Education About Asia: Online Archives

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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

Poetry, Prose, and Political Science

I’ve never read poetry in a political science class before. I have frequently cited this statement as my favorite student evaluation comment ever. I don’t even remember clearly if the statement was meant positively (I think it was!)—but I certainly took it that way. I have long used selected prose and poetry in introductory (first- and second-year) college-level political science classes focused on India or South Asia to convey certain themes and arguments to students. Using literatur...

Feature Article

Twentieth-Century Chinese Entrepreneurs before 1949: Literature Excerpts for the Classroom

China has amazed the world with its rapid economic growth during the past four decades. Since 2010, China has passed Japan to become the world’s second-largest economy behind the United States.1 By 2018, 111 Chinese companies had joined the Fortune Global 500 list,2 and 373 individuals had made the Forbes Billionaires list.3 How do we understand the recent success of the Chinese economy and Chinese businessmen? If there are continuities in modern Chinese history, can we possibly trace the stor...

Feature Article

An EAA Interview with the 2019 Franklin R. Buchanan Prizewinner Michael A. Fuller for An Introduction to Chinese Poetry: From the Canon of Poetry to the Lyrics of the Song Dynasty

This is our twenty-third consecutive interview with the recipient of the AAS Franklin R. Buchanan Prize. This year’s winner is Michael A. Fuller, who is the author of An Introduction to Chinese Poetry: From the Canon of Poetry to the Lyrics of the Song Dynasty. The textbook for learning classical Chinese poetry moves beyond the traditional anthology of poems translated into English and instead brings readers―including those with no knowledge of Chinese―as close as possible to the texture o...

Feature Article

The Tale of the Heike and Japan’s Cultural Pivot to the Art of War

There are two main reasons to teach The Tale of the Heike, one literary and the other historical. Its subject matter, the Genpei War (1180–1185 CE), marked a pivot in social, cultural, and political life in Japan. This civil war ended four centuries of the Heian period (794–1185), characterized by the cultivated life described so beautifully in Murasaki Shikibu’s The Tale of Genji (c. 1000 CE). In Murasaki’s time, an aristocracy dominated society, linked by family ties with the emperors ...

Book Review Essay, Feature Article

Franklin R. Buchanan Prize Book Review Essay

An Introduction to Chinese Poetry: From the Canon of Poetry to the Lyrics of the Song Dynasty Harvard East Asian Monographs (Book 408) Cambridge: Harvard University Asia Center, 2018 496 pages, ISBN: 978-0674983885, Paperback Michael Fuller’s An Introduction to Chinese Poetry: From the Canon of Poetry to the Lyrics of the Song Dynasty is a complete joy to read. Winner of the Franklin R. Buchanan Prize for Curricular Materials, Fuller’s volume has achieved recognition as a pedagogical wo...

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, ...

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...

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 ...

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

Contextualizing Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko

Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko, nominee for the 2017 National Book Award for fiction, is a sweeping historical saga of one family’s experience living as “forever foreigners” in twentieth-century Japan. Despite its heft (496 pages in the hardcover edition), the novel is written in an accessible and engaging style appropriate for both undergraduates and high school students. Moreover, Pachinko is set in a particularly rich era of modern East Asian history, encompassing colonial Korea, World War II...

Book Review Essay, Resources

The Weight of Our Sky

The Weight of Our Sky By Hanna Alkaf New York: Simon & Schuster, 2019 288 pages, ISBN 978-1534426085, Hardcover Reviewed by Zoë McLaughlin The Weight of Our Sky by Hanna Alkaf centers on Melati, a Malaysian schoolgirl who is a fan of the Beatles and loves going to the cinema with her best friend. But one thing sets Melati apart: she believes she has a djinn inside of her, a creature out of Islamic mythology who regularly shows her scenes of death and pain, compelling her to count and t...

