Erenlai - Beacons of hope 亞洲的人文引擎
Beacons of hope 亞洲的人文引擎

Beacons of hope 亞洲的人文引擎

There are many local initiatives that deserve to be known and encouraged. Here we look at Asia's cultural innovation.




Friday, 06 September 2013

Three Years with the Sadyaq Tribe


Scott Simon is a professor at the University of Ottawa and an anthropologist at the Lyons Institute of East Asian Studies (IAO). He works on the issues of development, indigeneity and identity in Taiwan.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

A Centre for the Middle Country

The Beijing Centre for Chinese Studies (TBC) opened in 1998 and is located on the campus of the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing. 

In this interview with Father Thierry Meynard SJ, director of TBC, we learn of his story leading up to being named director, his thoughts on the importance of learning about China, and a detailed explanation of the services that the Centre provides.

Programs and contact:

Friday, 08 February 2013

A Sonic Meltdown: A Review on "I Love Nuclear!?"

The Fukushima nuclear tragedy in March 2011 sparked a global discussion on nuclear energy in the 21st century. This question was discussed with particular vigour in Japan's neighbor Taiwan, a seismically unstable island with a voracious appetite for energy. 

Opposition to nuclear power in Taiwan is not new. Former movie star and spiritual author Terry Hu's involvement with campaigns in the early 1990s is but one high profile example and eRenlai has probed the issue here. The Fukushima incident, Taiwan's ageing reactors and the ongoing construction of a fourth nuclear plant have coalesced a range of social responses in recent years. In this context, the underground electronic artists behind I Love Nuclear!? have come taken nuclear power as an "object of criticism as well as a space for introspection". Their music "is foregrounded against nuclear power as well as the craziness and absurdity revolving around it". The result is a bouncy, glitchy electronic nightmare. But a well-meaning nightmare, as the music was contributed free of charge and organisers will donate profits to the Green Citizens' Action Alliance for Anti-Nuclear Purposes.

Unlike the majority of electronic music compilations, I Love Nuclear!? is not structured around a single easily identifiable sonic template. Metal riffs and lurking psytrance grate against bleak industrial beats. Lush ambience leads to the familiar throb of house. The unifying theme is a dark audial portrayal of the confusion and fear that nuclear power generates. The contrasting styles employed by the artists could be seen as the various phases of the nuclear issue - development, progress, protest, decay, meltdown, destruction, apocalypse, mutation. Just as the various styles of music are all 'electronic', so too are the moods evoked all 'nuclear'.

I Love Nuclear!? appears to have been compiled not as an enjoyable listening experience or something to shake your booty to, but as more of an experiment in letting music generate a palpable sense of the unease and imminent danger so inherent in nuclear power. In the interests of fairness I have given each track a 140 character summary. Tweet style, yo. 

ilovenulcear 01
The poster that is enclosed in the CD

1. 只是魚罐 It’s Just Canned Fish by Blackbells

Spooky looped distorted vocals. Gradually building dread. A faux-ambient portent for the warped digital tunes to follow.

2. 機器人的烏托 The Utopia Of Androids by Vice City

Am I in Düsseldorf circa 1991? The tinny bass drum üm-tish üm-tishes into some floating synths. Even if your skin is peeling off from nuclear flash burns you’ll still be able to slo-mo shuffle to this.

3. 美帝的禮 A Gift from the American Empire by Iang

Ethno-ambience morphs in and out of power-chord laden psytrance metal. If you put a mic next to a drum of radioactive waste it sounds like this.

4. 沒有人反 Nobody’s Against Nuclear Power by Yao

Minimalist pops and bleeps and buzzing bass. Tinnitusinal outro. Relatively easy listening. Thanks Yao.

5. 怪獸電力公 Monsters, Inc. by Aul

Like a electroencephalogram attached to Mike Wachowski's brain or a malfunctioning nuclear plant alarm, this track will drive you cRäzY.

