Sunday, February 28, 2010

Short note on Formosa Betrayed's post-publication fate

One story that is circulated about Formosa Betrayed is that the KMT (or Chiang Kai-shek himself) bought the copyright to the book and suppressed it (here for Chinese Wikipedia link). My problems with that story are (1) I've never seen anyone cite actual published evidence for it (although I realize I shouldn't expect that such an act would be widely publicized), and (2) it doesn't account for the fact that Da Capo Press published a reprint edition of Formosa Betrayed in 1976. On top of that, in a biographical article on Kerr published in The Ryukyuanist (pdf) in 2001, A. P. Jenkins wrote that Kerr himself at least partly blamed John King Fairbank for the Da Capo Press edition that was too expensive for most people to buy.

Kerr jokes with Linda Glick of Houghton Mifflin in late 1965, responding to word that the publication of the book would have to be delayed until early 1966:
I note the publication delay with regret, but by now rather never expect to see it published! Soon enough the KMT Chinese will be buying up the whole edition, as they did the Macmillan Co's China Lobby book some years ago! Put a big one and make them pay!
Despite that joke, an undated cover sheet for the folder containing some of Kerr's correspondence with Houghton Mifflin includes Kerr's comments that he strongly believed Fairbank was involved in the company's decision to sell the copyright to Da Capo. He writes, "I have no documentary proof that Fairbank had a hand in the HMCO decision, but friends close to the Boston-Harvard connection tend to agree with this interpretation. Hence I withdrew FORMOSA BETRAYED fro[m] HMCO and recovered the copyright."

I did find one letter to Kerr from March 1970 that asked about Kerr's opinion regarding a rumor that the copyright to Formosa Betrayed had been bought by "Madwoman Chiang" (in the letter-writer's words), but I couldn't find Kerr's response to this letter. (Because of Japanese copyright law, some of the Kerr collection at the archives, including quite a bit of correspondence, is closed to researchers until fifty years after Kerr's death. Guess I'd better keep taking my vitamins...) But judging from Kerr's comments on the cover sheet (quoted above) and from his comments in a draft of a 1987(?) letter to Seng-bi Shaw (which Jenkins cites), Kerr was convinced that Fairbank had a hand in HM's deal with Da Capo Press because the pro-PRC Fairbank, according to Kerr, wanted Americans to view Taiwan as "merely another province of China, though by chance surrounded by water."

[Update: Title changed--I forgot most people nowadays think "FB"="Facebook"...]

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Some notes about publication history of George H. Kerr's Formosa Betrayed

During winter vacation, we took a brief trip to Okinawa. The main purpose was to take a quick dip into the George H. Kerr collection at the Okinawa Prefectural Archives. For a while I've been wondering about the publication of Kerr's Formosa Betrayed--particularly any difficulties he might have had getting the book published--and the book's fate after publication by Houghton Mifflin in 1966. Since Kerr's book was highly critical of the KMT and its governing of Taiwan--and highly critical of how the US handled the issue of what to do with Taiwan after WWII--I suspected that he would have had difficulty getting it published at the least, and might have been branded a traitor, since criticism of Chiang Kai-shek by a public figure like Kerr was close to treason (against the US as well as the ROC) during the early years of the Cold War. (See Ross Y. Koen's The China Lobby in American Politics (NY: Octagon Books, 1974) for why this was so.)

So, armed with information on the Kerr collection that Dr. Jenkins, who catalogued the collection, helpfully provided me with, I went in search of some answers to my questions.

One question I had was about why Kerr didn't publish the book until 1965. According to an article on the website of the World United Formosans for Independence, Kerr and Edward Paine (who worked for the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) in Taiwan) collaborated on a book in the late 1940s about what they had seen in Taiwan:
At the time Mr. Kerr had accepted an advance from a prominent American publishing house but later changed his mind and returned the advance. Supposedly, Mr. Kerr felt that he could do more for Taiwan by working with his high-ranking friends in the State Department rather than publishing the book which would embarrass the State Department. Mr. Paine consequently left angrily and went separate ways from Mr. Kerr.