Online Supplement

Handouts for “Twentieth-Century Chinese Entrepreneurs before 1949: Literature Excerpts for the Classroom”

Introduction: In September 1931, Japan invaded and soon acquired the Manchurian region of China. On January 18, 1932, five Japanese monks were beaten severely near Shanghai’s Sanyou Factory by agitated Chinese workers, causing the death of of one monk. Two days later, a group of Japanese burnt down the factory as revenge. One Chinese policeman was killed and several more were injured when they arrived to help put out the fire. The conflicts soon caused an upsurge of anti-Japanese protests call...

Online Supplement

Resources and Chapter Guide for “Contextualizing Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko”

In this bestselling novel, four generations of a poor Korean immigrant family fight to control their destiny in 20th-century Japan, exiled from a home they never knew. Profoundly moving and gracefully told, Pachinko follows one Korean family through the generations, beginning in early 1900s Korea with Sunja, the prized daughter of a poor yet proud family, whose unplanned pregnancy threatens to shame them. Betrayed by her wealthy lover, Sunja finds unexpected salvation when a young tubercular min...

Feature Article

The Journey to the West: A Platform for Learning about China Past and Present

In US college students’ first course on China, the challenge for instructors is to pack the maximum amount of punch into the experience so that the course will inspire them to seek more opportunities to learn about China at and beyond the college level. One way to achieve this goal is to use a rich text with many applications to help students unpack the complexities of Chinese history, language, politics, economics, and thought. For this purpose, the sixteenth-century novel The Journey to the ...

Book Review Essay

To Live (Revisited)

Editor’s Note: In the winter 2003 issue of EAA (vol. 8, no. 3), To Live was extensively featured with reviews of the novel and film adaptation as well as an interview with the novel’s author, Yu Hua. The significant success of the novel and film warrants reintroducing To Live to new readers. To Live (Revisited) By Yu Hua New York: Anchor Books, 2003 (Originally published in 1993) 256 pages, ISBN: 978-1400031863, Paperback Reviewed by Charles Newell Since its publication, Yu Hua...

Teaching Resources Essay

Teaching About the 1947 Partition of British India: Literature and Oral History

How do you divide a nation into two respective nation-states? Who is authorized to draw the borders, and what happens to the people on either side of these borders when they resettle due to their religion? How did South Asian literature and oral narrative come to terms with the violence that accompanied decolonization processes after 1947, and why is the history of Partition relevant today? The year 1947 marks Indian Independence from British colonial rule and the Partition of British India into...

Book Review Essay

Contemporary Chinese Short-Short Stories: A Parallel Text. Reviewed by Hui Faye Xiao

Translated and edited by Aili Mu with Mike Smith New York: Columbia University Press, 2017 528 pages, ISBN: 978-0231181532, Paperback Short-short story (xiao xiaoshuo or weixing xiaoshuo in Chinese, normally within the range of 800–1,000 words) has been a well-received literary genre among Chinese readers for decades. It revitalizes and interweaves several important threads in Chinese literary and cultural legacies: the classical genres of Tang chuanqi (romance), Song huaben (oral fiction),...

Teaching Resources Essay

Message in a Bottle Cap: Stories for All Classes as Told by Korean Art

One tends to gain a more comprehensive understanding of a culture through the close examination of its messages, visualized in the medium of art. This essay will identify several ways in which an investigation of the visual arts can help students explore the impact of past events and understand the influence of contemporary issues on the development of resources and methods of artistic production, using case studies of Korean artwork. Access to this work in Korea, however, has often been limi...

Teaching Resources Essay

Finding Quiet within the Noise: How Japanese Traditions Can Help Today’s Students

Mindfulness has become trendy around the world in recent years— but in Japan, it’s been ingrained into the culture for centuries. —BBC Travel Contemporary society is beset with physical and digital noise. News media supply a never-ending stream of sensational stories. Cellphones, computers, and video games distract teen and adults constantly, and almost unlimited access to one another through social media sites only increases tensions between and among individuals. It is almost impossi...

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