taiwan History, Academia Sinica, gave a reading report on Greg Bankoff’s Cultures of Disaster: Society and Natural Hazards in the Philippines (2003). By reviewing previous disaster studies, especially those dealing with “vulnerability”, Bankoff criticized that they were based on a dominant western discourse of otherness, which considered the non-western environment as dangerous. This discourse had its long tradition from “topicality” in the nineteenth-century medical ideas to the developmentalist theories in the mid-twentieth century and the vulnerability theories in recent decades. These Western ideas and perspectives were, Bankoff argued, inadequate to describe Filipinos’ life experience of frequent disasters. Instead, Bankoff proposed a holistic approach to examine various aspects of the disaster impact on the Filipino society, including retrospect on the interaction of disasters and the people from the Spanish colonial period. This “cultural” approach, Bankoff opined, to a great extent, could only be enhanced by the craft of historians.
Report on the 2013 First EH Workshop at Academia Sinica (February 22, 2013)
by Marlon Zhu (Post-doctoral Fellow, Institute of Taiwan History, Academia Sinica)
Dr. Kuan-Hui Elaine Lin (林冠慧), Junior Visiting Scholar at the Center for Sustainability Science, Academia Sinica, gave her research report on the “Environmental History Studies of Global Change: An Vulnerability Perspective.” With the field research in two aboriginal villages at Hsinchu County (namely, Yu-feng 玉豐部落 and Shiu-luan秀巒部落), Dr. Lin argued that the environmental studies would be largely enhanced by a historical approach. This was duly exemplified by her calculation of different vulnerability of the two villages under nearly the same condition of environmental hazards caused by recurrent typhoons and landslides. Dr. Lin pointed out that there was a progression of vulnerability of the two villages in different historical periods. In which the changing penetration of state power and the capitalist accumulation (market) played different roles in the adaptation of the local people to their environment.
Dr. Ts’ui-jung Liu (劉翠溶) gave a report on her research, titled “Human Activities and Environmental Changes along Taiwan’s West Coast,” which can also be found in Storia e futuro, No.29 (June 2012). Dr. Liu gave an overview to the changing landscape by comparing maps of different time period since the early twentieth century. She pointed out that the reclamation of tidal land (海埔地開發) along Taiwan’s west coast was made by various governmental and private develpoment projects. The reclaimed tidal lands were used to establish industrial parks, new towns and for aquculture. The projects caused negative effects upon the environmentally sensitive coastlines. Consequently, pollution as well as subsided stratum called for regulations made by several official ministries within the government, such as the (former) Taiwan Provincial Government, county governments, Water Resource Agency of Ministry of Economic Affairs, and EPA, etc. It was, however, too many administrative offices to ensure an aggregate and effective coast management. Draft of the Coastal Law had still been pending in Legislative Yuan since 1991, but never went through the procedure of legislation.
Dr. Chu-shan Chiang (蔣竹山), Associate Professor of the Department of History, National Dong Hwa University, gave his reading report on Environmental Histories of the Cold War, edited byJ. R. McNeill and Corinna R. Unger (2010). Dr. Chiang began with an overview of recent writings in global history. He argued that environmental history might contribute to this new trend as exemplified by the reviewed essay collection, with topics from governmental scientific project in weather control for military purpose, the global spread of dames construction, nuclear testing, to chemical warfare in Vietnam.
Dr. Lee Yi-tze (李宜澤), Assistant Professor of the Department of Ethnic Relations and Cultures, National Dong Hwa University, reviewed David Biggs’ Quagmire: Nation-Building and Nature in the Mekong Delta (2010). Dr. Lee introduced the book with the explanation of its title “quagmire,” (泥淖) from the former usage to denote the predicament the U.S. encountered during the Vietnam War, to a landscape overview for an environmental history of the south tip of Vietnam (the Mekong Delta) since the French colonial period in the nineteenth century. By examining previous scholarship on the same area, Biggs argued that the case of hydraulic state in this area is different from others. Not only the Vietnamese state formation but also the international dimension such as the engineering advices from the U.S. and the U.N., as well as the agency of the local people under different waves of “southward march” (nam tién), all together call for a need of comparative study in the case.
Report on the 2012 forth EH Workshop at Academia Sinica (November 23, 2012)
By Ts’ui-jung Liu
Dr. Huei-Min Ts’ai (蔡慧敏), Associate Professor of the Graduate Institute of Environmental Education, National Taiwan Normal University, introduced briefly the theme of power asymmetries and social inequality highlighted in Ecology and Power edited by Alf Hornborg, Brett Clark, and Kenneth Hermele (London and New York: Routledge, 2012) and then reported on chapter 4 of the book, “Islands: Ecological Unequal Exchange and Landesque Capital”, which she coauthored with Eric Clark. She pointed out that islands have been key scenes in the generation of global biodiversity and cultural diversity. With three case studies on islands around Taiwan: (1) Kinmen Island, (2) Penghu Archipelago, and (3) Pongso no Tau, she traced the history of development on these islands involving ecological unequal exchanges in landesque capital. She pointed out that the experiences of these islands showed increasing destruction and devaluation and emphasized that future island development should be in the hands of islanders.
Dr. Er-Jian Yeh (葉爾建), Assistant Professor of Department of Taiwan and Regional Studies, National Dong Hwa University, gave a report on his recent research on “Kanehira Ryozo金平亮三 (1882-1948) and the Formation of Knowledge on Tropical Flora”. He pointed out that the establishment of knowledge of flora usually required a collective work which had comprehensive botanical survey and adequate determination. The materials he used to study this topic consist of official documents and academic works of Kanehira Ryozo. With these materials he was able to trace field works done Kanehira Ryozo during 1908-1928 in Japanese colonial Taiwan and in Japanese Mandate in Southeast Asia. He also pointed out that American botanist, Elmer Drew Merrill (1876-1956), was an important collaborator in establishing knowledge of tropical flora by Kanehira Ryozo. This knowledge system was an important reference for Japanese colonial management in tropical area.
