Education About Asia: Online Archives

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Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

Contextualizing Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko

Pachinko By Min Jin Lee New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2017 496 pages, ISBN: 978-1455563937, Hardcover Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko, nominee for the 2017 National Book Award for fiction, is a sweeping historical saga of one family’s experience living as “forever foreigners” in twentieth-century Japan. Despite its heft (496 pages in the hardcover edition), the novel is written in an accessible and engaging style appropriate for both undergraduates and high school students. Moreover, Pa...

Film Review Essay, Resources

Dead Souls

Dead Souls Produced and Directed by Wang Bing Grasshopper Film and Icarus Films, 2018 DVD, 3 discs, 8 hours, 15 minutes, Color Mandarin / English subtitles Jiabiangou lies on the edge of the Gobi Desert near the city of Jiuquan, in the northwest pocket of China’s Gansu Province. Today, the region is home to China’s premier satellite launch center, but from 1957 to 1961, it was the nucleus of a labor camp complex in which more than 80 percent of the prisoners died, mostly of starvation. ...

Columns, Facts About Asia, Resources

Facts About Asia: South Korea and Singapore: Economic and Political Freedom

Editor’s Introduction: By the 1990s, the dynamic economic growth of four polities—Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan—earned them the nickname “Four Little Dragons.” Each of the “Little Dragons” also obtained moderate to significant levels of political freedom (Freedom House ranks South Korea and Taiwan as free and Hong Kong and Singapore as partly free). Please see our column from fall 2019 on the other two “Little Dragons”: Hong Kong and Taiwan. Economic ...

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, 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 China Through the Lens of Girls’ and Women’s Lives

Illiterate paternal grandparents raised Jin Shan, a teenage girl living in rural China. Her parents, unable to afford milk for their child, had no choice but to become migrant workers when Shan was seven months old. Shan remained behind with her grandparents, who farmed in the town of Xixiashu in Jiangsu Province, and did not live with her parents again until the age of ten. Shan’s experience was not unusual. In fact, it was anything but rare. Her story places her among millions of “left-beh...

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

The Nomads of the Steppe: Resources for Teachers

The nomadic pastoralists of the inner Asian steppe had an impact on history out of all proportion to their small population. The cultures and politics of societies across Asia experienced profound change at their hands. China presents a good example of this phenomenon. The nomads on the steppe posed a perennial challenge to the Chinese political structure, making management of the nomads always one of the chief concerns of every Chinese dynasty. The Great Wall of China is the most famous demo...

Columns, Resources

Facts About Asia: Taiwan and Hong Kong: Economic and Political Freedom

Despite their modest sizes, Taiwan and Hong Kong both possess very strong economies, ranking 20th  and 30th in GDP (the market value of all goods and services) in a ranking of the top fifty world leaders. Taiwan has massive information and communication technology industries, as well as acting as a major international supplier of goods, while Hong Kong’s four key industries are in financial services, tourism, trading and logistics, and professional and producer services. Since 1996, the Frase...

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

EngageAsia: An Entrepreneurial Approach to Creating Transnational Communities

EngageAsia (www.engageasia.org), a New York-based 501(c)(3) non- profit with the mission of building community in the Asia–Pacific through education, was born out of a need for a new organization with Asia-focused teacher professional development at its core, through intensive discussions between its cofounders and inaugural board, and on culling best practices from years of working with US–Japan teacher professional development programs. Most importantly, the creation of this new organizati...

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...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Peeling The Onion Stories: “China in Family Photographs: A People’s History of Revolution and Everyday Life”

Asked to write a review of China in Family Photographs, I quickly got caught up in the task. Using stories from a series begun in 1996, Ed Krebs and Professor Hanchao Lu translate the tales based on the pictures that accompany the text. They also wrote an introduction to each piece, setting it in context. My reaction was positive, even enthusiastic. I’d call the approach of our two authors ”onion stories.” They are layered. One way is to take the subject of the story and peel back that per...

