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Dr. Shih-chan Dai, Taiwan in the World Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Shih-chan Dai, Taiwan in the World Postdoctoral Fellow

Shih-chan Dai studies the development of LGBT rights in East Asian countries as well as examines how digital technology has reshaped the way politics and activism work nowadays. His research is situated at the intersection of political communication, social movements, and LGBT politics. He got his bachelor's and master's degrees in Political Science at National Taiwan University and received a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

His doctoral dissertation was entitled "Why do Policy Frames Change? Rhetorical Construction and Contestation of Gay Rights in a Contested Regime." It examines the impacts of both digitalization and local political contexts on the dynamics of policy framing and issue advocacy. The findings show that similar to Western societies where same-sex marriage has been legalized, pro- and anti-gay rights groups in Taiwan rely on certain types of policy frames respectively (anti-discrimination, equality, and liberty vs. morality, well-being, and democracy). However, some localized features are uniquely found in the case of Taiwan when discussing gay rights issues. For example, frames of civil rights and religion are far less salient in policy messages of gay rights. Furthermore, there are some localized framing elements such as those discussing social order (appellation, ancestor veneration, and blood tie), national identity (Taiwan-China comparison), and minority protection (rainbow crosser, indigenous people, and memory politics). The framing patterns of pro- and anti-gay rights groups have changed in response to policy outcomes and elite behavior. The findings of this dissertation project help us to understand the contestation of gay rights in the unique case of Taiwan which is the first Asian country to legalize same-sex spousal rights. It also sheds light on how the creation of online spaces has changed the way activism works.

During his postdoc at UCLA, Shih-chan Dai is revising his dissertation into different journal articles and working with his mentor, Dr. Lachlan McNamee, on research topics related to gay rights in East Asia. He will be organizing events and teaching a course related to Taiwan studies.

His research projects have been supported by the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange (CCKF) and awarded with the 2021 Cynthia Weber Award from the Sexuality and Politics Section of the American Political Science Association.

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Published: Tuesday, September 14, 2021