Education About Asia: Online Archives

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Columns, Essay

The Question of Loyalty

During World War II, the loyalty of all people of Japanese ancestry in the United States was questioned, in contrast to people of German and Italian ancestry, who were treated as individuals. The United States was at war with Germany and Italy as well as Japan, yet German Americans and Italian Americans were not all suspected of disloyalty to the United States and incarcerated as a group, without trial, as were those of Japanese ancestry on the West coast....

Book Review, Columns

Behind Blue Eyes

What do you do on a weekend if you’re an expatriate living in Vietnam? If you’re Robert Hughes, you write poetry. Hughes, a twice-published poet, arrived in 1996 as Country Manager for Hewlett Packard. He recorded his impressions of Vietnam in verse. While citizen poets are more rare today, Hughes is in the mold of the lay observer who, in another age, recorded his thoughts in poetry. Behind Blue Eyes is an extraordinary collection of 104 vignettes and reflections, in a book punctuated with ...

Book Review, Columns

Governance and Politics of China

During the past fifty years it was easy for Americans to describe China. About 80 percent of the population lived in the countryside, one could say, and they were the peasants who toiled in the fields. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP), we knew from innumerable news reports, controlled all aspects of a person’s life and expected complete adherence to the official party line. All things foreign were suspect and foreigners were kept at a distance whenever possible....

Columns, EAA Interview

EAA Interview with Sharada Nayak

Sharada Nayak. If you know the name, more than likely when you hear it, you smile, and then your mind catapults you into remembering a story about the woman who has become synonymous with India. For over thirty-five years Sharada welcomed U.S. teachers and administrators to India as director of the Education Resource Centre and later as executive director of the United States Information Agency in India. Anyone fortunate enough to have received a Fulbright or Fulbright Hays Summer Abroad grant k...

Feature Article

PROPAGANDA OR DOCUMENTARY? The Showa Emperor and “Know Your Enemy: Japan”

For the past five years, I’ve been screening Frank Capra’s controversial Know Your Enemy: Japan (1945) in survey courses and upper division seminars. Stunning edits, provocative footage and a brilliant soundtrack make this last of the U.S. Army’s Why We Fight series a truly arresting documentary. To warn Americans that defeating Japan would require the nation’s utmost effort, Capra spliced together hundreds of menacing, exoticizing shots of festivals, parades, assembly lines, sporting ev...

Book Review Essay, Columns, Essay

Confucius Lives Next Door: What Living in the East Teaches Us about Living in the West

T. R. Reid served as Tokyo Bureau Chief for the Washington Post for almost six years during the first half of the 1990s and was a regular contributor to NPR’s “Morning Edition.” Having lived in Japan for several years two decades earlier, and having studied East Asian philosophy and history at Princeton, he brought to his assignment more of an academic background than many foreign  correspondents have. This book is not a compilation of his radio spots or articles he wrote for his newspape...

Feature Article

Using Chinese Folktales in the Classroom

Teaching Chinese folktales is a challenging but ultimately rewarding activity that can be a way to teach students core cultural beliefs and practices of the Chinese people. Teaching folk literature, however, presents some special challenges to the instructor, since folk literature differs in some crucial ways from more familiar forms of literature such as poetry, fiction and non-fiction narrative, novels and drama. Perhaps one of the key areas of difficulty when using folktales is that they are ...

Book Review, Columns

Japan Pop! Inside the World of Japanese Popular Culture

Teachers often discover that their students are attuned to the latest trends in popular culture more than to their academic studies. By examining Japan’s popular culture, they can capitalize on this student interest, help their students to reflect on cultural concerns, and teach about contemporary Japan. Students will see that Japan has more than ninja, geisha, and samurai. There are also pop star idols, jazz musicians, and salariman. Although sumo, the tea ceremony, and cherry blossom viewing...

Feature Article

King Lear and Ran: Japanese Film in the English Literature Classroom

Teachers often use film to help them present complex subjects in their high school classes. Unfortunately, many films designed for classroom use are not as interesting as commercial productions—and many commercial films are not appropriate for the classroom! A good film is one that students will watch. It must look and sound better than a monotone rendering of a textbook. To engage a Language Arts class, the vehicle itself—the film—must be noteworthy....

Feature Article

BREAKING FREE: Reflections on Stereotypes in South Asian History

For many students, regardless of age or educational background, the study of South Asian history seems a daunting task given the complex and often unfamiliar nature of the subjects under investigation. Of course, exotic and stereotypic images of snake charmers and mystics abound. It is often tempting to rely on mnemonically convenient formulae (caste defined and held as a constant, a given, over millennia) as the basis for instruction to reduce this material to manageable proportions. Although ...

Columns, Essay

Teaching Medical Anthropology in Nepal: Of Doctors, Journals, and Web Sites

For two consecutive years, in 1999 and 2000, undergraduate and graduate students from Auburn University in Alabama participated in a study abroad class that I designed entitled “Medical Anthropology in Nepal.” The course is a hybrid of in-class preparatory lectures and seventeen days of intensive study in Nepal. This article is intended to provide a review of the traditional and nontraditional forms of learning used in the course, a summary of the travel planning process, and some guidelines...


EAST ASIA FOR UNDERGRADUATES: Balancing Regional Themes and Distinctive Cultures

In 2001, four years after returning to academic life as an anthropologist from a career spent largely in government, I returned to teaching about Asia. The last time I had done so was twenty years earlier. That previous course had been about mainland Southeast Asia, at the graduate level, and for a small group of students with some measure of Asian experience. My primary country emphasis had always been Vietnam, and I had generally placed that in a Southeast Asia context. However, I also had som...

Book Review Essay, Columns

The River’s Tale: A Year on the Mekong

The great rivers of the world seem to have a magical appeal to writers. Fulfilling a long-held dream, Edward A. Gargan embarked in 1998 upon a roughly 3,000 mile journey down the Mekong River from near its source (at an altitude of 16,441 feet) in Tibet down to the Mekong Delta where it flows into the South China Sea. Early on we learn that the Mekong is called the Dzachu in Tibet and the Lanang Jiang in China....