UCLA’s Center for Chinese Studies will showcase its strengths in Taiwanese research and culture as part of the new Spotlight Taiwan Project, an agreement between UCLA and the government of Taiwan.

Under the agreement with Taiwan’s Ministry of Culture, the UCLA Center for Chinese Studies will stage a film festival, a lecture series and other public events and receive $87,375 from September 2013 to August 2014. The agreement could be renewed for up to four years.

UCLA Professor Yunxiang Yan.
Yunxiang Yan.
The agreement was announced on July 5 when UCLA Chancellor Gene Block visited Taipei, where he met with President Ma Ying-jeou and signed a memorandum of understanding with Culture Minister Lung Ying-tai. UCLA and the University of London are the first universities to join Spotlight Taiwan, a four-year project that could ultimately support Taiwanese cultural events at more than a dozen universities.

UCLA professor and cultural anthropologist Yunxiang Yan, who studies cultural globalization in China and is director of the Center for Chinese Studies at UCLA’s International Institute, will oversee the programming. Funding for the first year will include a film festival of up to 10 films, a lecture series on civil society in Taiwan, and two to three public events featuring traditional and contemporary Taiwanese arts.

“The Center for Chinese Studies’ mission is to facilitate cutting-edge research on Chinese culture and society, and to promote better understanding of Chinese culture in the U.S.,” Yan said. “The center has a long history in promoting Taiwan studies, and having this funding will enable us to do more programs, especially more expensive ones such as the film festival.”

A theme of the project will be examining Taiwan as a model of how democracy can be established in a Chinese cultural context, in part by examining how it managed to preserve cultural traditions while also embracing diversity, individuality and creativity.

Yan will oversee several UCLA faculty involved in Spotlight Taiwan. The film series, proposed to run this November at the UCLA Hammer Museum’s Billy Wilder Theater, will be led by Robert Chi, a professor of Asian languages and a leading scholar on film studies. Professor Hui-shu Lee, who specializes in Chinese art history, will lead programming for a museum culture and visual arts series. Cheng-chieh Yu, a professor of dance and choreography specializing in Asian diaspora issues, will work with Susan Pertel Jain, associate director of the Center for Chinese Studies, to head a cultural and performing arts series. Yan will also head the public lecture series on civility and civil society in Taiwan, exploring the promotion of modern behavioral norms in the public sphere, public moralities, trust among strangers, and the active role of civil society groups.