Education About Asia

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

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Feature Article

The Travel Records of Chinese Pilgrims Faxian, Xuanzang, and Yijing: Sources for Cross-Cultural Encounters Between Ancient China and Ancient India

The spread of Buddhist doctrines from India to China beginning sometime in the first century CE triggered a profusion of cross-cultural exchanges that had a profound impact on Asian and world history. The travels of Buddhist monks and pilgrims and the simultaneous circulation of religious texts and relics not only stimulated interactions between the Indian kingdoms and various regions of China, but also influenced people living in Central and Southeast Asia. Indeed, the transmission of Buddhist ...

Feature Article

Travel Matters: An Indian Subaltern’s Passage to China in 1900

“On June 29, 1900, I, together with the ‘headquarter’ [commanding officers] of the 7th Rajputs, a Bengal regiment, boarded the ship Palamcotta at Calcutta.” This opening line sets the stage for Chin meh Terah Mas (Thirteen Months in China), an account of a “yudh yatra” or war travel (yatra also means a journey, tour, trip, or pilgrimage) penned by an Indian subaltern named Thakur Gadhadhar Singh. He was a subaltern both in the military sense (i.e., a subordinate Indian noncommissione...

Feature Article

Crooked Cucumber Comes to America

Mitsu once asked him, “What are you thinking about all the time?” “How to establish Buddhism in America,” he answered. From an early age Shunryu Suzuki, a Japanese monk, dreamed of bringing Buddhism, as he understood it, to the West, the way of his teachers and ancestors. He not only dreamed, he studied hard, prepared, struggled, suffered, and matured. It took so long to come true he almost gave up his dream. He later said it was good he hadn’t gone earlier, for he wasn’t yet ri...

Feature Article

Asian Travelers’ Visions of Britain and Ireland in the Early Modern Period

Much of world history, and even Asian history, often appears centered on Europe and on distinctions between Europeans and others. In particular, many prominent scholars have shown how European travelers’ accounts contributed to the post-Enlightenment development of early “modernity” that valued the “discovery” of other peoples and places and that also led to European colonial rule over much of the globe. (note 1) Undoubtedly, European imperialist incursions into Asia linked parts of th...

Feature Article

A Voice for Southeast Asian Muslims in the High Colonial Era: The Third Baron Stanley of Alderley

The years 1873 and 1874 are seen as a turning point in the colonial advance in Southeast Asia, when Britain and the Netherlands aggressively imposed their rule on areas they had decided between themselves to be their destined territories. An 1824 Anglo-Dutch treaty declared that Sumatra was to be a Dutch sphere and the Peninsula (contemporary Malaysia and Singapore) a British one. Another treaty in 1871, following the opening of the Suez Canal, intensified European trade and traffic through the ...

Feature Article

China 1905–1908: Harrison Sacket Elliott’s Letters and Photographs

Harrison Sacket Elliott While a student at Ohio Wesleyan, Harrison Elliott served as secretary to President J. W. Bashford. When Bashford became the Bishop in charge of the Methodist Church’s work in China, he asked twenty-two-year-old Elliott to accompany him on his inspection tours of China and serve as his stenographer. Between 1905 and 1908, Elliott helped organize the Bishop’s trips, took charge of all his correspondence, and detailed their experiences in several hundred photographs ta...

AEMS Media Section, Columns

The Overture (Home Rong)

T HE OVERTURE IS AN EXQUISITE IF SEMI-FICTIONALIZED TELLING OF THE LIFE OF SORN SILPABANLEENG, later known as the highly regarded master performer, composer, and teacher Luang Pradithpairau. The epicenter of this film is the sound and circumstances of Thai classical music from the late nineteenth century through the date of the master’s death in 1954. Through the unfolding of his life events, the status of Thai music, its sponsorship by the court at Bangkok, its regulation by the governmen...

Feature Article

Admiral Yi Sun–Shin, the Turtle Ships, and Modern Asian History

Though little-known in the West, Korean Admiral Yi Sun-Shin (1545–1598) is a major figure in Korean and Japanese history. His technological and strategic innovations sparked a revolution in Asian naval warfare and initiated both the “modern” naval force and style of combat. These innovations helped Korea repel a series of Japanese invasions from 1592 to 1598, paving the way for more than 250 years of Japanese semi-isolation from world affairs. The ultimate adoption of Yi’s ideas by the d...

EAA Interview, Feature Article

An EAA Interview with Donald Richie

Donald Richie has long been celebrated as one of the world’s most insightful observers of Japan. He first arrived in Japan as a military serviceman in 1947, and has lived in Tokyo for most of the sixty years since. For that entire period he has kept notes and journals of everything he saw and experienced, and his observations have been given public form in numerous books, essays, films, and commentaries on Japan. Richie first came to international attention for his writing about Japanese films...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Mao: The Unknown Story

BY JUNG CHANG AND JON HALLIDAY NEW YORK: KNOPF PUBLISHING GROUP, 2005 832 PAGES,  ISBN 0679422714, HARDBACK If you visit Tiananmen Square in Beijing, you can’t avoid the huge portrait of Mao Zedong that presides over tourists, an amazing number of automobiles, and his own mausoleum. Few who see that portrait today think of Mao’s classic slogans: “to rebel is justified,” “a single spark can start a prairie fire,” “never forget class struggle,” much less the catastrophic famine...