Dr. Su-Bing Chang (張素玢), Associate Professor of Graduate Institute of Taiwan History, National Taiwan Normal University, gave a report on her study of problems related to the Chuoshui River (濁水溪) in central Taiwan. She pointed out that the development in the past 300 years along the Chuoshui River revealed several problems including: (1) the differences between the north and south banks, (2) the agreements of sharing or conflicts in obtaining water, (3) the exploration and utilization of groundwater and its consequences, (4) from supplying water for agriculture to supplying water for industry, and (5) the conflict between industry and agriculture. She pointed out that as most studies on the Chuoshui River had focused on the north bank, further studies should be done for the south bank in order to obtain more comprehensive understanding of this river basin.
Dr. Shao-li Lu (呂紹理) , Professor of the Department of History, National Chengchi University, gave a reading report on Edmund Russel’s book, War and Nature: Fighting Humans and Insects with Chemicals from World War I to Silent Spring (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001). He pointed out that the main idea of this book was that there were overlapping and interacting relationships between war and nature. These relationships could be explored from three aspects: (1) the pattern of ideology, such as civilization vs. barbarism, war vs. peace; (2) the pattern of organization, such as civil vs. military, soldiers vs. common people; (3) science and technology, such as cooperation of different disciplines vs. turning chemical military equipment to pesticide in peace time. He introduced briefly the subjects of each chapter and then discussed with some details of impacts of World War I on the USA, the role of chemical military equipment in the war time and the contribution of Chemical Warfare Service (CWS), as well as the transformation of CWS into Chemical Pease Service after the war.
Report on the 2012 3rd EH Workshop at Academia Sinica (August 31, 2012)
by Marlon Zhu (Post-doctoral Fellow, Institute of Taiwan History, Academia Sinica)
Dr. Shaw Chen Liu (劉紹臣), Distinguished Research Fellow at the Research Center for Environmental Changes, Academia Sinica, gave a report on the “Holocene Climate Optimum and the Chinese Civilization (全新世氣候最佳期與中國文明)”. With ancient global climate data, Professor Liu argues that the rising of Chinese civilization along the Yellow River (黃河) in North China was due to a warmer and temper climate in the Holocene era (around 12000 years ago). Based on paleoclimatological and historical records, Dr. Liu suggests a more temper pattern of precipitation in the area due to the globally cooler temperature in the low-latitude ocean. Therefore, the Yellow River had much less flood than it was in the later period. A more reliable Yellow River and a more pleasant (warmer) climate might together give rise to the ancient Chinese Civilization.
Dr. I-Chun Fan (范毅軍Research Fellow of the Institute of History and Philology at Academia Sinica) and Dr. Ching-Hsiu Lin (林靖修Post-doctoral Fellow in the Center for Geographical Information Sciences, Academia Sinica) presented their research on “Disaster, Water Supply, and Development: an Ethnographical Studies of Water Management in a Bunun (布農) Community along the Chenyulan River (陳友蘭溪).” Based on eighteen-month field research at a Bunun village in central Taiwan, Fan and Lin introduced the process of constructing water supply system and shaping of water management in a Bunun community from 1996 onwards and explored the social, cultural, political, and economical meanings of the current mode of water management in the community. They contended that the formation of water management was a result of a long-term process of Bunun people’s interaction to environmental, political, and economic transformation. Bunun culture, local knowledge, and social organizations were crucial to the establishment of the rules of water management and operation of water management institute.
Two book reviews were then given in turn in the afternoon. Dr. Ya-wen Gu (顧雅文), Assistant Research Fellow of the Institute of Taiwan History, Academia Sinica gave a report on Peter Rogers and Susan Leal’s Running out of Water: the Looming Crisis and Solutions to Conserve Our Most Precious Resource (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010). The authors had introduced various new solutions around the world regarding the conservation and protection of water supply. From new methods for removing contaminants from water to new incentives for encouraging a more active public involvement in water management, the authors argued that we might protect this precious and finite resource in our changing environment with new challenges such as global warming.
Dr. Ts’ui-jung Liu (劉翠溶), Distinguish Visiting Fellow of the Institute of Taiwan History, Academia Sinica, introduced The World’s Water: the Biennial Report of Freshwater Resources, Volume 7, edited by Peter H. Gleick (Washington, DC: Island Press, 2012). The first chapter focuses on the “trans-boundary” attribute of the water resources, including both surface and underground, in face of new questions of global climate change. New institutional policies and technical device crossing the national boundary should be taken to deal with the new challenge. Chapter 2 examines the role of private company in water management. It argues that the new environmental, political, and social reality in the 21st century had forced these companies to be more socially responsible for not only moral reason but for ensuring their business viability and reducing business risk. Chapter 3 highlights a long ignored issue in the quality of water, both surface and underground. Industrialization and urbanization had added various contaminations in waters. Increases in water temperature and changes in the timing and amount of runoff are likely to produce unfavorable changes in surface-water quality, which in turn affect human and ecosystem health. Chapter 4 analyzes the water used in the extraction process of fossil fuels, which serve as the essential to the global economy. Almost every step in the extraction had the unfavorable impact to water, especially in the hydraulic fracturing (fracking) of the unconventional natural gas. Chapter 5 discusses the impact and responses of Australia’s “millennium drought”. The Australian “big drought” at the turn of the centuries had changed Australian society in many ways. It had reduced the output of agriculture and livestock industry. Moreover, the drought had also increased Australians’ awareness of climate change and the fragility of their country’s ecosystem. Chapter 6 investigates the environmental impact of China-made dames in China proper and other countries. Even though dam was considered less beneficial in terms of its great environmental and social costs, China is still pushing forward with a new era of massive construction of dams, both domestic and abroad. The consequences are still poorly understood right now. Chapter 7 deals with the new water policies in the United States. The authors suggest several points to be considered. (1) Clarify institutional roles and responsibilities; (2) Decentralize water management and increase stakeholder participation; (3) Collect more comprehensive water data; (4) Apply modern economic principles; (5) Integrate changing climate conditions; and (6) Transition from a focus on increasing water supply to reducing water demand.
