Education About Asia: Online Archives

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EAA Digest Exclusive

Rethinking our Notions of Asia

Fifteen years ago, we published a special section titled “Rethinking our Notions of Asia.” This column will hopefully help EAA readers and their students continue this process in multiple ways. Most fundamentally, students should first learn basic information about Asian cultures. That said, instructors and students in middle school, high school, and undergraduate classes can learn even more about Asia and the world through considering the essays below.

EAA Digest Exclusive

Asia: Dictators, Authoritarian Governments, and Human Rights

When confronted by dictators and authoritarian governments, fighting for human rights such as democracy and freedom of thought anywhere is risky at best. Hopefully, these selections from the EAA archives will serve to educate students about individual action in response to authoritarian governments, as well as the human tragedies faced by common people who experience oppressive governments.

Variolation to Vaccine: Smallpox Inoculation Travels East to West and Back Again

The history of the inoculation process itself might help shed light on the roots of controversies we are facing today. In the spring of 1721, England struggled in the grip of a deadly smallpox epidemic. Mandated shutdowns affected businesses, schools, and social venues, health care services were overwhelmed, and the newspapers reported alarming death tolls. Doctors in London seized the opportunity to introduce the public to the concept of inoculation, which had long been practiced in Asia and th...

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...

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

Viet Nam in the Twenty-First Century: The Unbreakable Bamboo

The Vietnamese entered the twenty-first century after fifty-five years that included fighting the Japanese Imperial Army, a civil war, France, the United States, the Khmer Rouge, and China’s invasion. The Vietnamese suffered starvation during Japan’s occupation and during the 1975 to 1985 era of misguided domestic leadership. But they did not merely endure the last half of the twentieth century when they were attacked and alienated from global and political agencies; instead, they emerged a...

Feature Article

Some Demographic Trends in the World’s Most Populous Country-to-Be

Sometime around the year 2023, India will surpass China as the world’s most populous nation, with a population approaching 1.4 billion (see Figure 1).1 Such change at the top of demographic rankings is rare, and so it is likely to generate some attention, reflection, and commentary. People are likely to be curious about India’s population growth—does it show signs of slowing? In the Western imagination, India, perhaps more than any other country, has been associated with overpopulation. St...

Film Review Essay

Maineland: Directed by Miao Wang. Reviewed by Carol Stepanchuk

Directed by Miao Wang Produced by Miao Wang, Violet Feng, Robert M. Chang, and Damon Smith 90 minutes, Color Three Waters Productions, 2017 “An eye-opening cultural commentary” —Huffington Post Reviewed by Carol Stepanchuk Stella (Xinyi) Zhu instantly engages with the camera: “Today is a very special day for me—I’m so happy to receive an offer from Fryeburg Academy—it’s my ideal school, my dream come true. . . I won’t let you down!” Harry (Junru) He also rece...

Teaching Resources Essay

Public Opinion Polls as a Tool for Understanding Millennials’ Views on Asia

Like many countries around the world, Canada is becoming more at­tentive to its economic and diplomatic relationship with countries in Asia. This is especially the case with China, now Canada’s sec­ond-largest trading partner (behind only the United States). Public opin­ion is an important, though not always well-understood, facet of these relationships. Since 2004, the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada (APF Canada) has conducted regular national opinion polls to gauge Canadians’ views on...

Feature Article

Challenging Homogeneity in Contemporary Korea Immigrant Women, Immigrant Laborers, and Multicultural Families

South Korea (“Korea” afterward) has been widely known as a homo­geneous nation. The government, political leaders, and popular cul­ture frequently promote the notion that Koreans share a single racial, ethnic, and cultural identity. Yet this perception is at odds with reality. During the last three decades, the number of foreign residents in Korea has exponentially increased, making significant changes to the demographic landscape of the country.1 After only a 22 percent rise between 1980 ...

Feature Article

Nation, Immigration, and the Future of Japanese Society

Today’s classroom maps, globes, and atlases show the boundaries of all sovereign states across the world. These boundaries establish the territories of states and define the homelands of nations. However, combining the political institution of the state with the cultural attributes of a nation is a nineteenth-century European political invention that came to dominate world politics in the twentieth century.1 British historian Eric Hobsbawm pointed to the fact that “history” has always been...

