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? ...

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...

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...

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...

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 ...

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...

Feature Article

Religion in History: Manjhan’s Madhumalati and the Construction of Indo-Islam

In today’s geopolitical environment, teaching South Asia can be somewhat of a sticky wicket, particularly when it comes to religion and communalism. Each time I discuss Hindu–Muslim relations in an introductory course on South Asia or in a 100-level world history class, I run up against a whole host of preconceived notions on religion in the non-Western world. Worse yet, most students are unaware that our modern understanding of religion can’t be projected backward. However, a properly con...

Feature Article

On the Difference Between Hinduism and Hindutva

H induism is the name given to the most ancient and persistent religion on the Indian subcontinent, and Hindutva is the name by which the ideology of the Hindu right, represented by the political party Bharatiya Janata Party, or Indian People’s Party (BJP), is known. It is also the ideology of the cultural body known as Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, or National Volunteer Core (RSS), which was founded in 1925 and with which the BJP has strong links. Ever since the rise of the BJP on the Indian p...

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 ...

Feature Article

Using Mazu to Teach Key Elements of Chinese Religions

The multiplicities of Chinese religion can be hard to grasp for North American students. For some, “Chinese religion” might bring to mind bustling temples with people offering incense to a dimly lit statue. When I teach Chinese religions, on the first day of class, I often ask students what they know about Chinese religions. There are always a few students who offer that there are three religions (Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism) in China, and sometimes a few will also offer that the Peop...

Feature Article

Teaching Students about Mindfulness and Modern Life

Are your students often distracted, seemingly addicted to their phones? Have you noticed, as suggested in the quotation above, that anxiety, depression, and other forms of mental and emotional suffering have been rising steadily among the young people you teach, especially in the time of the coronavirus pandemic, which began during final editing of this article? While perhaps a slight exaggeration, we remain convinced that some of our students would more likely give up food, sleep, and even actu...

Feature Article

Christianity in Korea

The Republic of Korea is rather unique in terms of religion as, despite a high level of ethnic homogeneity, there is no single dominant religion. And while more than half of Koreans do not profess any religion, many will still engage in religious activities, such as consulting a shaman or offering incense and food to ancestors. But among those who do have a religious affiliation, Christianity is the most popular, which is rather remarkable considering that its appearance on the peninsula was fir...

Feature Article

Religious Diversity in Korea

Since the mid-1960s, when the gates for immigrants from Asia first opened wide in North America, more and more signs in Korean have appeared on the streets of both the US and Canada. Many of those signs advertise restaurants or shops selling Korean food. However, a significant percentage of those signs appear in front of church buildings and proclaim that a Korean congregation worships within. The overwhelming majority of those congregations are Protestant. A 2012 survey by the Pew Forum on Reli...

Feature Article

The Early Modern Jesuit Mission to China: A Marriage of Faith and Culture

Comparative world and global history topics can add both vibrancy and genuine intellectual depth to secondary school and undergraduate courses. The story of how priests who embraced the concept of contemplatives in action encountered highly educated Chinese Confucian literati is an excellent example of cross-cultural contact. Even beginning to learn about these interactions should lead readers to some realization of the potential creativity, as well as intended and unintended consequences, that ...

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

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

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 ...

Feature Article

Poetry, Prose, and Political Science

I’ve never read poetry in a political science class before. I have frequently cited this statement as my favorite student evaluation comment ever. I don’t even remember clearly if the statement was meant positively (I think it was!)—but I certainly took it that way. I have long used selected prose and poetry in introductory (first- and second-year) college-level political science classes focused on India or South Asia to convey certain themes and arguments to students. Using literatur...

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...

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