Asian Studies was founded at the University of Manitoba in 1988. We offer both undergraduate Major and Minor degrees in Asian Studies. The Centre offers language instruction in Mandarin, Japanese, Hindu-Urdu and Sanskrit. As a rapidly growing unit we are able to provide students a good variety of courses for the study of Asia. No longer is Asia an exotic, far-away locale; it is part of our everyday world and it will be a major force in the future of all of us.
For roughly the past ten years Terence Russell’s research has been focused on the on-going process of identity definition in Taiwan in the post-martial law era (since 1987). This has been a very complex, multileveled, and politically charged engagement over who is Taiwanese and how Taiwan should understand its own history. Professor Russell’s earliest work looked at how “nativist” intellectuals attempted to wrest cultural and political capital from the previously dominant (and colonial) Nationalist government and its supporters (mainly post-1949 émigrés from mainland China).
More recently, Professor Russell has turned his attention to relations between the majority Minan Chinese population and the remains of the indigenous Austronesian population. By exploring various forms of cultural production, Professor Russell has looked at how indigenous populations have sought to reclaim a subjective presence in Taiwan. This involves not only challenging the hegemony of the Chinese majority in political and economic areas, but also asserting claims to social and cultural sovereignty. For example, Professor Russell has worked on the involvement of the social activism networks, including indigenous groups, in resisting attempts to remove Amis squatters from their long-established riverbank communities in northern Taiwan. Professor Russell recently delivered a paper on the transformation and “indigenization” of Christianity in indigenous communities as part of a resistance against the non-Christian mainstream society in Taiwan. In collaboration with a scholar at the University of Alberta Professor Russell has also recently submitted an application for a grant to produce a documentary film on the “(dis)appearing landscape” of Taiwan. This will involve filmed interviews with several indigenous writers on the subject of the destruction of their traditional homelands by the migrant Chinese population. This process is very much parallel to the destruction of traditional First Nations lands in Canada and the United States, and it has led to similar consequences both for indigenous peoples and the mainstream.