Education About Asia

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

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Feature Article

How China’s Approved Destination Status Policy Spurs and Hinders Chinese Travel Abroad

Chinese tourists can be a real contributor to the global economy and world peace. China needs the world, and the world needs China. —Zhang Guangrui, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (note 1) By the end of this decade, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) forecasts that the People’s Republic of China (hereafter referred to as China) will be sending 100 million tourists abroad each year. (note 2) By then, China is expected to be the world’s largest tourist-generating country. How ...

Online Supplement

The Indian Ocean Tsunami: The Global Response to a Natural Disaster

The Indian Ocean Tsunami The Global Response to a Natural Disaster By PRADYUMNA KURAN AND SHANMUGAM SUBBIAH Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 2011.    Just as the twentieth century is mainly remembered as an age of “total war” and conflicts of truly global proportions, so the twenty-first seems set to become the century of mega-catastrophes: the million-death earthquake, the $500 billion hurricane, the transcontinental pandemic. So far, none of these scenarios have co...

Film Review Essay, Resources

Live Your Dream: The Taylor Anderson Story

Nearly 20,000 lives were lost in the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami on March 11, 2011. With such devastating losses, including over US $500 billion in property destruction, it is a challenge to sort out the many tributes to the many lives lost. However, Live Your Dream: The Taylor Anderson Story stands out as personal, reflective, honest, and richly filled with a sense of hope. While there are several YouTube, Facebook, and written remembrances of the lives lost in the quake (and sub...

Feature Article

Wa Minority Youth and Mobile Phones in Urban China

This is a tale of labor migration and the social networking experiences of China’s Wa ethnic minority group. The PRC government classifies the Wa people as one of fifty-five ethnic minorities in the country. Facing poverty and dismal economic opportunities in their rural homelands, the Wa—along with innumerable minority youths in their teens and twenties, such as the Miao and Tibetans—have migrated to China’s coastal manufacturing centers in search of menial factory work. These “floa...

A Global Crossroads Reemerges in the Twenty-First Century: An Introduction to Central Asia

The Where and Why of Central Asia As a scholar of Central Asia, I have frequently been asked two questions by students and colleagues over the course of my career: Where is Central Asia, and why is it important? Strangely, the first question is often more difficult to answer precisely than the second. The terms “Central Asia,” “Inner Asia,” and more recently “Central Eurasia” all refer to a region that is marked by a frustrating imprecision of location. Here I will consider Central ...

Key Issues in Asian Studies, Online Supplement, Resources

Key Issues in Asian Studies: East Asian Societies

Editor’s note: Authors of the two most recent Key Issues in Asian Studies have each contributed an essay about their volume. For more information about this pedagogical resource, visit www.asian-studies.org/publications/KIAS.htm Few students approach their study of Asia with a blank slate; rather, most start with a mixture of stereotypes, misconceptions, and fragments of accurate information. East Asian Societies attempts to convey the excitement and significance of East Asia to American te...

Feature Article

How “Green” Is Japan?: Studying Environmental Issues in the Field

There is no shared definition of what makes a country, business, or person “green” or environmentally friendly. However, based upon its landscape, policies, technologies, and practices, Japan appears to be more eco-friendly than most nations. Approximately 70 percent of Japan is forested—a much higher percentage than other countries. It has a history of celebrating nature in the arts, from landscape gardens and flower arrangement to the haiku of Basho and anime of Hayao Miyazaki. (note 1) ...

Film Review Essay, Resources

In The Grey Zone and A2-B-C

In the Grey Zone In these two highly revealing documentaries on the Japan triple disaster (earthquake, tsunami, and Fukushima nuclear accident) of March 2011, film director Ian Thomas Ash gives us a picture of the Japanese people struggling with the immensity of the event. An American who has lived in Japan for eleven years, Ash’s command of the Japanese language, his patient ability to wait for answers from those he interviews, and his gentle mix of the visual harshness of the disaster cont...

Feature Article, Special Segment: Maritime Asia

Maritime Crossroads of Geopolitics in East Asia: A Reexamination of Historic Ocean Perspectives in Japan

Behind the “Island Mentality” Shimaguni konjo (island-nation mentality) is a Japanese phrase that refers to the inward-looking characteristics of the Japanese. Japanologist Donald Keane translates it as “insularism.” (note 1) It is equivalent to the popular English phrase “island mentality.” Both the English and Japanese phrases, whether meant to address metaphorical or literal island communities, are rooted in the notion that islands are isolated in the middle of the sea. In Japan,...

Feature Article

The Selden Map and the Archipelagos of East and Southeast Asia

The newly rediscovered Selden Map of China gives us profound insights about how Chinese merchants living along the coast of the Ming Empire and across East Asia understood the world at the dawn of modernity. Discovering a Map In early 2008, while researching in the archives of Oxford University’s Bodleian Library, I rediscovered the earliest surviving Chinese map made by maritime merchants. This is the now celebrated Selden Map, a beautifully painted, approximately three-by-five, early ...

