Education About Asia: Online Archives

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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...

Film Review Essay, Resources

Around India with a Movie Camera: Film Review Essay by Coonoor Kripalani

Directed by Sandhya Suri Produced by Nicola Gallani 72 minutes, Color and Black & White Icarus Films, 2018 Reviewed by Coonoor Kripalani [caption id="attachment_7870" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Two smiling boys. Source: Icarus Films website at http://icarusfilms.com/if-ar. ©Icarus Films.[/caption] This seventy-two-minute silent documentary film, spliced together and edited by director Sandhya Suri from archival British Film Institute (BFI) clips, cleverly juxtaposes scenes of ...

Book Review, Online Supplement

South Asia in World History (New Oxford World History): Reviewed by Rachel Ball-Phillips

Writing world history is a daunting task. World historians continue to struggle with how to write effective survey world history texts for use in the classroom. The New Oxford World History series is an ambitious project that emphasizes “connectedness and interactions of all kinds—cultural, economic, political, religious, and social—involving peoples, places and processes” (viii). By situating South Asia within a broader global context from the Indus Valley Civilization to present, Marc ...

EAA Interview

Key Issues in Asian Studies: Indonesia: History, Heritage, Culture: A Short Interview with Kathleen M. Adams

Key Issues in Asian Studies (KIAS) books complement Education About Asia and are succinct, well-written, practical resources for university, college, and high school instructors and students. Indonesia, long important in Southeast Asia, now has a global impact and for a variety of reasons deserves more attention in higher education, as well as secondary schools. The archipelago’s significance notwithstanding, Professor Kathleen Adams has authored a highly readable good story about the peoples ...

Feature Article

Out of a War’s Ashes

A chance encounter drew me into the work of repatriating the remains of Korean men who died doing forced labor in Hokkaidō during the Asia–Pacific War. In 1989, I was engaged in field research for a doctoral dissertation on Japanese day care centers. People suggested that I visit the center directed by Tonohira Yoshihiko, chief priest of a rural Buddhist temple. There, I learned that Reverend Tonohira was also leading local volunteers excavating the remains of victims from wartime constructio...

Feature Article, Film Review Essay

So Long Asleep: Waking the Ghosts of a War

Produced and Directed by David Plath D VD, 60 minutes, Color An MPG Production, 2016 Documentary available through Documentary Educational Resources beginning July 2017. Visit www.der.org to order a copy and for more information on the documentary Reviewed by Franklin Rausch So Long Asleep: Waking the Ghosts of a War is a well-produced documentary that traces the finding, excavation, and repatriation in 2015 of the remains of 115 Korean conscript laborers whom the Japanese forced to work in...

Asia: Experiential Learning, Columns, Resources

Drawing Insights in Việt Nam

Every spring, Marlboro College offers one or two semester-long courses that include a travel abroad experience. A few years ago, I had the opportunity as part of a Freeman grant held by the college to participate, along with students, in a study course focused on Asia.1 The year that I participated, the course was titled Việt Nam: Revolution and Restoration, and it included a three-week trip to north and central Việt Nam. The classwork introduced our group of five faculty and twelve students...

Feature Article

Japan and the Sea

It is so often said that Japan is “a small island nation, poor in natural resources” one almost forgets the reality that Japan is an archipelago made up of thousands of islands. Japanese sometimes refer to their own national character as reflecting an “island nation mentality,” pointing toward the sense of being a self-contained society and culture isolated from others by the surrounding seas. Whether this is reflected in national character, it is certainly true that the sea plays an eno...

Book Review, Resources

Things Chinese: Antiques, Crafts, Collectibles

Defining culture through a collection of objects is a challenging task. How are history, aesthetics, technology, and belief systems revealed in a sampling of material artifacts? How many and what objects are required to tell such a story? In a handsomely designed compendium of things Chinese, cultural geographer Ronald G. Knapp has selected and explained sixty items that together exhibit a distinct sense of “Chineseness.” Illustrated through the exquisite photography of Michael Freeman, this...

Curriculum Materials Review, Resources

Western Civilization with Chinese Comparisons, 3rd edition

JOHN G. BLAIR AND JERUSHA HULL MCCORMACK SHANGHAI: FUDAN UNIVERSITY PRESS, 2010 635 PAGES WITH CD-ROM Reviewed by Jeffrey L. Richey Since ancient times, the peoples of what are now known as China and the West have gazed at one another across vast distances of cultureand geography with intense interest, occasional enmity, and no small amount of exoticism. Han dynasty scholars wrote with wonder of the land of Daqin (Roman Syria), where seemingly every Chinese custom was turned upside down. The...

