Academic

Job Announcement

Job Announcement

College of Indigenous Studies at National Dong Hwa University [Taiwan]

http://www.ndhu.edu.tw/

POSITION DESCRIPTION AND DUTIES: The Department of Indigenous Cultures and the Graduate Institute of Ethnic Relations and Culture invite applicants for three (3) open-rank faculty positions in the humanities and social sciences, beginning February 1, 2008. We are seeking applicants who do research in indigenous or ethnic cultural studies, with any of the following disciplinary backgrounds: indigenous art, ethnomusicology, psychology, history, religious studies, anthropology, or sociology.

QUALIFICATION REQUIREMENTS: Ph.D. must be in hand at time of appointment. The applicant should be comfortable working and teaching in Mandarin Chinese.

TO APPLY: Please send cover letter, three letters of reference, curriculum vitae, graduate transcript, a copy of dissertation, and sample course syllabi to Ms. Long, Administrator, Graduate Institute of Ethnic Relations and Culture, National Dong Hwa University, Hua-lien, Taiwan 97401.

Formal review of applications will begin by October 15, 2007 and will continue until the positions are filled.

For further information, please contact graduate administrator sylong [at] mail.ndhu.edu.tw.

Freshman Chinese

About half of the students at my college are Taiwanese Aborigines. Many of them are able to apply to the school directly, rather than going through the national examination system. This effectively a form of affirmative action, one which I fully endorse. In fact, it is one of the reasons I wanted to come here to teach. However, it is important to recognize that as bright and talented as many of these students are, they often don’t have the same level of training as those students who come in via the examination system. Those students may have gone to some of the best schools in Taiwan, had tutoring in English, etc. while many of the Aborigine students may have gone to rural schools where they did not have access to such training. This wouldn’t be a problem if the school did the right thing and offered some of these students remedial training to bring them up to the level of the rest of the class. Unfortunately, there don’t seem to be any programs in place to offer such remedial classes.

Until now.

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Sort of …

Like thousands of others, I’m hooked on The Show: a one year experiment in video blogging by Ze Frank, a web deisgner/performance artist who lives in Brooklyn. On The Media interviewed Ze Frank this past week.

While I enjoy the show, it is hard to pin down why. Although he is a very sophisticated writer and performer, the show still has the feel of … a blog; and why would someone want to watch a blog? The only answer I can come up with is this: For the same reason one would read a blog – because it is funny, well written and insightful.

Take, for instance, today’s clip about college. So true …

Over at Savage Minds

While some of my readers are also regulars over at Savage Minds, I know not everyone is, so I though I should highlight some of my recent writing there in case people want to click over and take a look.

Also, please take a look at our recent fund raising drive to support teachers at disadvantaged schools in America. Please consider helping buy books and cameras for teacher-submitted projects at Donors Choose!

Finally, fellow Savage Mind Alex Golub is doing a great job with our summer reading circle. Join the fun! This one is going so well we’ll probably do more.

Brave New China

In Aldous Huxley’s book Brave New World writers and intellectuals are banished to an island where they have complete freedom to say and do whatever they like – as long as there is no risk of them infecting the rest of society with their ideas.

From what I’ve heard about intellectual freedom in China, it follows a very similar model. While blogs and web sites might be filtered for specific forbidden topics and words, and reporters jailed for being too critical, intellectuals have a fair amount of freedom to explore any topic they see fit.

This view is confirmed by Daniel Bell’s wonderful account of his experiences teaching political theory in Beijing:

In subsequent classes, I learned to relax with the students and to go over the material without worrying about sensitive political implications. We discussed Christian, Realist, Confucian, and Islamic perspectives on just and unjust war, with the students doing presentations and debating more issues among themselves. The student from the party school did an excellent presentation on the Maoist perspective. In debate, he made thoughtful and constructive comments, as one might expect of a talented student. To the extent he had a political motivation, it seemed to be the desire to learn theories that may be useful for China’s future reform.

I have to say, his students seem much more interested in debating ideas than the Taiwanese student’s I’ve encountered – despite (or because of?) the greater freedoms they have.

