Education About Asia

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

NOTE: Archive articles may be downloaded and reproduced for personal or classroom use only.

Essay, Resources

Advice to Students Choosing a Foreign Language: Go Asian

Having been a college professor for more than three decades, I have come to expect that one or two students will ask—almost weekly— what language he or she should study in college and why. First, I tell my students that studying a foreign language requires a considerable commitment of time and energy, and it should be viewed as a lifetime endeavor; thus, the choice deserves careful consideration. Then I tell them that to answer the question, one must ask: What languages are going to be the ...

EAA Interview, Resources

An EAA Interview with 2011 Franklin R. Buchanan Co-Prize Winner Peter Perdue

This is our fifteenth consecutive interview with recipients of the Franklin Buchanan Prize. This year’s cowinners are Yale University historian Peter C. Perdue and Lynn Parisi, Director of the Program for Teaching East Asia at the University of Colorado. China and the World: The Rise and Fall of the Canton Trading System is now a component of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Visualizing Cultures digital teaching project at http://ocw.mit.edu/ans7870/21f/21f.027/rise_fall_canton_01...

Book Review Essay, Resources

East Asia Before the West: Five Centuries of Trade and Tribute

BY DAVID C. KANG NEW YORK: COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY PRESS, 2010 240 PAGES, ISBN: 978-0231153188, HARDBACK David C. Kang examines East Asia during a time when relations between centers of power were well established but before the Westphalian concepts of “states” and “countries” were established. Kang presents a detailed study of the politics and history of the region that challenges the Eurocentric assumptions so often accepted by teachers and students in the West; how power was exerted an...

Feature Article, Focus on Japanese Democracy: Part 2

Democracy in Action in Japan’s Foreign and Security Policymaking

One stubborn belief common in other developed democracies is that the Japanese electorate is somehow passive or unengaged. Moreover, the belief that in Japan important political decisions are made by unelected bureaucrats against the wishes of elected politicians or the electorate at large has stuck in the minds of many, propagated by the oft-repeated dictum that Japan is a place where “politicians reign but bureaucrats rule.” (note 1) In the area of foreign and security policy, however, the...

Feature Article

North Korea’s 1990s Famine in Historical Perspective

North Korea suffered from a horrific famine in the mid and late 1990s. The immediate cause of the North Korean famine was the widespread flooding in August 1995 that destroyed much of the nation’s rice crop. The summer monsoon rains that come each year were especially heavy. Starting on June 26, it rained for ten days, dumping as much as twenty-three inches on parts of the country. Satellite photos suggest that a quarter of the nation’s rice paddies were under water. (note 1) The dimensions ...

Resources, Review Essay

China in the World: The Rise and Fall of the Canton System

BY PETER PERDUE AND LYNN PARISI MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY VISUALIZING CULTURES As China’s relevance continues to grow, new resources are allowing teachers to offer increasingly nuanced instruction to their students. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology Visualizing Cultures project has been at the forefront in this effort, giving teachers access to high-resolution historical images along with authoritative essays and readymade lessons that ask students to read photographs, ...

Book Review Essay, Online Supplement, Resources

China’s Rise in Historical Perspective

EDITED BY BRANTLEY WOMACK LANHAM: ROWMAN AND LITTLEFIELD, 2010 286 PAGES, 978-0-7425-6722-1, PAPERBACK Although China’s Rise in Historical Perspective, edited by Brantley Womack, may be too advanced for secondary schools or lower-level undergraduate classes, it is an important book meriting serious attention from teachers at all levels for deepening their understanding of how China has come to challenge the economic primacy of the United States in such a short time. Discussion of China’...

Film Review Essay, Resources

The Nine Lives of Norodom Sihanouk

Throughout Cambodia’s modern history, marked as it has been by drama and tragedy in almost equal measure, there has been one constant: the presence of Norodom Sihanouk in his multiple roles. He has been king twice; chief of state; prime minister several times; and most controversially, an associate of the Khmer Rouge, who took power under Pol Pot in 1975. Still alive today at the age of eighty-nine and enjoying the title of King Father, Sihanouk is one of international politics’ great surviv...

Essay, Resources

East Asian International Relations: Peaceful and Stable for Centuries

How did international relations function in East Asia from the fourteenth to the nineteenth centuries—that is, before the arrival of the Western colonial powers? We typically use European history and European ideas as the basis for thinking about world history and international relations. Ideas that emanated from the 1688 Peace of Westphalia include the independent sovereignty of each nation-state, the inherent equality of those nation-states, and “balance of power.” But, it may be that th...

