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Multiculturalism of Monsoon Asia

1. Multiculturalism of Monsoon Asia

Content :
Early studies of Monsoon Asia only provided a geographical understanding of the area. According to geography, Monsoon Asia includes southern Asia, southeastern Asia, and other eastern Asia territories ranging from modern day Japan, Korea, through southeast China, Hong Kong, Macau, Philippines, Thailand, India, and other Southeast Asian territories. As the name suggests, the territories known as “Monsoon Asia” are areas directly influenced by monsoons. Monsoons not only affect the speed and direction of regional winds, but also determine regional rainfalls and climate changes. These natural occurrences impact the daily lives of people who live in these territories. Other than affecting the agriculture, monsoons also provide dependable and predictable ocean currents that assist naval trade, commerce, and migration—all of which lead to cultural integration. With the help of these monsoons, Monsoon Asia became the first “regional system” in human history.
The geographical and climate patters of the regions also made Monsoon Asia the intersecting point of different peoples, commodities, concepts, and ideas for 3000 or 4000 years.
Tsing Hua University’s Research Center for Humanities and Social Science wants to take an interdisciplinary approach in studying Monsoon Asia. The center has invited research faculty from the departments of history, linguistics, anthropology, sociology, as well as other international scholars to research the following:

  The process of cultural integration in Monsoon Asia
  The cultural, sociological, and linguistic that resulted from cultural integration
  The political, economical, geographical, and social factors that influenced cultural integration
  Different perspectives on the integration of Monsoon Asia.

Within four years, the research center hopes to use these fields of research to carry out the following three projects: “Multicultural Perspective on the Integration of Western and Eastern Civilizations”, “The Structure, Contact, and Changes of the Monsoon Asia’s language”, and “Recognition and Evolution of Chinese in Monsoon Asia”. The first two years will be focused on the first two topics whereas the next two years will be devoted to the third topic.

2. Interdisciplinary plan

2.1. History and Literature :Multicultural Perspective on the Integration of Western and Eastern Civilizations
Monsoon Asia is more than a geographical study; it is also a cultural study. Originating in the western islands, the area has a very special culture consisting of legal systems, Han language, Confucianism, and Buddhism. Although these factors originated in China, they have evolved and taken a different role in societies outside of China. Therefore, in order to gain a proper understanding of Confucianism, Buddhism, and the culture of Han language, we must not only examine the origin of these factors, but also other regional traditions that have resulted from these factors. Taiwan lies off the east coast of China and is the intersection of the ocean and China, East Asia and South Asia. Taiwan has close ties to the regions around it and because of such relationships Taiwan is a place of history and culture.

The 15th century boom in geographical discoveries led to an integration of eastern and western civilizations. From the perspective of early modern world history, it was a new era of east and west cultural integration. In Ming and Qing Dynasty history, this era initiated trades between western Pacific, southern Pacific, and other areas along northeast Asia; thus making this era the beginning of the Chinese influence on international culture and commerce. Opening up the international market not only brought about institutional changes and different social concepts, but also impacted technology, art, and a chance to observe other culture and teachings. At the same time, expanding overseas trade also allowed minorities to interact. With these concepts in mind, we realize there are many aspects of multiculturalism we can study. From high class doctors to lower class women, from gender and sexuality to religion, there is an abundance of subjects we can study. Studying multiculturalism provides new perspectives on many aspects of Ming and Qing Dynasty society. In addition to focusing on multiculturalism, this project will also examine the formation of cities, which are crucial centers for cultural development. Catholics, Muslims, Lamaist, foreign envoys, and merchants frequent large cities such as Beijing and Canton, bringing with them an exquisite culture of scholars and officials, trends for the public, entertainment in daily life, and other changes that contributed to the liveliness of Ming and Qing Dynasty cities. These cultural changes are all attributed to multiculturalism.
The Jesuits came to the east in the 16th century, thus instigating the first major encounter between eastern and western civilizations. As language, religion, education, scientific knowledge, arts, technology, military, and commerce clashed, there was comparison, competition, and conflict.  But as the two civilizations learned to put aside their differences and accept each other, the intercultural interactions produced important results such as translated texts. Although the process of cultural integrations is naturally not a very organized or well-documented, there are still clues that can help us examine and understand the process of multiculturalism. From the different historical studies on academic, technology, philosophy, literature, publishing, spread of eastern civilizations, eastern and western civilizations interaction, ocean, commerce, military, and arts, we can reexamine the 16th century encounter between the east and the west and shed new light on how it affected the 19th century history.

