Education About Asia: Online Archives

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Feature Article

The National Humiliation Narrative: Dealing with the Present by Fixating on the Past

In his speech announcing the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) on October 1, 1949, Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Chairman Mao Zedong famously proclaimed, “Ours will no longer be a nation subject to insult and humiliation. We have stood up.” With those words, Mao explained that a new era had begun for China under CCP leadership. To those unfamiliar with Chinese history, such a proclamation may seem confusing. Didn’t China have 5,000 years of a glorious and storied history? ...

Essay, Online Supplement, Resources

ASIA SHORTS: The Great Smog of China: An Interview with Anna L. Ahlers, Mette Halskov Hansen, and Rune Svarverud

The Great Smog of China: A Short Event History of Air Pollution traces Chinese air pollution events dating back to more than 2,000 years ago. Based on the authors’ fieldwork, interviews and text studies, the book offers a short and concise history of selected air pollution incidents that for varying reasons prompted different kinds of responses and forms of engagement in Chinese society. The three authors, from the disciplines of anthropology, China studies and political science, identify trac...

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

Teaching the History of Violence in China at a Southern Military College

Probably in my second year of teaching at The Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina, I attended a cadet’s public lecture on Chinese politics. During the question-and-answer period, one of my English department colleagues, a former Green Beret, stated that the Chinese were an effeminate people who had no martial tradition. Some of the cadets in the audience happened to be active-duty soldiers from Taiwan. I was shocked and immediately told the English professor that China had a long a...

Feature Article

Facing History: Strategies for Teaching Chinese and World History with Memoirs

As Adam D. Frank noted in a 2001 EAA review, “A well-written memoir is a surefire way to make Asian history and culture come alive for students who approach the subject with little or no knowledge.”1 Building on Frank’s sentiment, in this essay we discuss effective uses of memoirs to teach about modern China and Sino–US encounters. While our examples are China-focused and draw from experiences in undergraduate instruction, the techniques we discuss are applicable to wider East Asian topi...

Online Supplement

Late Imperial China, Silver, and Global Trade Routes

After the early fifteenth century, extensive European explorations marked the beginning of globalization. Vasco da Gama’s sea route to India, Christopher Columbus’s trans-Atlantic voyages to the Americas, and Juan Sebastián Elcano’s completion of the first circumnavigation of the globe are examples of this process. European trade with the so-called “New World” also strengthened ties between China and the Americas. In 1581, the Sycee, a silver ingot currency used throughout China’s l...

Facts About Asia, Resources

Vigil: HONG KONG IN CRISIS An Interview with Jeffrey Wasserstrom

Jeffrey Wasserstrom is Chancellor’s Professor of History at the University of California, Irvine. He is the author of five previous books, including China in the 21st Century: What Everyone Needs to Know (coauthored by Maura Elizabeth Cunningham) and Eight Juxtapositions: China through Imperfect Analogies from Mark Twain to Manchukuo. In his latest book, Vigil: Hong Kong on the Brink, Professor Wasserstrom combines his extensive knowledge of Hong Kong from the ground up with a broader understa...

Feature Article

Ten Things We Need to Know When Teaching about Early China

Since 1996, I have been teaching about early China in various college courses on Eastern civilization, the history of China and Japan, the history of Asian culture, and world history. During the pandemic of spring 2020, while based in northwest Germany, I offered a new online graduate course on cultural heritage and international relations, with students logged in from Africa, Asia, Eurasia, Europe, and North America. This undertaking presented as many technological and academic challenges as it...

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

Teaching China in a Global History Survey

In 1793, the King of England, George III, sent a mission led by Lord George Macartney to the court of the Qianlong Emperor in China. The British were asking for a new arrangement for trade with the Qing empire, which at that point was conducted at a single port, Guangzhou, in the far south of the country, and had to take place through official intermediaries, known to the British as Hong merchants. Inspired by the increasing competitiveness of their products, as the Industrial Revolution was jus...

Feature Article

Crossing the River by Feeling the Stones: Deng Xiaoping in the Making of Modern China

The 9th of September 1976: The story of Deng Xiaoping’s ascendancy to paramount leader starts, like many great stories, with a death. Nothing quite so dramatic as a murder or an assassination, just the quiet and unassuming death of Mao Zedong, the founding father of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). In the wake of his passing, factions in the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) competed to establish who would rule after the Great Helmsman. Power, after all, abhors a vacuum. In the first corner...

Online Supplement

Made in China or Born Abroad?: Creating Identity and Belonging in the Chinese Diaspora

The astute eye might notice Chinatowns around the world and wonder how they came to be in places so far from China and what connections there might be between these sites of “Chinese-ness” or between them and China.1 This astute eye might also notice the influences of local cultures or local interpretations of what it means to be “Chinese”. In many such places—Malaysia, Indonesia, the US and Australia—this is a history of emigration from the mid-nineteenth century to the early twenti...

