Education About Asia: Online Archives

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Feature Article

Waste Politics in Asia and Global Repercussions

“Your garbage is on the way. Prepare a grand reception. Eat it if you want to.” In 2019, this was Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s message to the Canadian government. He had finally convinced them to pay for the return of almost seventy shipping containers of imported garbage that had been sitting in a Philippine port since arriving from Canada in 2013–2014, and he was gloating about the small victory. The Canadian government had been pointing out that it was originally a private c...

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...

Teaching Resources Essay

Under the Dome

Under the Dome was first shown in China on February 28, 2015 The documentary is now included in the Global Environmental Justice Documentaries Project, which is based in the USA and Canada and supported by the International Documentary Association. The title of the documentary was taken from the book Under the Dome, written by Stephen King and published in 2009. (The documentary is about China; the book is about the USA.) The documentary is also available online.

Teaching Resources Essay

Final Straw: Food, Earth, Happiness

Final Straw: Food, Earth, Happiness (seventy minutes), directed by Suhee Kang and Patrick Lydon, is an exploration of the natural farming movement conducted primarily through interviews with practitioners based in Japan, Korea, and the United States. The late Larry Korn, translator of Masanobu Fukuoka’s The One-Straw Revolution (first published in 1975), the germ of this manifestation of the movement, is featured throughout, his explanations of the principles of natural farming providing struc...

Feature Article

Turtles All the Way Down: An Update on the Asian Turtle Crisis with New Directions

In Chinese mythology, the goddess Nuwa cuts the legs off the giant turtle Ao and uses them to prop up the sky. In Hindu mythology, Kurma the Tortoise King, one of the avatars of Vishnu, props up Mount Meru and assists in the churning of the Ocean of Milk, thereby allowing the gods to recover the Elixir of Immortality.1 The concept of a World Turtle, supporting the very earth upon its back, is a mythical theme that appears in a variety of mythologies, including those of Asia. That turtles are re...

Feature Article

Developments for Tribal Farmers in Rural India

The great obstacle to economic development in rural India is a lack of property rights, according to Trupti Mehta, lawyer for the Action Research in Community Health and Development (ARCH) center. Optimistic and determined, Trupti and her husband, Ambrish Mehta, solved this problem for tribal farmers on their thirty-three-year journey in Gujarat Province, a few hours’ drive from the city of Baroda. Joining Anil Patel, a physician who founded ARCH to help the rural poor, they initially pushed ...

Feature Article

Mongolia’s Environmental Crises: An Introduction

In the US, China, Russia, and other countries with a sizable population, it is often difficult to discern the effects of climate change and other environmental afflictions.1 A country with a small population offers a greater opportunity to observe the implications of environmental crises. A study of Mongolia, with a population of approximately three million, provides a clearer view, although it is important to remember that Mongolia is quite distinct from these other lands due to its d...

Teaching Resources Essay

Searching for Sacred Mountain

[caption id="attachment_15764" align="aligncenter" width="515"] Photo montage from scenes in Searching for Sacred Mountain. Source: Screen captures from Searching for Sacred Mountain on the GEJ website at https://tinyurl.com/cuzfbchv.[/caption] This review was written by three colleagues and close friends at Texas Christian University (TCU) in Fort Worth, Texas. Although slightly unusual in this sort of review, we believe that describing our academic training and contemplative prac...

Columns

Facts About Asia: Human Flourishing, Energy, and the Environment

By the end of 2019, four Asian countries ranked in the top ten world-wide in total energy consumption, the majority of which is derived from fossil fuels. The Asia Pacific region alone consumed 257.6 exajoules (a joule is a unit of energy measurement and one exajoule is one quintillion joules) of energy, the most in the world. China leads the world by a considerable margin with 141.7 exajoules of energy consumed, almost 50 more than the second-place user, the United States.

Feature Article

“Louder than Words”: A Profile of the Destruction of the Aral Sea and Its Consequences

The collapse of the Aral Sea is the greatest human-induced ecological catastrophe in history. Worse than Chernobyl, Bhopal, Minamata, London’s killer smog, and all the other disasters of the industrial age, the unprecedented decline of the Aral stands as a testament to the folly of myopic “economic planning” and the dangers of totalitarianism. Millions of people living in the vicinity of the sea have had their health and livelihood destroyed, and the damage to the region will continue for ...

Feature Article

Reading after the Disaster: Japan’s Reaction to the 3/11 Events through Literature

It was a little after two o’clock in the afternoon on March 11, 2011, when a 9.1-magnitude earthquake shook the northeastern coast of Japan, the biggest earthquake ever recorded with modern techniques in the country. Within an hour, a tsunami reaching as high as forty meters in some areas hit the regions of Miyako, Iwate, and Tōhoku, wiping out and flooding everything on its trip inland. The earthquake, its aftershocks, and the strike of the waves damaged the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, ...

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

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...

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

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...

Feature Article

China’s Water Challenges: National and Global Implications

China’s environmental challenges have received wide attention in recent years. A variety of disturbing images and stories from media outlets have fueled a pervasive image of China as an environmental wasteland, while expanding scholarship has inventoried China’s air, water, and land problems. Reasonable observers can disagree on the prescriptive responses necessary to address such challenges, but there seems little disagreement that a fundamental tension has existed between China’s breakne...

Feature Article

Mapping “Made in China”: Tracing the Economic, Social, and Environmental Impacts of Global Trade

Editor’s Note: Links to related additional teaching resources are provided in the online supplement to this article. Few instructors can offer their students a field trip to China, but nearly every student comes into contact with products made in China every day. By tracing the routes that brought these products to them, students can learn a lot about the economics of global trade and the history and politics that affect the lives of people involved along the way. Online research and websit...

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) ...

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