Brief on the speech at Institute of Taiwan History, Academia Sinica (July 6,2012)
||Professor Philip Brown (Department of History, The Ohio State University) CV
||Technology Transfer in Early Twentieth-Century East Asia: Thoughts for a Comparative Research Project
Report on the 2012 Second EH Workshop at Academia Sinica (May 25, 2012)
By Marlon Zhu (Ph.D. Candidate, The State University of New York at Binghamton)
Professor H. H. Michael Hsiao (蕭新煌), Director and Distinguished Research Fellow of the Institute of Sociology, Academia Sinica, gave an introduction to the first report on “the local environmental history and the problem of sustainable development in different localities at Taiwan”. Assuming that policies did matter in environmental changes, four questions were inquired into in the context of different administrative areas. Namely, (1) what and when was the key event that hindered the environmental sustainability; (2) was there any significant environmental movement in those cities and counties? (3) was such movement had its impact on the sustainability? and (4) what were the environmental policies made by the local governments and their impact. In conclusion, Hsiao found that under-regulation in environmental issues was common in the local scenarios. Urbanization and industrialization without plan by the local administrations, accompanying with the developmentalist policies made by the central government, had caused various environmental problems in local Taiwan.
Two research papers were then read to support Professor Hsiao’s argument. Professor Shih-jung Hsu (徐世榮), Department of Land Economics of National Chengchi University, gave his report on “The Marginalized Land Policy and the Missing Farmland”. Hsu pointed out that the year 1960 was the watershed of land use in Taiwan. It was the year when the central government made the “Regulations for Encouraging Investment” (獎勵投資條例). Land was accordingly considered as mere a factor for economic development. Moreover, the exchange or trade of land itself became greatly lucrative and played a significant role in the scenario of local politics. More and more farmland became the new land for industrial area and for the expansion of cities. Land was thus marginalized as a supplement to above non-agricultural activities. Pollution was made from the new industrialized and urbanized land and endangered their adjacent farmland. Professor Wenling Tu (杜文苓), Associate Professor of the Department of Public Administration, National Chengchi University, gave a report on “The Environmental History of Local Taiwan and the Environmental Governance”. With the case study of the Science and Industrial Park at Hsinchu (新竹科學工業園區), a counterpart “Silicon Valley” of Taiwan, Professor Tu argued that the “high-tech” industry had never made less pollution than traditional industries as claimed by authorities. Many agencies were responsible for such cover-up, including the local government, the industrial park office, and proprietors. Dr. Tu concluded that the pollution caused by the high-tech industry needed a systematic solution, including a third-party institute, in addition to several local environmental activist groups, to monitor the pollution; resources for researchers; and a recognized protocol or criterion which could figure out the extent of pollution.
Dr. Kuo-tung Chen (陳國棟), Research Fellow of the Institute of History and Philology, Academia Sinica, gave a research report on “Snowing, Flood, Earthquake, and Tsunami: Abnormal Nature in the History of Taiwan”. With breathtaking stories regarding the above natural disasters, Professor Chen introduced several monumental natural events from the seventeenth century when documents revealed a snow in southern Taiwan, a tropical area where was supposed never to witness such a phenomenon. Then Professor Chen turned to the silting up of the Taijiang Inner Sea (台江內海) in 1823. Heavy flood with mud had dramatically changed the landscape of the place, a significant site in the early history of Taiwan. By examining historical records of the cases of earthquake and tsunami in Taiwan, Dr. Chen doubted of the possible contribution of historians to the study of environmental history. The lack of other tools except documental and archival research could only allow historians to study events which had been recorded when it was abnormal such as the above cases. Nevertheless, the knowledge of forecasting or mitigating those disasters might be noteworthy. For instance, historical documents had revealed that the coastal people had already know that mangrove forest (紅樹林) could help to lessen the power of devastating tsunami.
Two book reviews were then read in the Workshop. The first was given by Professor Shu-min Huang (黃樹民), Distinguished Research Fellow of the Institute of Ethnology, Academia Sinica. Dr. Huang reviewed Gregory Button’s Disaster Culture: Knowledge and Uncertainty in the Wake of Human and Environmental Catastrophe. Four pollution cases caused by the fossil-fuel industry were introduced in turn. They were (1) Exxon-Valdez oil spill case in Alaska in 1989, (2) ShetlandsIslands oil spill in Scotland in 1993, (3) Hurricane Katrina and the oil emission of the Murphy & Co., and (4) Tennessee Valley Authority’s Kingston fossil duel plant in 2008. With these examples, Button had related the disaster culture to the “uncertainties” (模糊空間 in Dr. Huang’s translation) brought about by the scientism in the modern society. To the sufferers of the disasters, the corporations, the government, and the press, the lack of necessary information to deal with the disasters had caused new challenges.
Professor Shi-yung Liu (劉士永), Associate Research Fellow at the Institute of Taiwan History, Academia Sinica, gave a reading report on John R. McNeill’s Mosquito Empire: Ecology and War in the Great Caribbean, 1620-1914. Dr. Liu pointed out the main argument of McNeill’s was the “mosquito determinism” and its limits in explaining the rise and fall of the British and Spanish Empires in Caribbean. Contrast to previous emphasis on the geopolitical factors in explanation for the British predominance in the Atlantic world, Liu indicated, John McNeill turned to focus more on the biological impact. Mosquito which served as the vector of yellow fever, malaria and other diseases had caused an inequality in disease susceptibility. Accompanying with different practice in “public health” among different settlements, differential immunity to different group of people among colonial powers seemed to become obvious. Mosquito-caused diseases killed off some settlers while other survived. Nonetheless, McNeill denied being an environmental determinist with such argument by emphasizing the human agency in public health.
