Education About Asia: Online Archives

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Essay, Online Supplement, Resources

ASIA SHORTS: The Great Smog of China: An Interview with Anna L. Ahlers, Mette Halskov Hansen, and Rune Svarverud

The Great Smog of China: A Short Event History of Air Pollution traces Chinese air pollution events dating back to more than 2,000 years ago. Based on the authors’ fieldwork, interviews and text studies, the book offers a short and concise history of selected air pollution incidents that for varying reasons prompted different kinds of responses and forms of engagement in Chinese society. The three authors, from the disciplines of anthropology, China studies and political science, identify trac...

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

Teaching the History of Violence in China at a Southern Military College

Probably in my second year of teaching at The Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina, I attended a cadet’s public lecture on Chinese politics. During the question-and-answer period, one of my English department colleagues, a former Green Beret, stated that the Chinese were an effeminate people who had no martial tradition. Some of the cadets in the audience happened to be active-duty soldiers from Taiwan. I was shocked and immediately told the English professor that China had a long a...

Facts About Asia, Resources

Vigil: HONG KONG IN CRISIS An Interview with Jeffrey Wasserstrom

Jeffrey Wasserstrom is Chancellor’s Professor of History at the University of California, Irvine. He is the author of five previous books, including China in the 21st Century: What Everyone Needs to Know (coauthored by Maura Elizabeth Cunningham) and Eight Juxtapositions: China through Imperfect Analogies from Mark Twain to Manchukuo. In his latest book, Vigil: Hong Kong on the Brink, Professor Wasserstrom combines his extensive knowledge of Hong Kong from the ground up with a broader understa...

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

Teaching China in a Global History Survey

In 1793, the King of England, George III, sent a mission led by Lord George Macartney to the court of the Qianlong Emperor in China. The British were asking for a new arrangement for trade with the Qing empire, which at that point was conducted at a single port, Guangzhou, in the far south of the country, and had to take place through official intermediaries, known to the British as Hong merchants. Inspired by the increasing competitiveness of their products, as the Industrial Revolution was jus...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Ghosts of Gold Mountain: The Epic Story of the Chinese Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad

The meeting of two huge locomotives on May 10, 1869, of the Central Pacific and Union Pacific Railways at Promontory Point in Utah is one of the most notable events in American history. For the first time, the United States was connected by rail from coast to coast and the journey from New York to San Francico, which before would have taken many grueling months, could now be comfortably completed in less than a week. Fortunately, for all those involved in the construction of the transcontinental...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Taiwan Nation-State or Province? (Seventh Edition)

For reasons both good and bad, 2020 has perhaps been a banner year for Taiwan in terms of increased global identification and international acknowledgment of its contributions and plight against the People’s Republic of China (PRC). In January 2020, President Tsai Ingwen, a member of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), was reelected to a second term, winning an unprecedented eight million-plus votes over her challenger, Nationalist Party (KMT) candidate Han Kuo-yu. Between Tsai’s elector...

EAA Interview, Resources

Eurasia and Teaching World History: A Short Conversation with Professor Xinru Liu

XINRU LIU (PhD, University of Pennsylvania) is Professor Emeritus of early Indian History and World History at the College of New Jersey. She is the author of Ancient India and Ancient China, Trade, and Religious Exchanges, AD 1–600; Silk and Religion, an Exploration of Material Life and the Thought of People, AD 600–1200; Connections across Eurasia, Transportation, Communication, and Cultural Exchange on the Silk Roads, coauthored with Lynda Norene Shaffer; A Social History of Ancient India...

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

Unearthing New Lessons from Ancient China

In March 1974, local farmers discovered fragments of terracotta figures when digging a well near the outskirts of the city of Xi’an, China. Unknown to the farmers, or anyone else who knew about the find at the time, the discolored pieces were part of what would later be known as the Terracotta Army—yes, an entire army in full battle dress, hidden in formation just below the farmland where they were placed more than 2,000 years ago.

Book Review, Resources

The History of Art in Japan

Nobuo Tsuji’s History of Art in Japan was originally published by the University of Tokyo Press in 2005 and is now available in English translation. The book covers Japan’s art history from the ancient Jōmon Era all the way to the rise of manga and anime in the twentieth century. Included is a list of the main historical eras in both Romanization and Japanese; a map of archaeological sites; a timeline for Japan, Korea, and China; long lists of scholarly English-languages sources on Japanese...

Book Review Essay, Resources

A Brief History of Korea: Isolation, War, Despotism, and Revival: The Fascinating Story of a Resilient but Divided People

Michael Seth of James Madison University has a great deal of experience writing textbooks. His A Concise History of Korea: From the Neolithic to the Nineteenth Century was first published in 2006. It was revised and broken into two volumes: A Concise History of Modern Korea: From the Late Nineteenth Century to the Present (2009) and A History of Korea: From Antiquity to the Present (2010). Those volumes, published by Rowman & Littlefield, are still in print. In addition, Seth recently published ...

Book Review Essay, Resources

A Christian in the Land of the Gods: Journey of Faith In Japan

Joanna Reed Shelton’s recent book, A Christian in the Land of the Gods, is a beautifully written biography of her great-grandfather, the Reverend Thomas Theron Alexander (1850–1902), and her great-grandmother, Emma Edwina Alexander (1855–1937), who served as Presbyterian missionaries and teachers in Japan from 1877 to 1902. The value of this work is enhanced by the author’s in-depth analysis of the great difficulties foreign missionaries and teachers had in introducing Christianity into ...

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

Teaching about the Colonial India State and Society with Six Acres and a Third

Six Acres and a Third is an English translation of Fakir Mohan Senapati’s 1902 Odia novel Chha Mana Atha Guntha, a humorous satire set in early nineteenth-century British India. It tells the story of an exploitative moneylender called Ramachandra Mangaraj, who uses the colonial legal system to usurp the properties of people in his rural community, before being ruined by it himself.

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

The Busy Teacher’s Handbook to Teaching the Zhuangzi

The Zhuangzi ranks amongst the greatest Chinese literary masterpieces. Written in China’s Warring States period (475–221 BCE), its vivid allegories have profoundly influenced the most preeminent of Chinese thinkers for over two millennia. In this essay, I present a sample of the Zhuangzi’s key ideas on life and death, language and knowledge, and time and the universe that will interest the twenty-first century student. I will also provide the classical allegories behind these learning poin...

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

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...

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 ...

Film Review Essay, Resources

Dead Souls

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. One of countless sites of mass death during the Mao period (1949–1976), many of which far exceed it in scale, Jiabiangou’s history might never have reached u...

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

Contextualizing Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko

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, Pachinko is set in a particularly rich era of modern East Asian history, encompassing colonial Korea, World War II...

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...

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