Education About Asia: Online Archives

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EAA Digest Exclusive

Rethinking our Notions of Asia

Fifteen years ago, we published a special section titled “Rethinking our Notions of Asia.” This column will hopefully help EAA readers and their students continue this process in multiple ways. Most fundamentally, students should first learn basic information about Asian cultures. That said, instructors and students in middle school, high school, and undergraduate classes can learn even more about Asia and the world through considering the essays below.

EAA Digest Exclusive

Armed Conflict in Asia

Learning about the profound multiple causes and effects of armed conflicts on past, present, and possible future generations is a critical component of a liberal education and an imperative part of reflective democratic citizenship, including, and especially, electing executive and legislative leaders.

EAA Digest Exclusive

Comparative Studies: History, Literature, Culture, and Individuals

In an earlier but lengthy part of my career, I spent probably close to 1,200 hours in primarily Japanese schools and educational institutions, and more limited time in schools and educational institutions in South Korea, the PRC, Taiwan, and Việt Nam. I've published articles, essays, and a book on comparative education. The one point I always make with students that is most gratifying for me as a result of these efforts is a better understanding of US K-16 education. I hope readers ca...

EAA Digest Exclusive, Resources

Asia and the World: “Travelers’ Tales”

International travel is still a dicey prospect for most of us because of the pandemic, but almost all Digest readers probably love travel at some level. The following entries could be vicarious travel for imaginative readers, but each recommended EAA article or essay, in my opinion, helps students and instructors better understand the often profound effects of literal and figurative travelers and ideas impacting different parts of Asia and the world in a variety of ways.

EAA Digest Exclusive

Southeast Asia EAA Archives

Southeast Asia still seems to garner too little attention in American school and university courses. The following sample archival selections should be useful as student assignments and/or teacher backgrounders. Southeast Asia is Maritime Asia at one level and understanding the Indian Ocean and its role in global history is a good place to start. Most students (and some teachers, including myself two decades ago), have little or no specific understanding of the size and importance of the India...

Columns, Film Review Essay

The Little Girl of Hanoi (Em Bé Hà Nội)

The Little Girl of Hanoi (Em Bé Hà Nội) By Hải Ninh 1974, 72 minutes, color Available with English subtitles at https://youtu.be/vFuEYCGV5ZY Reviewed by Margaret B. Bodemer   When American students learn about the Socialist Republic of Việt Nam (SRV), it is typically in the context of what Americans call the Việt Nam War but that is known in the SRV as the American War. Courses that address this conflict tend to emphasize American over Vietnamese experiences.1 This re...

Feature Article

The Politics of Climate Vulnerability in Asia

The seriousness of climate change has become readily apparent over the past decades, with increasingly visible evidence of impacts and risks across the globe—from intensifying hurricanes to large-scale destructive wildfires. Asia is often pointed to as one of the most vulnerable regions, given numerous countries with long coastlines and large populations in low-lying areas, such as the Philippines, which regularly experiences destructive typhoons from the western Pacific Ocean. Othe...

Online Supplement

India’s Historical Impact on Southeast Asia

India’s historical impact on Southeast Asia forms an important component of world history. In this age of globalization, relations between two significant regions are important. The Look East and Act East policies have become the catch word of Indian foreign relations since the 1990s, where Indian policymakers desired close cooperation with Southeast Asian countries. This is nothing new from an Indian perspective, but an enactment of déjà vu. What we know of today as Indian and ...

EAA Interview, Resources

Teaching About Asia in a Time of Pandemic: A Conversation with David Kenley

In the spring of 2020, educators suddenly found themselves teaching remotely as they and their students began a multiweek period of pandemic-induced isolation. As weeks turned to months, administrators announced that students would not return to campus until the following school year and perhaps even longer. Teachers quickly scrambled to design new pedagogical approaches suitable to a socially distanced education. Teaching About Asia in a Time of Pandemic presents many lessons learned by educato...

Book Review Essay, Feature Article

Planting the seeds of Wild Mustard: Reading Vietnamese Short Stories in the Study of Asian History and Religion

Wild Mustard: New Voices from Vietnam is a collection of contemporary short stories, translated into English and edited by Charles Waugh, Nguyen Lien, and Van Gia (Curbstone Books/Northwestern, 2017). I have used the book in two college courses on the history of Asian religions. This essay primarily focuses on using “Sleeping in the Lotus Flowers,” a story included in the book, in the classroom. There is also contextual content on Vietnamese culture and religion that should be helpful for in...

Book Review Essay, Feature Article

The Sorrow of the Things They Carried: The American War in Việt Nam and Stories Told by Combat Soldiers from Both Sides

Bao Ninh’s (b. 1952) The Sorrow of War: A Novel of North Vietnam (1990) and Tim O’Brien’s (b. 1946) The Things They Carried (1990) are Việt Nam classics that depict traumatic memories of war veterans. These two novels bring the reader into communion with the enormous weight of sorrow that resulted from fighting in a devastating war. The Things They Carried, a semi-autobiographical novel that reads like a collection of short stories, is one of the finest and most widely read books about t...

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

Café Creatives: Coffee Entrepreneurs in Việt Nam

Việt Nam is the second-largest producer of coffee in the world.1 If this comes as a surprise to regular coffee consumers living outside Việt Nam, it would certainly not be a surprise after spending even a brief amount of time in the country. Cafés line major through streets and fleck back alleyways while blurring the line between public and private space. In fact, one industry-known café down an alleyway in an outer district of Ho Chi Minh City does not appear to be a café at all—a loca...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Key Issues in Asian Studies: “Indonesia: History, Heritage, Culture”

With her contribution to the Key Issues in Asian Studies series—INDONESIA: History, Heritage, Culture— Kathleen M. Adams has maintained and even enhanced its well-established reputation for quality. Writing a brief yet comprehensive book is challenging because specialists must restrain themselves from delving too far into their area of expertise. Instead of presenting an in-depth look at the specific, they must focus on engaging intelligent but uninformed readers so they can grasp the basics...

Feature Article

Viet Nam in the Twenty-First Century: The Unbreakable Bamboo

The Vietnamese entered the twenty-first century after fifty-five years that included fighting the Japanese Imperial Army, a civil war, France, the United States, the Khmer Rouge, and China’s invasion. The Vietnamese suffered starvation during Japan’s occupation and during the 1975 to 1985 era of misguided domestic leadership. But they did not merely endure the last half of the twentieth century when they were attacked and alienated from global and political agencies; instead, they emerged a...

Book Review Essay, Resources

The End of the Asian Century: War, Stagnation, and the Risks to the World’s Most Dynamic Region

Highly acclaimed, well-conceived, and clearly written, Michael R. Auslin’s new book is a valuable addition to the discussion and debate about the future of Asia, the world’s most dynamic and consequential region in the twenty-first century. The book contains seven chapters. Chapter 1 maps out five discrete yet interrelated risk areas in Asia that may spell the end of the so-called “Asian century”: unfinished political revolutions, failed economic reforms, demographic pressure, lack of re...

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...

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...

Online Supplement

How Free Are Postcolonial Polities? Select Nation Profiles

Freedom House is an independent organization that advocates for increased freedom and democracy around the world. Partnering with frontline human rights activists to advance democratic change, Freedom House recognizes that freedom is only possible within the context of a democratic government that is accountable to its own people. Established in New York City in 1941, Freedom House has expanded to include offices in a dozen countries. Furthermore, among its goals include collaboration with li...