6. 那天春天寧靜的 Remember the Silent Sea that Spring by Koala 

Classic psytrance, the most danceable track thus far. Your getaway music for when the reactor overheats and becomes unstable.

7. 台電的移動城 Taipower’s Moving Castle by MAD+N ft. Troy

Epic synths, glitchy paranoia, soothing piano and an uber-gloomy finale. I love it.

8. 我如何學著停止煩惱並愛上炸彈 How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb by Roweing

More retro Euro-beats and arrhythmic percussion. Claustrophic and nauseating. Kubrick would be proud.

9. 黑色狂歡派 Dance to the Scam by Betty Apple

Betty gets funky and then freaks out, scooping out your brain and filling it with digital detritus and toxic gloop.

10. 黃色蛋 Yellow Cake by VARO

I think Varo is some sort of post-nuclear mutant, that's the only way he/she could compose this. Just as it starts feeling comfortable, the music gets weird. Again.

11. 都是為了世界和 It’s All For The Peace Of The World by TJ Zhang

No beats here. Just a surreal conversation between two mutants scavenging the remains of Taiwan’s Longmen reactor 500 years in the future. One chanting a baritone mantra, the other whimpering and quivering like a scared guinea pig. 

12. 讓你瘋狂的要 I Want You to Want Me by 灰雁

The piano is all Summer of Love 1989. I can see the yellow smiley faces and goofily grinning ravers. But the glow sticks they are waving are actually spent nuclear rods. 

13. 核廢永久遠、一噸永流 A Family Heirloom by Alöis

Static and eerie, this is the sound of Geiger counters scouring the ruins and scorched earth, finding nothing but death. The legacy of Sector 7-G.

14. 進化特 Evolution by Tech Yes

Industrial chaos. Your mum will hate it. The most challenging track here ends in a crescendo of static. The discordant ripping of a scratched CD evoking the death thralls of an earthquake-shattered reactor.

I Love Nuclear is a unique aural representation of how the complexities of nuclear power in 21st century Taiwan might be understood. It is not always easy listening. But since when did a nuclear meltdown sound good?

For samples, you can check out

Note from the editor:

The album (250 NTD) can be purchased in the following locations...

Taipei - RE caféLuguo caféSpecies RecordsIndimusic RecordsThe GoodsMyHome多麼 Cafe+Vicious Circle

Taichung - 小路映画

Kaohsiung - Booking

Others – Lacking Sound Festival or buy on internet 

Monday, 10 December 2012

Alternative Activism in Japan

Japanese band Punk Rock Labour Union. Photo by Park Swan

Zijie Yang introduces us to the young alternative scene of Japan, in particular Koenji, and describes his experiences establishing links with activists there during his recent visit. 

Friday, 01 June 2012

Budai Salt Industry - Rise, Fall and Revival

Salt was once one of the most important industries in Budai. The workers in salt fields were offering their sweat and hard work to the land and in return, the land would give them shiny snow-white salt. Thus people and the land have developed an intimate symbiotic relationship. But when sun-drying is now no match for modern ways to obtain salt and this method dies out in natural selection, how should the people conduct ‘dialogue’ with the land? Through interviews with an old salt worker Cai Liquan and with a local historian Cai Guiqiao, this article will attempt to put together the history and determine the future of the Budai salt industry.


Friday, 29 July 2011

Rehabilitation of Teenagers in Taiwan

The director of Taoyuan's Youth Rehabilitation Centre, Lin Qiulan, discusses the life of young offenders in rehabilitation, including recent programs which encourage them to express themselves, like Zen tea rituals, writing projects and art.

Tuesday, 08 March 2011

Remembering the Wenchuan Earthquake in Sichuan

We previously published an article by Liang Zhun who had volunteered to help the survivors of the Wenchuan Earthquake (aka the Great Sichuan Earthquake) get back on their feet. Here is an interview with her in which she explains her new book and the events that led her to compile it:

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Happy 10th anniversary, Yangjuan!