Book Review, Resources

To the Diamond Mountains: A Hundred-Year Journey through China and Korea

BY TESSA MORRIS-SUZUKI NEW YORK: ROWMAN& LITTLEFIELD, 2010 216 PAGES, ISBN: 978-1442205031, HARDBACK Retracing the steps of historical travelers has become a popular scaffolding for travel, adventure, and historical narratives. This device allows the writer to present a region through the double vision of her own perceptions and those of the historical figure. The reader benefits from two sets of insights, each filtered through a different personality, each reacting to the same region a...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Monsoon: The Indian Ocean and the Future of American Power

Having taken a graduate-level political geography course in which the professor assigned a Robert Kaplan book as a text (The Ends of the Earth), assigned another to a class I was teaching (Warrior Politics, for undergraduate international affairs), and read still another as a primer on a region I was about to visit for the first time (Balkan Ghosts, for a US State Department-sponsored excursion to Southeast Europe), I can personally confirm the value of his work for students, educators, and prac...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Why Taiwan Matters: Small Island, Global Powerhouse

BY SHELLEY RIGGER NEW YORK: ROWMAN LITTLEFIELD, 2011 232 PAGES, ISBN: 978-1442204799, HARDCOVER Upon receiving the review copy of Dr. Shelley Rigger’s Why Taiwan Matters, I must admit to my assumption that I would be reviewing a high-caliber, insightful, detailed, and well-documented book. Although this is in fact the case, what was surprising is that for a scholarly work, this book is a real page-turner. Rigger spins a rich tapestry of Taiwan’s development in an extraordinary interdisc...

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...

EAA Interview, Resources

An EAA Interview with 2012 Franklin R. Buchanan Co-Prize Winners for The United States in Afghanistan,The Choices Program: Andy Blackadar, Sarah Massey, and Tanya Waldburger

This is our sixteenth consecutive interview with recipients of the AAS Franklin Buchanan Prize. Normally, we publish the interview and accompanying curriculum materials review in the winter issue, but because of our special section, we moved this segment to the fall issue. The 2012 Buchanan Prize winners were Andy Blackadar, Sarah Massey, and Tanya Waldburger, who, along with colleagues at the “The Choices for the 21st Century Education Program,” a national education initiative developed at ...

Film Review Essay

Bhutan: Taking the Middle Path to Happiness

TOM VENDETTI AND JOHN WEHRHEIM VENDETTI PRODUCTIONS, LLC DVD, 57 MINUTES, 2007 From the opening photos of an idyllic remote setting to friendly young monks to prayer flags whipping in the morning breeze carrying peace prayers, you know where to find Shangri La. That is the strength and weakness of this beautifully filmed video portrayal of Bhutan. The Exotic Other is colorfully on display, providing a feast for the eye and ear that is fine as far as it goes but is thinner on real world perspe...

Feature Article

Languages as a Key to Understanding Afghanistan’s Cultures

The 2004 constitution of Afghanistan stipulates that two Indo-Iranian languages—Pashto and Dari (the official Afghan term for the language known elsewhere as Farsi, Persian, and Tajiki)—shall be recognized as the “two official languages of the state,” while in those “areas where the majority of the people speak in any one of Uzbeki, Turkmani, Pachaie, Nuristani, Baluchi, or Pamiri languages,” these languages “shall be the third official languages.” This secondary official status ...

EAA Interview, Feature Article

EAA Interview with the Authors of “Fragments of the Afghan Frontier,” Benjamin D. Hopkins and Magnus Marsden

Benjamin D. Hopkins and Magnus Marsden are, respectively, a historian and an anthropologist. In 2011, they coauthored Fragments of the Afghan Frontier. The book is intended for both the public and scholars. In his review of Fragments, Mark Beautement, former UK Ministry of Defence district political officer in Sangin, Helmand Province, Afghanistan during 2009–10, who worked with British Commandos and US Marines, commented, “Fragments of the Afghan Frontier combines painstaking recent anthrop...

Feature Article

Aid Agencies and Afghanistan: The End of an Affair?

On a world map, Afghanistan—a country evoking images of conflict, violence, poverty, mass migration, and religious extremism to a Western audience—would appear as a somehow marginal place if it were not a focus of the global war on terror. However, it is also the destination of thousands of experts who conceive their endeavor as a struggle between the values of modernity (democracy, human rights, women’s empowerment, secular education, and accountability) and those of archaic traditions an...

Feature Article

The Spirit of Afghanistan: Tradition and Renewal Through the Arts

Today’s war-torn Afghanistan has complex origins, with many tribal cultures contributing to its identity. An important crossroad of Central Asia for many centuries, the region now known as Afghanistan has followed various religions and witnessed interacting artistic traditions. Trade routes, blurred borders, and the nomadic life have helped bring about rich cultural exchanges, while tribal affiliations have maintained specific customs and identities within groups. Afghanistan is again a co...

Feature Article

What History Can Teach Us About Contemporary Afghanistan

Almost every American today knows Afghanistan is located in the heart of Asia. We were not always that informed. When my wife and I learned in the summer of 1964 that we would be going as Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) to Afghanistan, our family members and friends thought we were off to Africa. But after the Soviet-Afghan War of the 1980s, the terrorist attacks of 9/11, and the ensuing military and civil presence of the US in that country, Americans are familiar with even more than the location ...

The AAS Secretariat will be closed Monday, January 20, in observation of Martin Luther King Jr. Day