Education About Asia: Online Archives

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

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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, 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 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 tap to keep her loved ones saf...

Online Supplement

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

Editor’s Note: This handout is to be used with Juanjuan Peng, “Twentieth-Century Chinese Entrepreneuers before 1949: Literature Excerpts for the Classroom” from the winter 2019 issue of Education About Asia beginning on p.11. Handout A: Excerpt from “The Shop of the Lin Family,” by Mao Dun, trans. Sidney Shapiro 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...

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 ...

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 emperor...

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. (note 1) By 2018, 111 Chinese companies had joined the Fortune Global 500 list, (note 2) and 373 individuals had made the Forbes Billionaires list. (note 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...

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

Contextualizing Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko

Pachinko By Min Jin Lee New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2017 496 pages, ISBN: 978-1455563937, Hardcover 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, Pa...

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

Teaching about the Comfort Women during World War II and the Use of Personal Stories of the Victims

[caption id="attachment_7067" align="alignnone" width="1113"] Four Korean comfort women after they were liberated by US-China Allied Forces outside Songshan, Yunnan Province, China on September 7, 1944. Source: The Hankyoreh website at https://tinyurl.com/y4dddxjn. Photo by Charles H. Hatfield, US 164th Signal Photo Company. Note: The original photo is available in the National Archives Catalog at https://tinyurl.com/yyumu88z.[/caption] “Comfort women” refers to the system of sexual slave...

Online Supplement

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

Editor’s Note: Please see Todd Munson’s teaching resources essay “Contextualizing Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko” from the winter 2019 issue of Education About Asia beginning on p. 54. Names and locations in the chapter outline use the Revised Romanization of Korean. Suggested Resources and Chapter Guide for “Contextualizing Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko” Abroad in Japan. “Japan’s Biggest Gaming Obsession Explained | Pachinko.” YouTube Video, 11:06. July 20, 2018. https://youtu.be/-tBy2...

EAA Interview, Feature Article

Boom Country? An Interview with Alan Rosling

Alan Rosling is an entrepreneur and strategic adviser who has had a deep engagement with India over the past thirty-five years. He is co-founder of ECube, an investment manager dedicated to raising standards of environmental social and governance compliance. He cofounded Kiran Energy after leaving the Tata Group, where he was the first non-Indian Executive Director of Tata Sons (the holding company of the Tata Group), charged with internationalization of the company. His earlier career include...

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

The Nomads of the Steppe: Resources for Teachers

[caption id="attachment_7262" align="alignleft" width="640"] Toda Mongke and His Mongol Horde. Folio from Chingiznama (History of Genghis Khan). Source: Wikimedia Commons at https://tinyurl.com/y6zvcu9f.[/caption] 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...

Book Review Essay, Key Issues in Asian Studies, 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...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Peeling The Onion Stories: “China in Family Photographs: A People’s History of Revolution and Everyday Life”

China in Family Photographs A People’s History of Revolution and Everyday Life By Ed Krebs and Hanchao Lu Abingdon, UK: Routledge (Bridge21 Publications), 2017 355 pages, ISBN: 978-1626430549, Paperback Asked to write a review of China in Family Photographs, I quickly got caught up in the task. Using stories from a series begun in 1996, Ed Krebs and Professor Hanchao Lu translate the tales based on the pictures that accompany the text. They also wrote an introduction to each piece, setti...

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 ...

Feature Article

The Importance of Entrepreneurship in Japan’s Late Nineteenth-Century Meiji Industrail Transformation

Japan’s rapid transformation in the late nineteenth century, from an agricultural society governed by the feudal samurai warrior class into an industrial power, is an unusual story in world history. When samurai leaders from Satsuma, Chōshū, and other domains joined forces to overthrow the Tokugawa Shogunate and rule in the name of Emperor Meiji in 1868, they might have been expected to establish a similar form of government that maintained the existing class structure and protected the samu...

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.” (note 1) This demonstrates that rather than entirely renouncing money, Buddhism d...

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, Online Supplement

South Asia in World History (New Oxford World History): Reviewed by Rachel Ball-Phillips

Writing world history is a daunting task. World historians continue to struggle with how to write effective survey world history texts for use in the classroom. The New Oxford World History series is an ambitious project that emphasizes “connectedness and interactions of all kinds—cultural, economic, political, religious, and social—involving peoples, places and processes” (viii). By situating South Asia within a broader global context from the Indus Valley Civilization to present, Marc ...

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