Education About Asia: Online Archives

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Book Review, Resources

The Accidental Asian: Notes of a Native Speaker

Thought-provoking, nuanced, and easy to read, the book’s central point is that we should begin “to conceive of assimilation as more than a series of losses—and to recognize that what is lost is not necessarily sacred.”

EAA Interview

EAA Interview with James Shaheen, Editor of Tricycle Magazine

Although American interest in Buddhism goes back to the New England Transcendentalists, it is probably accurate to assume that at no time in U.S. history have so many Americans claimed to be attracted to the religion. Tricycle Magazine undoubtedly has played a role in this trend. This aesthetically well-done and often lively Buddhist quarterly began in 1991 and has attracted a wide variety of readers. Each issue contains material by practitioners, celebrities, scholars, and leading Buddhist theo...

EAA Interview

EAA Interview with James L. Watson on Golden Arches East: McDonald’s in East Asia

Editor’s Introduction McDonald’s Restaurants, most certainly major symbols of American popular culture, are now a feature of the geographic and culinary landscape in 118 countries. In Golden Arches East: McDonald’s in East Asia, (Stanford University Press, 1997) Editor James L. Watson and his colleagues produced an anthropological study of McDonald’s that has proven highly accessible to a wide variety of audiences. The book is now used in secondary schools and universities in a number o...

Feature Article

Edifying Tones: Using Music to Teach Asian History and Culture

For millions of people around the world, regardless of cultural background, social status, profession, gender, or national affiliation, music occupies a special place in life. “Of the many domains of cul­ture, music would perhaps seem to be one of the least necessary,” the eminent ethnomusicologist Bruno Nettl asserts, “yet we know of no culture that does not have it.”1 Music influences the ways we entertain ourselves, worship, dress, even the ways we perceive the world around us. We cr...

Feature Article

Studying Japan with Hollywood Films: Showing Mr. Baseball in Class

Where do most of our students get their information about Japan? While I have no empirical data to address such a question, we can speculate on several sources. From actually traveling to Japan? From parents and friends who have been there? From classroom instruction includ­ing, perhaps, documentary films? From Japanese restaurants? Or from forms of popular culture including such sources as National Geographic, television shows, or feature films?

Book Review, Resources

6 Vietnamese Poets

For many Americans, the photo­graph of naked, screaming Kim Phuc fleeing a napalm attack defined the war in Vietnam. There is no such defining image for the people of Vietnam. What image would suffice for a nation ravaged by the harsh brutality of war for much of this century? From the depths of the inexpressible this poet­ry emerges, from the silence of pain and hope that suffering evokes. Poetry remains a vital channel for the voice of the Vietnamese people, a record of their struggle, survi...

Feature Article

Golden Arches East: McDonald’s in East Asia: Food and Culture in the Classroom

Not all scholarly resources, no matter how compellingly argued or well researched, work in the class­room. Finding good resources for undergraduates is difficult enough, but finding good resources for teachers in professional development programs is even more of a challenge. Works that have the proper credentials plus the appropriate appeal are not always easy to come by. Golden Arches East: McDonald’s in East Asia is a resource that fills these needs: it works with teachers and with students...

Feature Article

Transplanting the Haiku

Although the haiku first flowered in Japan and retains its distinctively Japanese character, it has proved so adapt­able that it flourishes in many parts of the world. With only three lines of straightforward words, it is accessible to all kinds of people, yet its depth of meaning satisfies the most sophis­ticated. I have taught the haiku to college students in classes rang­ing from developmental English to world literature, as well as to middle school students in a summer enrichment program....

Book Review Essay, Resources

American Fuji: A Novel

Sara Backer’s first book, American Fuji, can be read on three overlapping levels. First, it is an enjoyable, often humorous mystery novel tinged with romantic tension. Second, it is a witty, even erudite social commentary on Japanese society, expatriate life, and intercultural relations. Third, Ameri­can Fuji is conceptually about human nature, especially the abili­ty and adaptability of people who are categorized as outside the mainstream to find their niche in society—and for some to fin...

Feature Article

South Korean Action Films as Indicators of Fear of and Hope for Reunification

Film criticism techniques such as “social representation” and the similar technique of “social film history” help people understand how social issues are portrayed in one of the most persuasive forms of popular culture, film. These analysis techniques are applicable to many films, but they can be particularly useful when looking at films that reflect social issues, whether past or present. These techniques are used in this study of two films that deal with the conflict between the Koreas...