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

Graduate School Confidential: Misguided First Impressions of Japanese Preschools

I started graduate school in 1980 after living in Japan for four years. In my second semester, a nearby college held a colloquium for business and community leaders in Detroit, Michigan, on “What We Can Learn From Japan.” They asked me to talk about Japanese education, specifically high achievement test scores. There wasn’t much scholarship available on Japanese education then, but after an extensive card catalog search at the University of Michigan library, I discovered some Japanese g...

Film Review Essay, Resources

Around India with a Movie Camera: Film Review Essay by Coonoor Kripalani

Directed by Sandhya Suri Produced by Nicola Gallani 72 minutes, Color and Black & White Icarus Films, 2018 Reviewed by Coonoor Kripalani [caption id="attachment_7870" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Two smiling boys. Source: Icarus Films website at http://icarusfilms.com/if-ar. ©Icarus Films.[/caption] This seventy-two-minute silent documentary film, spliced together and edited by director Sandhya Suri from archival British Film Institute (BFI) clips, cleverly juxtaposes scenes of ...

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

Challenging the Textbook to Develop Historical Thinking: Inquiry Lessons on the Mongol Invasions and Meiji Japan

Developing lessons and units of study in the current social studies climate requires finding an entry point with a topic that will facilitate an inquiry. One such entry point can be challenging textbook accounts. In Lies My Teacher Told Me, James Loewen describes many of the problems with history textbooks and indicates a need to stop using textbooks as the authoritative source.1 Teaching students how to assess a source’s reliability and usefulness, including textbooks, is a key historical thi...

Columns, Digital Asia, Resources

MOOCS (Massive Online Open Courses) and Asian Studies

“Given that education has been calcified for 500 years, we really have to completely reimagine it. It’s like going from ox carts to the airplane.” This was the challenge laid out to a TED audience in January 2014 by Anant Agarwal, CEO of EdX. In his talk, Agarwal promised nothing less than to revolutionize education through MOOCs (or massively open online courses). By the end of the year, an article in the MIT Technology Review hit back, suggesting that “For all the hype, MOOCs are reall...

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

Teaching with China’s Great Migration: How the Poor Built a Prosperous Nation

Syrian refugees on rafts in the Mediterranean Sea, Rohingya fleeing ethnic cleansing in Burma, Somalians and Sudanese fleeing military conflict and famine on the rim of Ethiopia—migration is perpetual headline news. In the US, the story is of stemming the tide of migrants from Mexico and the Caribbean. In all cases, migration is viewed as a problem to be controlled or stopped.

Book Review Essay, Resources

Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s Trap?

By Graham Allison Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017 384 pages, ISBN: 978-0544935273, Hardcover Reviewed by John F. Copper Most readers will likely find Graham Allison’s newest book, Destined for War, interesting and fresh. Many will agree with this reviewer that it is a work that may entitle Allison to join the ranks of Francis Fukuyama (The End of History) and Samuel Huntington (The Clash of Civilizations), who offer powerful templates, if not plausible theories, to help explain c...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Teaching East Asia: Korea Lessons and Resources for K–12 Classrooms

In my experience as a university professor, teaching Korean history, while enjoyable, has its challenges. While most students are curious and eager to learn, much of the material is foreign to their own experiences, and they even find themselves struggling with something so seemingly simple as names (how can anyone unfamiliar with the Korean language be expected to pronounce the names of Sin Saimdang, Seondeok, or Yi Sunshin correctly based purely on the romanization?). However, dedicated K–12...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Lee Kuan Yew: The Grand Master’s Insights on China, the United States, and the World

By Graham Allison, Robert D. Blackwill, and Ali Wyne Foreword by Henry A. Kissinger Cambridge: MIT Press, 2013 224 pages, ISBN: 978-0262019125, Hardcover Reviewed by David Kenley Lee Kuan Yew: The Grand Master’s Insights on China, the United States, and the World, by Graham Allison, Robert D. Blackwill, and Ali Wyne, provides a fascinating introduction to the thoughts and attitudes of one of the twentieth century’s most complex political leaders. Lee was the first prime minister of inde...

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