Film Review Essay, Resources

More About Mizusawa

Reviewed by David Huebner More About Mizusawa is the sequel to the critically acclaimed Can’t Go Native (2010), a personalized, anthropological history of Japan. Featuring the lifelong work of American anthropologist Keith Brown in northern Japan, this second DVD delivers the details and delights of ancient Japan and the connections to Japan’s modern culture. Most of the film takes place in a Japanese home, as Dr. Brown is interviewed by various American experts—no doubt well-heeled in...

Feature Article

Pizza In Japan

As a lover of onsen (hot springs), I often frequented them during my five-year sojourn in Japan. Once, I went to Lake Kawaguchi to enjoy the onsen and the view of Mount Fuji. Arriving in time for lunch, I asked the hotel receptionist for food suggestions. It must have been because I am Italian, or perhaps because the hotel could just sense I was researching Japanese pizza, that rather than recommending a noodle shop, she suggested the pizza at the Mt. Fuji Smoke House, which was located in a nea...

Feature Article

Globalizing Asian Cuisines: From Eating for Strength to Culinary Cosmopolitanism —A Long History of Culinary Globalization

Visit a restaurant or home kitchen in America or Europe today, and you inevitably find a salt and pepper shaker on the table or by the stove. While salt is a physiological necessity for human beings, pepper is a culinary necessity with negligible nutritional value. Its origins as a cultural necessity for Western peoples lie in very ancient patterns of culinary globalization. In 30 BCE Rome, under Octavian, conquered the Ptolemaic kingdom of Egypt. For the next five centuries, annual fleets of ov...

Feature Article

Exploring Indian Culture through Food

Food and Identity Food (Sanskrit— bhojana,“that which is to be enjoyed,” Hindi— khana, Tamil— shapad) presents a way to understand everyday Indian culture as well as the complexities of identity and interaction with other parts of the world that are both veiled and visible. In India today,with a growing economy due to liberalization and more consumption than ever in middle class life, food as something to be enjoyed and as part of Indian culture is a popular topic. From a 1960s food e...

Feature Article

The Politics of the Thai Table: Food, Manners, Values

Many readers have probably wandered into a Thai restaurant somewhere in North America or Western Europe, ordered a plate of pad thai, and scooped it up with a fork held in the right hand.1 They have probably viewed the offerings on the menu somewhat nervously and then perhaps tried a few other dishes—as long as they were not too spicy. Mouths on fire, they have ended the meal with a comforting Thai dessert, often mango and sticky rice or a sweet pudding, and washed the whole thing down with gl...

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. ...

Feature Article

Cuisine and Identity in Contemporary Japan

Editor’s Note: Portions of this article appeared in Victoria Bestor and Theodore C. Bestor, with Akiko Yamagata, eds., Routledge Handbook of Japanese Culture and Society (New York: Routledge Publishers, 2011). Food is all around us, yet remarkably elusive for something seemingly so concrete and mundane. People grow it, buy it, prepare it, eat it, savor it (or not) every day, everywhere, often without much thought about food’s significance in larger social, cultural, or historical schemes. F...

Feature Article

Making Sense of Vietnamese Cuisine

“Tell me what you eat, and I shall tell you who you are.” (Brillat-Savarine, a French gastronome) We live in an exciting culinary era. Food is not only extremely abundant in the West, but also more varied than ever before. Any Western metropolis features a huge array of ethnic restaurants from all corners of the earth, while the presence of Italian, Greek, Mexican, Chinese, Japanese, or Thai restaurants in most American towns is almost taken for granted. Chinese food is so common in A...

Book Review, Online Supplement

Understanding Contemporary India, 2nd Edition

NEIL DEVOTTA, EDITOR LYNNE RIENNER PUBLISHERS, 2010 341 PAGES, ISBN: 978-1588267153, PAPERBACK Reviewed by Christopher Shaw Professors in the evolving field of global and area studies continuously confront the challenge of “coverage.” What might a course on the Indian subcontinent, for example, responsibly omit? If the focus is on political and economic challenges, to what extent does the teacher examine modern versus ancient history? Refer to trade patterns versus regional diplomacy? Re...

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