Education About Asia: Online Archives

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EAA Interview

History as Literature, Literature as History: An Interview with Lost Names Author, Richard E. Kim

Lost Names is a useful, rare, and wonderful book for several reasons. The book’s title reflects the Japanese Pacific War policy of forcing Koreans to replace their own names with Japanese ones. Lost Names is the story, as recounted by a young boy, of one Korean family’s experience during the war years. Although Lost Names is technically a novel, according to author Richard Kim, “ . . . all the characters and events described in the book are real, but everything else is fiction.” Never in...

Essay, Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

Teaching Lost Names in an American High School

In a currently popular world literature text of 1,442 pages, there are a total of four pages on Korean literature. An entire country’s literary heritage is condensed into two poems. Until I read Lost Names by Richard Kim, my only contact with Korea had been to watch my mother cry as my older brother set off for the Korean War. Then later I encountered some opinions and allusions to the country through study of Japanese language and culture. None of these led me any closer to what might be the ...

Essay, Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

Utilizing Richard Kim’s Lost Names in the Junior High Classroom

I first was introduced to the novel Lost Names during a recent postgraduate fellowship I participated in entitled Imperial Japan— Expansion and War, 1892 to 1945. Sponsored by the Five College Center for East Asian Studies, the seminar was conducted at Mount Holyoke College. Our preconference assignment included reading this novel, and we actually had the opportunity to meet its author, Richard E. Kim, during the conference. He helped us analyze our feelings and reactions to his powerful story...

Essay, Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

Lost Names, Master Narratives, and Messy History

“Problematize the master narrative!” These were the words some years ago at an NEH summer institute for teachers. The speaker’s language wasn’t mine then (it is now), but I realized that that’s what I’d been doing in my teaching for years: making an issue of the dominant interpretation (usually that of a textbook). It is what more of us need to focus on, at all levels and in all subjects. Textbooks are always wrong. History is never simple.

Book Review, Columns

Beyond the Horizon: Short Stories From Contemporary Indonesia

Teaching about Indonesia can be a daunting task. The world’s fourth most populous country, and the one with the most Muslims, has more than 300 separate cultures and languages on a diverse archipelago of more than 14,000 islands in the South Seas. The notion of “Indonesia” itself is a relatively recent phenomenon, dating back to the 1940s. Compared to other large Asian nations, we seem to bring limited general knowledge (and textbook coverage) to Indonesia and her peoples. So how do we get...

Book Review, Columns

A Lateral View: Essays on Culture and Style in Contemporary Japan

Most English-speaking travelers to Japan have probably encountered Donald Richie’s writings. Some of his other books include Taste of Japan, The Japanese Tattoo,  Japanese Cinema, Japanese Film, Films of Akira Kurosawa, Introducing Japan, Introducing Tokyo, The Temples of Kyoto, Geisha, Gangster, Neighbor and Nun, and Public People, Private People. A past film curator at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Richie has lived in Japan for forty-five years. As someone who lives in two cultures,...

Book Review

Sweet and Sour: One Woman’s Chinese Adventure, One Man’s Chinese Torture

Like other books by Americans traveling to Third World countries, this book dwells too much on the discomforts and not enough on the local people. Travel accounts seem to be egocentric, telling us more about the writer’s peccadilloes and emotions than about the place being visited. The early chapters that relate the authors’ decision to go, preparations, and initial problems are a very long introduction to the real heart of the book. It is not until chapters 15, 16 and 17 that we finally lea...

Film Review Essay

Japan Past and Present: A five-part series

In the fourth video of this series, The Meiji Period, Jean Antoine, the writer and director, claims that most Westerners in late nineteenth century Japan largely ignored the important political, social, and economic changes of the time that would make Japan a powerful modern country because they preferred to focus on the exotic aspects of Japan. Antoine seems to have suffered from the same predilection. His depictions of Japanese culture are highly idiosyncratic, and he frequently stresses bizar...

Book Review

My City: A Hong Kong Story

Hong Kong, a place that is often considered the most international city in Asia, was Britain’s last major colony, and is now the People’s Republic of China’s richest and most cosmopolitan urban center. Yet, for all that Hong Kong is a city open to the world, the works of its writers remain relatively unknown to non-Chinese readers. This translation of one of the most highly regarded novels of one of Hong Kong’s most prominent and prolific authors is a product of the efforts of the Resear...