The National Consortium for Teaching about Asia

Teachers of world history, geography, and culture have a remarkable opportunity to participate in seminars and study tours with the National Consortium for Teaching about Asia (NCTA). In addition to learning a great deal and becoming better equipped to teach about Asia with confidence and enthusiasm, those who complete these seminars earn points toward professional development, and receive both in-service credits and a stipend when they have completed the seminar. In some cases, teachers can ear...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Global Goes Local: Popular Culture in Asia

Teaching Western undergraduates or other students who have very little background on Asia can be a daunting task. First, one must combat simplified stereotypes and myths to convey the great diversity/complexity of Asia. More significantly, teachers often find it difficult to discuss one specific issue detached from an entire interwoven web of Asian traditions, histo­ry, art/aesthetics, beliefs, language, social relations, and political and economic conditions. Thus, a teacher who wants to discu...

Book Review, Resources

Hiroshima: A Novella

Most children in middle school expect one day to follow another in a steady advance of sameness. They make the transition from youth to adulthood in a relatively seamless transition. Carpools, homework, trips to the mall are the expected and predictable routine that fashion their lifestyle.

Feature Article

Everyday Dramas: Television Soap Operas in Thailand

On the evening of January 29, 2003 an angry mob stormed the Thai embassy in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, setting the building on fire and sending the Thai ambassador and embassy employees running for their lives. By morning, the building was severely damaged and more than twenty Thai businesses throughout the city had been looted or burned. Authorities still don’t know who was behind the attacks, but it was a Thai television soap opera star who ignited the incident by allegedly claiming that Angkor W...

Resources, Web Gleanings

Web Gleanings: Asian Popular Culture

ASIA Title: Asia Food URL: The Asia Society has provided the features of this site replete with information on the foods, the recipes, and the eating habits and cus­toms of many Asian nations. In addition to separate pages for each Asian country and a search engine for recipes by keyword, region, or type of dish, there are articles about Asian food and some video clips.

Essay, Resources

Bringing the Himalayas into Your Classroom: On-Line Resources and Materials for Teaching about the Abode of Snow

For most American teachers, getting to know the Himalayas necessitates a trip halfway around the globe. But in the summer of 2002, the Himalayas came to Massachusetts in the form of the NEH Institute’s Cultures and Religions of the Himalayan Region. Led by prominent scholars Todd Lewis and Leonard van der Kuijp, this month-long program brought leading researchers from around the world to Holy Cross College in Worcester, Massachusetts. While the reading list was mountain­ous and the lectures i...

Curriculum Materials Review, Resources

Spotlight on Inner Asia: The Bizarre Bazaar

This valuable new resource covers the geography, history, and cultures of Western China, Tibet, Inner Mongolia, Central Asia, Northern Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, a bit of the Caucasus, and the Caspian Basin. It is aimed primarily at high school social studies classes, but middle school teachers will also find it useful.

Book Review, Resources

Polite Lies: On Being a Woman Caught Between Cultures

Kyoko Mori grew up in Japan, moved to the United States to finish college, earned a graduate degree, and has taught creative writing at a number of universities. She is the author of several novels focusing on the experiences of young Japanese women including Shizuko’s Daughter, One Bird, The Dream of Water: A Memoir, as well as the recent Stone Field, True Arrow: A Novel, about a Japanese woman living in America who embarks on a journey of self-discovery upon hearing of the death of her fathe...

Film Review Essay, Resources

Four Personal Perspectives on the Film Documentary, Japanese Devils

Japanese Devils is an extraordinarily shocking and courageous film. It is difficult to imagine a more intimate, powerful, and persuasive indictment of Japanese atrocities in the long-ago war against China—or a more remarkable expression of public confession and contrition. The fourteen Japanese who speak to us here are ordinary old men, but their willingness to acknowledge the mon­strous crimes of their youth so that others might take warning is rare indeed. Japanese Devils transcends mere hi...

Book Review, Resources

Chinas Unlimited: Making the Imaginaries of China and Chineseness

Cultural images are shape-shifting phantoms. Perhaps this is why they hold a tenacious grip on our conscious­ness, yet are difficult to discuss objectively. In the nineteenth century, the West imagined China and the Chinese as exotic, distant, and alien. Across the pages of newspapers and pictorials, images of the laundryman, the evil crime lord, the sex maniac, the opium addict abounded.