[sigplus] Critical error: Image gallery folder stories/yangjuan_10_anniversary is expected to be a path relative to the image base folder specified in the back-end.

Yangjuan is a village of the Yi minority, located in the mountains of southwestern Sichuan. In Fall 2000, the Yangjuan Primary School, built with the support of Chinese and foreign friends and dedicated to comprehensive education for the children of Yangjuan opened its doors. Thus, Yangjuan is the site of an innovative arts education program directed by Benoit Vermander of the Taipei Ricci Institute and Li Jinyuan of Sichuan Normal University and of a multidiciplinary anthropological-ecological research project carried on by the Sichuan Provincial Institute for Minority Studies, Sichuan University, and the University of Washington.

The 10th anniversary of Yangjuan took place in August 2010 and was a real success, with even more people in attendance than at the opening in 2000. To me the highlight was Aku Vyvy, the foremost Yi poet, getting the children to recite his famous poem yyr ggut (calling the soul) along with him. There was also a lot of very nice singing and dancing. It rained before and after, but not during the ceremony, just as HiesseVuga had predicted from his astrological knowledge. Three yaks were butchered, constituting the largest pile of meat I've ever seen as it sat in the courtyard. He Laoban donated 10,000 kuai for the top-ten students in the graduating class. Unfortunately the Principal literally put the money in his pocket, so we don't know how much of it the students will eventually see. We can ask them next time we go back.

Foreigners in attendance were very few, consisting of Eddie Schmitt, Geoff Morgan, Abby Lunstrum, Prof Chen Mei-ying of Chiayi (all current or former University of Washington students) and me. Zhang Wei presented a very nice set of posters that I think he and Li Jinyuan had made up (I was not there to ask when they arrived), and Li Xingxing and I put together a slide show of 200 pictures or so, using a projector borrowed from Chuan Da.

The dearest thing was that Fagen found out that it was my birthday on the 15th, and went all the way to Yanyuan to purchase a cake, watermelon, and bananas, and someone else had a bottle of vin rouge français (vraiment!), so it was a very endearing gesture and a welcome break from the succession of more carnivorous parties.

The next day we gave out 160 scholarships, including 15 for students in their last year of high school, which means we need to think about college next year. I'm applying for some funds from a Seattle foundation for this purpose.

Li Xingxing wants to start an online discussion group about the present and future of the school. The primary proximate problem is the lack of state-credentialed teachers; of course the ultimate problem is the management skills of the principal, everyone including the teachers (except for Ma Erzi's close relatives) seems to agree.

Geoff made some further repairs to the 6 water system, after Amanda Henck and her husband had made some earlier this summer. But it's clear that that system is a stop-gap measure. But none of us outsiders needs to do much, we think, because the ¥310,000 that was given by the Provincial Assembly (省民委) to the Prefecture Poverty Alleviation Office (州扶贫办) is apparently actually physically in Xichang, so that work on the larger system is to start soon.

In connection with water, Geoff and I went to see both the 3rd system given by a Chinese entrepreneur, and the revived version of the 4th system from Hydroliques sans Frontières. The #3 system, using Laizigou water, seems to work very well, and people say it provides water year-round, unlike any of the others built so far. The big surprise to me is the 4th system, which was revitalized last year. They have given up on the communal taps that were part of the original system, and every household paid a small amount to bring water inside where children won't mess with the taps. Only four households are still using a communal tap, which is, predictably, broken. Two households near the well are still using the well. Geoff and I talked to several families, all of whom are quite satisfied with the new system, except that it still runs dry in the winter. They pay the manager 20 jin of corn per year for his services. Anyway, it's in the best shape I've seen it since just after it was built.

The people depending of the 6th system are almost sure to "sell" its forest to a company in Xichang. The deal is being kept quite secret, and Ma Ningjun claimed not even to know the name of the company. The final papers have not been signed yet, but everyone seems to think they will be. The remaining rights of members to the resources are ambiguous at present. All the members of the other 3 systems have agreed not to sell theirs for the time being.