Feature Article

Teaching Asia in Elementary Schools: The Core Curriculum

Our experience has been that it is still rare in the United States to find elementary schools in which specific content about Asia is systematically taught. E. D. Hirsch-inspired Core Knowledge Elementary Schools are one notable exception.


Indian Politics on the Internet: A Resource Guide

“Indian Politics on the Internet: A Resource Guide” is from Robert L. Hardgrave, Jr., and Stanley A. Kochanek, India: Government and Politics in a Developing Nation, 6th ed. (Ft. Worth: Harcourt College Publishers, 2000). It was prepared with assistance from Kamal R. Adhikary, ASNIC Coordinator, Center for Asian Studies, and Merry Burlingham, South Asian Librarian, both at the University of Texas at Austin, and is here reproduced with permission from Harcourt College Publishers.

Feature Article

The “Asian Contagion”: A Reader’s Guide

The multiple economic crises that have swept over a number of countries in Asia in the 1990s—the “Asian Contagion” in Karl Jackson’s apt phrase1—require all of us who teach in the area to do some serious rethinking. First to fall was the once mighty Japanese economy; there the stock market kicked off the new decade by falling about 50 percent, following which real estate prices tumbled, and banks were saddled with bad loans. Despite repeated rescue and pump priming packages, annual GD...

Book Review, Columns

Zen at War

This well-researched, detailed volume charts the mutual effects of Japanese militarism and Zen Buddhism in Japan throughout the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The connection between Zen and warfare has been discussed unsystematically whenever a discussion of budō (inaccurately translated as “martial arts”) has arisen. Victoria’s volume is to be commended for showing the almost inevitable (and often ignored, particularly by those enamored of the romance of budō) extension of thi...

Book Review, Columns

Popular Buddhism in Japan: Shin Buddhist Religion and Culture

When most Westerners think about Buddhism, especially Japanese Buddhism, they envision Zen. From zazen, to tea ceremony, to rock gardens, the Western conception is that Zen is Japan. Esben Andreasen begins by dispelling this notion: “ . . . Zen is a minority sect and in many respects it is not very different from other branches of Buddhism” (ix). In fact, when delving deeper into Japanese Buddhism, the predominant sect to emerge is Shin Buddhism. And reasen’s intention in Popular Buddhism ...

Book Review, Columns

Modern Southeast Asian Literature in Translation: A Resource for Teaching

Here is a book that will allow any dedicated teacher in the humanities or social sciences at the secondary, tertiary, or graduate level to prepare a course or a class meeting drawing on the modern literature of four nations in Southeast Asia. It is a quiet triumph of Southeast Asia Studies generally, of the research careers of its contributors, of the conference that brought them together, and of the publisher who badgered their contributions into a volume of historical overview, critical insigh...

Book Review, Columns

China: A New History

One perennial challenge encountered in teaching the undergraduate introductory survey course in disciplines such as history and religious studies is the persistent student question, “How is this relevant to me today? Why should we know about, much less care about, Han administrative, economic and cosmological patterns?” While as instructors we strive to associate ancient patterns of behavior and institutions with those of the modern day, the standard textbooks at our disposal are often unsat...

Book Review, Columns

Ways of Thinking of Eastern Peoples: India, China, Tibet, Japan

The reappearance of Nakamura-sensei’s Ways of Thinking is like the return of a lover from whom we thought we had escaped by moving to a distant city. We are forced to confront unfinished business, to discuss whether there will be a reconciliation or a definitive separation. This “revised edition” is a photographic reprint of the 1964 English version, unchanged (except for the title page, from where the name of the translator has disappeared, although it is preserved in the small print of t...

Book Review, Columns

The Japanese Discovery of America: A Brief History with Documents

Use of documents in college (and to a lesser extent, high school social studies programs) has not been much in vogue in non-American classes. The audience outside of the large survey classes is small enough so few publishers make an effort, and even when some collections of documents are available, my impression is that they are underutilized. This is, I think, especially the case in courses like Japanese history survey classes. Indeed, there are really only two collections aimed at undergraduat...

Book Review, Columns

A Voice of Her Own: Women and Economic Change in Asia

Where do women fit into the pattern of rapid economic change in Southeast Asia, where traditional values, illiteracy and enormous poverty weigh heavily against new prosperity and increased opportunity? What share of the proceeds do women receive in this region where they have been called “the speechless ones” and where “ . . . poverty wears a woman’s face”?