Education About Asia: Online Archives

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

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

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

Asia’s Missing Millions: How Policy and Social Pressure Made Millions of Women Disappear

In 1990, Nobel Prize-winni ng Indian economist Amartya Sen noticed something remarkable. By his count, there were approximately 100 million “missing women” in Asia. They hadn’t been kidnapped or stolen or died as the victims of a female-specific plague or war . . . Yet a population equivalent to every single girl and woman in the United Kingdom, France, and Italy was missing. Using records collected by governments, Sen observed that relative to the number of men, there were far too ...

Feature Article

India: “The Emergency” and the Politics of Mass Sterilization

Overpopulation has been India’s major concern for almost five decades. In June 2017, the United Nations reported that India’s population will rise to 1.5 billion by 2050. In order to limit its population growth rate, India has been using sterilization as a method of population control since 1951. According to the United Nations, India alone was responsible for 37 percent of the world’s female sterilization in 2011. Although sterilization has produced the desired outcome—fertility rates d...

Book Review, Resources

Daughters of the Samurai: A Journey from East to West and Back

Deep in the western suburbs of Tokyo in the city of Kodaira lies Tsuda College, a private school of about 2,500 students where, since its founding in 1900, female students have received a broad education in the liberal arts and languages. It is a beautiful, leafy campus with an abundance of impressive trees and flowers. It is a rare treat to visit in late March or early April, when the cherry trees are in full bloom. My own school, Mary Baldwin University, has a long tradition of receiving excha...

Feature Article

Activism and Women’s Rights in India

People around the world watched as thousands took to the streets in New Delhi in December 2012 following the gang rape of twenty-three-year-old physiotherapy student Jyoti Pandey. While similar protests were held in other metropolitan cities across the country, the protests in Delhi became so intense that the government imposed a curfew and sanctioned the use of force by its riot police. Domestic as well as international media coverage of these events helped fuel public outrage. The protesters m...

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

The Appropriated Geisha: Using Their Role to Discuss Japanese History, Cultural Appropriation, and Orientalism

Moving beyond Facebook to the Internet communities of Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, and Tumblr, students would leave older forms of media behind. Or such is their conviction. Of course, previous generations have purported to break ground where their predecessors failed to sow, and sometimes they really do. What is dramatically clear from a perusal of these new forms of social media is what consumes student thought. Certainly some of the topics one finds are of little import, but others are insta...

Feature Article

Wu Zhao: Ruler of Tang Dynasty China

An Effective but Controversial Ruler Wu Zhao (624–705), also known as Empress Wu Zetian, was the first and only woman emperor of China. With her exceptional intelligence, extraordinary competence in politics, and inordinate ambition, she ruled as the “Holy and Divine Emperor” of the Second Zhou Dynasty (690–705) for fifteen years. Her remarkable political leadership is recognized and is comparable in some ways to other notable women in later periods of world history, such as Joan of Arc...

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...

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

Engaging Inner-City Students in East Asian Studies: Martial Arts, Warriors, and Gender

For the past two years, I have taught high school students from urban schools in Chicago that were targeted by the University of Illinois at Chicago as a part of the Transforming Roadblocks into Opportunities (TRiO)Academic Support Program. Students who come from low-income families, families with no college graduates, or who are individuals with learning disabilities can participate in the program and may bring their brothers and sisters. My students are African-American and Hispanic, and the h...

Afghanistan Perspectives, Resources

The Taliban, Women, and Human Rights

The Taliban took control of Afghanistan’s government in 1996 and ruled until it was driven from power during the 2001 US-led invasion. The Taliban provided safe haven to al-Qaeda, an Islamic extremist organization that publicly executed criminals and outlawed education for women and girls. (note 1) Today, although progress has been made, and education is more accessible than under the Taliban, more than half of all Afghan girls still do not attend school. Underneath the surface of reported ...

Feature Article, Focus on Japanese Democracy: Part 2

Democratic Japan: The Rise of Local Women Politicians

It’s a muggy August evening in 2010, and I am enjoying dinner and conversation in a Ginza sushi bar with local politician Kyoko Nakamura (a pseudonym), a woman from one of Tokyo’s twenty-three ward assemblies. Ms. Nakamura is nearing the end of her first term. After initially losing her challenge for a seat on the Tokyo Metropolitan Government council a business partner encouraged Nakamura to run for the ward assembly as an independent “pinch hitter” when a Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ...