(Photos provided by S. Harrell)




Striding forward through turbulent winds

Do the lives of rebellious, angry adolescents always have to degenerate into darkness? Gua Gua's story shows us that with love and guidance, every one can discover their positive force.

In my hands is the case information of a school dropout provided by the Chong Fong Teenager's School. At the top is written: "Gua Gua, 19 years old. Sent to live with her uncle since her father passed away. Gets most of her amusement from participating in temple processions. Wears unisexual attire and is extremely loyal to her friends. She has very poor emotional control, which often leaves people unsure about her, with the impression she could erupt at any moment in time.

A preference for temple processions is certainly a rare hobby for most children of the same age as Gua Gua. Most probably prefer to linger at net cafes. This image created immediately makes one think of Lai Mingwei who took part in the Taiwanese TV programme One Million Star 2, performing as a member of the Taiwanese temple hierarchy system who wear masks and perform a mysterious dance (八家將). And her fiery temper also brings to mind the destructive Korean star Zhang He in Volcano High.

So what kind of child is Gua Gua after all?

The answer is revealed: Though she is a lively, spirited girl, who dresses neutrally, she also talks with an aggressive …tone of the leader.

Rebelling to vent her emotions

Beneath her contented smile, there lies a rough life invisible to the onlooker. “When I was one month old my mother moved houses, Father was framed and pushed down a ravine to his death. I was raised by my grandmother at my uncle's house and it wasn't until fourth grade of primary school that I found out my life story." She had called them her Mum and Dad for ten years, before realising they were not her biological parents. This was terrible blow for the young Gua Gua.

Perhaps discontent with her life, Gua Gua became rebellious. She would often miss school and not return home. Her temper deteriorated and in school, if she simply looked at someone and felt irritated she would provoke them; furthermore, she was fervently loyal to her friends and would help them when they were in trouble. This further caused her to be the subject of much animosity. Once she was even abducted to a mountain and beaten senseless. If her uncle hadn't arrived in time, she could have been long dead.

At the time she lived in Sanchih, where she was a headache for the local police, as she would be wandering the streets in the middle of the night: "I had a lot of friends, and often there would be more than twenty of us sitting on the main road, binge drinking." Her family couldn't find Gua Gua and even used the neighbourhood radio to summon Gua Gua home; however, Gua Gua was very unruly, only appearing when she had run out of money, and as soon as she had got the money she would disappear again.

Three years of youth lost immersed in the processions

Gua Gua dropped out of middle school in 3rd grade and ran off to Danshui to live with friends. Due to money requirements she joined a temple youth troupe in Danshui that her friend had introduced to her. She would take part in all the temple processions. She participated in the lion troupe, dragon troupe, vehicles troupe etc. Without realising it, she had spent three years in the youth troupes, and although she looked grandand impressive she couldn't help feeling lost: "Is this all there is to my life?"

In the busy season, Gua Gua would often take part in a dozen or more processions; however, all the money that she earned from the processions would be spend inviting her friends to dinner or KTV and midway through the month she'd be penniless. She still remembers the day that her grandma fell ill, just as he returned home to ask for money. Seeing her lying on the bed speechless, with a helpless and disappointed look in her eyes, she suddenly felt aggrieved.

"It was at that moment that I decided that I could not continue like this" Because according to Gua Gua, her grandma was the most important person in her life; she had suffered for her and loved her as she struggled to raise her. Thus Gua Gua decided to depart from the procession lifestyle and return home to help auntie sell steamed buns and work in her uncle's shoe shop. Unfortunately, regardless of what work it was, Gua Gua would always start off enthusiastic but then after a few days she would always end up running off again.

This was up until the Taipei's Northern district Juvenile Services Centre gave her a referral, from which she signed up to the 'Career Preparation Plan for the Disadvantaged Youth' held by the Bureau of Employment and Vocational Training (BEVT). This allowed her to enrol in Chong Fong Teenager's school and restart her new life.

