Abstract

This article explains why and how Joseph Needham’s influential work Science and Civilisation in China was translated and appropriated in Taiwan. The author argues that the translation fulfilled the needs of the political agenda and served as ideological propaganda for the Taiwan government when it faced the challenge of the Cultural Revolution and the crisis of losing its membership in the United Nations. In the context of the martial law regime, this translation project, initiated by Li-fu Chen 陳立夫, aimed to enhance the ethnic identity of the Taiwanese as Chinese and championed cultural pride as a countermeasure to the Cultural Revolution in the name of science and culture. The translation of Science and Civilisation in China then served the purposes of cultural conservatism and nationalism. This project as well as Needham’s visit to Taiwan, however, probably also stimulated the subsequent institutionalized academic research of the history of science in Taiwan.

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