A Report on the 2012 First EH Workshop at Academia Sinica (February 24th, 2012)
By Marlon Zhu (PhD candidate of History Department, Binghamton University, SUNY)
Three presentations of this workshop include two research reports and one reading report. Dr. Shian-Chee Wu (吳先琪), Professor of the Graduate Institute of Environmental Engineering, NationalTaiwanUniversity, introduced his research on “The Development of Preventing Soil and Groundwater Pollution in the past 20 Years in Taiwan.” He profiled the history of the relative law-making process in Taiwan. From which the regulation against pollution of soil and groundwater was combined jointly by the EPA authority after the suggestion by Professor Wu and his colleague. He reviewed several monumental cases regarding pollution prevention in the United States, such as “Superfund,” and the “LoveCanal.” And then he turned to the cases in Taiwan. From the cadmium pollution in the area for the “Chong-Fu” plan (中福計畫) and that from the RCA, to the mercury pollution at Shin-chuang (新莊) by a chemical factory, specific data were compared to illustrate their patterns and the corresponding amending by regulations.
Dr. Chung-ho Wang (汪中和), Research Fellow at the Institute of Earth Sciences, Academia Sinica, demonstrated his recent research on the new methods of prediction of the large earthquake in Taiwan. He curiously found that the level change of groundwater and the inverse of average GPS-azimuth difference in central Taiwan could possibly foretell the coming of a large earthquake before one month or so. Dr. Wang has been able to find out significant enough patterns of changes before and after the catastrophic Chi-Chi earthquake (921集集地震) in 1999 by analyzing the data of several wells collected by the Water Resource Agency (水利署) and the data of GPS positions in several spots from other governmental office. He then predicted the most possible area to have a large earthquake is southern Taiwan. Quite astonishingly, two days later, on February 26th, a large earthquake outbreak in Pin-tung (屏東), the most southern county of Taiwan!
Dr. Ts’ui-jung Liu, Visiting Distinguished Research Fellow of the Institute of Taiwan History, Academia Sinica, reviewed The Institutional Dimensions of Environmental Change: Fit, Interplay, and Scale by Oran R. Young (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2002). She introduced this book in some details chapter by chapter.
Report on the First Conference of East Asian Environmental History, 2011
By Marlon Zhu (Ph.D. Candidate, BinghamtonUniversity, SUNY; Assistant, Institute of Taiwan History, Academia Sinica)
The First Conference of East Asian Environmental History (EAEH 2011) was held on October 24-26 at Academia Sinica, Taipei. It was hosted by the Association for East Asian Environmental History (AEAEH) and the Institute of Taiwan History, Academia Sinica. About 120 scholars, including 89 members of the Association, came from China, Europe, Hong Kong, India, Japan, New Zealand, North America, Philippines, and Taiwan, attended the Conference. Three keynote speeches were delivered by Professors Mark Elvin, Susan Flader and Ranjan Chakrabarti. There were 49 papers presented at six parallel sessions with 15 themes, such as environmental thought, landscape, political ecology, environmental policy, environment and ethnicity, climate history, war and environment, disaster and prevention, marine life conservation, pollution, land use, water resources, ethics and justice, health and diseases, as well as forest. There were also two Ph.D. roundtables with 5 papers and a plenary poster session with 7 presentations. In addition, a special film session presented Green Fire: Aldo Leopold’s legacy, with Asian commentary.
At the end of the Conference, there was a roundtable to discuss themes for the next conference and about 20 themes were suggested. Finally, the draft of the AEAEH bylaws was discussed at the General Meeting of the AEAEH members, and Professor Ts’ui-jung Liu was elected as the first President of the Association. A journal proposal prepared by Professor Andrea Janku was also discussed at the meeting, but a decision was made to postpone the issue which needed further considerations. The President elected announced that the next conference scheduled two years later would be organized by Academia Sinica in cooperation with a university in Taiwan.
A Report on the Third EH Workshop of 2011 at Academia Sinica (July 22, 2011)
By Ya-wen Ku (Institute of Taiwan History, Academia Sinica) and Marlon Zhu (PhD candidate of History Department, BinghamtonUniversity, SUNY)
Four presenters gave reports at the third EH Workshop of 2011. Dr. Amy Ruey-meng Huang (黃瑞萌), Associate Professor of the Department of International Trade, ChineseCultureUniversity, gave her report under the title of “Trade in an Ecological-Economic Integrated Model.” Huang constructed a linear model, which added LAND as a simplified indicator, to simulate the intricate enough ecology in the economical development. From which the nature could thus be integrated into the calculation of sustainable development.
Mr. Er-Jian Yeh (葉爾建), Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Geography, Durham University, UK, introduced his ongoing dissertation, titled “Territorialising Colonial Environments: A Comparison of Colonial Sciences on Land Demarcation in Japanese Taiwan and British Malaya.” By examining the genealogy and material discursive practices of territorialisation as they interacted with local environments and peoples, Yeh’s thesis offered a comparative account of the logics of different empires and the construction of territorial administration. It examined the political ecology of how colonial nature was produced as a resource, with the commodification of forest areas. It unpacked the two cases by studying the role of colonial science, especially cartographic practices, in demarcating and defining territories and peoples. It contrasted the state-run surveys in the colonial Taiwan with the networks of knowledge production in British Malaya.
Mr. Te-chih Chen (陳德智), Ph.D. Candidate, Department of History, National Taiwan Normal University, reviewed Yoshitaka Takahashi (高橋美貴)’s book, titled The Age of Resource Reproduction and the Fishery of Japan (「資源繁殖の時代」と日本の漁業). Takahashi got his Ph. D in history of fishery from Tohoku University in 1995, in consequence this book was one of his field research in the surrounding areas of North-eastern Japan. He investigated the traditional fishing methods. With nuanced details which told the different modes of fishery in each streams and rivers, the author argued that the enactment of laws and regulations of protecting fishery resources in Meiji period was not only affected by the international trends, but also due to the indigenous customs of reservation which could be traced back to the Tokugawa period.
