Education About Asia: Online Archives

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

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

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...

Teaching Resources Essay

The Great Courses: Books that Matter: The Analects of Confucius

“Imagine a world,” author/narrator Professor Robert André LaFleur suggests, “in which the gift of a book could change your life forever. Imagine a world in which you didn’t just read, but read, reread, read again, and lived a book.” This is the dynamic instruction that drives twenty-four half-hour lectures on Confucius and the Analects for listeners/viewers who are new to, or even those well-acquainted with, the teachings of one of China’s greatest thinkers and educators. The Ana...

Feature Article

The China Survey Course in the Age of STEM

Assistant professors in humanities fields are facing new enrollment pressures as humanities majors are shifting to majors with more concrete job prospects. A beginning history professor made a careful examination of reliable statistics on college majors in 2018 that revealed, “A lower share of newly graduated Americans earn humanities degrees today than did so in 1970 or 1990.” (note 1) The reason for the decline was explained by the perceived lack of job prospects, especially in the four hu...

NCTA 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...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Lee Kuan Yew: The Grand Master’s Insights on China, the United States, and the World

Lee Kuan Yew: The Grand Master’s Insights on China, the United States, and the World, by Graham Allison, Robert D. Blackwill, and Ali Wyne, provides a fascinating introduction to the thoughts and attitudes of one of the twentieth century’s most complex political leaders. Lee was the first prime minister of independent Singapore, continuing in that position from 1959 to 1990. After stepping down as prime minister at the age of sixty-seven, Lee continued to serve first as senior minister and t...

Feature Article

Another World Lies Beyond: Three Chinese Gardens in the US

After more than a decade in the making, a groundbreaking ceremony took place for a grand classical Chinese garden in Washington, DC, in October 2016. The US $100 million project, expected to be completed by the end of this decade, will transform a twelve-acre site at the National Arboretum into the biggest overseas Chinese garden to date. Interestingly, the report allures that the garden project is meant to implant “a bold presence” of China near the US Capitol and “achieve for Sino-US rel...

Book Review Essay, Resources

East Asia in the World: An Introduction

Anne Prescott, ed. New York: Routledge, 2015 292 pages, ISBN: 978-0765643223, Paperback Reviewed by Stephanie Lee Rizas East Asia in the World: An Introduction, edited by Anne Prescott, should be in every history teacher’s classroom. This slim text somehow manages to cover essential elements of Asian history, culture, economics, and politics, and provides a plethora of extension resources that correlate to each chapter. The text itself is high-level, and some chapters and sections ma...

EAA Interview, Resources

An EAA Interview with the 2017 Franklin R. Buchanan Prizewinner Anne Prescott for East Asia in the World: An Introduction

This is our twenty-first consecutive interview with the recipient of the AAS Franklin R. Buchanan Prize. This year’s winner is Anne Prescott, who is the Editor of East Asia in the World: An Introduction (Routledge, 2015). The text offers students a fresh, comprehensive, multidisciplinary entry point to East Asia, with an emphasis on the globalizing processes the region is undergoing. A review of East Asia in the World: An Introduction appears on page 62. Anne Prescott has been studying Japa...

Feature Article

A Tribute To Wm. Theodore de Bary: Asia in the Core Curriculum

As noted briefly in the fall issue of EAA, Professor Wm. Theodore de Bary died on July 14th, 2017. Professor de Bary, whose career at Columbia University spanned almost seven decades, was both an internationally known scholar of East Asian Confucianism and a pioneer in the movement to integrate Asian studies into undergraduate and secondary school general education courses. Those readers who are interested in learning more about arguably one of the greatest scholars and teachers of the twentieth...

Feature Article

Cultural Associations of Water in Early Chinese and Indian Religion and Medicine

While it invariably has been recognized as a necessary part of human life, water has been understood and spoken about in a variety of ways across cultures over the course of history. This article briefly provides an overview of the prevailing cultural associations of water in early Chinese and Indian traditions of religion and medicine. I take a comparative approach, drawing attention to both points of connection and difference between Chinese and Indian systems of thought. While it cannot be c...

Feature Article

The Hooghly River: A Sacred and Secular Waterway

The Hooghly weaves through the Indian state of West Bengal from the Ganges, its parent river, to the sea. At just 460 kilometers (approximately 286 miles), its length is modest in comparison with great Asian rivers like the Yangtze in China or the Ganges itself. Nevertheless, through history, the Hooghly has been a waterway of tremendous sacred and secular significance. Until the seventeenth century, when the main course of the Ganges shifted decisively eastward, the Hooghly was the major cha...

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...

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

Top Ten Things to Know about Singapore in the Twenty-First Century

1. MANY NAMES OF SINGAPORE. A place of human habitation long before 1819 when Sir Stamford Raffles established the British settlement, Singapore is the English version of the Malay word “Singapura,” which literally means “Lion City.” Legend has it that when Sang Nila Utama, once ruler of the Srivijaya Empire in Sumatra, discovered the island with white sandy shores in 1299, a storm nearly capsized his boat until he threw his crown into the turbulent waters. When they landed, they spo...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Voices of East Asia: Essential Readings from Antiquity to the Present

One result of the expanding interest in East Asian history, culture, and religious beliefs amongst non-Asian-language readers and learners is the production of valuable source-driven texts like Voices of East Asia: Essential Readings from Antiquity to the Present, edited by Margaret Childs and Nancy Hope. By specifically focusing on content derived from China, Japan, and Korea, the authors provide readers with a curated selection of translated primary source excerpt content arranged in chronolog...

Feature Article

Postcolonial Religious Conflict in Southeast Asia

“All religions teach people to be good people,” or so the Thai saying goes. This fits in with the general belief throughout Southeast Asia that religion is a good thing—though of course each person believes his/her religion to be the highest good. It is not surprising, then, that religious belief and practice remain key elements in Southeast Asian private and public life, with secularism little more than a theory. Religion continues to define the majority of people’s sense of self in Sou...

Feature Article

Who Did What in a Chinese Lady’s Autobiography?: A Text and Lesson Plan on Li Qingzhao’s Ambiguous Narrative

Students eagerly ask about women in Chinese history and literature. The Ming and Qing Dynasties (1368–1911) provide plenty of primary sources in translation, but only one woman poet and critic of Song times (960–1279) has won lasting fame, Li Qingzhao (1084–1150s). Her autobiography touchingly portrays her relationship with her husband, his untimely death in 1129 amidst the Jin invasion of Northern Song, and her troubles thereafter, including a failed second marriage. Yet because Classical...

Feature Article

Symbolism in the Forbidden City: The Magnificent Design, Distinct Colors, and Lucky Numbers of China’s Imperial Palace

The Forbidden City, the sprawling and imposing seat of Chinese Imperial power for almost 500 years, stands out in stark contrast against the ultramodern heart of contemporary Beijing. This United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)-designated World Heritage site is the largest intact wooden palace structure found anywhere on earth and has served as an open museum of China’s history for almost a century. Along with the Great Wall, it is undeniably one of China’...

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