Education About Asia

(culture, history, art, marriage, etc...)

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Feature Article

Asia, Shakespeare, and the World: Digital Resources for Teaching about Globalization

In the marooned rehearsal of a school play in an urban comedy, a stuttering student asks their drama coach if he could play Romeo. A young lady rolls her eyes and challenges her classmate: “What makes you think that you can play Romeo? You don’t have the looks, and you can’t even speak properly.” She is quick to point out that the other student, originally cast for the male lead, is eminently more qualified even if he cannot remember his lines: “Nick, on the other hand, looks like Leon...

Curriculum Materials Review, Resources

Western Civilization with Chinese Comparisons, 3rd edition

JOHN G. BLAIR AND JERUSHA HULL MCCORMACK SHANGHAI: FUDAN UNIVERSITY PRESS, 2010 635 PAGES WITH CD-ROM Since ancient times, the peoples of what are now known as China and the West have gazed at one another across vast distances of cultureand geography with intense interest, occasional enmity, and no small amount of exoticism. Han dynasty scholars wrote with wonder of the land of Daqin (Roman Syria), where seemingly every Chinese custom was turned upside down. The rulers of Daqin minted silver ...

Online Supplement

Educating Students about Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)

Exposing students to APEC offers them opportunities to learn about a significant and innovative cooperative association of twenty-one member economies that collectively account for 45 percent of global population, land mass, economic product, and external trade. Its administrative structure is so innovative that it permits the People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong (as a Special Administrative Region of the PRC), and Taiwan (as Chinese Taipei) to cooperate as APEC member economies. The followin...

Feature Article

What History Can Teach Us About Contemporary Afghanistan

Afghanistan has a deep history that shapes the perceptions of the people who live there. Just how deep that memory goes, even among people who are illiterate and informed only by oral tradition, is striking. In the mid-1970s, the nomads I was living with in northern Afghanistan roundly condemned the Mongol invasion of the country—in 1220—and the long-lasting destruction it caused. It was a shame, they complained, that I had not been able to visit their region before that time when its econom...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China

BY EZRA VOGEL CAMBRIDGE, BELKNAP PRESS, 2011 849 PAGES, ISBN: 978-0674055445, HARDCOVER This most important political biography of Deng Xiaoping argues that only Deng’s unique leadership strengths made China’s extraordinary economic rise possible. Senior scholar Ezra Vogel focuses on the period from 1969 to 1992. During Mao’s vigilante violence against and purges of people perceived as disloyal to Mao and his dogmas, a period known as the Cultural Revolution, Deng was sent to a rural fa...

Feature Article

The Korean War 101: Causes, Course, and Conclusion of the Conflict

North Korea attacked South Korea on June 25, 1950, igniting the Korean War. Cold War assumptions governed the immediate reaction of US leaders, who instantly concluded that Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin had ordered the invasion as the first step in his plan for world conquest. “Communism,” President Harry S. Truman argued later in his memoirs, “was acting in Korea just as [Adolf] Hitler, [Benito] Mussolini, and the Japanese had acted ten, fifteen, and twenty years earlier.” If North Korea...

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

“The Story of Viet Nam: From Prehistory to the Present”: An Interview with “Key Issues” Author, Shelton Woods

The Story of Việt Nam is an overview of Việt Nam’s history from the first days of village life along the Red River in the north to the rise of the modern mega metropolis of the south’s Hồ Chí Minh City. As the title suggests, the book is a tale—a narrative that is built around four themes: land and freedom, persistence of cultural values, shifting tides of global interests in Việt Nam, and the vital role Việt Nam will play in shaping the twenty-first century....

Feature Article

The Mongolian World Empire: Does It Matter?

I teach a variety of Asian civilization courses, and when we come to the Mongol world empire, students invariably question my credibility. “Pax Mongolica?” they say. “Mongolian Peace? Are you nuts?” “Well, yes,” I am forced to admit, “but not right now and not about this.” When I poll the students about their knowledge of Chinggis Khan (a.k.a Genghis Khan), without exception they report that he was the most irredeemably destructive conqueror of all time. “That’s because all t...

Online Supplement

Terrorism in Central Asia: Dynamics, Dimensions, and Sources

Ever since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Central Asia has experienced a deluge of religious activity. All of the Central Asian republics—Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan —have seen the rapid construction of new mosques; the opening of madrassas; and a noticeable upswing in Muslim consciousness, evidenced in a marked increase in the practitioners of Islam. Along with moderate and traditional forms of Islam, radical and militant Islamic trends have al...

Feature Article

The New Mongolia: From Gold Rush to Climate Change

For decades, it was common for courses on East Asia to focus almost exclusively on China and Japan, with only an occasional nod to the existence of either Korea or Mongolia. And if Korea was little spoken of, Mongolia hardly seemed to exist at all. Today, of course, coverage of Korea has expanded somewhat, but Mongolia still remains the largely forgotten orphan of Asian Studies, something I hope to change through this essay. In fact, today’s Mongolia has emerged as a nation particularly linked...

