Education About Asia: Online Archives

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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. Synopsis T...

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...

Teaching Resources Essay

Searching for Sacred Mountain

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 practices will help readers better understand our comments that represent, like any good interpretive exercise or classroom discussion, multiple, sometimes-incompatible assumptions, orientations, and conclusions. Rather than a shortcoming, however, we ...

Feature Article

Outside the Box Teaching East Asian History with Multimedia Approaches, Technological Artifacts, and Performative Activities

Filmmaking as a Way to Learn East Asian History By Paul G. Pickowicz In the 1980s, I became extremely interested in the use of visual sources in the study of modern Chinese history. Very little was known about the history of feature filmmaking in China. After spending a year at the Film Archive of China in 1982–1983, I became convinced that Chinese-made films provide unique insights into the social, cultural, and political history of China—information about popular culture that can not be ...

Film Review Essay, Resources

Dead Souls

Jiabiangou lies on the edge of the Gobi Desert near the city of Jiuquan, in the northwest pocket of China’s Gansu Province. Today, the region is home to China’s premier satellite launch center, but from 1957 to 1961, it was the nucleus of a labor camp complex in which more than 80 percent of the prisoners died, mostly of starvation. One of countless sites of mass death during the Mao period (1949–1976), many of which far exceed it in scale, Jiabiangou’s history might never have reached u...

Feature Article

Sports and Indian Culture in Popular Film

India is more likely to be associated with Bollywood film culture than sports. So what does the largest film industry in the world, in terms of output, tell us about sports? And what is the place of sports in the national culture? Of the six films selected here (available through online retail stores such as Amazon) to answer these questions, two deal with cricket, two are biopics about Olympian athletes in track and field and boxing, and the other two deal with hockey and soccer. Half these fil...

Feature Article

Teaching India’s History and Contemporary Society Through Film

Indian films, traditionally known as Hindi films but today more commonly referred to as “Bollywood” films, named in honor of Bombay (Mumbai today), offer a wonderful opportunity to teach students about the history and culture of India and South Asia. There are dozens of movies about Indian historical subjects and cultural issues that are accessible to American students. Many of the movies are typical Bollywood fare that include lots of upbeat songs and dancing. However, some, especially of l...

Film Review Essay, Online Supplement, Resources

Mrs. Judo: Be Strong, Be Gentle, Be Beautiful

“Be strong, be gentle, be beautiful” is not only the essence of the art and sport of judo, but a clear six-word biographical description of the life of Fukuda Keiko, AKA Mrs. Judo. The only woman in judo’s history (since 1882) to achieve the difficult tenth-degree black belt, Fukuda’s life is not only the story of achievement in a sport, but the struggle to overcome tradition and sexism. Japan’s men expected their wives to be at home each evening, when judo classes were taught. But Fuk...

Film Review Essay, Online Supplement

Shifting Gender Roles in Postwar Japan: The On-Screen Life of Actress Hara Setsuko

Hara Setsuko (born Aida Masae, 1920) is one of Japan’s most admired actresses from its golden age of cinema. During her twenty-eight-year career, spanning the mid-1930s to early 1960s, she appeared in over one hundred feature films. Best known for her portrayals of ordinary, middle-class women, Hara’s performances were anything but ordinary. With large, expressive eyes and striking features, her unforgettable depictions of women from all stages of life, including daughters, wives, mothers an...

Film Review Essay, Online Supplement, Resources

Teaching Post-Mao China: Two Classic Films

Introduction The Story of Qiu Ju and Beijing Bicycle are two films that have been used in classrooms since they were produced (1992 and 2001, respectively). Today, these films are still relevant to high school and undergraduate students studying history, literature, and related courses about China, as they offer a picture of the grand scale of societal change that has happened in China in recent decades. Both films illustrate contemporary China and the dichotomy between urban and rural life the...

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

My Favorite Asia-Related Digital Media: Korean and Japanese Films

“I believe . . . When you are not with me there are no stars in the sky. I believe . . . The way back to you will feel a little far. . . . I’ll be waiting. I do it for you.” These words, translated from the theme song “I Believe” from the Korean film My Sassy Girl, echo the sentiments of the film. I have enjoyed this lovely song many times since I took an East Asian studies course from Indiana University. I often use the Korean video My Sassy Girl and the Japanese video Ping Pong in my...