The Middle Class in India: From 1947 to the Present and Beyond

The middle classes of all countries have been the key drivers of the global economy in the last century. During the past several decades, world economic growth has occurred, mostly because of increased consumption in the middle classes of the United States, Europe, and other advanced countries. This class has been considered a thriving and vibrant catalyst for economic growth. It provides a strong base that drives productive investment and is a critical factor in encouraging other social develop...

Feature Article

Japanese Millennials and Politics: An Introduction

In the summer of 2016, Japanese youngest millennials, eighteen and nineteen years old, went to the polls for the first time. Until then, the voting age had been set at twenty years old, but a 2015 revision in the legislation dating from 1945 changed this. It was the only revision in the Public Offices Election Act in seventy years, which had originally lowered the voting age from twenty-five to twenty and empowered women to vote for the first time.

Online Supplement

Dreaming, Making, and Breaking Family and Kinship in Contemporary South Korea

While South Korea makes headlines much more frequently nowadays for its vibrant and lucrative popular culture industry, until the 2000s, South Korea was known to outsiders first and foremost as a “family-centric” society. This family-centrism has been the underlying focus of a large number of Korean anthropological studies, covering “education fever,” extended family networks, hierarchical business culture, and ancestor worship. North Korea is also noticed for its family-centrism—namel...

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

Japan’s Declining Population: Beyond the Textbook

Geography, as a discipline, allows students to explore, analyze, and understand the places that comprise our world. Most geography curricula focus on both physical and human geography, often in the context of "issues"-based learning; this serves to demonstrate the dynamic and applicable nature of the subject to learners. Within the context of human geography, population is an area of study that enables geographers to plan the use of Earth’s resources, make sense of the underlying factors influ...

Online Supplement

Digital Pedagogical Resources from “Japan’s Declining Population: Beyond the Textbook”

Population Data UN population division: http://www.un.org/en/development/desa/population/ Japanese Ministry of Health: http://www.mhlw.go.jp/english/ Topic Introduction Jonathan Soble, “Japan, Short on Babies, Reaches a Worrisome Milestone,” The New York Times, June 2, 2017, https://tinyurl.com/y8hny6ua Impacts Shrinking workforce: https://tinyurl.com/y8tzfu4v Potential abortion restrictions: https://tinyurl.com/yb2q88rl Budgetary impact: https://tinyurl.com/y8acdb98 ...

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

Aging Populations: A Comparison between Japan and Germany

When comparing population trends of Japan and Germany, numerous similarities stand out. Both countries have an identical total fertility rate (TFR) per woman of 1.4 with a population growth rate of -0.2 percent (Table 1). While both countries have high life expectancies, Japan’s eighty-five-year life expectancy is among the world’s longest, leading to a higher elderly dependency ratio in 2017 (Table 1). Similarities between the countries related to below-replacement-rate population growth, a...

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

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

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 spotted a ...

Feature Article

Building Nationhood through Broadcast Media in Postcolonial India

The role of broadcast media in building patriotism and nationhood in postcolonial India is enormous. While television is a latecomer, radio was an essential vehicle from the early twentieth century onward in promoting the culture that would define the new nation, so most of this essay is devoted to radio. Although the recent rise of private TV is briefly discussed in this essay, in the case of both radio and TV, the role of government media in nation-building receives center stage. To unify a...

Asia: Experiential Learning, Resources

Asia: Experiential Learning (Guest Editor, Tommy Lamont) The Power of Food: Students and Local Women Cooking Together in Rural Japan

All of us have several meals a day, yet few among us have thought about the power of food and how it affects a region’s culture, history, and people. Different people like different food—something we noticed during our program titled Local/Global Food as Revitalization in a small rural town called Shintotsukawa, located two hours northwest of Sapporo, a city with a population of 1.9 million and located in the center of Japan’s northmost island Hokkaidō. Local/Global Food as Revitalizat...