Feature Article

“Give Me Blood, and I Will Give You Freedom”: Bhagat Singh, Subhas Chandra Bose, and the Uses of Violence in India’s Independence Movement

Last April, two Indian students visited my high school for a few weeks and joined my world history class. One day, during a discussion of the Indian independence movement, I asked all of my students in the class to hold up their hand if they had ever heard of Bhagat Singh or Subhas Chandra Bose. Only two hands went up, those belonging to our visitors from India. Our Indian guests expressed shock and dismay that their American peers had never heard these two names that are so familiar to Indians....

Feature Article

The Story of An Chunggŭn

In 1909, the Korean An Chunggŭn (1879–1910) killed Itō Hirobumi, a high-ranking Japanese official responsible for the expansion of his country’s power into the Korean peninsula. An examination of An’s life and why he killed Itō can tell us much about why some Koreans chose to violently resist Japan’s growing empire. Moreover, this examination will reveal the connection between religion, politics, and the spread of modern knowledge in Korea.1 Background An was born in 1879, only th...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Peeling The Onion Stories: “China in Family Photographs: A People’s History of Revolution and Everyday Life”

Asked to write a review of China in Family Photographs, I quickly got caught up in the task. Using stories from a series begun in 1996, Ed Krebs and Professor Hanchao Lu translate the tales based on the pictures that accompany the text. They also wrote an introduction to each piece, setting it in context. My reaction was positive, even enthusiastic. I’d call the approach of our two authors ”onion stories.” They are layered. One way is to take the subject of the story and peel back that ...

Feature Article

Asia, Power, and Robes of Honor

  More than three decades ago, my wife and I ventured overland from Istanbul to Delhi. At Herat, on the western border of Afghanistan, my wife met a group of women—a matriarch, her daughters, and daughters-in-law. Although they shared no common language, my wife accompanied them over several days while they bought and sold in the markets. The matriarch liked my wife and on the day we left insisted that she accept her old, black, beautiful, fully embroidered cloak. The women showed her ...

Feature Article

Integrating Viet Nam into World History Surveys

It is not an exaggeration to say that the Việt Nam War of the 1960–70s remains the major, and sometimes only, point of entry of Việt Nam into the American imagination. This is true for popular culture in general and the classroom in particular. Although the Việt Nam War ended almost forty years ago, American high school and college students continue to learn about Việt Nam mostly as a war and not as a country. Whatever coverage of Việt Nam found in history textbooks is primarily devo...

Feature Article

From the Nisshin to the Musashi: The Military Career of Admiral Yamamoto Isoroku

On the morning of December 7, 1941, Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) aircraft set out on one of the most famous operations in military history: a surprise air attack on the US naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawai`i. The attack was devised and fashioned by Admiral Yamamoto, whose entire military career seems to have been leading to this very moment. Yamamoto was a naval officer who appreciated and understood the strategic and technological advantages of naval aviation. This essay will explore Yamamoto...

Feature Article

A Tale of Two Diplomats: Ho Fengshan, Sugihara Chiune, and Jewish Efforts to Flee Nazi Europe

This year marks the seventieth anniversary of the end of World War II, a cataclysm that continues to shape Asia and the world. Horrific even within this conflict, the Nazi Holocaust featured the German government’s murder of some six million Europeans defined as racially Jewish. At first glance, it may seem far removed from the bitter struggle between the Republic of China (ROC) and Japan that simultaneously dominated East Asia. Yet there are numerous links at the level of government policies ...

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

Teaching Multiple Asias: Confessions of a Europeanist Teaching World History

Editor’s Note: A syllabus for the course described in this article is available in the online supplements for this issue. History provides context. Today’s students are growing up in a world where political crises on other continents affect their lives. Tomorrow’s citizens will need an ever-broader array of background knowledge to understand the world around them. History teachers have an opportunity and obligation to provide their students with the context necessary to understand the ...

Feature Article

Indonesia, Asia, and the World: An Interview with Leonard C. Sebastian

Leonard C. Sebastian is Associate Professor and Coordinator of the Indonesia Program at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS). He received his PhD from the Australian National University in 1997. Dr. Sebastian is author of Realpolitik Ideology: Indonesia’s Use of Military Force (Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2006) and has been published in a number of journals, including The Journal of Strategic Studies, Indonesia, Defense & Security Analysis, the Cambridge Revie...

Book Review, Resources

North Korea Confidential: Private Markets, Fashion Trends, Prison Camps, Dissenters, and Defectors

As its title suggests, North Korea Confidential is written by two highly knowledgeable British journalists whose main aim is to counter the usual view that all North Koreans are either “brainwashed worshipers” of North Korea’s founding father, Kim Ilsung, or “helpless victims” of his grandson, Kim Jong-un, the third leader of this unusual semi-Marxist dynasty. Their work has the normal chapters on the strength of the current regime, the horrific prison system, and the prospects for the...