Education About Asia: Online Archives

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Essay

The Act of Constructing Memory at Cambodia’s Bophana Center

In a quiet Cambodian village in the province of Battambang, Heng Kuylang hacks a long bamboo sapling with a machete while reflecting on her decades of marriage to a man she has never loved. Like countless Cambodians who came of age between 1975 and 1979, Heng and her husband were forced to marry each other under Pol Pot’s genocidal Khmer Rouge regime, a violent and dystopian attempt to end capitalism and rebuild a new society free of Western influences. Approximately one in four Cambodians die...

Feature Article

Sri Lanka in the Classroom

Editor’s Introduction: A Virgin Vote, a short film by director Udan Fernando, follows a Sri Lankan citizen voting for the first time in the country’s 2020 parliamentary elections after becoming stranded due to Sri Lanka’s COVID-19 lockdown. In the essay and short interview that follow, Fernando discusses A Virgin Vote and its production, as well as the ongoing political crisis in Sri Lanka. The basic information below provides context for readers unfamiliar with Sri Lanka and the c...

Feature Article

Teaching Cambodian Genocide Through Film

Students in my world history class sat in silence as the film credits started to roll. We had just started a unit on the Cold War, and I decided to integrate the film First They Killed My Father about genocide in Cambodia.1 Directed by Angelina Jolie (who spent time working in Cambodia to film the popular Tomb Raider movies and has been a Cambodian citizen for a decade) and produced by Jolie and Cambodian director Rithy Panh for Netflix, my hope was that the story of five-year-old Loung (played ...

Columns, Film Review Essay

The Little Girl of Hanoi (Em Be Ha Noi)

When American students learn about the Socialist Republic of Việt Nam (SRV), it is typically in the context of what Americans call the Việt Nam War but that is known in the SRV as the American War. Courses that address this conflict tend to emphasize American over Vietnamese experiences.1 This review forwards The Little Girl of Hanoi (Em Bé Hà Nội) as an engaging course viewing that offers an important and alternative window into Vietnamese war experiences. Director Hải Ninh re...

Online Supplement

Make Your Documentary! A Call to Action

In 2008, I responded to a call in Education About Asia for Digital Asia: Documentary Digital Video Workshop, a two-day workshop sponsored by Asia Educational Media Service (AEMS) at the University of Illinois to introduce participants to the various aspects of filmmaking. Being one of roughly twelve participants selected from a pool of about forty applicants, changed the direction of my career. Prior to the workshop, I had watched hundreds of videos for material to use in my...

Feature Article

Why I Made a Virgin Vote

It all began with a very long conversation I had with a person. He became both the subject and protagonist of what later became a short English-language film, A Virgin Vote, released in September 2021 in Colombo and online. The conversant was a childhood and teenage classmate in Sri Lanka. Our conversation took place in a bar/restaurant in July 2020, literally a stone’s throw away from the school we attended. I had just returned from Singapore, where I was located for about three months during...

Feature Article

A Brief Interview with Udan Fernando

Udan Fernando obtained his PhD from the University of Amsterdam. He currently functions as an Independent Researcher from Sri Lanka and Singapore. Until March 2020, he was Executive Director of the Center for Poverty Analysis (CEPA), a Sri Lankan think-tank. Throughout his career, as Head of the Development Commission of the National Christian Council of Sri Lanka (1989–1995), Executive Director of Paltra (gte) Ltd (1996–2001), Guest Researcher at University of Amsterdam (2002–2007...

Feature Article

The Politics of Climate Vulnerability in Asia

The seriousness of climate change has become readily apparent over the past decades, with increasingly visible evidence of impacts and risks across the globe—from intensifying hurricanes to large-scale destructive wildfires. Asia is often pointed to as one of the most vulnerable regions, given numerous countries with long coastlines and large populations in low-lying areas, such as the Philippines, which regularly experiences destructive typhoons from the western Pacific Ocean. Othe...

Feature Article

Turtles All the Way Down: An Update on the Asian Turtle Crisis with New Directions

In Chinese mythology, the goddess Nuwa cuts the legs off the giant turtle Ao and uses them to prop up the sky. In Hindu mythology, Kurma the Tortoise King, one of the avatars of Vishnu, props up Mount Meru and assists in the churning of the Ocean of Milk, thereby allowing the gods to recover the Elixir of Immortality.1 The concept of a World Turtle, supporting the very earth upon its back, is a mythical theme that appears in a variety of mythologies, including those of Asia. That turtles are re...

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

Ties that Bind: India and Southeast Asia Connectivities

[caption id="attachment_12232" align="aligncenter" width="536"] Khon performance at Thammasat University Main Auditorium, Tha Phrachan Campus, Bangkok, Thailand. Khon is a dance and drama performance based on the Ramayana. Source: Wikimedia Commons at https://tinyurl.com/yxrdu3n4.[/caption] Imagining India in Southeast Asia is often guided and influenced by a number of factors. It may depend on how the contemporary global and the regional media views and portrays the Indian sub-continent thro...

Online Supplement

Student Comments and Blogs from “Encompass Southeast Asia: A Unique Experiential Learning Opportunity through the University of Richmond”

Thai and/or Cambodian culture, or politics, or social issues. This trip helped me to understand how Cambodia’s history affects modern-day society. The societal upheaval caused by both colonization, the Pol Pot regime, and the genocide led to poverty and the loss of millions of lives. I think these events are connected to the problem of modern-day slavery, as we learned that people in difficult financial situations are at a higher risk of accepting dangerous work to survive. In other words, th...

Asia: Experiential Learning, Columns, Resources

Asia: Experiential Learning — Guest Editor, Tommy Lamont: Encompass Southeast Asia: A Unique Experiential Learning Opportunity through the University of Richmond

The Office of International Education (OIE) at the University of Richmond (UR) developed Encompass Southeast Asia (Encompass SEA) as part of a pilot program to engage students who have not historically participated in study abroad opportunities at UR and its partner institutions. Participants included students from challenging socioeconomic backgrounds, nontraditional students, students of color, athletes, males, and students with limited travel experience. Historically, such cohorts have not pa...

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...

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

Using the Lowy Institute Asia Power Index to Teach Social Science: A Plan for a Facilitated Discussion

The Lowy Institute, one of Australia’s most well-regarded think tanks, released its second annual Asia Power Index in May 2019 (available at https://power.lowyinstitute.org). High school and college educators can use this resource to get students doing hands-on explorations of Asian political, military, economic, and diplomatic power using data. Students can learn about Asia while enhancing their data literacy and critical-thinking skills. This essay provides a plan for an interactive discussi...

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...

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

Café Creatives: Coffee Entrepreneurs in Việt Nam

Việt Nam is the second-largest producer of coffee in the world.1 If this comes as a surprise to regular coffee consumers living outside Việt Nam, it would certainly not be a surprise after spending even a brief amount of time in the country. Cafés line major through streets and fleck back alleyways while blurring the line between public and private space. In fact, one industry-known café down an alleyway in an outer district of Ho Chi Minh City does not appear to be a café at all—a loca...

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...