Dr. Kuo-tung Chen (陳國棟), Research Fellow of the Institute of History and Philology at Academia Sinica, discussed the corn cultivation in Shanxi, Hunan and Yunnan during the Qing dynasty. Corn was widely cultivated on marginal land in China in the eighteenth century. However, mandarins at that time considered corn cultivation as a disaster for three reasons. Firstly, it was deemed as conflicting with the traditional thought of physiocracy, which encouraged the cultivation of regular staple food (重農貴粟). Secondly, the Shed people (棚民) who cultivated corn in mountainous areas might threaten the local security and social order. Finally, corn cultivation might result in environmental impacts. Corn harvest was criticized as the major factor causing landslide. Especially in the second half of the nineteenth century, the accusation became more and more explicit. At the end, Dr. Chen also shared his insights and comments in general on environmental history study.
A Report on the Second EH Workshop of 2011 at Academia Sinica (May 20, 2011)
By Marlon Zhu (PhD candidate of History Department, Binghamton University, SUNY)
As usual, four presenters presented at the Workshop’s second meeting of 2011. First report was given by Dr. Shi-yung Liu (劉士永), Associate Research Fellow at the Institute of Taiwan History. His report, titled “Colonial plague and modern bacteriology in Japan,” aims to reveal the technical difference and political environment in the debate of finding plague pathogen between researchers from 1894 to 1897. The plague epidemic of 1894 inHong Kong was an important arena for bacteriologists of various colonial powers. Controversies between Kitasato Shibasaburo and Alexandra Yersin had been revitalized in later days of 1897, in another colony: Taiwan. The interconnection between the pioneer research and the latter outbreak of plague in Taiwan, however, received little attention from international scholarship of medicine. With specific argument, Liu had demonstrated the methods identifying plague pathogen not only reaffirmed Yersin’s discovery, but also embarked modern bacteriology in colonial Taiwan.
Dr. Jeng-Di Lee (李政諦), Assistant Professor of the Institute of Marine Affairs, National Sun Yat-sen University, delivered a research report on the human adaptation in the sensitive coastal area of southwest Taiwan, titled as “Qiang-wuang (羌園): an inseparable coastal life of flood.” In which the local life experience in a village suffering periodical inundation was nuanced by Dr. Lee’s field research. The over-draining of the ground water had caused subsidence in surrounding countries. This subsidence further worsens the periodical flood there. Lee explained why and how the local residents, though suffered much from the flood, remained there. The highly profiting cultivation of the “black pearl” (wax apple) and grouper fish encouraged the rapid recovery after every flood. Governmental compensation after flood have also made easier for residents to stay in that sensible environment. The conjuncture of these ecological, political, and economical factors has made it urgent to figure out a sustainable solution both of local residents and the government.
Dr. Young-tsu Wong (汪榮祖), Director of the Center of the Humanities, NationalCentralUniversity, gave his review on Environmental History as if Nature existed: ecological economies and human well-being, edited by John R. McNeil et al. Professor Wong introduced the book with respective chapters. McNeil had reviewed the research of environmental history in past decades and counted the number and academic positions of researchers on this relatively new subfield all over the world with the introductory chapter. Meanwhile, McNeil suggested several agenda for further study. Asia, in McNeil’s observation, is an emerging filed of environmental history with outstanding scholars. Authors of the following chapter discussed the different types of agrarian and industrial “Socio-metabolic regimes,” and their respective impact on environment. The shift from the former to the latter rendered a new and global challenge to sustainable problems. The third chapter deals with the criticism against the so-called Environmental Kuznet’s Curve (EKC) by the economist Karl William Kapp (1910-1976). The EKC presumed a recovery from pollution by nature itself; and this had been argued as a false by Kapp throughout his life. The fourth chapter regards the modern sanitary revolution in European cities. The authors of this chapter suggested that Thomas Kuhn’s paradigm theory could provide a better pattern for us to map and interpret the history of sanitation in industrialized countries. The fifth chapter deals with China’s long term historical development with changing environmental resources. The origins of Chinese civilization and shifts of its political and economical centers could be explained with the relocation of environmental resources. Its painful transformation into industrialized civilization could also be illustrated by the so-called high equilibrium trap. The future development of China, in the author’s view, should take the environment into consideration. The country is in search of a development model for a “Green Rise.”
Dr. Shu-min Huang (黃樹民), Distinguished Research Fellow of the Institute of Ethnology, Academia Sinica, gave his review on Bryan Tilt’s The Struggle for Sustainability in Rural China. This monograph was based on the author’s ethnographic fieldwork in Futian Township (攀枝花市仁和區福田鎮), in the southwestern province of Sichuan. Tilt tried to argue with Ronald Inglehart’s assumption of “post-materialism”, which was summarized by Tilt as: “economic wealth causes a fundamental shift in human values; as societies undergo the transition to industrial development and modernity, their citizen begin to concern themselves with needs and wants beyond the material, including gender equality, quality of life, happiness, self-expression and spiritual fulfillment.” Environmental concern was one of the post-material values pointed out by Inglehart and others. But Tilt’s case study in China proved to be a far more complicated situation. There existed the highest air-pollution while public support for environmental protection was in the upper quartile. Tilt reviewed the history of development before and after the “reform and opening up” (改革開放) policy, detailed in the shifting position in inland industrial status of Futian. The interaction between national environmental agency, provincial and the local governments, township authorities, enterprises and the local people in different social status, was examined by Tilt. Almost all factories in Futian, in the long run, were closed by environment regulations. But the air pollution, Tilt pointed out, remained. This ironic consequence was caused by the trans-boundary emission from other province.
A Report on the First EH Workshop of 2011 at Academia Sinica (February 18th, 2011)
By Marlon Zhu (PhD candidate of History Department, Binghamton University, SUNY)
Four presenters gave reports at the first EH Workshop of 2011. Professor Bor-Wen Tsai of the Department of Geography, National Taiwan University, presented his field-research at the brink of the south-western plateau of China, titled “the Human-environment relationship of the aborigines in the Tibet-Yi Corridor (藏彝走廊).” With maps and graphs focusing on a village in the Dan-Ba County (丹巴縣), Professor Tsai illustrated how a sustainable human-land relationship was formed in that area. The social system of primogeniture and the religious practice of the Tibetan Buddhism guaranteed a steady number of households, on which efficient use of land and other natural/human resources were possible. This practice had exemplified a sustainable Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) of people in that village.