In 1964 Mr. Kerr, reportedly, in his teaching capacity, was in need of publication and requested Mr. Paine's permission to use the materials he had assembled. Although it was no longer the most opportune time for the book, Mr. Paine gave his consent to Mr. Kerr. The book, Formosan [sic] Betrayed, was finally published in 1965.
A letter from Kerr to Linda Glick of Houghton Mifflin, dated 5 July 1965, might shed some more light on what was going on at that time, however. Kerr is responding in the letter to a suggestion by John King Fairbank that proofs of FB be sent to Washington for checking. In the letter, Kerr writes that
in 1947-48 I prepared an account of the Formosan affair for the Institute of Pacific Relations which Little, Brown & Co. were proposing to bring out. A prolonged silence followed which I was not able to penetrate until I discovered that the MS had been sent to the State Department and was there, of course, objected to, for I advocated intervention before Chiang K-S should move to Formosa and entrench himself. By 1950 it was too late; McCarthy was rising, and by the time I had retrieved my MS (not without difficulty) it was not possible to get a hearing.
If Kerr is referring here to the book that he and Paine worked on, then this letter gives a bit more context to the question of why it wasn't published soon after 2-28. It should also be noted that Kerr's anti-Chiang stance got him into trouble during the McCarthy era. He was investigated by the FBI while at Stanford and eventually lost his job there.

Kerr also discusses the issue of timing in his response to an author's questionnaire sent to him by Houghton Mifflin (undated, probably May 1965):
After watching events on post-war Formosa in 1945-1947 which culminated in the massacre of Formosan leaders seeking American help, and watching the loss of Formosan trust in American leadership after that affair, I began to prepare an account of what led to the 1947 crisis at Taipei. But 1950 was not the time to publish; the friends of Chiang Kai-shek were in full cry, the Mc Carthy Era was upon us. I put the MS away, working at it intermittantly [sic] and keeping notes through the early 1950's. In 1958 I brought it up to date, but it was still not the right time to try to place such a controversial subject before the public. I became involved in other projects, producing meanwhile a history of the Ryukyu Islands.
He goes on to write that in 1963, he began to receive "many requests for information concerning the postwar era--events in which I was directly involved. I was at last convinced that this painful and controversial subject should become a public record."

Another reason is also hinted at in the author's questionnaire response. Discussing possible promotional activities, he writes that he has reservations about going on TV and radio or giving lectures because "I find the Formosa Question difficult to handle. I am too emotionally involved, perhaps, to make a sufficiently objective presentation. I suppose if the book gets a fair reception I'll relax a bit about it, but the so highly organized pro-Nationalist propaganda net-work can bring terrible pressure to bear. At the moment I'm not sure I want to get involved on the air." It's possible that Kerr's emotional involvement also made it difficult to write about the events he experienced. In a review of the book, Douglas Mendel wrote that in 1963 Kerr had told him, "It is too painful to me to write up my old notes."

So, while 1965 might not have been the ideal time to publish Formosa Betrayed, it appears that there were several reasons for the delay.

More later on the post-publication fate of the book...

Friday, February 26, 2010

New book in the former native speaker's library

Haven't posted about books in a while, but I came across the following book in Nobel Bookstore (諾貝爾) in Taichung. (The link below is not to Nobel, though, because I couldn't figure out how to find the book on their website.)

The book is entitled 梅心怡人權相關書信集2:跨國人權救援的開端1968-1974, and it consists of newspaper and magazine clippings and correspondence related to the activities of Lynn Miles, who has been active in Taiwan human rights work since the 1960s. The book, edited by 張炎憲 and 沈亮, has very clear scans of the clippings and correspondence, accompanied by Chinese translations. It also contains articles (in Chinese) on human rights history in Taiwan. It makes a good companion to A Borrowed Voice: Taiwan Human Rights through international Networks, 1960-1980, which Lynn Miles and Linda Gail Arrigo co-edited.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

CFP: Concentric: Literary and Cultural Studies

Concentric: Literary and Cultural Studies
Vol. 37 | No. 1 | March 2011
Call for Papers
Deadline for Submissions: September 30, 2010


"Bios," a Greek word meaning "life or way of living," has been used by theorists since the late 20th century to designate "life" within various "post-" conditions: e.g. the poststructuralist, postmodernist, post-human and post-traumatic. Michel Foucault defines "biopower" as "an explosion of numerous and diverse techniques for achieving the subjugations of bodies and the control of populations." Biopower then marks a drastic change in the means of control and governance. Rather than threatening individuals with punishment or death, biopower would manage entire society. Following but "reversing" Foucault, Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri suggest that each individual could use "life" as a weapon with which to resist global capitalism. In another kind of dialogue with Foucault, Giorgio Agamben asserts that while our biological life is indeed entangled with our political life, in addition to the human state of "sovereignty" there is also the human state of "bare life."

