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SIT-Summer Institute in Taiwan
Academic Exchange & Cultural Experience in Taiwan
Visiting Student: Ian Rowen, Department of Geography, University of Colorado, Boulder
Hosting Professor(s): Hsing-Huang Hsiao and Mau-kuei Chang and (蕭新煌特聘研究員兼所長、張茂桂研究員), Institute of Sociology, Academia Sinica
Visiting Period: July 11~August 23, 2012

Evaluation Report (prepared by Mau-kuei Chang):

Ian Rowen proposes to study “Chinese Tourists in Taiwan” with special interests of the relations between tourism and territorial claims over Taiwan made by governments on the two sides of Taiwan Straits. He considers that the study of tourism can open up a new field studying how the place and the state are presented and perceived, and how this process can affect various nationalist claims over the tourist sites. The primary purpose of this research visit is to get first-hand experiences in interacting with tourists from China and tourists industry people, and to explore his research methodology in accessing individual tourists and the tourism industry.
We had the opportunity to discuss about his research plan, his methodology ever since his arrival. Since he is a well-prepared student from a high-ranking geography department in the world, very fluent in Mandarin, and with working experiences at a Taiwanese-owned elite hotel business in China for some years in Guangxi Province (廣西省), he can manage to travel around Taiwan and conduct his research independently.
As his hosts we did not need to look after him except when he needs our assistance, such as helping with research ideas and filing for his research expenses during his staying. Toward the end of his visit, he had explored most of the famous tourist attractions in Taiwan, including the 101 Building, Palace Museum, CCK Memorial Hall, Presidential Palace, Tainan City, Taitung Water Runs Up (水上流), and the Sun-Moon Lake. In these visits, he experimented his interview techniques and research methodology in gaining accesses to mainland tourists. And, of course, he must also obtain consents from tourist guides and companies before he could begin to interview people at all. He was also alerted about the possibility of ethical issues involved in conducting both objective and interpretive (subjective) anthropology.
In the end, he submitted his preliminary report to us, which is attached at the end of this document. He mentioned several interesting points in his study which are intriguing:
(1) Group tours and free individual tourists are two different types of tourisms. Group tourists tend not to have much of interactions with Taiwanese citizenry, and free individual tourists are said to be better educated with more sophisticated manners.
(2) Tourists often comment on Taiwan’s old and run-down urban landscapes and backwards economy, while appreciating its relatively civilized and kind social manners.
(3) Tourists from China emphasize similarity and continuity between Taiwan and Chinese society and culture, like ”Tongwen tongzhong” (同文同種) while Taiwanese typically emphasize difference with Chinese tourists.
Though he is for most of the time operating independently, we know and approve his strategies and approaches. It is our opinion, he has had accomplished most of the objectives in his proposal.

Some comments and suggestions:

Given what we know about his language skills and the importance of his research topic, we believe this training visit will be very useful for helping him to pursue further. We are also benefitted from your program for you have brought in a committed young scholar to a serious and timely research area. For future planning, we’d like to suggest the following for you to consider:
(1) We do not know what are covered in the mandatory one-week long orientation. However, for Ian Rowen, we know that the period may be too long and that it does not fit into his school schedule. We suspect that he may be not along having this problem.
(2) We understand the good intention from the program. In your acceptance letter you promised that the hosting institutions can and will provide accommodation to incoming students. However short-term housing in Taipei City is not easy to the satisfaction of our visitors. In our case, the Academia Sinica can provide students with hotel-like residential arrangement at our Activity Center only. And this does not necessarily suit the visitor’s preference. If such a situation occurs, we apologize that we cannot go all the way until we can find suitable residential arrangements in Taipei city on behalf of our visitors. The suggestion to you is perhaps you wish to include the expected difficulty and the limited assistance that the hosts can provide.
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