Invitation to Thinking the Republic of China: An International Symposium 《思考中華民國》國際論壇
Time: August 21, 2021 to September 6, 2021 (All Times Local Taiwan Time)
Registration is Open and Preferred
Organiser: The Global Sinology Forum at National Sun Yat-sen University, Taiwan (國際漢學平台在中山）
In 2015, professor Yang Rur-bin (楊儒賓) published In Praise of 1949 (1949禮讚), a short volume that examined the long term intellectual and cultural impact that the 1949 transfer of the Republic of China (ROC) state structure to Taiwan had on the island. Published at a time of rising nativist nationalism on the island, Yang’s work argued that despite the historic traumas associated with the ROC regime in Taiwan, the 1949 rupture also transformed Taiwanese society in a variety of positive ways, imbuing it with a state structure that not only valued traditional Chinese culture (at a time when it was being openly denounced on the Mainland), but also possessed powerful forces within it committed to liberalism and democracy, grounded in a democratic tradition of thought that went back to the late-Qing.
In Yang’s most compelling theoretical move, he argued that the ROC and Taiwan had become dialectically fused together, two forces that had once seemed in opposition yet, through extensive engagement, experimentation, and reconstitution, had become sublimated into a new political community: ROC-Taiwan, a conceptual framework that would be later used by president Tsai Yingwen to describe the state she ruled over. All told, Yang’s work provided a stirring re-articulation of the historical meaning of the ROC-Taiwan experience, doing so as a means of reminding the intellectual community on both sides of the straits of the epistemic and intellectual costs of rejecting the Republic outright. Placed in the immediate context of the book’s publication, it was a bold intellectual gambit, one that provided a conceptual language not just to understand the Taiwanese past, but to build a political and intellectual consensus for the island’s future.
著作中最吸引人的論述構建即為強調中華民國與台灣的辯證性融合，兩造曾對立的勢力經過長期磨合、實驗與重構漸漸揚棄過往，成為一新的共同體：中華民國—台灣, 一種一體兩面的社會模式。 此論述框架後來被蔡英文總統運用來說明她所管轄的國家。 因而，楊儒賓的著作提供一種對中華民國—台灣歷史經驗強而有力的價值重估，提醒兩岸學術界，若在學術與知識上徹底否認中華民國可能帶來的後果。如果了解本書所回應的困境，我們可以將其視為一種大膽的冒險，除了提供理解戰後台灣歷史的知識框架外，更能協助我們在島嶼上達成「共生」的政治與學術共識，走向更穩定的未來。
Yang Rur-bin’s new work, entitled Thinking the Republic of China (思考中華民國), deepens his historical reflections on the meaning of the Republic, placed within the context of not just Taiwanese history, both Chinese history as a whole since the late-Qing. The book engages with a wide swath of modern Chinese intellectual work, from Liang Qichao, Sun Yatsen, Mao Zedong, to Liang Shuming, Lin Xiantang, Jiang Weishui, Zhang Junmai, Mou Zongsan, Tang Junyi, and more. In this new work Yang argues that the paradigm of modern transformation that the ROC offered- liberal, Confucian, social democratic, market oriented but socially responsive- provided a powerful alternative to the radical iconoclasm, class violence, and anti-market collectivism of high Maoism, offering a powerful heritage for thinkers on both sides of the straits.
This online forum brings together leading thinkers from Taiwan, Canada, the United States, France, Australia, Japan, and Hong Kong to engage with professor Yang’s newest work, inviting them to explore this ambitious rethinking of the meaning and legacy of the Republic, and what resources such an historical experience provides us for thinking today about models of social transformation, political solidarity, and educational work in the Chinese world and beyond.