This zine is our record and reflections from the movement of overseas students returning to Taiwan during COVID-19. We examine the daily life of foreign students in Taiwan, their experiences under the boundaries of nationalities, various institutional problems they face, their desires and bodies, and their post-social movement trauma. It is worth emphasising that we are not looking at foreign students and related issues in isolation, but dealing with the situation of foreign students in Taiwan within the framework of “non-citizenship”—looking to build a radical vision of “members living/co-existing in the society of Taiwan” and make a complementary vision of non-citizen participation in social movements.
In “Part 1: Daily Life of Overseas Students”, in order to allow readers who are not familiar with overseas students to enter into their lives, we invite overseas students to answer common questions which they think will help to understand their backgrounds. We also collect questions that these students often encounter because of their identity and cultural experiences, from embarrassing to funny or sad.
In “Part 2: The Epidemic is Coming! Non-citizens under the National Boundary”, we start with outlining different dilemmas of the world during the pandemic based upon nationalist and capitalist agendas and several forms of exclusion of different non-citizen groups. The second article is a record of the discussion after our screening of Our Youth in Taiwan and further raises the difficulties and possibilities of non-citizens’ political participation. The final part is a record of our “Human Library” events, hosted by foreign students in the form of leaflet.
“Part 3: Different Treatments Faced by Overseas Students” starts with the topics and campaigns that TISM has participated in, from the layoff of overseas students, the situation of mainland students, the tuition fee of overseas students, displacements during COVID-19, and the movement of equal rights for National Health Insurance. Then, we point out the different treatment of overseas students and its intertwining with overseas students’ multiple identities as cross-border migrants, social members living in Taiwan, and participants in the higher education industry.
In “Part 4: Desires and Bodies”, we discuss by way of the films Lesbian Factory and Rainbow Popcorn about how the lives of non-citizens is possible from the connection between desire and non-citizenship. Next, through Professor DING Naifei’s knowledge trajectory and inter-Asian knowledge practices in another time and space, we explore the possibilities for foreign students to disturb normative boundaries by way of experience, affect, knowledge, and movement.
“Part 5: Post-Social Movement Trauma” is a dialogue between two overseas students who experienced cyberbullying during the movement of overseas students returning to Taiwan during the pandemic. It shows that in the face of being “attacked”, we not only resist the position of being victims but also start to analyse and encounter trauma through the social and personal experiences of Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Mainland China.
The additional insert, When the Dust Organizes: Experiences in the Organization of TISM is actually an extension of Part 5 in the form of interviews with ourselves. On one hand, we explain from the internal history of the organisation how the concepts and specific strategies of TISM have been established over different periods from 2017 to the present. After that, we sort out and review the methods of organisation, structure, divisions of labor, positioning, solidarity, and other aspects of the group. We hope that through reflection and openness to ourselves we can bring references of experience, affect, knowledge, and practice to overseas students and activists of different identities and different fields.
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