Education About Asia: Online Archives

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Book Review, Columns

Japan Since 1945 The Rise of an Economic Superpower

Explaining Japan’s stunning rise from the ashes of World War II to economic superpower status by the 1970s remains one of the more daunting challenges for the student or teacher of Asian development. Few observers who witnessed the warravaged landscape of Japan in 1945 forecast the country’s quick return to normality, let alone prosperity, and only the most optimistic in the country dreamed of a dramatic resurgence in economic performance. Dennis Smith’s Japan Since 1945 provides a succinc...

Feature Article

THERE AND BACK AGAIN: Teaching About the Urban Youth Generation

The “Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution” was a phenomenon that greatly affected the Chinese world. For several years the country was torn apart and turned upside down. It was launched by Mao Zedong, in his power struggle against Liu Shaoqi, in order to firmly entrench his view that ideology, rather than materialism, was the way to lead the country forward.1 During this period of chaos, vast numbers of Chinese youth left the cities to work in the state farms and villages of the countryside...

Columns, Web Gleanings

Web Gleanings: Japanese Internment during World War II

The World Wide Web offers a large number of sites that deal exclusively with the internment of the Japanese during World War II, including several sites that present original documents and photographs of the camps. In recent years, there have been museum exhibits, litigation and the publication of personal memoirs; these, too, appear on the WWW....

Book Review, Columns, Resources

The Rise and Decline of the Asian Century: False Starts on the Path to the Global Millennium

This book is a comprehensive rebuttal of those who proclaim a coming “Asian Century,” in which East Asia will replace the United States as the center of the world economy. Christopher Lingle’s prescience, ironically, makes his book less valuable in the classroom than it otherwise might have been. A few years ago this book might have served as a welcome burst of contrariness against all the tomes proclaiming the East Asian economic miracle. Today, however, amidst the East Asian economic cri...

Book Review, Columns

Thirty Years in a Red House: A Memoir of Childhood and Youth in Communist China

China has a long history. The history of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), however, is short since the PRC has just celebrated its fiftieth anniversary. The PRC’s birth since 1949 is merely a drop of water in China’s long and turbulent river of civilization. Short as it is, the world has seen many calamities in the PRC. There have been border and ideological wars, natural disasters and man-made catastrophes, a blind cult of a capricious dictator, a revolution that destroyed the cultura...

EAA Interview

EAA Interview with Steve Levine: Creator of the China Box

Steven I. Levine is the Mansfield Professor of Asia Pacific Studies at the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Center, University of Montana. He is the author or editor of three books and several dozen articles, chapters, and review essays on Chinese history and East Asian international relations. He is presently working on a history of post-World War II Sino-American relations....

Book Review, Columns

Modern Indonesia: A History Since 1945

Indonesia is hardly known by most Americans, even among the most educated elite. That reality was particularly clear last year as President Suharto saw his thirty-three-year reign coming to a close under the twin burdens of economic meltdown and political challenge. As the tensions rose, until well into the drama, the New York Times, that most elite of American newspapers, continued to refer to Suharto merely as the “leader” of Indonesia as if he were no more than another revolving-door p...

Book Review, Columns

The Upright Brush: Yan Zhenqing’s Calligraphy and Song Literati Politics

Amy McNair has written a splendid study of a major Tang dynasty (618–906) political figure, Yan Zhenqing (709–785), and the manner in which his reputation as a statesman and calligrapher grew during the subsequent Song dynasty (960–1279). McNair’s text is part biography, part historical overview, part artistic analysis—with the pieces coming together in a deeply satisfying picture of Yan Zhenqing as a Tang loyalist whose bold brushstrokes were appropriated by eleventh-century literati ...

Book Review, Columns

Snake’s Pillow and Other Stories

Zhu Lin’s six finely crafted stories are set in the Jiangnan region of China, far enough from Shanghai to be rural, yet close enough to the metropolis for its peasants to know a great city. Her peasant protagonists are fortunate in the lush landscape and benign climate of their region, and the relative prosperity of the region is a magnet for the less fortunate during periods of famine, political upheaval, and calamitous weather. In this pleasant land, however, material comfort is not synonymo...

Book Review, Columns

Japan–The System That Soured: The Rise and Fall of Japan’s Economic Miracle

The main thesis of Japan: The System That Soured is, as the title implies, that while Japan’s economic system was instrumental in helping the country during the catch-up phase of its industrial development, “it turned into a terrible system once Japan had in fact caught up.” Richard Katz, Senior Editor at the Oriental Economist Report (a monthly English language newsletter about Japan), argues that the Japanese economic model is not a different form of capitalism but an earlier stage of it...

