It seems that the discussion has moved from how much we should push individual professors to try to publish in SSCI (or A&HCI) journals to the (possible) effects of SSCI-type criteria on publishing within Taiwan. I think Michael and Clyde are correct that the long-term effects of this new emphasis could be positive if the system leads to a careful reevaluation of what consitutes good research, rather than simple mimicry (or worship) of the Western system. I still share Chu's concern about a "blind following of Western theory"--particularly Western theories of what constitutes "knowledge."
To give an example: Suresh Canagarajah (who grew up and taught in Sri Lanka until 1994) writes about how an article of his was rejected by an American journal partly because of the article's "'unnecessarily hostile tone ... towards western society and values in general'" (this is quoted from a referee's comments). Let me quote from his book, A Geopolitics of Academic Writing:
Consider the many ironies behind my own experience of writing a paper on the social and cultural conflicts for local students in using an American textbook in ESL classrooms. I sent the paper to an American journal after considerable revision, well aware of the need to restrain the expression of feelings in my writing. However, no amount of postgraduate training in the West and further efforts helped to efface all direct indexes of affect (some of which were necessary to carry out my purposes in that paper). The paper was subsequently rejected, primarily on the findings of the referees that a demonstration of excessive feelings betrayed my ideological biases. This is how one referee stated his or her judgment:Note also that this article was rejected despite the admission by the referee that it was well-grounded in theory. But the theory upon which rejection was based was the "classic Western stereotype" regarding what constituted acceptable expression of emotion (coming out of the mind/body logic/feeling divisions that still have a great deal of influence in Western academia, despite postmodernist and feminist critiques of these divisions).Certainly, impassioned writing is to be admired, especially if it is grounded in theoretical writings, as much of this article is. ... Despite these valid aspects of the article, the unnecessarily hostile tone of the writer towards the specific materials used and towards western society and values in general undermines the logic of this argument. ... While I will always support provocative articles which enable readers to re-examine long-held beliefs, articles whose logic is obscured by hostility are counterproductive. Rather than open dialog, they preclude it. For this reason, I am not recommending publication.It is interesting how in such an important gatekeeping context this reviewer adheres to the classic Western stereotype that feelings are automatically opposed to logic. Feelings are translated as "hostility," which is then rules as "unnecessary" and turns out to be a reason to bar the paper from publication. It is significant how easily something "critical" becomes something that is "hostile." It is in this sense that writing conventions can become a weapon for suppressing positions oppositional to the dominant discourse. Style colonizes! (153-4)
This kind of example indicates to me that Western academia has some way to go in opening up to the concerns and ways of knowing of non-Western thinkers. I hope that what happens as a result of local adoption of SSCI/A&HCI is not a one-way transfer of a system of evaluation. In terms of Taiwan, what I hope will come out of these experiments by the MOE in the long run is some kind of understanding of academic discourse that irons out some of the practical problems that Clyde, Michael, and others see with the local academic scene and usefully complicates the standards handed "down" from the West so that we can address the legitimate concerns of people like Chu.