The second presenter, Dr. Chung-ho Wang, Research Fellow at the Institute of Earth Sciences, Academia Sinica, shared his research on the abnormal meteorological phenomenon in Taiwan. His presentation was titled “Torrential rainfalls in the history of Taiwan”. Based on the observation data collected by various meteorological stations since 1897, Dr. Wang divided Taiwan into three zones and analyzed respectively their frequency and pattern of rainfalls in particular months. He addressed that in a long-term perspective, there was heavier precipitations during the month of June, while the influence of typhoons became less. The pattern of other months generally envisioned more and more drastic quantity of torrents in cases of great typhoons. Such tendency, Dr. Wang warned, should be taken into considerations of policy makers and others.
The other two presenters shared their reports on readings. Dr. Tsuo-Ming Hsu, Associate Professor at the Center for General Education, TamkangUniversity, reviewed the work of Aldo Leopold, the famous philosopher on the environmental ethics. Focusing on Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There (1949), Dr. Hsu introduced Leopold’s poetic writing with specific paragraphs from the book. In which Leopold’s idea and definition of ethics of land were identified.
The fourth presenter was Prof. Ts'ui-jung Liu, Distinguished Research Fellow of the Institute of Taiwan History, Academia Sinica. She introduced The Environment and World History, co-edited by Edmond Burke III and Kenneth Pomeranz (2009). Each essay-chapter was summarized in turn by Professor Liu, with the topics ranging from the changing forms of energy, inconvertible pollution of Rhine, to the new environmental risk caused by the former Soviet nuclear industry, etc. Participants had curiously found that most of the authors are US-based scholars with their topics in a wide range of space, from Africa, Latin-America, Middle-east, to South and South-East Asia, almost every continent except North America.
A report on the fourth EH workshop at Academia Sinica (October 29, 2010)
By Ts'ui-jung Liu
Four presenters at this workshop are: Dr. Shu-min Huang, Distinguished Research Fellow of the Institute of Ethnology, Academia Sinica; Dr. Hui-ming Tsai, Associate Professor of the Graduate Institute of Environmental Education, National Taiwan Normal University; Dr. Joan Chi-chiung Lo, Research Fellow of the Institute of Economics, Academia Sinica; and Dr. Yung-fa Chen, Distinguished Research Fellow of the Institute of Modern History, Academia Sinica.
Dr. Huang discussed changes in ecological and environmental protection around the LashiLake in Lijiang City, Yunnan, China. He showed pictures along with his talk and thus to convey the beauty of landscape and activities of the NGOs, the tourists and the people in this living environment.
Dr. Tsai delivered her talk into two parts. First, she introduced the concept and studies of political ecology from historical perspectives with emphases on landesque capital, values, and ecological unequal exchanges. And then, she presented three case studies on off shore islands around Taiwan: OrchidIsland (Pongso no Tau), Penghu, and Kimmen.
Dr. Lo discussed the impact of Chi-chi earthquake on demographic behavior through event history analysis. She used administrative data provided by the Ministry of Interior to analyze the behavior of birth, death and marriage with a comparison of study group and control group and found some differences between the two groups, as well as female and male.
Dr. Chen gave his report on reading the book by Elizabeth C. Economy, The River Runs Black: The Environmental Challenges t China's Future (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2004). Dr. Chen gave a brief comment on experiences of the Chinese Communist Party at Yenan in the 1940s before discussed the content of Economy's book.
Report on the Third EH Workshop at Academia Sinica (July 16, 2010)
By Yi-tze Lee, Dept. of Anthropology, University of Pittsburgh; Visiting fellow at the Institute of Ethnology, Academia Sinica
We had four scholars presenting at the third workshop of Environmental History.The first presenter was Prof. H. H. Michael Hsiao, director and research fellow at the Institute of Sociology, Academia Sinica. Prof. Hsiao took his own experience and research on environmental movement in Taiwan to illuminate the transition of environmental movement to environmental research and education.He listed three waves of environmental sociology researches in Taiwan since 1983. The first wave was to observe the public awareness at the time due to massive pollution, and was the period of documenting local environmental protest movement. The second wave was from 1990 to 2000, which was the period that sociologists made efforts on establishing and analyzing Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).The third wave was the continuing calling of anticipatory and integrative research.Prof. Hsiao provided a concentric model to expand local and individual experiences to Taiwan/Asia-Pacific, and from pressing environmental issue to long-term environmental history.
The second presenter was Dr. Chi-szu Chen, Assistant Professor of English at TamkangUniversity.He compared two types of environmental-tribal novel writing of American and Taiwanese indigenous societies. He first pointed out the transition of environmental/ecological writing, drawing a spectrum of environmental writing along with the concern on land value, sovereignty, ethnic identity, and impact of colonialism and modernity.His example of American Indian writer was Linda Hogan, who mixes the ideas of myth, legend, and personal narratives in her writing. Such strategy resonates to the effort of reversing the relationship between center and margin by the writing of Tongku Saveq, a Bunun Indigenous novelist in Taiwan.Environmental awareness, in both writings, is intertwined with mythical genesis and individual revitalization in modern societies.The recognition of marginal plants in indigenous societies reflects how environment has been changed due to the introduction of cash crop or staple crops for colonial regimes.
The third presentation is given by Dr. Ya-wen Ku, Assistant Professor of History at National Changhua University of Education.She summarized the book entitled "Miasma and Disease: Public Health and the Environment in the Pre-Industrial Age" by Carlo Cipolla. This book reviews the concept of "Miasma" and examines how the attribution of contagious diseases is constructed via local investigation by the humoral miasmatic paradigm.The research is mainly based on the data from Florence Health Magistracy of the 17th century.Prof. Cipolla illustrated how the public environment felt and looked like by detailed description of pre-sewage system, the way of house destruction in order to increase ventilation, as well as the treatment and report on acute symptoms.It is an interesting example on learning the interaction between the recognition of epidemics and local social-economic condition, the action of public health further provides the initiative on the change of economic background.
