“Europe may be becoming the new frontier of Taiwan studies,” he said.
In France, Corcuff said there are nine tenured “Taiwanists,” academics who have published extensively on Taiwan and devoted most of their time on the research of Taiwan issues. A majority of their publications are in the field of political science, with a few in other disciplines including Taiwanese literature translated into French, he said.
France offers two courses exclusively on Taiwan during the this academic year, while some are taught occasionally in courses on China, he said, and there are some 30 doctorate students, who are either French or Taiwanese.
Corcuff said Lyon is becoming a major, if not the biggest, center for Taiwan studies in France. He taught a course on Taiwanese geopolitics at Paris Institute of Political Science between 2002 and 2005 and more courses on Taiwan at the Lyon Institute of Political Science before he took a sabbatical in September.
Exchange programs are an important element of his schools’ programs, he said. While most students in Chinese studies want to go to China, his institutions sends masters’ students to Taiwan for a year.
“When even one of our students goes to Taiwan, it can be considered a big success,” he said.
Because Taiwan courses and academic publications on Taiwan are an important form of soft diplomacy, Corcuff said the increase of interest in Taiwan studies will inevitably give the country greater international visibility and also promote a wider understanding of contemporary Taiwan.
“It raises the consciousness of Taiwan’s existence, complexities and unfair treatment it receives in the international society,” he said.
“It is sometimes hard for us to change Western journalists’ preconceptions about Taiwan, but the more we publish, the more we raise the awareness of Taiwan and provide reliable information to the world to refer to,” Corcuff said.
Academic and media attention on Taiwan in Europe
‧ Dafydd Fell, deputy director of the Center of Taiwan Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London, says European interest in Taiwan is “greater than ever.”
‧ Michael Danielsen, founder and chairman of Taiwan Corner in Denmark, says that in his country at least, Taiwan receives a fair amount of media attention.
‧ Stephane Corcuff, a political science professor at the Lyon Institute of Political Studies and a researcher at the Taipei Branch of the French Center for the Studies of Contemporary China at Academia Sinica, says Taiwan has never been the focus of much media attention in Europe, and that the level of attention has remained steady.