Niki J. P. Alsford, "Taiwan Lives: A Social and Political History" (U Washington Press, 2024)


As Taiwan gains prominence on international headlines, often framed in terms of conflict with China, it’s easy to neglect the island nation’s human stories and nuances. Niki Alsford’s book Taiwan Lives: A Social and Political History (University of Washington Press, March 2024) aims to provide a more nuanced counterweight to the sensationalism and soundbites that come up in Anglophone discourse about Taiwan today.

Through a carefully curated selection of 24 biographies — stretching across social divides and time periods, featuring everyone from priests to pop stars to presidents — Taiwan Lives tries to make Taiwan’s multilayered colonial history more accessible to English-language readers. Alsford, who’s a Professor in Asia Pacific Studies at the University of Central Lancashire, draws upon his background in historical anthropology and extensive Taiwan-related experience to highlight the shifts and shades of Taiwanese identity across the past few centuries. 

Anthony Kao is a writer who intersects international affairs and cultural criticism. He founded/edits Cinema Escapist—a publication exploring the sociopolitical context behind global film and television—and also writes for outlets like The Guardian, Al Jazeera, The Diplomat, and Eater.

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Anthony Kao

Anthony Kao is the founder of Cinema Escapist and a writer who focuses on the intersection of international affairs and cultural criticism.
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