However, with the help of social workers, who supported her with useful advice when her mood was unstable and discussed methods of mood control and emotional expression with her, she eventually managed to change her over impulsiveness. Furthermore through her career searching class she was gradually able to share her experience in services with her counterparts. This had the knock on effect of helping her express her skills and personal qualities and setting her aspirations for a future in the service industry.

Career experience and finding a settled job

Gua Gua's main aim from participating in career planning was to support herself and no longer be a burden on her family. Even so with her fiery temperature, and always overaffected by her ups and downs she often ended up resentful of her lecturers and classmates in course activities. Several times when she couldn't hold back her words this even ended up in physical conflicts.

When the course was finished, Gua Gua decided to apply for a job related to the packaging of organic foods and production assistance. Due to the social workers who supervised her progression, she also became more and more confident in her job. The day when Gua Gua was finally given the job officially, the social workers still contacted her especially, to check she was present on time, and after that they would turn up unannounced at her workplace to check on how she was getting on with her colleagues and bosses.

I still remember the first time we dropped in on her workplace; she told the social worker that her bosses and colleagues took the role of mother or auntie in guiding her so that she felt comfortable in the surroundings. Furthermore her colleagues praised the appropriateness of her speech and how well she blended in. The social workers were shocked, Gua Gua who used to be as sharp and piercing as a horn had already been moulded into a well rounded member of society. They figured that perhaps this working environment had filled up the hole that had been dug by her incomplete family life. After three months of work experience, due to her good work ethic, the company decided to take her on as a formal employee.

[important title="Currently there are over 4700 middle school students dropouts"]  and over 5000 middle school graduates who have failed to progress to the next level of schooling.The majority of these youngsters are lavishing in the margins of society without a professional skill or attractive record of schooling due to poor results in school or because of family financial difficulties. The Taiwan Alliance for Advancement of Youth Rights and Welfare which has long concerned itself with the rights and interests of young people joined with other social welfare groups to launch the "Project to increase the employability of the underprivileged youth" The project hopes to give these rebellious youth the wings to pursue these dreams, the ability to energetically compete in the labour market so that they never again fall back into adversity in their journey through life.[/important]


Translated from Chinese by Nicholas Coulson / Photo provided by: Taiwan Alliance for Advancement of Youth Rights and Welfare

Friday, 04 December 2009



Thursday, 03 December 2009



{rokbox size=|544 384|thumb=|images/stories/thumbnails_video/alfie_guerrillamovie.jpg|}{/rokbox}

Wednesday, 02 December 2009


攝影/Muhammad Haris Budiawan 翻譯/吳思薇


1971年,美國知名猶太作家沃克(Herman Wouk)出版了關於二次大戰的小說巨作《戰爭風雲》(The Winds of War),後來被改編成迷你影集,由已逝明星勞勃米契(Robert Mitchum)主演。這部作品描述戰爭早期,也就是美國參戰前的歷史,透過美國海軍軍官亨利和他的家人,讀者得以一窺戰爭爆發、軍情沸騰之際的歐洲政治與生活概況。故事本身極富興味,其中巧妙穿插了和墨索里尼在羅馬的私下聚會、與一位民族主義的德國侍者在柏林的相遇,一場波蘭的猶太婚禮,以及和邱吉爾的密談。不過此作有個相當震撼的插曲──小說最後引入了一個新要素:亞洲。某位配角隨口和人提起了日本人。在敘事主線於歐洲鋪陳數年後,主角們赫然發現自己身處太平洋地帶;然而書中並沒有表明這點,便以日本轟炸珍珠港作結。







Page 1 of 10

Help us!

Help us keep the content of eRenlai free: take five minutes to make a donation


Join our FB Group

Browse by Date

« April 2021 »
Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
      1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30    

We have 6614 guests and no members online