Book Review, Columns

Daughter of the Ganges, A Memoir

In this sensitive memoir, a young woman, who had been adopted at age seven from a Bombay (Mumbai) orphanage and raised in Barcelona, made two return trips to discover and bond with her past, including with relatives she did not even know she had. Her experiences revealed strong ties with both families, Spanish and Indian, and provide for the reader insights into the similarities and differences between the cultures. She learns that although her physical characteristics are Indian, her “demean...

Asian Educational Media Service, Film Review Essay

Teaching Narrative Analysis with A&E’s “Biography”

Hồ Chí Minh AN A&E BIOGRAPHY PRODUCTION DISTRIBUTED BY A&E HOME VIDEO DVD, 50 minutes, color, 2000 Kim Jong Il AN A&E BIOGRAPHY PRODUCTION DISTRIBUTED BY A&E HOME VIDEO DVD, 50 minutes, color, 2003 Dalai Lama: The Soul of Tibet AN A&E BIOGRAPHY PRODUCTION DISTRIBUTED BY A&E HOME VIDEO Reviewed by John Sagers A&e’s Biography series provides a valuable source for analyzing narrative and representation of Asian subjects on American commercial televis...

Film Review Essay

Angry Monk: Reflections on Tibet

DIRECTED AND PRODUCED BY LUC SHAEDLER DISTRIBUTED BY FIRST RUN/ICARUS FILMS DVD, 97 minutes, color, 2005 Reviewed by Andrew Quintman Luc Schaedler’s rich and timely film Angry Monk: Reflections on Tibet opens with a series of contrasting and provocative images: Tibetan boys toss firecrackers in an alleyway of the old Tibetan capital as a pair of monks walk by. A devout pilgrim prostrates himself across Lhasa’s trash-ridden streets, narrowly avoiding the late-night taxi traffic. Car...

Book Review Essay, Columns

Leaves from an Autumn of Emergencies: Selections from the Wartime Diaries of Ordinary Japanese

What is war like? How can we view war through the eyes of those experiencing it without knowing its certain outcome? Samuel H. Yamashita brings us major excerpts from eight extraordinary diaries, left by what he calls “ordinary Japanese,” that give us access to the inner lives of individuals in the midst of the great catastrophe of the Asian and Pacific War. All writing during the war in widely dispersed parts of Japan, these people tell us of their concerns and their experiences in deeply ...

EAA Interview, Feature Article

An EAA Interview with Houghton Freeman

In 1978, Mansfield Freeman, an American who spent much of his life in China and who helped found the company that later became American International Group, Inc. (AIG), established a trust whose primary mission would be to establish a foundation that would facilitate the development of mutual understanding among Americans and East Asians. In 1993, one year after Mansfield Freeman’s death, the family established the Freeman Foundation to promote his vision. Since then, the Freeman Foundation ha...

Book Review, Columns

Helen Foster Snow: An American Woman in Revolutionary China

For those who entered the Asian Studies field in the 1970s, the names Edgar Snow and Helen Snow (Helen wrote under the pseudonym Nym Wales) “loomed large.” These two individuals, along with Agnes Smedley, Israel Epstein, and Rewi Alley, wrote extensively about the Chinese Communist Party and became advocates for understanding and supporting its policies during the late 1930s and throughout the 1940s. The Snows both visited (on separate occasions) the Communist Yan’an base during the years...

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

Teaching about the Comfort Women during World War II and the Use of Personal Stories of the Victims

“Comfort women” refers to the system of sexual slavery created and controlled by the Imperial Japanese government between 1932 and 1945. It is the largest case of government-sponsored human trafficking and sexual slavery in modern history. Many scholars have argued that the term comfort women, a euphemism coined by the Japanese military, obscures the gravity of the crime. While the authors agree that “military sexual slaves” is a much more accurate and appropriate phrase, we use the term...

Feature Article, Special Segment: Maritime Asia

The Saga of Manjirō

Editor’s Note: Readers who enjoy this article will be interested in Junya Nagakuni and Junji Kitadai’s Drifiting Toward the Southeast (Spinner Publications, 2003). The same waves wash the moles of the new-built Californian towns, but yesterday planted by  the recentest race of men, and lave the faded but still gorgeous skirts of Asiatic lands, older  than Abraham; while all between float milky-ways of coral isles, and low-flying, endless,  unknown archipelagoes, and impenetrable Japa...

Web Gleanings

Website Resources: Asia: Biographies and Personal Stories, Part 1

JAPAN Emperor Hirohito Biography (video) URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8LDU33-SzQQ Produced by the BBC, the almost-50-minute video focuses on the lifeof Hirohito during the years of World War II. The cinematic footage is interspersed with comments by scholars and others, including Professor Carol Gluck and the granddaughter of Tōjō. Andō Hiroshige Biography URL: http://www.hiroshige.org.uk/hiroshige/main/biography.htm In this brief biography of Hiroshige, the essential fact...

Online Supplement, Special Segment: Chinese Migration

Berkshire Dictionary of Chinese Biography: Soong Mei-ling

Editor’s Note: The Berkshire Dictionary of Chinese Biography promises to be a long-lived and unique pedagogical tool of immense value for instructors, students, and anyone else interested in China who can utilize English language resources. Currently, three volumes of the Dictionary are available, with the final volume (post-1979) scheduled for publication in spring 2015. We thank Berkshire Publishing for allowing us to publish the following sample Dictionary entry on Soong Mei-ling.  ...
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