Education About Asia

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

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Feature Article

Asia’s Environment, 1900-2000

By Conrad Totman What does the above title mean? Anything? Despite its admirable conciseness, it is in fact laced with semantic problems. Perhaps if we rephrase it, "On Thinking About Asia's Environment, 1900- 2000," we'd give ourselves occasion to explore those problems briefly. And if we do so, we may find a silk purse lurking in this sow's ear of a title....

Online Supplement, Resources

Arundhati Roy’s The Greater Common Good: Dams, Development, and Democracy in India

By Paige Johnson Tan Arundhati Roy, a contemporary writer from India, is best known globally for her Booker Prize- winning novel The God of Small Things (1997). In addition to being a celebrated novelist, Roy is also a passionate activist who rails against globalization, multinational corporations, alleged US global hegemony, Hindu-Muslim violence. nuclear weapons, and of course, big dams. The following essay is an account of how I use one of Roy"s works in conjunction with a variety of' othe...

AEMS Film Review Section, Film Review Essay

Two Essays on Japan’s Peace Constitution: The Constitution of Japan

Editor’s Note: Japan’s 1947 Constitution, imposed upon the country by US Occupation authorities, has never been amended. Currently, fierce political debate is occurring over the question of whether to amend Article 9 of the Constitution, the famous Renunciation of War section of the document. The full text of the article is as follows: Article 9 1) Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the n...

Feature Article

The Keys to Understanding Indonesia

BY NEARLY ANY MEASURE, INDONESIA IS A MAJOR COUNTRY, and its current and future economic, social, and political development will have important consequences for the US, the Asia Pacific, and the wider world. Despite its significance, Indonesia’s profile remains surprisingly low, and many people around the world are more familiar with particular parts of Indonesia, such as Bali, Java, or the Moluccas (Spice Islands) than with the country as a whole. The following ten keys are intended to open ...

Film Review Essay

Magnificent Obsession: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Buildings and Legacy in Japan

DIRECTED AND PRODUCED BY KAREN SEVERNS AND KOICHI MORI DISTRIBUTED BY NEW YORKER FILMS DVD, 126 MINUTES, COLOR, 2005 Reviewed by Elizabeth M. Owen The celebrated modern American architect Frank Lloyd Wright (1867–1959) is less well known as an enthusiastic collector, exhibitor, and dealer of Asian art, Japanese ukiyo-e woodblock prints in particular. The recently-released documentary, Magnificent Obsession: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Buildings and Legacy in Japan, contributes to the growi...

Book Review Essay, Columns

Japan in the 21st Century: Environment, Economy, and Society

Japan is home to one of the world’s largest economies—in fact, the second or third largest, depending on the use of purchasing power parity. It is a center of technology, manufacturing, finance, and, increasingly, an exporter of culture through media such as anime and manga. Yet interestingly, relatively little has been written about Japan in the past fifteen years for use in academic environments. Remarkably lacking have been wide-ranging geographical texts on this country. With regard to ...

Film Review Essay

China From the Inside

DIRECTED BY JONATHAN LEWIS DISTRIBUTED BY PBS HOME VIDEO DVD, 240 MINUTES, COLOR, 2006 Reviewed by Jeffrey R. Johnson How shall we describe the scope, pace, and consequences of change in contemporary China for students in American classrooms? China from the Inside, a four-hour Jonathan Lewis documentary that originally aired on PBS in January 2007, is a valuable resource for teachers who embrace this challenge. Lewis’ goal was to obtain candid perspectives on politics, gender, and the ...

Feature Article

Hope for Renewal: Photographs from Indonesia after the Tsunami

We extend our gratitude and thanks both to the East-West Center in Honolulu, Hawai`i, and to Marco Garcia, the Hawai`i photographer who traveled to Aceh Province in northwestern Sumatra, Indonesia, in the days and months following the December 26, 2004, tsunami. Marco’s photographs capture not only the disaster, recovery, and relief efforts, but also the resilience and positive spirit of the survivors and those who came to their aid. EAA is also grateful to Betty Buck, formerly with the East-...

Feature Article

The 2004 Tsunami: A Survivor’s Story

My name is Ari Palawi, and I was born on November 10, 1974. I grew up in Banda Aceh, the capital of Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam (Aceh). Aceh (pronounced Ah-chay) is a special territory (daerah istimewa) of Indonesia, located on the northern tip of the island of Sumatra. I finished my elementary, junior high, and senior high school there. In 1993, I went to Java Island to pursue my undergraduate degree at the Yogyakarta Indonesian Institute of Arts where I graduated in 2000. I began working in 2002...

Feature Article

Living with Risk; Coping with Disasters: Hazard as a Frequent Life Experience in the Philippines

The interrelationship of human beings and the natural world, and the influence of the physical environment on a community’s social and cultural development, are graphically demonstrated in societies that face the persistent threat (and reality) of disasters. A prime example is the Philippines, whose over seven thousand islands are located in an extremely hazard-prone area. The Philippines as a whole experiences more earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and tsunamis than any other place on earth...

