Education About Asia: Online Archives

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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 ...

Feature Article

Top Ten Things to Know About India in the Twenty-First Century

Indian Elections Are a Sight to Behold Every Indian federal election breaks its previous record as the world’s larg­est electoral exercise. In the 2019 such election, about 900 million Indians were eligible to vote. Sixty-seven percent of them showed up at the voting booth, a percentage higher than in most democracies, including the US. Indians take their elections quite seriously. The Election Commission, enjoying a high level of public trust where such trust is generally hard to...

Feature Article

Top Ten Things to Know About India in the Twenty-First Century

India is Like Europe, But Also Not Like Europe Most Americans have heard of India, but might struggle to describe it. A suitable analogy would be the European Union. The EU is composed of a mosaic of twenty-seven countries that have some things in common, for example, proximity and climate, as well as institutions such as parliament and a currency; but also some dissimilarities, such as language and food. European countries come in all sizes, from Lichtenstein to Germany. In­dia, simil...

Feature Article

Top Ten Things to Know about India in the Twenty-First Century

The defeat of Indian forces by the Chinese in 1962 ushered in a phase after which India tended to be cowed by the growing economic and political might of China. [caption id="attachment_12189" align="alignleft" width="405"] Indian Border Security Force (BSF) personnel keeping vigil at a checkpoint along a highway leading to Ladakh, at Gagangeer area of Ganderbal district on June 18, 2020. Source: © Shutterstock. Photo by Sajadhameed.[/caption] Sino–Indian Relations The first thing...

Feature Article

Studying Indian Secularism to Understand the US

Many, if not most, of the readers of this journal believe that the study of Asia helps US students develop their critical thinking and analytical skills. Far too often, however, the study of Asia is relegated to courses that focus solely on Asian studies. This approach em­phasizes the need to understand the specific historical, cultural, social, and political contexts that shape different Asian developments. In this essay, I present a model for a comparative approach that introduces selective c...

Feature Article

Multilingualism in India

[caption id="attachment_12193" align="aligncenter" width="471"] A sign at the border with Pakistan in the state of Punjab featuring the same message written in three different languages (Hindi/Urdu, Punjabi, and English) and four different scripts from the top down: Devanagari (Hindi), Punjabi, Roman (English), and Perso–Arabic (Urdu). Source: © Hemis/Alamy.[/caption] With a growing population of just over 1.3 billion people, India is an incredibly diverse country in many ways. This articl...

Feature Article

Understanding South Asia’s Religious Art

[caption id="attachment_12213" align="alignleft" width="410"] Figure 1: Dancing Ganesha, Lord of Obstacles. Eleventh to twelfth century, Bangladesh, Dinajpur District. Sculpture. Phyllite (65.41 x 33.66 x 12.7 cm). Source: Los Angeles County Museum of Art website at https://tinyurl.com/yy2s5sxo.[/caption] There are many ways to talk about the art of India (here, India is a short­hand for the South Asian subcontinent). From a serene stone sculpture of a meditating Buddha to the dynamic image ...

Feature Article

Top Ten Things to Know About India in the Twenty-First Century

Population India’s population of 1.3 billion is the world’s second-largest. It has one of the youngest populations of the world. Half the population is aged be­low twenty-five, while around 65 percent is aged under thirty-five. This demographic portends well for the country, which will have a relatively young workforce in the coming decades. Another unusual aspect of In­dia’s demographics is that there are unusually more males than females: 943 females to 1,000 males. Some exper...

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 ...