Teaching Resources Essay

Teaching Robert D. Kaplan’s “Asia’s Cauldron: The South China Sea and the End of a Stable Pacific”

When Robert D. Kaplan talks, people listen. Kaplan has authored over a dozen books on subjects ranging from the conflicts of the Middle East to the wars of the Balkan Peninsula, and his uncanny ability to assess international trends has catapulted him onto Foreign Policy magazine’s list of the Top 100 Global Thinkers. In his latest book, Asia’s Cauldron: The South China Sea and the End of a Stable Pacific, he demonstrates that the Southeast Asian littoral may very well be the locus of the mo...

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

The Nomads of the Steppe: Resources for Teachers

The nomadic pastoralists of the inner Asian steppe had an impact on history out of all proportion to their small population. The cultures and politics of societies across Asia experienced profound change at their hands. China presents a good example of this phenomenon. The nomads on the steppe posed a perennial challenge to the Chinese political structure, making management of the nomads always one of the chief concerns of every Chinese dynasty. The Great Wall of China is the most famous dem...

Feature Article

Sacred Mountains of Japan, with a Particular Look at the Shikoku Pilgrimage

Japan is an island country, blessed with many peaks rising up to the clouds. It should come as no surprise that many of the mountains of Japan are treated as sacred spaces, and that visiting those heights may be an act of worship in and of itself. Of course, though we can think of all mountains as sacred, it is important to note that some are particularly venerated as holy peaks, or reizan. Mt. Fuji, probably the best-known of Japanese mountains, is the home of a Shintō goddess, the center o...

Book Review Essay, Resources

China’s Geography: Globalization and the Dynamics of Political, Economic, and Social Change, Third Edition

I must disclose at the outset of this review that I have a special attachment to this text. As an undergraduate student majoring in geography in the 1980s, the textbook for my Geography of Asia class was a 1983 book titled China: The Geography of Development and Modernization by Clifton W. Pannell and Lawrence J. C. Ma. This book, and how it presented China, initiated a lifelong interest for me in the physical and human geography of the country. In 2007, twenty-four years after the publication o...

Online Supplement

Modeling Asia: An East China Sea Simulation

Tensions in the East China Sea have risen dramatically in the last decade between China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and a number of Southeast Asian countries. This conflict has been driven primarily by territorial contestations over islands each country claims as their own, for example, the Senkakau/Diaoyu Islands the Japanese and Chinese both claim. Add to the fray growing nationalist sentiments in many East Asian countries, a United States tied to Japan by treaty, unintentional military clash...

Columns, Digital Asia, Resources

Water and the Environment in Asia

This new column will highlight digital resources related to Asia with an eye to how they might be useful in the classroom. Each issue will consider a different theme, and sources will be selected that are aligned to best develop that theme. In this issue, we examine present-day water security challenges in Asia. After pointing to some background sources, the emphasis below is on materials that might be useful in constructing teaching units around this potentially transnational and cross-discipli...

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

Surveying Southeast Asia with the Newest Edition of Southeast Asia in the New International Era by Robert Dayley

Southeast Asia can seem overwhelming to integrate into a course, given its eleven countries and considerable cultural diversity. Robert Dayley’s Southeast Asia in the New International Era steps in to save the day. Organized into thirteen chapters, the book provides a thorough overview and introduction to the political developments of each of the eleven countries. The introductory chapter provides a historical survey and a discussion of cultural features of the region, and the concluding chapt...

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

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

1. MANY NAMES OF SINGAPORE. A place of human habitation long before 1819 when Sir Stamford Raffles established the British settlement, Singapore is the English version of the Malay word “Singapura,” which literally means “Lion City.” Legend has it that when Sang Nila Utama, once ruler of the Srivijaya Empire in Sumatra, discovered the island with white sandy shores in 1299, a storm nearly capsized his boat until he threw his crown into the turbulent waters. When they landed, they spotted...

Feature Article

Mongolian Dzud: Threats to and Protection of Mongolia’s Herding Communities

In far western Mongolia, it hadn’t rained since July 2015. The cattle, goats, sheep, and camels that families rely on were growing thin, and as winter began to set in, herders were fearful that they might face a dzud, a severe kind of winter storm in which many animals would die. By November, the dzud’s heavy snowfall had begun, making it hard for the livestock to reach and eat the grass. Temperatures soon dropped below -50 degrees Celsius/-58 Fahrenheit, putting humans and livestock at risk...

Feature Article

China: Harnessing the Waters

China is defined by its two great rivers. The Yellow and the Yangzi (Yangtze) Rivers flow from the Himalayas, known as the water tower of the world, for thousands of miles, all the way to the East China Sea. China’s national identity has been shaped by the struggle to control these rivers, which are prone to drought and flood. Fear and control are the great themes of life around these two rivers, and human efforts to cope with their unpredictability may have helped China form into the enormous...