2.2. Linguistics:The Structure, Contact, and Changes of Languages in Monsoon Asia
From ancient times Monsoon Asia was a place where people of different cultures come together. Therefore, in order to properly research the linguistics of Monsoon Asia, it is important to understand the native language of the regions. The integration of cultures often begins with languages; as a result, in order to properly study multiculturalism, it is important to examine the “contact of languages” and understand how and where these different languages interacted. However, regardless of whether or not a language changed because of contact with another language or self-derived changes, it is a fact that language evolve over time and therefore it is necessary to study all the languages in the regions pertaining to Monsoon Asia. Therefore, in the Monsoon Asia Project, we will be examining structure, language contact, and language changes.

2.3 Social Science: Chinese Society, Culture, and Migration in Multicultural Monsoon Asia
The goal of this research is to study the topic “Chinese Society, Culture, and Migration in Multicultural Monsoon Asia”. The research center assembled faculty from the anthropology and sociology departments of the College of Humanities, and invited other Taiwanese and international scholars to research the recognition of the Chinese in Monsoon Asia and the how multiculturalism has effected Chinese society and culture. The diversity of the research team is another strong point of the research center.

The expansion of Chinese society and culture has a wide impact on multiculturalism. For example, in examining Chinese culture of China and Taiwan and its expansion into Southeast Asia, we not only see a cultural change amongst the Chinese in southeast Asia, but we also see a migration of families, foreign brides, and workers to Taiwan. In addition to the exchange of culture and the acknowledgment of different aboriginal tribes, the expansion of culture also led to exchanges in resources, changes in division of labor, production, value of production, industries, and migration of workers under the trend of globalization. This kind of cross-culture and cross-society interaction is increasing and the study of multiculturalism is gaining importance.

3. Individual projects
3.4 Social History
  Huang Yi-Long Cerberus:The Western Firearms that Revolutionized 17th Century Chinese Military
  Chen Yu :Multicultural Perspectives on Exotic Material and the Chinese
  Yang Ru-Bing :The Theory of Studying Science
  Xu Guang-Tai :Scientific Knowledge and Education Under the Impact of Western Influence
  Alexei Volkov:Transmission of mathematical knowledge in East and Southeast Asia
  Mao Chuan-Hei:18th Century Chinese Law, Culture, and Technology Exchange
  Su Jin:Nanyang Waterways—19th Century Christian Missionaries in Malacca and Singapore
  Chen Hui-Hong:Encounters in Peoples, Religions, and Sciences -- Jesuit Visual Culture in Seventeenth Century China
  Fang Jen-jen:Chinese and Filipino Naval Trade (1657-1687) and Related History
  Halvor Bøyesen Eifring:Mind and Body: The History of Meditation
  Ma Yuan-Chang:Art of Qi-Gong
  Wei Yin-Ping:History of Jesuits in the Far East

3.5 Linguistics
  Xie Feng-Fan:Research on the common Malay-Taiwanese Phonetics and Phrases
  Zhang Yue-Qin:Singapore-Malaysia Regional Chinese Dialect and Phonics
  Cao Feng-Pu and Hong Wei-Ren:The Origin and Nature of the Fusion of Baba-Malay Language
  Lien Jin-Fa:Early Taiwanese Literature of Monsoon Asia
  Luo De-Jing:Researching and Analyzing Austronesia Dialects
  Lawrence A. Reid:Austronesia Dialect of the Philippines: Examining the Evolution of Verbs
  Huang Hei-Juan:Structure, Phonics, and Irregular Words of Austronesia Dialects
  Tsai Wei-Tian, Mei Guang:Examining the Cross-Culture Phenomenon of Languages

3.6 Anthropology
  吳燕和:Monson Asia Chinese societies and Plural Cultural Interaction Project

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