Education About Asia: Online Archives

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Feature Article

Making China And India Great Again? Why China’s and India’s Paths to Power May Hit a Wall, Part II: Foreign Policy Challenges

For the past decade, experts in international relations have suggested that the world’s center of power is shifting from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and the main reason is the extraordinary rise of China. They add that the equally remarkable, though slightly slower, rise of India will move the center of global power even further from the West. A number of observers strongly believe the efforts of the United States under former President Donald Trump’s “America First” policy to ...

Feature Article

Mongolia’s Environmental Crises: An Introduction

In the US, China, Russia, and other countries with a sizable population, it is often difficult to discern the effects of climate change and other environmental afflictions.1 A country with a small population offers a greater opportunity to observe the implications of environmental crises. A study of Mongolia, with a population of approximately three million, provides a clearer view, although it is important to remember that Mongolia is quite distinct from these other lands due to its d...

Book Review Essay

Brother’s Keeper

BY JULIE LEE NEW YORK: HOLIDAY HOUSE, 2020 320 PAGES, ISBN: 978-0823444946, HARDCOVER Reviewed by Mary Connor Prior to reading Julie Lee's Brother's Keeper, I had read many of the most respected accounts of the Korean War. However, the author of Brother’s Keeper is a gifted new writer. Inspired by her mother’s wartime recollections of the war, the author focuses on one family, but the reader also becomes aware of the overall civilian experience in wartime and the particular...

Book Review Essay

Batu, Khan of the Golden Horde: The Mongol Khans Conquer Russia (The Silk Road Series)

BY DIANE WOLFF GENGHIS PRODUCTIONS, 2020  182 PAGES, ISBN: 978-0578780894, PAPERBACK Reviewed by Christy Davis History, as we know, is written by the victors. But what happens when the victors write nothing down? In the case of the Mongols, history was written by the vanquished, despite exceptional Mongol brutality, and carries with it all the prejudice and bitterness of defeated empires and kingdoms. Over time, and with the absence of any documents to the contrary, the c...

Online Supplement

India’s Historical Impact on Southeast Asia

India’s historical impact on Southeast Asia forms an important component of world history. In this age of globalization, relations between two significant regions are important. The Look East and Act East policies have become the catch word of Indian foreign relations since the 1990s, where Indian policymakers desired close cooperation with Southeast Asian countries. This is nothing new from an Indian perspective, but an enactment of déjà vu. What we know of today as Indian and ...

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...

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...

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 ...

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...

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...

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

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...

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...

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...

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

The Nomads of the Steppe: Resources for Teachers

The nomadic pastoralists of the inner Asian steppe had an impact on history out of all proportion to their small population. The cultures and politics of societies across Asia experienced profound change at their hands. China presents a good example of this phenomenon. The nomads on the steppe posed a perennial challenge to the Chinese political structure, making management of the nomads always one of the chief concerns of every Chinese dynasty. The Great Wall of China is the most famous demo...

Feature Article

Borrowing from the Buddha: Buddhist Temples as Financial Centers in Premodern East Asia

We would not be surprised to hear the Buddha tell us how to meditate or how to be compassionate. We might be surprised to hear him offer financial advice. Yet in several cases, he does exactly this. In one early example, the Buddha advises a young layman to divide his wealth into four parts: “One part should be enjoyed, two parts invested in [your] business, and the fourth set aside against future misfortunes.”1 This demonstrates that rather than entirely renouncing money, Buddhism developed...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Key Issues in Asian Studies: “Indonesia: History, Heritage, Culture”

With her contribution to the Key Issues in Asian Studies series—INDONESIA: History, Heritage, Culture— Kathleen M. Adams has maintained and even enhanced its well-established reputation for quality. Writing a brief yet comprehensive book is challenging because specialists must restrain themselves from delving too far into their area of expertise. Instead of presenting an in-depth look at the specific, they must focus on engaging intelligent but uninformed readers so they can grasp the basics...

Feature Article

Asia, Power, and Robes of Honor

More than three decades ago, my wife and I ventured overland from Istanbul to Delhi. At Herat, on the western border of Afghanistan, my wife met a group of women—a matriarch, her daughters, and daughters-in-law. Although they shared no common language, my wife accompanied them over several days while they bought and sold in the markets. The matriarch liked my wife and on the day we left insisted that she accept her old, black, beautiful, fully embroidered cloak. The women showed her how to dra...