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

Teaching Korean Politics through Cinema

Korean studies in the US have experienced a tremendous growth over the last decade in undergraduate institutions, as well as in some high schools. The numerical surge of Korean heritage students interested in learning their cultural background, the rising popularity of pop culture originating from South Korea, the frequency of North Korea appearing in the media headlines, and the aggressive expansion of funding by the Korean government may have all contributed to the enlarged visibility of Korea...

Feature Article

Teaching Chinese History and Culture through Film

For many of my students, China is a faceless, distant land. Others who teach undergraduates indicate that their students view China as an economic or national security threat. I have found the use of film in teaching about China to be most useful in giving students different perspectives on China than those directly connected with either economics or national security.  However, in my first attempts to show Chinese films in world history classes or other courses, I encountered resistance. Stude...

Film Review, Resources

Can’t Go Native?

PRODUCED, DESIGNED, AND EDITED BY DAVID W. PLATH MEDIA PRODUCTION GROUP ASIAN EDUCATIONAL MEDIA SERVICE DVD, 56 MINUTES, 2010 Reviewed by David Huebner Can’t Go Native? is the intriguing and very personalized account of American anthropologist Keith Brown’s long relationship with the Japanese people. As a graduate student in 1961, Brown visited Japan for doctoral research. He fell in love with Japan and her peoples, culture, and customs. Brown’s numerous trips to Japan are chronicled ...

Columns, Film Review Essay

The Lessons of the Loess Plateau

The Lessons of the Loess Plateau was produced, written, and directed by John Liu, an American and former CBS cameraman, who has been living in China for the past twenty-five years. It tells the amazing story of how scientists, working in collaboration with local farmers in one of the most eroded places on the planet, reversed thousands of years of environmental degradation perpetrated by the combined actions of humans and nature. Each year, Beijing residents choke on the dust swept in by wind...

Columns, Film Review Essay

The Road Ahead: The First Green Long March

The Road Ahead: The First Green Long March depicts the birth of a grassroots environmental youth movement by civic-minded young people in China. What does it mean to be civic-minded in twenty-first century China? How do citizens create social change from the bottom up in a state ontrolled society? What are the risks? These are just some of the questions I would discuss with my students before presenting the film.

Columns, Film Review Essay

Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo

Japan’s official state anthem, Kimigayo, is about as sing-able as the Star Spangled Banner. The tuneful anthem of modern Japanese culture heard endlessly everywhere in the archipelago, is Hotaru no Hikari, “Firefly Light,” emblem of evanescence, token of passions passing. For most Japanese I know, environmental tragedy is not the waning supply of overpriced, overhyped whale flesh but the decline and fall of Tokyo as a firefly habitat.

Columns, Film Review Essay

Shugendo Now

As the title of this documentary suggests, Shugendō Now examines the state of Shugendō practice today as practiced by both professional practitioners, known as yamabushi, and ordinary Japanese people. The film begins by explaining that yamabushi are those who enter the mountain to seek experiential truth. They perform austerities and ritual actions adopted from shamanism, the kami tradition, Esoteric Buddhism, and Daoism. This syncretic tradition is called Shugendō, “The Way of Acquiring...

Feature Article

Teaching East Asian Religions through Literature and Film

“Sacred” and “Secular” in East Asia Taking his position at the hub of things, the writer contemplates the mystery of the universe. . . . Moving along with the four seasons . . . gazing at the myriad objects, he thinks of the complexity of the world.1 So wrote Lu Chi (261–303 CE), an early medieval Chinese author who used “secular” literary genres such as the rhymed prose (fu) that developed in China during the Han dynasty (202 BCE–220 CE) to explore “sacre...

Columns, EAA Interview

Japanese Popular Culture and Globalization: A Brief Interview with William M. Tsutsui

William M. Tsutsui is Professor of History and Dean of Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. Previously he taught for seventeen years at the University of Kansas. He is the author or editor of six books, including Manufacturing Ideology: Scientific Management in Twentieth-Century Japan (Princeton University Press, 1998) and Godzilla on My Mind: Fifty Years of the King of Monsters (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004). Professor Tsutsui’s most recent ...