Online Supplement

Key Issues in Asian Studies: Modern Chinese History

During the 2020 US presidential election, Republican candidate Donald Trump frequently referred to his Democratic opponent as “Beijing Biden,” accusing him of currying favor from the Communist Party leadership in China, the same individuals Trump claimed were responsible for the global spread of the so-called “China Virus.” Joe Biden responded by condemning Beijing for its treatment of China’s Uighur minority, suggesting that he was the only candidate who would stand up to Chinese Pres...

Feature Article

NOVEL ADVENTURES: Using The Journey to the West to Teach Tang China History and Culture

It often seems that the further away in time and space a topic is from our students’ lives, the more difficult it can be to inspire engaged learning in a history class. This is equally true of courses from other disciplines that engage with content from the distant past, such as those focusing on art, culture, and religion. Thus, teaching Tang China (618–907) history and culture might seem to be a particularly daunting task, especially to the nonspecialist. Such a challenge might even tempt ...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Ghosts of Gold Mountain: The Epic Story of the Chinese Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad

The meeting of two huge locomotives on May 10, 1869, of the Central Pacific and Union Pacific Railways at Promontory Point in Utah is one of the most notable events in American history. For the first time, the United States was connected by rail from coast to coast and the journey from New York to San Francico, which before would have taken many grueling months, could now be comfortably completed in less than a week. Fortunately, for all those involved in the construction of the transcontinental...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Taiwan Nation-State or Province? (Seventh Edition)

For reasons both good and bad, 2020 has perhaps been a banner year for Taiwan in terms of increased global identification and international acknowledgment of its contributions and plight against the People’s Republic of China (PRC). In January 2020, President Tsai Ingwen, a member of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), was reelected to a second term, winning an unprecedented eight million-plus votes over her challenger, Nationalist Party (KMT) candidate Han Kuo-yu. Between Tsai’s elector...

Feature Article

China, Global History, and the Sea: Pedagogical Perspectives and Applications

China has had a long and complex relationship with the sea. Although regarded primarily as a continental power within the context of global history, China’s maritime history has taken place within the context of the Asian region, and more recently within the broader scope of global affairs. The maritime history of China, distinct from its continental history, has its own stories, evidence, scholars, and scholarship. This article will tell some of these stories with notes on evidence, and intro...

Online Supplement

China, Global History, and the Sea: Pedagogical Perspectives and Applications Visual Sidebars and Recommended Maritime Resources

The Defeat of the Mongol Invasion Fleet Kamikaze, the “Divine Wind” At the end of the second Mongol invasion of Japan in 1281, a great typhoon struck the Mongol fleet south of the island of Takashima in Kyushu, resulting in devastation of the fleet, forcing the return of fleet remnants to Korea. Religious orders in Japan took credit for the Mongol defeat, saying that their prayers to the kami, Shintō gods, had been answered when the great wind, kaze, was sent by the kami to sink the Mon...

Online Supplement

Bibliography for Teaching Violence in Chinese History at a Southern Military College

Editor’s Note: Please see Keith Knapp, “Teaching Violence in Chinese History at a Southern Military College,”from the Fall 2020 issue of Education about Asia. Andrade, Tonio. Lost Colony: The Untold Story of China’s First Great Victory over the West. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2011. — . The Gunpowder Age: China, Military Innovation, and the Rise of the West in World History. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2016. Anthony, Robert J. Like Froth Floating o...

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

Unearthing New Lessons from Ancient China

In March 1974, local farmers discovered fragments of terracotta figures when digging a well near the outskirts of the city of Xi’an, China. Unknown to the farmers, or anyone else who knew about the find at the time, the discolored pieces were part of what would later be known as the Terracotta Army—yes, an entire army in full battle dress, hidden in formation just below the farmland where they were placed more than 2,000 years ago.

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

The Busy Teacher’s Handbook to Teaching the Zhuangzi

The Zhuangzi ranks amongst the greatest Chinese literary masterpieces. Written in China’s Warring States period (475–221 BCE), its vivid allegories have profoundly influenced the most preeminent of Chinese thinkers for over two millennia. In this essay, I present a sample of the Zhuangzi’s key ideas on life and death, language and knowledge, and time and the universe that will interest the twenty-first century student. I will also provide the classical allegories behind these learning poin...

Feature Article

World on 361 Points: Understanding Chinese Culture via the Board Game Go

A culture may be likened to a river. While the collective history of the culture constitutes the main course of the river and defines its general direction, the philosophical, religious, and artistic traditions are major tributaries that greatly influence the river’s contour. And, just as the river is ever-flowing, religion and philosophy evolve, art forms develop, and history gets interpreted and reinterpreted. A comprehensive understanding of culture is as fascinating and rewarding as it is ...

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