Feature Article

Catfish, Super Frog, and the End of the World: Earthquakes (and Natural Disasters) in the Japanese Cultural Imagination

One of the earliest written records of Japan, the Nihon shoki or Chronicles of Japan, includes a poem about an earthquake written during the reign of Emperor Buretsu (about 500 CE).1 The poem is not particularly memorable, but this early reference to earthquakes through a creative medium is the beginning of a long history of disasters represented within the cultural imagination. To take a more recent example, the eighties era sci-fi anime series Bubblegum Crisis is set in a post-apocalyptic land...

Feature Article

Reading after the Disaster: Japan’s Reaction to the 3/11 Events through Literature

It was a little after two o’clock in the afternoon on March 11, 2011, when a 9.1-magnitude earthquake shook the northeastern coast of Japan, the biggest earthquake ever recorded with modern techniques in the country. Within an hour, a tsunami reaching as high as forty meters in some areas hit the regions of Miyako, Iwate, and Tōhoku, wiping out and flooding everything on its trip inland. The earthquake, its aftershocks, and the strike of the waves damaged the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, ...

Feature Article

China’s Chang Jiang: Dealing with the Deluge

By David Shankman What we know as the Yangtze River the Chinese call the Chang Jiang, or Long River. As China’s longest river, the Chang Jiang plays a major role in shaping the country’s physical, cultural, and economic character. Its headwaters are in the rugged Tibetan and Qinghai Plateaus in western China, and flow eastward for 6,300 kilometers before reaching the sea near Shanghai (Fig. 1). Its watershed covers 18,000,000 square kilometers—about twenty percent of the total land area...

Feature Article

The Late Qing Empire in Global History

By Pamela Kyle Crossley The role of the Chinese empires in global history at the height of their economic power (roughly 1400–1800) has been well described in powerful books by Andre Gunder Frank, Kenneth Pomeranz, and Bin Wong. In that period, China’s advanced technology and commercial economy, as well as access to their markets over sea and land, created a market that drove technological development, efficiency in industrial organization, and an increasing volume of long-distance trade....

Columns, Film Review Essay

The Lessons of the Loess Plateau

The Lessons of the Loess Plateauwas produced, written, and directed by John Liu, an American and former CBS cameraman, who has been living in China for the past twenty-five years. It tells the amazing story of how scientists, working in collaboration with local farmers in one of the most eroded places on the planet, reversed thousands of years of environmental degradation perpetrated by the combined actions of humans and nature....

Columns, Film Review Essay

The Road Ahead: The First Green Long March

The Road Ahead: The First Green Long March depicts the birth of a grassroots environmental youth movement by civic-minded young people in China. What does it mean to be civic-minded in twenty-first century China? How do citizens create social change from the bottom up in a state ontrolled society? What are the risks? These are just some of the questions I would discuss with my students before presenting the film....

Columns, Film Review Essay

Shugendo Now

As the title of this documentary suggests, Shugendō Now examines the state of Shugendō practice today as practiced by both professional practitioners, known as yamabushi, and ordinary Japanese people. The film begins by explaining that yamabushi are those who enter the mountain to seek experiential truth. They perform austerities and ritual actions adopted from shamanism, the kami tradition, Esoteric Buddhism, and Daoism. This syncretic tradition is called Shugendō, “The Way of Acquiring P...

Book Review, Columns

Illustrated Atlas of the Himalaya

The Illustrated Atlas of the Himalaya brings an instant sense of connectedness to the remote land and peoples of the Himalaya. The photographs imply the rich cultural diversity of the population, as well as the geographic complexity of the land. The readers’ eyes follow a myriad of maps, charts, and calculated data dispersed throughout the book while gaining a deeper sense of appreciation for the way of life of the inhabitants living within the highest altitudes of the world....

Feature Article

Asia’s Turtle Crisis and Conservation: Environmental Education and Cultural Geography

By Bradley R. Reynolds and Thomas P. Wilson Turtles are heavily exploited in Asia, not only for the pet trade, but also as a food source and for use in traditional Asian folk medicines. Along with habitat destruction, increased urbanization, and pollution, such over-exploitation is driving what conservationists are calling the Asian turtle crisis, a precipitous decline in Asian turtle populations. Currently, over half of Asia’s ninety turtle species are classified as endangered or critically ...

Feature Article

Culinary Controversies: Shark Fin Soup and Sea Creatures in the Asian Studies Curriculum

In 2010, scuba diver Phil Tobin came across a shark carcass lying on the Ambon Harbor (Indonesia) ocean floor. The captured shark’s highly valued fins, the key ingredient in shark fin soup, had been sliced off by its captors; the less valuable and more cumbersome body had been thrown back into the ocean. Without fins the shark, unable to swim, had sunk and starved to death. This shark was one of millions de-finned each year in order to satisfy the appetites of predominately Chinese consumers. ...
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