Education About Asia

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

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Feature Article

The Japanese Family Faces Twenty-first Century Challenges

Family-related issues are at the forefront of social challenges facing Japan as it enters the twenty-first century: women are postponing marriage, the birth rate is falling, the divorce rate rising, teenage girls are dating middle-aged men to earn money to buy luxury goods, young men are finding it difficult to attract wives, and the percentage of the elderly is growing rapidly and their care is a major social problem. Japanese leaders are lamenting the breakdown of the Japanese family system or...

Book Review, Resources

The Accidental Asian: Notes of a Native Speaker

BY ERIC LIU NEW YORK:VINTAGE BOOKS, 1999 224 PAGES. PAPERBACK: ISBN 0-375-70486-8 Thought-provoking, nuanced, and easy to read, the book’s central point is that we should begin “to conceive of assimilation as more than a series of losses—and to recognize that what is lost is not necessarily sacred." As the title hints, this book is about Asian-Americans and the issue of assimilation. More broadly, it is about the nature and role of race and ethnic identity in American society. A sl...

Feature Article

Golden Arches East: McDonald’s in East Asia: Food and Culture in the Classroom

Not all scholarly resources, no matter how compellingly argued or well researched, work in the classroom. Finding good resources for undergraduates is difficult enough, but finding good resources for teachers in professional development programs is even more of a challenge. Works that have the proper credentials plus the appropriate appeal are not always easy to come by. Golden Arches East: McDonald’s in East Asia is a resource that fills these needs: it works with teachers and with students...

Feature Article

EAA Interview with James L. Watson on Golden Arches East: McDonald’s in East Asia

Editor’s Introduction McDonald’s Restaurants, most certainly major symbols of American popular culture, are now a feature of the geographic and culinary landscape in 118 countries. In Golden Arches East: McDonald’s in East Asia, (Stanford University Press, 1997) Editor James L. Watson and his colleagues produced an anthropological study of McDonald’s that has proven highly accessible to a wide variety of audiences. The book is now used in secondary schools and universities in a number ...

Feature Article

Everyday Dramas: Television Soap Operas in Thailand

On the evening of January 29, 2003 an angry mob stormed the Thai embassy in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, setting the building on fire and sending the Thai ambassador and embassy employees running for their lives. By morning, the building was severely damaged and more than twenty Thai businesses throughout the city had been looted or burned. Authorities still don’t know who was behind the attacks, but it was a Thai television soap opera star who ignited the incident by allegedly claiming that Angkor...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Global Goes Local: Popular Culture in Asia

EDITED BY TIMOTHY CRAIG AND RICHARD KING HONOLULU: UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII PRESS, 2002 320 PAGES. PAPERBACK: ISBN 0-8248-2611-6 Teaching Western undergraduates or other students who have very little background on Asia can be a daunting task. First, one must combat simplified stereotypes and myths to convey the great diversity/complexity of Asia. More significantly, teachers often find it difficult to discuss one specific issue detached from an entire interwoven web of Asian traditions, history,...

Book Review, Resources

Polite Lies: On Being a Woman Caught Between Cultures

BY KYOKO MORI NEW YORK: FAWCETT BOOKS, 1999 258 PAGES. PAPERBACK: ISBN 0-449-00428-7 Kyoko Mori grew up in Japan, moved to the United States to finish college, earned a graduate degree, and has taught creative writing at a number of universities. She is the author of several novels focusing on the experiences of young Japanese women including Shizuko’s Daughter, One Bird, The Dream of Water: A Memoir, as well as the recent Stone Field, True Arrow: A Novel, about a Japanese woman living in ...

Book Review, Resources

Chinas Unlimited: Making the Imaginaries of China and Chineseness

BY GREGORY B. LEE HONOLULU:UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII PRESS, 2003 136 PAGES. HARDCOVER: ISBN 0-8248-2680-9 Cultural images are shape-shifting phantoms. Perhaps this is why they hold a tenacious grip on our consciousness, yet are difficult to discuss objectively. In the nineteenth century, the West imagined China and the Chinese as exotic, distant, and alien. Across the pages of newspapers and pictorials, images of the laundryman, the evil crime lord, the sex maniac, the opium addict abounded. Do...

AEMS Film Review Section, Film Review Essay

Sadhus: India’s Holy Men

(3 films) The Rolling Saint (52 min.) The Living God (52 min.) Living with the Dead (52 min.) 1995. VHS. Color. A Bedi Films/Denis Whyte Films Production for BBC TV Produced by Denis Whyte Canal Plus, Premiere; Multicultural Programmes Department, BBC http://www.bediji.com/filmographysocll.html How would your students respond to dramatic images of a man who, after standing in place for seven years, rolls his body 2,500 miles through busy streets, over rough roads, and up mountains ...

Film Review Essay

Who is Indian? A Review of My Mother India

Written and directed by Safina Uberoi Produced by Penelope McDonald VHS. Color. 52 minutes. Chili Films, 2001 My Mother India weaves together the experiences of one family over three generations, the past with the present, 1947 with 1984, Australia and India. Written and directed by Safina Uberoi, this documentary begins as a hilarious account of a marriage between an Australian woman named Patricia, and Jit, an Indian-Sikh man—Uberoi’s parents. They fell in love and married in Canberra b...

