Here at the Ketagalan Project we are constantly on the lookout for people who are navigating across cultures, whether that be HoChie’s efforts in organizing Taiwanese people in America, or Elizabeth’s looking at fine dining in Taiwan. Today we have a guest offering up yet another perspective, this time as a Western foreigner living in Taiwan.

Our guest Ben Goren is the author behind the popular blog Letters from Taiwan, where Ben reports on Taiwan’s political scene and identity issues. He is originally from the UK and came to Taiwan as an English teacher but has since then studied and worked in Taiwan. He has also contributed to University of Nottingham’s China Policy Institute Blog.

Today we ask him about what it is like being a Westerner living in Taiwan, and just how he got into the fray of Taiwan’s controversial political scene. We also talk shop about politics—just a little bit. Here’s our interview:

  • Tell us a bit about yourself and how you ended up calling Taiwan your home?
  • Why Taiwan, and not other larger cities like Shanghai, Hong Kong, or Tokyo?
  • How are “foreigners” treated in Taiwan? How is the business/working environment?
  • You seem to have dived head first into the world of Taiwan’s controversial political scene, and you are not afraid to admit your partisan views. What shaped your political views in Taiwan, and motivated your involvement with commentating on politics?
  • How would you describe the community of foreigners, or expats, living in Taiwan? Why does it seem like many foreigners, especially from the Western nations, seem to also be interested in politics and often share views similar to yours?
  • What would you say are the differences between:
    • a) Looking at Taiwan’s politics as a “Taiwanese” living in Taiwan
    • b) Looking at Taiwan’s politics as a “foreigner” living in Taiwan
    • c) Looking at Taiwan’s politics living outside of Taiwan?
  • You said on your blog that you believe Taiwan is geographically and politically situated at an important juncture of global hegemonic struggle. What does that mean, historically and also for the future?

(Feature photo of Taipei by Peellden on Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0)


The Ketagalan Project

History and culture are the frames that prescribe how we understand the world around us. Our co-hosts present in-depth interviews on how art, culture, history and politics intertwine throughout time and space to connect us. Find out about the cosmopolitan modern Taipei downtown in the 1920s, regional trade, the future of aboriginal culture and more.