Book Review, Columns

Questions of Heaven: The Chinese Journeys of an American Buddhist

I have never traveled in China but have taught its ancient history for over ten years. I have also journeyed to Shikoku, Japan in order to walk the eighty-eight Buddhist temples as a pilgrim; it changed my outlook on life. Therefore, I was curious to read Questions of Heaven because I wondered if Ehrlich’s Chinese experiences would be similar to mine. They were not. For the most part,Ehrlich is disappointed and frustrated that her idealized expectations of her journey through two provinces in ...

Feature Article

Going On-line to Teach about Asia with a Focus on Japan

While we have resources comparable to other schools in our region, there is a dearth of information in our library on non-Western cultures and governments. Additionally, while most secondary schools nationwide are offering college-level Advanced Placement courses, few of the libraries are provisioned to support these courses adequately; they are, after all, high school, not university, libraries. Thus, an increasing number of us are turning to on-line sources to augment the texts and meager supp...

Feature Article

Options in Teaching the Mahabharata

The Mahabharata is a Sanskrit epic based on an internecine struggle between two sets of cousins for the most powerful throne in North India in the late second millennium B.C.E. Around this core are strung other stories and bits of mythology, as well as philosophical and religious compendia. One such is the Bhagavadgita, in which Krishna, as God, addresses one of the central heroes, Arjuna, as Everyman, in regard to doing his duty without concern for the fruits of his labors—an emphasis on mea...

Feature Article

Dr. Seuss and Japan, December 1941

Between January 30, 1941 and January 5, 1943, Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel, 1904–1991) drew over 400 editorial cartoons for the New York newspaper PM. They covered the waterfront of issues of the day. PM and Dr. Seuss favored American intervention in the war in Europe, fought the domestic opponents of intervention (notably Charles A. Lindbergh), battled antiSemitism and anti-black racism, and attacked Congressional attempts to roll back the New Deal. Once the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbo...

Book Review, Columns

Still Life With Rice: A Young American Woman Discovers the Life and Legacy of Her Korean Grandmother

While focusing on the remarkable life of her grandmother, Hongyong Baek, Helie Lee’s Still Life With Rice provides memorable images of Japanese and Soviet occupation and civil war. Written with sensitivity and detail, the book is not only a tribute to her grandmother’s will to survive, but to the courage of the Korean people. Still Life With Rice is recommended for high school and college literature, world history and Asian Studies classes....

Book Review, Columns

Deng: A Political Biography

By Benjamin Yang ARMONK, NEW YORK: M. E. SHARPE, INC., 1998 331 PAGES “Watch out for that little Man,” uttered by Mao about Deng, were hardly the words befitting one of the titans of the twentieth century. Standing in front of the martial law units that had crushed the Tiananmen demonstration, Deng uttered an equally unusual turn of phrase, “What is important is that we should never change China into a closed economy.” The death of China’s paramount leader of the last two decades on ...

Book Review, Columns

Why Asia? Essays on Contemporary Asian and Asian American Art

Alice Yang retrieves Asian and Asian American art from peripheral discourse and identity politics and places them into the mainstream. She does this while stressing nationality and ethnicity as the significant factors informing works of art and exhibitions. These two goals appear contradictory, yet Yang convincingly argues that they are not. She queries, “How, then, might one think about contemporary Taiwanese art beyond the restrictive categories of the traditional versus the modern, or of th...

EAA Interview

On the Asian Studies Development Program

The Asian Studies Development Program is a quite successful project that focuses upon improving undergraduate-level teaching about Asia. ASDP is particularly useful for college faculty who aren’t Asia specialists and would like to develop Asia-related expertise. In what follows I interview ASDP’s outstanding codirectors, Roger Ames and Betty Buck. Lucien: How did both of you become interested in Asia? What Asia-related academic work did you do, and what positions did you hold before becomi...

Book Review, Columns

Sourcebook of Korean Civilization, Volume 2: From the Seventeenth Century to the Modern Period

This volume completes the two-volume Sourcebook of Korean Civilization, the first volume of which appeared in 1993. The books complement the Sources series on Japanese, Chinese, and Indian traditions from the same publisher. The latter books have been in wide use by scholars and students for four decades; it is remarkable that it has taken so long for a similar work on Korea to be published. Its appearance, however, is an indication of the steady growth of interest in Korea that is reflected in ...

Book Review, Columns

Abhidhamma Studies: Buddhist Explorations of Consciousness and Time

This reflective, scholarly work was written during the aftermath of World War II, following the author’s return to Sri Lanka, after having spent the years 1941 to 1946 in a civilian internment camp at Dehra Dun. The present edition is the fourth and reflects what Bhikku Bodhi, the editor, considers to be a clearer explication of the first three editions. It should be noted that the manuscript was written in Pali rather than Sanskrit, so words like kamma, sutta, and dhamma may need to be transp...

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