The last presentation was by Dr. Shi-yung Liu, Associate Research Fellow at the Institute of Taiwan History.His presentation is on the book "Human Frontiers, Environment and Disease," by A. J. McMichael.It is a comprehensive study on the interaction of human ecology and evolution of pathogen and epidemics.The author applies three elements in Darwinian theory: variation, competition, and differential reproductive success.He also refers to the method of epidemiology on mixing the population dynamics and complex theory.The author also reviews the impact of biosphere by human activities, which results in three major changes of human ecology: industrialization, urbanization, and the ability to control (or lack of it) of reproduction. The conclusion shows that the overloaded exploitation of land results in the doubt of affordability. Scientists also need to be cautious on the conflict between reductionism and holism.However, as Dr. Liu pointed out, the conclusion of the book seems to be resembled in the statement of Club of Rome in the 1970s. WHO also provides different approach of seeing the global burden of diseases, which is not incorporated in the discussion of the book.
All the four presentation provide very diverse views on environmental thinking and research, from sociology, comparative literature, to world history.In the workshop format, it is fruitful to have different discipline dialogue with each other. We also need more discussion on each presentation in the end of each session, which can lead to better integration from various ways on environmental thinking.
A brief report on the second workshop of environmental history held on April 30, 2010 at Academia Sinica
By Ts'ui-jung Liu
We had four speakers at this workshop. Dr. Su-Bin Chang, Professor of the Department of History at National Normal University, gave a report on her study of opening up the mountain area and the water control works along the Cho-shui River in Central Taiwan from the Ch'ing period to the present. She pointed out that the water control works along the Cho-shui River had been the largest in Taiwan since the Ch'ing period, and 90% of electricity supplies in Taiwan during the Japanese colonial period were from the power-plants built along this river. The impacts of opening up the mountain area at the middle and upper reaches of this river had produced rather different landscapes on the north and south banks.
Dr. Kwang-Tsao Shao, Research Fellow of the Biodiversity Center at Academia Sinica, introduced Charles Clover's The End of the Line -- How Overfishing is Changing the World and What We Eat. He not only showed and explained the film to the audients but also discussed issues related to management of ecosystem, the future of aquaculture, and recovery of fishing resources. He pointed out the importance of "slow fishing" and establishment of protection areas.
Dr. Kuo-tung Chen, Research Fellow of the Institute of History and Philology at Academia Sinica, comments on the Environmental History in the Pacific World, edited by John R. McNeill. In addition to present an overview of the book which consisted of many important articles, Dr. Chen also discussed his own insights about environmental history in the Pacific area.
Mr. Chi-ying Chang, a doctoral student of the Department of History at National Chi Nan University, reported on his reading about Mao's War against Nature: Politics and the Environment in Revolutionary China by Judith Shapiro. His presentation finally brought up a lively debate on the concept on relationship between human and nature from the floor.
A Repot on the First EH Workshop at Academia Sinica
By Yi-tze Lee, Dept. of Anthropology, University of Pittsburgh; Visiting fellow at the Institute of Ethnology, Academia Sinica
The first Environmental History Workshop at Academia Sinica was held on January 29th,2010 at the Institute of Taiwan History.This workshop, organized by Prof. Ts'ui-jung Liu, aims to draw attention and facilitate discussions among scholars on issue of environmental history.This event was open to the public, and the process of workshop was in the form of research reports and reading reports with discussions.The total number of participants was 35, including members and non-members of AEAEH group.
The first presentation was delivered by Dr. Chung-ho Wang, Research Fellow at the Institute of Earth Sciences, Academia Sinica.Based on the cases of extreme weather, including more frequent draught and devastating typhoons in Taiwan, Dr. Wang shows the condition of "polarized" weather condition that Taiwan is facing.Such polarized condition has several features: unpredictable visits, smaller intervals of extreme cases, and irreversible rise of sea level.However, due to the gradual drying weather of Taiwan, the over-access of underground water is a major threat to the coastal land and farms.In the worst scenario, there will be about 25% of flat land mass of Taiwan underwater if the sea level rose 1 meter more than it is now in the near future due to climate change around the world.The report is both realistic and scary.It also triggers a discussion on the rate of scientists and politicians who believe in the theory of global warming.The audience agrees that the information should be distributed more widely in order to raise certain alert.
The second presentation was given by Dr. Tsuo-Ming Hsu, Associate Professor at the Center for General Education, TamkangUniversity. Dr. Hsu presented his newly published article entitled "Sustainable Development and Life Rights of Animals: the Transformation of Taiwan's Fishery from an Environmental-Ethical Perspective." He discusses the concepts of sustainable development and ecological equilibrium and examines their applications in Taiwan's fishery industry.Based on theoretical debate between sustainable development by Aldo Leopold and Peter Singer's idea of animal liberation, Dr. Hsu suggests that the idea of life rights of animal should be a key element in the program of sustainable development. His argument is further discussed on the exhaustion of fishery resources against tourism promotion in Taiwan, the meat-vegetable eating dilemma, and the blurring line of animal right regarding human survival.
After lunch break, the third presentation was given by Prof. Ts'ui-jung Liu, Distinguished Research Fellow of the Institute of Taiwan History, Academia Sinica.She introduced the new book by Micah S. Muscolino entitled Fishing Wars and Environmental Change in Late Imperial and Modern China.This is the first book on Chinese fishery from the perspective of environmental history.In addition to introduction and conclusion, the book consists of six chapters, each deal with specific time period from maritime life under late Qing to the fishing wars at Zhejian and Jiangsu border during 1935-1945.The discussion centers on the issues of how fishing resources were gradually incorporated into national interests, and how social organizations of local fishermen, such as fishing lodges, resolved conflicts between fishermen, pirates and the states. In the early years of nationalist China, scientific management has been suggested in order to have sustainable development of the fishing industry. Competition between mechanized Japanese vessels and Chinese fishing boats as well as those between using nets or bamboo cages for catching cuttlefish also involved new types of conflicts.In general, the fishing industry of late imperial and modern China was a continuous yet punctuated process of transition regarding its impact on local fishing groups and environmental resources.