Coming from a closely-related but slightly different angle, we also note that information technology has been increasingly pervading our life at every level, from the micro-biological-political to the macro-economic-political. Increasingly less face-to-face in our interpersonal communication and relationships, we now "live" in a world, a reality that is becoming ever more virtual and even disembodied. Mechanical gadgets such as iPods, iPhones, PDAs and cell phones have become extensions of our bodies/brains as rapid advances in biotechnology, biomedicine, bioengineering make the boundary between organism and "artificial life" ever more delicate. We now not only extend our bodies via cars and reassemble our bodies with transplanted organs: we also extend our minds/memories via electronic devices, and the technology for downloading/uploading between brain and computer is virtually on the horizon. Thus we may be becoming, or already be, "cyborgs" (Donna Haraway) or "posthuman" (N. Katherine Hayles).

How then are we now to rethink human life in terms of our increasingly intimate relations with machines, perhaps even our posthumanity? How are we to evaluate our "prosthetic life"? How are we now to define, interpret, understand concepts of law and polis (government, nation-state), state power, capitalism and globalizaton, in relation to human—and also earthly plant and animal—life (bios, ecos)? What new and unforeseen power struggles, perhaps even conflicts between human and non-human, life and death, might now be coming into play? In this era of the new bios, and new ecos, must we establish a new bio-(eco-)ethics, construct a new bio-(eco-)subjectivity?

We must ask once again, as philosophers asked thousands of years ago, "What makes us live?" "What ensures our existence?" "What is it that we call human life?" Can we look at (our own human) life anew and write about it afresh? How may the traditional literary genres, and specifically those concerned with life-writing, the writing of memoirs, biographies, autobiographies, be changing in terms of their form and content and their media of expression? What is the significance of "life-writing" at this particular historical moment?

Concentric: Literary and Cultural Studies welcomes papers in the areas of literary, cultural and/or interdisciplinary studies on issues related to this special topic of "bios," and also welcomes papers on general topics.

Manuscript Submission
  1. Manuscripts should be submitted in English. Please send the manuscript, a 300-word abstract, 5-6 keywords, and a vita as Word-attachments to The ideal length of the article should be within the range of 6,000-10,000 words. Alternatively, please mail us two hard copies and an IBM-compatible diskette copy. Concentric will acknowledge receipt of the submission but will not return it after review.
  2. Manuscripts should be prepared according to the latest edition of the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. Except for footnotes in single space, manuscripts must be double-spaced, typeset in 12-point Times New Roman.
  3. To facilitate the Journal’s anonymous refereeing process, there must be no indication of personal identity or institutional affiliation in the hard copy of the manuscript proper or the electronic file containing the manuscript proper. The name and institution of the author should appear only in the vita. The author may cite his/her previous works, but only in the third person.
  4. The Journal will not consider for publication manuscripts being simultaneously submitted elsewhere.
  5. If the paper has been published or submitted elsewhere in a language other than English, please make available two copies of the non-English version. Concentric may not consider submissions already available in other languages.
  6. One copy of the Journal and fifteen off-prints of the article will be provided to the author(s) on publication.
  7. It is the Journal's policy to require assignment of copyrights form by all authors.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

CFP: Cold War Cultures: Transnational and Interdisciplinary Perspectives





If war is the continuation of politics by other means, then Cold War politics can be seen as a continuation of war by other means. This interdisciplinary conference seeks to explore these means in the context of global encounters between states and "Blocs" as well as engagements with "East" and "West." Indeed, after the end of the Second World War, a new kind of "war" continued and expanded as governments and/or interest groups created and continually reshaped institutions, media, popular culture, and various elements of social and political life. Globally, these broad-based transformations took place in the shadow of Cold War politics, especially as expressed through rhetoric of threat and mutual annihilation. In particular, cultural phenomena shaped by Cold War power conflicts take on myriad forms in a host of geographic contexts, both in and outside the Bloc, from iconic public representations to distinctive media advertising, memorable political speeches, world expositions, spy novels and films, and a plethora of official and popular modes of expression. In some places, of course, military or paramilitary conflagrations translated Cold War politics into "hot" wars, which further fueled the fire of Cold War imaginations.

