Education About Asia

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

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

Letter to the Editor

Letter to the Editor

On Eric Cunningham’s “Cultivating Enlightenment: The Manifold Meaning of Japanese Zen Gardens” from winter 2016 From Todd Lewis, The College of the Holy Cross I write to critique the author’s use of terms. I have been researching, teaching, and trying to fund a campus Japanese garden/tea building for twenty-five years, and having visited dozens of gardens in Japan, and all major gardens in North America, and worked with scholars and designers in the field of Japanese gardens, I fee...

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...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Matteo Ricci and the Catholic Mission to China: A Short History with Documents

Professor R. Po-chia Hsia positions this new documentary history within a fairly well-received corpus of scholarly literature on Matteo Ricci: Jonathan Spence’s The Memory Palace of Matteo Ricci, Mary Laven’s Mission to China: Matteo Ricci and the Jesuit Encounter with the East, Liam Brockey’s Journey to the East: The Jesuit Mission to China, and the author’s own A Jesuit in the Forbidden City. The distinctive feature of this new book is not only that it is a short historical sketch with...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Asia Pacific in World Politics, Second Edition

As students walk into Comparative Asian Politics on the first day of class, they see a quote projected on the screen: “East Asia is now widely regarded as the focus of the world’s attention.” It is shortly joined by a second quote, “Learning about contemporary Southeast Asia can be a challenge because the region is no longer a primary focus of international attention.” Students consider: Do these quotes contradict each other? Are they talking about the same region? What are the bases f...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Voices of East Asia: Essential Readings from Antiquity to the Present

One result of the expanding interest in East Asian history, culture, and religious beliefs amongst non-Asian-language readers and learners is the production of valuable source-driven texts like Voices of East Asia: Essential Readings from Antiquity to the Present, edited by Margaret Childs and Nancy Hope. By specifically focusing on content derived from China, Japan, and Korea, the authors provide readers with a curated selection of translated primary source excerpt content arranged in chronolog...

Book Review, Resources

China’s Twentieth Century: Revolution, Retreat, and the Road to Equality

What positive lessons can China take from its tumultuous twentieth century? Given the tragedies of the Mao era and the relentless pace of ongoing economic and social change in China, it may be tempting to simply ignore China’s revolutionary period, as the 2008 Olympic opening ceremonies did in its retelling of Chinese history for a global audience. Yet in his new book, China’s Twentieth Century, leading literary critic and intellectual historian Wang Hui argues that the twentieth century is ...

Asia: Experiential Learning, Columns, Resources

Tasting Soy Sauce, Teaching Culture: A Case for Experiential Learning

Imagine teaching a lively class where even the quietest student gets involved. When students sample soy sauces from all over Asia and even the heart of Kentucky, comments like “I didn’t know soy sauce had such flavor” and “I didn’t know we made soy sauce in America” pour out of students’ mouths. Tasting soy sauce is an interactive way of engaging students with Asian cultures and history. My discussion here concerns a course called China: Food and Cultures at the Culinary Institu...

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...

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

Rain Gods and Rice Farmers in Rural Japan

In the mountains above the town of Chitose flowed a narrow stream. Clear, cold water zigzagged around trees and tumbled wildly over rocks before finally being corralled into cement-lined troughs that directed the water to the valley below, where it filled the rice paddies and then spilled into the Hozu River, and, flowing wild again, cascaded through the rocky gorge and into the city of Kyoto. A short hike up the mountain from my house on the edge of the paddies, the water tumbled over a twen...

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

After Thirty Years, You Still Can’t Drink the Water

I first went to China in 1986 as a member of a group of fifteen professors of world history from West Virginia. Under a grant from the US Department of Education, all had to agree to increase our coverage of China and to produce modules that would be circulated to our West Virginia colleagues in the hopes that they would also expand their treatment of China. Agree? This was one of the biggest no-brainers of my career. Over the next thirty years, I’ve been to China an additional thirteen times...

Online Supplement

Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada: Digital Teaching Resources

Looking for new instructor resources? Check out the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada http://www.asiapacific.ca/ The Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada (APF Canada) is an independent not-for-profit organization that serves as Canada’s catalyst for engagement with Asia and Asia’s bridge to Canada. Much of its work focuses on policy-oriented research and action to facilitate stronger trans-Pacific ties on economics, politics, innovation, sustainability, and people-to-people connections. Over...

Online Supplement

A Brief Essay on my Key Issues Book: The Philippines: From Earliest Times to the Present

My AAS Key Issues in Asian Studies book—The Philippines: From Earliest Times to the Present—is intended to introduce readers to a nation originally named after a European prince. The people of the archipelago that now constitutes the Philippines had a long history before any European contact occurred. Since the latter part of the nineteenth century, Filipinos have experienced a wide range of encounters with the US. The Philippines was Asia’s first republic and then became a US colony after...

In Memoriam: Jean Elliott Johnson

Jean Elliott Johnson passed away at the age of eighty-two after spending a lifetime advancing the movement of world history throughout her teaching and writing. She is survived by her husband and professional partner of fifty-seven years, Donald Johnson, three children, and three grandchildren. Jean will long be remembered for her commitment to teaching, students, peace, equity, and justice. After graduating from Oberlin College in 1956, Jean taught in Turkey for two years, received an MA fro...

In Memoriam: Ainslie T. Embree

On June 6th of this year, Ainslie Embree died at the Collington residential community on the outskirts of Washington, DC, where he and his wife, Suzanne, moved not long after his retirement from the Department of History at Columbia University in 1991. His was a life of stunning accomplishment—as teacher, writer, administrator, editor, diplomat, friend, and superb conversationalist—and a great many of those accomplishments were in the cause of education about Asia. For all of Ainslie’s ...

Editor's Message

Editor’s Message

We hope readers had an enjoyable summer. This issue of EAA includes the special section “Water and Asia.” Scholars who have published extensively on China environmental issues provide in the first two articles, comprehensive overviews of China’s water problems that complement each other and should be quite useful for the classroom. In “China’s Water Challenges: National and Global Implications,” David Pietz offers compelling examples of the potential worldwide effects of China’s wa...

Feature Article

Water, Tradition, and Innovation: Flowing through Japan’s Cultural History

Water, a gift from nature, is an essential part of our daily lives. People use water every day, everywhere, for everything—often without much consideration for its significance in terms of the larger social, cultural, historical, economic, and environmental implications for the twenty-first century. As an island nation, Japan has a deep connection with water in various ways, creating a cultural history where water and life go hand in hand. In Japan, water bridges past and present, tradition an...

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

The “Mundane Violence” of International Water Conflicts

Statistics about water resources abound. Some, like the combined length of rivers in the United States (3.5 million miles), make for interesting but forgettable trivia. Others, like the number of people who experience severe water scarcity each year (four billion), declare an issue of urgent and global concern. The staggering magnitude and profound implications of this water crisis alone are difficult to comprehend, and yet the calamity is even further compounded by climate change and internatio...

Feature Article

The Hooghly River: A Sacred and Secular Waterway

The Hooghly weaves through the Indian state of West Bengal from the Ganges, its parent river, to the sea. At just 460 kilometers (approximately 286 miles), its length is modest in comparison with great Asian rivers like the Yangtze in China or the Ganges itself. Nevertheless, through history, the Hooghly has been a waterway of tremendous sacred and secular significance. Until the seventeenth century, when the main course of the Ganges shifted decisively eastward, the Hooghly was the major cha...