Education About Asia: Online Archives

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Feature Article

The Essentials: Seven Samurai

Kurosawa Akira’s Seven Samurai is a timeless masterpiece that has been widely recognized as the greatest foreign-language film ever made. The plot concerns a humble village hiring a band of samurai and protecting itself from pillage in war-ravaged sixteenth-century Japan. Since the wretchedness inflicted on the peasantry is evocative of all forms of human suffering, the honorable service conducted by the seven samurai takes on universal significance.

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

The Essentials: Secret Love in Peach Blossom Land

Stan Lai (Lai Shengchuan) is one of the most celebrated playwrights working in the Chinese-speaking world. His work over three decades has charted the course of modern Chinese-language theatre in Taiwan, China, and other Chinese-speaking regions.

Feature Article

Revisiting Live Your Dream and Cocktail Party

Regge Life is the founder of Global Film Network Inc. Early in his career, Life worked as an American Film Institute intern on John Landis’s Trading Places. He went on to direct episodes of Sesame Street, The Cosby Show, A Different World, and Sister, Sister. He is Executive Producer/Director for documentaries such as Doubles, After America . . . After Japan, Live Your Dream: The Taylor Anderson Story, and Cocktail Party. He produced his first work in Japan, Struggle and Success: The...

Feature Article

Teaching Cultural, Historical, and Religious Landscapes with the Anime Demon Slayer

In 2020, the animated movie Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba the Movie: Mugen Train (Japanese: Gekijō-ban “Kimetsu no Yaiba” Mugen Res-sha-hen) was No. 1 in the world for box office revenue.1 In the same year, it became the highest-grossing movie in Japanese history, surpassing Spirited Away, which had reigned No. 1 since 2001. Just as Miyazaki Hideo’s animated classic Spirited Away has been a staple for teaching about Japanese folklore and culture in classrooms around the world, Demon Sla...

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 ...

Feature Article

One Day in the Life of a North Korean Textile Worker

There are many films on North Korea; some are quite good. But Pieter Fleury’s North Korea: A Day in the Life is in a category by itself. In 2004, the Dutch independent filmmaker was granted rare permission to film everyday life in the closed, secretive country. No foreigners are allowed to wander at will in North Korea; all are carefully shepherded and watched, allowed to visit and film only what their hosts decide. These tend to be the same places: a visit to a model kindergarten, to the grea...

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

New Online Teaching Resources for Early Chinese Cinema

The Chinese Film Classics Project is a research, teaching, and translation initiative aimed at making early Chinese cinema more accessible to the general public. The centerpieces of the project are two interlinked web resources: (1) the website chinesefilmclassics.org and (2) the YouTube channel Modern Chinese Cultural Studies (https://tinyurl.com/4zk6wevb). These sites currently feature twenty-four Chinese films released between 1922 and 1949 with complete English subtitles; over 150 film clips...

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 Essentials: How the Film Tora! Tora! Tora! May Be Utilized as a Teaching Tool About Pearl Harbor

The use of film in a history class can be an important learning tool for students. The traditional method of instruction based on pure lecturing can inform students of the basic facts, but the use of film can substantially enhance the learning experience. When I was a Professor of Asian Studies at a small women’s college in Virginia, I often used films as a way of enhancing my lectures. When teaching about modern Chinese history and culture, I would show such movies as Raise the Red Lantern (1...

Feature Article

Using Victory in the Pacific in High School and College History Survey Courses

The irony of a student complaining that a video is too old in a history classroom never ceases to amuse. But there is at least one thing that a nonletterboxed, standard-definition video can provide that the newest feature film cannot: eyewitness accounts of World War II in the Pacific. Victory in the Pacific, a CBS News television documentary that premiered in 1995, is a distinctive and useful classroom resource primarily because it features dozens of interviews with eyewitnesses in t...

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

Waste Politics in Asia and Global Repercussions

Your Garbage Is on the Way Back “Your garbage is on the way. Prepare a grand reception. Eat it if you want to.” In 2019, this was Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s message to the Canadian government. He had finally convinced them to pay for the return of almost seventy shipping containers of imported garbage that had been sitting in a Philippine port since arriving from Canada in 2013–2014, and he was gloating about the small victory. The Canadian government had b...

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...

Feature Article

Developments for Tribal Farmers in Rural India

The great obstacle to economic development in rural India is a lack of property rights, according to Trupti Mehta, lawyer for the Action Research in Community Health and Development (ARCH) center. Optimistic and determined, Trupti and her husband, Ambrish Mehta, solved this problem for tribal farmers on their thirty-three-year journey in Gujarat Province, a few hours’ drive from the city of Baroda. Joining Anil Patel, a physician who founded ARCH to help the rural poor, they initially pushed ...

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...

Feature Article

“Louder than Words”: A Profile of the Destruction of the Aral Sea and Its Consequences

The collapse of the Aral Sea is the greatest human-induced ecological catastrophe in history. Worse than Chernobyl, Bhopal, Minamata, London’s killer smog, and all the other disasters of the industrial age, the unprecedented decline of the Aral stands as a testament to the folly of myopic “economic planning” and the dangers of totalitarianism. Millions of people living in the vicinity of the sea have had their health and livelihood destroyed, and the damage to the region will con...

Feature Article

Making China and India Great Again? Why China’s and India’s Paths to Power May Hit a Wall Part I: Domestic Policy Challenges

There is general agreement among the pundits and mandarins who study India and China that these two countries will become two of the world’s most powerful nations in the near future, if they have not already. Some believe that they may become the most powerful nations in the world, relegating the United States and Europe to the status of mere ob­servers of the future course of humanity. Regardless when exactly this may occur, such an outcome could be compared, in a sense, to a return to what ...