We invite proposals for individual 20-minute papers that explore any geographic area or disciplinary field of Cold War studies, as well as contributions that might engage the notion the of "Cold War" theoretically. Full panels of three papers may also be proposed (however, please submit all papers and biographies for full panels together in a single email).

Deadline: April 1, 2010
Submit your abstract of 150-200 words in an email (no attachments) to
Put "ABSTRACT: Cold War Conference" in the subject line of the email.
Include a brief biographical statement (max. 150 words) in the email.

* Material and consumer cultures
* Popular culture and everyday life
* Borders, walls, and the Iron Curtain
* Surveillance, torture and show trials
* Literature, music, art and architecture, film and other media
* The space and arms races
* Commodities, trade and the environment
* Cold War client states, arms dealing and proxy wars
* Spies and intelligence communities (in fact or fiction)
* Dissidents and defections
* "Neutral" sites, nonalignment, and the intersection of North-South and East-West dynamics
* International institutions and Trans-national networks

* No registration fee for the conference; open to the public. *
Conference will open on Thursday, September 30, with a keynote address and sessions will continue until noon on Sunday, October 3. *
Conference sessions will be held in classrooms with standard media podia allowing for playing of DVDs, CDs, and PowerPoints. Include a note in your email if you need any other form of media.
* Attendees who are not giving papers are encouraged to register for the conference mailing list by sending an email to and putting "INFORMATION REQUEST: Cold War Conference" in the subject line of the email.
* A block of rooms will be reserved at a local hotel for participants' convenience.
* For presenters with limited resources, it may be possible to arrange space with local hosts.

This conference is the centerpiece in a series of several events on the UT campus, all of which are free and open to the public. Plans include a Cold War Film Series, curated and introduced by members of the UT faculty and multiple keynotes during the conference, representing the geopolitical and cultural interests of the UT Centers and Institutes.

For more information, consult the conference website at OR contact the organizing committee at

Major Conference Sponsors at the University of Texas at Austin:
* Center for European Studies
* Center for Middle Eastern Studies
* Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies
* South Asia Institute/Center for East Asian Studies
* Teresa Lozano Long Institute for Latin American Studies

Saturday, February 06, 2010

CFP: University of Malaya Conference on Discourse and Society (UMDS2010)

This one is coming up soon--the deadline is February 14!
University of Malaya Conference on Discourse and Society (UMDS2010)
Theme: Interdisplinary Approaches to Discourse
June 16-18, 2010
Hilton Hotel, Petaling Jaya, Malaysia

Call for papers

UMDS2010 Website:

The Faculty of Languages and Linguistics at the University of Malaya is pleased to announce the University of Malaya Conference on Discourse and Society (UMDS2010) which will be held at Hilton Hotel, Petaling Jaya, Malaysia. The conference aims to bring together scholars from various disciplines to exchange ideas as well as offer new perspectives and directions in research on discourse and society. We welcome papers from any topic in the field of discourse and especially those that focus on interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary perspectives of discourse. Areas of interest include:
- Discourse and Education
- Discourse and Gender
- Discourse and Multimodality
- Discourse and Workplace
- Discourse and Religion
- Discourse and Globalisation
- Discourse and the Environment
- Discourse and Technology
- Discourse and Politics
- Intercultural Discourses
- Minority Discourses
- Other related areas of research in discourse and society

Keynote Speakers
Professor Emeritus dato' Dr. Asmah Haji Omar (University of Malaya)
Professor Ruth Wodak (University of Lancaster)
Professor Theo van Leeuwen (University of Sydney)

Submissions are invited for abstracts for oral presentations. All abstracts should be limited to 300 words in either English or Bahasa Malaysia and must be sent to umdsabstracts [at] by 14 February 2010.
Paper presentations will be 20 minutes in duration with an additional 10 minutes for discussion. Papers accepted for presentation will be notified by April 16, 2010.

For more information please contact: umds2010 [at]