The fourth presentation was carried out by Prof. Hua-Pi Tseng, Professor at the Center for General Education, NationalChiao-TungUniversity. Prof. Tseng presented Ramachandra Guha's book entitled Environmentalism: A Global History. This book not only delineates the history of environmentalism from the perspective of the North, but also compares what the South had encountered or developed in reaction to the environmentalism of Euro-American perspective.The history of the environmental ideas is divided into two waves, generally by the Second World War.Guha's book is not a documentation of scientific environmentalism, but rather a trace of thoughts and processes of environmental movements and social impact. Before the WWII, the environmentalism was represented as thoughts from elites.After the WWII, the environmentalism was carried out by social awaken movement. From the age of affluence as well as the "age of ecological innocence" to the ecology of affluence, environmentalism moves from advocacy on nature to the reflection of life style and environmental damage by industrial age. Based on the cases of the South, Guha proposes the "environmentalism of the poor." In developing countries, the burgeoning of environmentalism is deeply connected with social justice.
In general, the discussion at the first EH workshop not only sheds light on redefining the boundaries of nation states and social organization on the constitution of environmental resources, but also practical aspects on the rise of environmental consciousness and local environment protection movements.The workshop creates a platform for further discussions and anticipates dialogues and suggestions on East Asian environmental conditions.The second EH workshop at Academia Sinica will be held on April 30th at the Institute of Taiwan History as well.
Brief on WCEH2009 by Ts'ui-jung Liu
The First World Congress of Environmental History (WCEH2009) was held during August 4-8, 2009 in Copenhagen, Denmark and Malmo, Sweden. The program consisted of 10 parallel sessions with 126 panels and 2 plenary poster sessions in addition to keynote speeches and roundtables. A very wide range of topics were included in the program with emphases roughly in the following order: forest, landscape, water, agriculture, rivers, climate, animal, urban environment, environmental sciences, ecology, hygiene, war, colonialism, justice and politics, and so on. Papers related to East Asia were presented in the following sessions:
Plenary poster session: 2 of 30 posters
- Disease and Environment: Implications of Clonorchiasis Infection in Taiwan and Mainland China; Ts'ui-jung Liu
- The Relationship between Human Being and Wild Animals in Chinese History; Zhihong Cao
Session 2.3: Water: intellectual histories, research and policies: Examples from Japan, China, India and Ghana; Chair: Ts'ui-jung Liu; 2 of 4 papers
- A transnational intellectual history of water culture in Japan; Satoshi Murayama
- Water shortages as consequences of the past history; Masayoshi Nakawo
Session 3.3: Using and abusing wild animals: Terrestrial and aquatic case studies; 2 of 4 papers
- Cultural Behavior and Animals' Life: The Relationship between the Tribute and Asiatic Lions' Crisis (1400-1600); Lei Kang
- Wild Animals and Humans in Asia before 1900; Peter Boomgaard
Session 4.11: Of coasts and harbours: Transcontinental perspectives; 1 of 4 papers
- The History of Taiwan's Fishing Ports and the Imagination of the Sea along the Number 2 Road of Taiwan; Tsuo-Ming Hsu
Session 5.5: Ecological Imperialism Redefined: Agricultural Landscape Transformations in Response to Distant Markets; 1 of 3 papers
- Ecologically unequal exchange, landesque capital, and landscape transformations: On the historical-political ecology of Kinmen Island and Orchid Island; Eric Clark and Huei-Min Tsai
Session 7.3: The Environment in the Making of Modern China - Changes, Continuities, and Connections; Chair: David Pietz; 3 papers
- Refugees and the Environment in Wartime China: Henan Province, 1938-1945; Micah Muscolino
- Water Calamities and Trauma: Towards a Consolidated Community; Yan Gao
- Social transformation, Environmental change and the acculturation of Oroqen in China (1858-1945); Bao Maohong
Session 8.1: Disposing of Cumulative Assumptions; 1 of 3 papers
- Turning Waste into Treasure: the Practice and Ideology of Waste Utilization in Chinese Agricultural History; Lihua Wang
Session 8.10: Water, Grasslands, and NGOs: The Transformation of the Chinese Vision of Nature; Chair: Susan Flader; 3 papers
- The Rise, Development, and Influence of the Environmental NGOs in China; Xueqin Mei
- The Chinese and Mongolian Perception of Grasslands in the Late Qing Dynasty; Guorong Gao
- The Pursuit of Harmony: The Dujiangyan Irrigation System and the Traditional Chinese Vision of Nature; Shen Hou (absent)
Session 8.13: Environmental history and social justice: the case of Japan Chair: Mika Mervio; Commentator: Kuninobu Kitao; 3 papers
- Japanese environmental history: narratives of sustainability; Mika Mervio
- Environmental justice and ecological modernization in Japan - contrasting urban and rural communities; Mutsuko Takahashi
- Environmental Social Justice Norms in Japan; Miranda Schreurs (absent)
Session 9.3: Single Paper Session; Chair: Micah Muscolino; 3 papers
- Spatial frameworks of land use and development: the environmental history of the Kanto Plain, Japan; David S. Sprague and Nobusuke Iwasaki
- Taboo, Hunter Philosophy, and Land Ethics in Taiwanese Indigenous Fiction; Chi-szu Chen
- Distant powers and socio-environmental processes in mountain forests and logging towns - The case of Taipingshan, Taiwan; Huei-Min Tsai
Session 9.10: International Waterways and Management; 1 of 4 papers
- An inter-continental comparison between the environmental histories of two lake catchment systems in mountain environments of France and South West China; Darren Crook
Session 10.5: National Parks on two continents; Chair: Ts'ui-jung Liu; 2 of 3 papers
- Political Impacts on the Establishment of National Parks in Taiwan; Hua-pi Tseng
- Taiwan's National Parks Development since World War II; Chang-yi Chang
It is hoped that the above information will be helpful for concerned scholars to prepare for the second world congress of environmental history scheduled for 2014.
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