Feature Article

Top Ten Things to Know about India in the Twenty-First Century

1 THERE IS NOT ONE, BUT FOUR INDIAS “The first and most essential thing to learn about India,” declared a famous British administrator in 1888, is “that there is not, and never was an India, or even any country of India, possessing, according to European ideas, any sort of unity, physical, political, social or religious.”(note 1) The statement sounds startlingly silly until one notices the defining clause, “according to European ideas.” Then one can change it to read, “One of the...

Feature Article

Taking Arts of Asia Online

Can online instruction be used at the college level to deal with increasing enrollments? At the University of California, Davis, with Andrew W. Mellon Foundation support, the potential of the Internet for reaching more students in undergraduate general education courses without increasing educational costs was explored. The author was one of ten instructors who participated in the project from 1999–2002. This article describes her experience teaching an Asian art history gateway course online,...

Feature Article

Top Ten Things to Know about China in the Twenty-First Century

TEN—THE PAST IS NOT SO FAR AWAY China is one of the world’s oldest continuous civilizations. This ancient culture of shared legends, rituals, ideas, traditions, and written language helps to explain even today why the Chinese people act the way they do and how they interpret their world. The Chinese early on set up a pantheon of  “brilliant human beings” who were “inventors of Chinese culture.”  These extraordinary “mythical sages” were fathers of agriculture, industry, fami...

Book Review, Columns

Asian Cultural Traditions

After nearly two decades of research on Asia, I was surprised to find a book that offered a truly new approach to teaching Asia: Carolyn Brown Heinz’s Asian Cultural Traditions.  While there are many excellent books on individual Asian countries, books that treat all of Asia are relatively uncommon. This is understandable since covering all of Asia in a single book is a daunting task given Asia’s diversity. Various authors cope with this by simplistic overviews or leaving large gaps by foc...

Feature Article

What Did Make the Chinese “Chinese”? Some Geographical Perspectives

Any reflection on the origins of civilization in China has to consider both the “whatness” and the “whyness” of the question: what the early culture was and why it assumed the particular forms that it did.1 I have discussed, in a number of papers, the religious, aesthetic, and stylistic choices that, in my view, helped to define the content of early Chinese culture, that represent its  whatness.”2 Some of these strategic cultural features would include: (1) A stress on hierarchical s...

Film Review Essay, Resources

China Rises

A FOUR-PART DOCUMENTARY INTERNATIONAL CO-PRODUCTION OF THE CANADIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION (CBC), THE NEW YORK TIMES, DISCOVERY TIMES, ZDF—GERMANY TELEVISION, FRANCE 5, AND BRITAIN’S S4-C. DVD, 4 EPISODES: “FOOD IS HEAVEN,” “PARTY GAMES,” “GETTING RICH,”AND “CITY OF DREAMS” (44:30 EACH), HIGH DEFINITION, COLOR, 2006 DISTRIBUTED BY THE DISCOVERY TIMES CHANNEL. OFFICIAL CHINA RISES WEB SITES: www.cbc.ca/chinarises www.nytimes.com/specials/chinarises/intro/index.html China...

Feature Article

Cultural Relativism, Universal Human Rights, and Women in Islamic Societies

By Carolyn Brown Heinz How are we to teach about women in Islam? There is no single “woman in Islam,” no single Islamic interpretation of what a woman is and should be, and no single view of Islamic women’s aspirations among those women themselves. Still less is there agreement in the non-Islamic world on this topic, except for two contradictory notions: the first, that Islamic societies should define their own realities regarding gender, not do what the West thinks best for them; and s...

Book Review, Resources

Reading the Korean Cultural Landscape

BY JE-HUN RYU SEOUL AND ELIZABETH, NEW JERSEY: HOLLYM. 2000 340 PAGES; 39 FIGURES; 49 PHOTOGRAPHS; MULTIPLE INDEXES Je-Hun Ryu’s Reading the Korean Cultural Landscape provides an invaluable compendium of short essays on the cultural geography of southern Korea. The range of essays can be seen in the book’s five major sections: “Religious Landscapes” describes a variety of Buddhist, Confucian, Catholic, and Protestant imprints on the landscape of Korea; “Folk Landscapes” adds dis...

Film Review Essay

Firefly Dreams

DIRECTED, WRITTEN AND EDITED BY JOHN WILLIAMS PRODUCED BY 100 METER FILMS, JAPAN http://www.100meterfilms.com/firefly/ DVD, 119 MINUTES, COLOR, 2000 JAPANESE WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLE The first problem that confronts a reviewer considering John William’s Firefly Dreams is one of classification. Filmed in Japan with a native cast, it is unquestionably a product of the Japanese cinematic world. Yet director Williams is a transplanted Englishman residing in Japan. However, no matter how one labe...

Feature Article

Americanization of East Asia

Editor’s Note: This essay is adapted from Professor Cohen’s 2002 Reischauer lectures at Harvard University. They were later published in the book, The Asian American Century (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002) Some years ago, in the heyday of John King Fairbank, it was customary to think of change in East Asia, evidence of modernization, as a response to the West, as Westernization. Today that view is considered ethnocentric, a failure to recognize the internal drive of Asian people...
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