Aoife Cantrill wins Best Doctoral Thesis Award

The British Association for Chinese Studies (BACS) has awarded Manchester China Institute (MCI) research associate Dr Aoife Cantrill the 2023 Best Doctoral Thesis Award.

Aoife’s thesis, titled -Translating Kominka: Shaping Narratives of Japanese Rule in Taiwan Through Translation Post-1975-, explores how literary translators have engaged with historical, political and cultural narratives of Japanese colonial rule in Taiwan (1895-1945). It focuses on the translation history of a corpus of Japanese-language texts written by Taiwanese women during the final decade of colonial rule, arguing that their translations contain commentary on linguistic politics in colonial society, as well as Taiwanese femininity and its history. This research demonstrates the importance of considering the linguistic legacies of the Japanese colonial project after the end of empire, showing how works written in its throes possess a cultural influence beyond 1945.

The thesis was assessed by a panel of three academic judges, who commended it as -a courageous, incisive and beautifully written study of short texts produced by hitherto little-known women writers during the Japanese occupation 1934-1945. [Cantrill-s] analysis offers a sensitive and nuanced approach to a topic that continues to generate strident nationalist and patriotic passions.- In addition, they noted that the thesis- -conceptual reach will make it an exciting intervention in debates about the place of text and translation in mediating the political relationships between Taiwan, Japan and the PRC-. The award was made at the BACS annual conference held at King’s College London on 7-8 September 2023.

Aoife’s broad skillset and sharp analytic mind produced an excellent PhD thesis, so it is good to hear that she has received recognition for her hard work. I fully expect Aoife to help lead a new generation of young British China scholars-so desperately needed at a time of increasing tensions in UK-China relations
As a research associate at the MCI, Aoife is working on a postdoctoral project looking at the cultural politics of textile production in Japanese-occupied areas of China from 1931 onwards. In addition, for the academic year 2023-24 Aoife is a lecturer in Chinese Studies at the School of Arts, Languages and Cultures, University of Manchester.