Feature Article

Water, Wood, and Women: The Persistence of Ancient Traditions in Modern India

In the state of Bengal, in northeastern India, the annual September October harvest and fertility festival called Durga Pūjā (“offering to Durga”) generates a massive half-year effort of preparation for its nine nights (Navaratri) of celebrations. Durga is a three-eyed, ten armed, buffalo-demon destroying Hindu warrior goddess......

Feature Article

Pre-Modern Chinese Women in Historical Fiction: The Novels of Lisa See

Classroom teachers who take up the topic of women and gender in pre-modern China face a familiar set of problems. Although many excellent English language studies of women in Ming-Qing China have been published in the last two decades, most sources available to their feminist authors were the work of Chinese men.1 Whether it is family memorabilia, informal essays and fiction, or didactic texts emphasizing moral virtues and exemplary conduct, the record is dominated by the voices of literati mal...

Feature Article

A Child for All Ages: The Orphan of Zhao

A good literary work with specific cultural elements can easily touch the hearts of its culture’s native sons and daughters; a work with universal appeal will swiftly attract natives and non-natives. But local color alone can become tedious and provincial, and universal appeal by itself may make the work too general to capture the essence and spirit of a specific time, place, and event. Only when a work has both cultural specifics and a universal dimension can it be called great literature ...

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

Of Bound Feet and Stiletto Shoes: Using China in the Introductory Anthropology Classroom

BY JENNIFER HUBBERT Despite the increasingly complex and diverse information about mainland China available in the United States, in the US undergraduate college world, China remains largely a Cold War-inflected, imagined other: exotic, distant, fanatic, communist. many of these conceptions of China are reflected in popular media representations familiar in contemporary Western society. From newspaper articles that blissfully proclaim the collapse of communism in favor of capitalist logics of...

Feature Article

We Need 50,000 Babies a Year: Marriage and the Family in Singapore

By Chris Hudson For the last four decades, issues around marriage and the family in Singapore have been prominent in public discourse and have been represented by the government as features of the economic and political agenda. It seems that, of all the social institutions in Singapore society, marriage and the family are those most often cited as integral to the long-term prosperity of the city-state. The Singapore government has a reputation for authoritarian-style management and a well doc...

Feature Article

Marriage in Japan: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

By Anne E. Imamura The changing institution of marriage in Japan may be understood in the context of its economic, political, and individual functions. Although the emphasis on one of these functions over the others may be stronger at a given historical period, all three are present in each period and interact to shape the current and future institution of marriage. This article will focus on later twentieth and early twenty-first century marriage in the context of the broader trajectory from...

Film Review Essay

China From the Inside

DIRECTED BY JONATHAN LEWIS DISTRIBUTED BY PBS HOME VIDEO DVD, 240 MINUTES, COLOR, 2006 Reviewed by Jeffrey R. Johnson How shall we describe the scope, pace, and consequences of change in contemporary China for students in American classrooms? China from the Inside, a four-hour Jonathan Lewis documentary that originally aired on PBS in January 2007, is a valuable resource for teachers who embrace this challenge. Lewis’ goal was to obtain candid perspectives on politics, gender, and the ...

Feature Article

Marriages and Families in East Asia: Something Old, Something New

By Laurel Kendall In 1984, I began a research project that, in the fullness of time, would become a book. Getting Married in Korea is an exploration of courtship, matchmaking, weddings, and related practices and how they had all changed over the course of the twentieth century.1 In the beginning, I spent a great deal of time in the four commercial wedding halls of a Korean town where brides marched down the aisle in white lace dresses and veils to a pianist’s rendering of “The Wedding Mar...

Feature Article

Entrepreneurial Families in Việt Nam: Controversial Symbols of Moral Dilemmas in Changing Times

By Ann Marie Leshkowich In late 1990s Việt Nam, urban areas such as Hồ Chí Minh City (formerly known as Sài Gòn) bustled with private entrepreneurship, and the ranks of conspicuously consuming middle classes swelled. As desirable as this development may have been, it made many urbanites, cultural critics, commentators, and government officials profoundly uneasy. Would markets, individualism, consumerism, and globalization wreak havoc with traditional moral values and family relationshi...

Feature Article

Imaging Marriage and Family in popular Hindi Film

By Coonoor Kripalani THE IDEA OF MARRIAGE AND FAMILY —In India the words “joint family,” “arranged marriage,” and “dowry” are shorthand references to a wide spectrum of social norms that apply almost universally throughout the country, regardless of religion. Living as a joint family is generally understood to be three or four generations living under one roof in a family home. While nuclear families are increasingly the norm in the metros, the joint family offers protection of ...

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