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Michelle Kuo and Albert Wu: On a Broad and Ample Road and the Taiwanese Presbyterian Church Shooting Ep 209

By Felicia Lin

A note from Talking Taiwan host Felicia Lin:

In mid-June I spoke with Michelle Kuo and Albert Wu about their weekly newsletter, A Broad and Ample Road.  They began writing it in 2020 as a way to keep in touch with people during the pandemic. We also spoke about the shooting at the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian church in Laguna Woods which had happened a month before on May 15th.

We discussed how the shooting sparked debate on the shooter’s identity as Taiwanese or Chinese, and the terms benshengren (本省人) and waishengren (外省人) which are commonly used in Taiwan to differentiate people. Michelle reflected on how the close-knit nature of the Taiwanese community in Laguna. Her parents live five minutes from the church and knew members of the Taiwanese community in Laguna Woods. Albert shared why he felt that in a different life the shooter could have been one of his uncles.

Michelle Kuo is a social activist, lawyer, teacher, and writer. She is an associate professor at the American University of Paris in History, Law, and Society and a visiting associate professor at National Taiwan University.

Albert Wu is a historian and an associate research fellow at the Institute of History and Philology, Academia Sinica.

 

 

This episode of Talking Taiwan has been sponsored by NATWA, the North America Taiwanese Women’s Association.

 

NATWA was founded in 1988, and its mission is:

 

  1. to evoke a sense of self-esteem and enhance women’s dignity,
  2. to oppose gender discrimination and promote gender equality,
  3. to fully develop women’s potential and encourage their participation in public affairs,
  4. to contribute to the advancement of human rights and democratic development in Taiwan,
  5. to reach out and work with women’s organizations worldwide to promote peace for all.

 

To learn more about NATWA visit their website: www.natwa.com

 

Here’s a little preview of what we talked about in this podcast episode:

  • Why Michelle and Albert named their newsletter A Broad and Ample Road
  • Why Michelle and Albert started their newsletter
  • The piece that Michelle and Albert wrote about how Taiwan’s pro-China media depicts Ukraine and Russia
  • How Michelle thinks that writing doesn’t have to be a solidary activity
  • How Michelle and Albert decide what to write together
  • How Michelle and Albert write together
  • What Michelle and Albert’s writing process is
  • How Michelle and Albert deal with disagreements in the writing process
  • How often the newsletter is published
  • One of the most enjoyable things about writing the newsletter
  • How the newsletter had connected them with a variety of people who can relate to the things Michelle and Albert write about
  • Michelle’s piece about moving to Taiwan
  • Michelle and Albert have envisioned the newsletter being bilingual and through a grant from Substack have been able to work with translators
  • Michelle’s book Reading With Patrickhas been translated into Chinese
  • The shooting at Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church in May
  • Divisions between the different groups of people who identify as Taiwanese and Chinese in Taiwan
  • The terms benshengren (本省人) and waishengren (外省人)
  • The Chinese character for sheng (省) means province which is how Taiwan was referred to under the Republic of China initially until constitutional amendments were made
  • The term the “49ers” which refers to the Chinese that fled China with the with the Kuomintang to Taiwan in 1949
  • How the gunman of the shooting at Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church was a son of waishengren
  • Albert and Michelle’s experiences growing up a family that was a mix of bengshengren and waishengren
  • The discrimination that Albert’s waishengren uncles experienced in Taiwan
  • How Michelle was raised by her parents to identify as Chinese American
  • The debate over whether to call the gunman Taiwanese or Chinese
  • The idea that the term Taiwanese can be inclusive, multicultural
  • The waishengren identity as victim vs. privileged
  • The variety of reactions to the Taiwanese Presbyterian Church shooting
  • Michelle’s parents’ connection to the members of the Taiwanese Presbyterian Church
  • How members of the Taiwanese community in Laguna Woods coexist and interact despite their differences in political opinions
  • How the circumstances of the shooter David Chou’s life were unraveling
  • What makes someone become a killer or a hero
  • The types of communities that could contribute to making people in to heroes or killers
  • The brutal impact of authoritarian regimes on all members of its society
  • Activists in the opposition (dangwai) movement have included waishengren, aboriginal, Hakka and other groups

 

Related Links:

 

The Battle for Hearts and Minds: A Dive into How Taiwan’s Pro-China Media Depicts Ukraine and Russia by Michelle Kuo and Albert Wu (from A Broad and Ample Road): https://ampleroad.substack.com/p/the-battle-for-hearts-and-minds-a

 

These Losers are Going Places (Michelle’s article from A Broad and Ample Road): https://ampleroad.substack.com/p/these-losers-are-going-places

 

How to respond to the shooting at Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church? by Michelle Kuo and Albert Wu (from A Broad and Ample Road): https://ampleroad.substack.com/p/how-to-respond-to-the-shooting-at

 

CONFUSION ABOUT “CHINESE” OR “TAIWANESE” IDENTITY OF GUNMAN AFTER SHOOTING AT TAIWANESE CHURCH IN CALIFORNIA : https://newbloommag.net/2022/05/17/tw-church-shooting/

 

We won’t be erased. Church shooting strikes at our identity as Taiwanese Americans (an article from USA Today): https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/voices/2022/05/17/california-church-shooting-taiwanese-americans/9802586002/?fbclid=IwAR2_-EUlsDaedORUc-ONh1_GdKxRqu9t5qinethlf0vpmB0jq7x-DKN_zIo

 

They Inhabited Separate Worlds in Taiwan. Decades Later, They Collided in a California Church: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/06/12/world/asia/taiwanese-church-shooting-pastor-gunman.html?fbclid=IwAR215t6jU9j1nr5zU2QiGleUc4fZh4jH0cq85dyl9SB_N7u6VjCraxXvaZ4

 

Gunman targets Taiwanese faith with long pro-democracy link: https://apnews.com/article/politics-shootings-california-taiwan-20908a30b4ac69014ba834d532a6f6de

 

What does the Presbyterian Church mean to Taiwanese Christians? (Hearts in Taiwan podcast episode): https://heartsintaiwan.com/episode/what-does-the-presbyterian-church-mean-to-taiwanese-christians

 

Eric Chang on the Occupation of the Executive Yuan During the Sunflower Movement (Episode 121): https://talkingtaiwan.com/eric-chang-on-the-occupation-of-the-executive-yuan-during-the-sunflower-movement-ep-121/

Peter Yang Zhao and Steven Lee Fight to Stop Asian Hate Crimes (Episode 125): https://talkingtaiwan.com/nyc-duo-fight-to-stop-asian-hate-crimes/

About the Host

Felicia Lin is the Host and Producer of Talking Taiwan, a podcast which seeks to introduce you to interesting stories connected to Taiwan and the diverse individuals who make up Taiwan’s global community.

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