Rubber Stamp

Believe it or not, I was actually given a rubber stamp so that I can rubber stamp all the ridiculous paperwork that we have to deal with. Some memos are deemed too important to just e-mail to faculty. Instead, we have to go every day or two to the departmental office and officially stamp a form with our chop certifying that we read the memo.

Not being a native speaker it took me a lot of time to figure out that there was actually nothing important in the memos. So now I’ve asked the department’s wonderfully helpful administrative assistant to notify me if there is anything important. The rest will be rubber stamped!

I also had to set up a filter on my mail server to forward all the university-wide announcements to my Gmail account.

Below is a picture of my new stamp and a test sheet of paper.

Rubber Stamp

Office

In India, on January 12th, around one thirty in the morning, back from a long day of filming which had involved over nine hours of driving, I fired up my iBook just before going to bed. Thats when I got the email that would turn our lives upside down: I had been appointed as assistant professor of indigenous studies (Chinese version) at National Dong Hwa University in Hualian Taiwan!

I couldn’t have been happier. This is a job I had only dreamed of. I had come to Taiwan last summer just to see whether or not it would be possible to find such a job. I had been especially lucky in that the department had posted a job search the very week I arrived in Taiwan! Even more lucky that a friend of mine happened to see the posting and forwarded it me. Because I was able to visit the campus and meet with people then and there, it was then possible to later conduct my job interview over the phone from India. I had interviewed at a lot of schools in the US, but none can compare with the offer of working at a Taiwanese university just forty kilometers from my field site! It isn’t a matter of choosing between teaching and research because I will be able to learn so much just from working in this department!

The only thing is, the job was for the Spring semester, which starts on February 21st in Taiwan. That means I had one month to wrap up the film shoot in India, return to New York City, pack up all my things, move to Taiwan, find a place to live, and prepare my courses for the semester. (I’ll skip over describing that experience. Suffice to say that I barely managed to get my books and papers packed up and had to leave the rest to Shashawati…)

It simply didn’t seem real to me. I still can’t believe I am here. I didn’t want to make any public announcement until I had the office keys in my hand. Well, yesterday I picked up my office keys, and I snapped this picture of the plaque outside my door. That’s my Chinese name on the top, followed by the word “professor,” with the word for “study” on the bottom (as in a room where one does research, or an office).

Photo_021306_002

I can’t begin to tell you how happy I am about this wonderful opportunity. At the same time I have some trepidation. I am supposed to lecture in English, but most of my new colleagues are fairly dubious about the English abilities of the students, especially the undergraduates. And the student’s will be able to write papers in Chinese, which I can read, but I’m having difficulty imagining grading papers for a class of 40!!! Hopefully I’ll make it through this first semester in one piece, and I’ll have a better sense of how to handle things next year.

Shashwati is still in New York, and will be joining me in about six weeks. I have a lot to do to prepare for the semester, so blogging will remain light. However, I will try to write some more about the university and my new home. As you can imagine, future blogging on Keywords is likely to focus much more Taiwanese issues than it has in the past. And to help improve my Chinese writing I am considering starting a Chinese language blog as well… all in good time.

Till then, please enjoy some nice pictures of the relatively new (est. 1994) Dong Hwa campus I found on the web: here, and here. My office is in this building. And here is the university in Google Maps and Google Earth. (Via this cool service.)

Neurobiology vs. Psychoanalysis

My brother reports on how the media is reacting to the riots in France:

My favorite TV program for the examination of television, Arrêt sur Images, had, as one of their guests this weekend the mayor of Clichy-sous-bois, the city at the epicenter of the recent events.

One of the commentators on the show was discussing how images of fire (in this case of burning cars) have a direct neurobiological impact on the amygdala of the spectator, causing the release of adreniline and other hormones. And he was saying how this contributes to an intense reaction to these images.

The response of the mayor of this underpriviliged suburb? He wasn’t sure if he could comment on a neurobiological interpretation. His own perspective is more philosophical, he said, based as it is on Gaston Bachelard’s book The Psychoanalysis of Fire.

So, you can see, there is a grave crisis in France. Nobody can agree on the correct theoretical framework.

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