Education About Asia: Online Archives

NEW FOR 2023: Beginning with Spring 2023, subscribers to the print edition of Education About Asia (EAA) will receive additional exclusive digital access to the current year’s three issues (spring, fall, and winter) as an online flipbook for the duration of their active subscription. Articles from the three print issues for 2023 will be uploaded to the EAA Digital archives in 2024. View the TOC and Editor’s Message for the Spring 2023 issue. Subscribe today to stay up to date with EAA!

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Feature Article

Still Relevant after 2500 Years: The Art of War and Tao Te Ching

Sun Tzu (Sunzi in pinyin) was hired by the Emperor as a general, and instead of an interview, the Emperor told him to teach his concubines to march. Because if he could do that, he could do anything. So Sun Tzu said: ‘Do I have complete control?’ The emperor said yes. So he told them to march, and the concubines just laughed. Then he summoned the head concubine and cut off her head. Then they marched.

Feature Article

Culture and Text in Teaching Chinese Literature

Gaining knowledge about Chinese culture has long been considered an important goal of teaching Chinese literature in the West. However, are we teaching Chinese literature effectively to achieve such a goal? What is “culture”? What is “literature”? Is, particularly, our attention to text sufficient in helping our students understand the important cultural issues that underlie it? I raise this last question because it seems that, regardless of the objectives we set for our course, we often...

EAA Interview

An EAA Interview with Caryn Stedman

EAA editorial board member Caryn Stedman is the Curriculum and Instructional Specialist for Global/International Studies at the Metropolitan Learning Center in Bloomfield, Connecticut. Caryn, who formerly was the East Asian Studies Outreach Director at Yale University, is a national leader in Asian Studies and international education. In 2004, Caryn's school won a prestigious Goldman Sachs Award for International Education. In the same year, Caryn also won the National Council for the Social Stu...

Essay, Resources

The Demographics of Islam in Asia

A sensible beginning point for the study of Islam in Asia is a demographic analysis of Asia’s Muslim population. Granted, there is always a risk involved in examining population statistics—especially religious ones—but certain useful and enlightening generalizations can be drawn from such an examination. What countries in Asia with substantial Muslim populations have the highest and lowest literacy rates or life expectancy rates? Which predominantly Muslim countries in Asia have the highes...

Essay, Resources

Sinbad the Sailor and the Eastward Journey of Islam

The rapid rise of Islam is typically depicted in textbooks as the consequence of conquests made by the Umayyad and Abbasid empires and the diffusion of Islam into Central Asia along the Silk Roads. Rarely is the spread of Islam attributed to the importance of seafaring Muslim traders. Yet Muslim mariners, plying the waters of the Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean, and South China Sea, played a key role in transporting their religion throughout Southeast Asia. At the Village Community School in New York ...

Feature Article

Teaching Islam as an Asian Religion

In the introduction to his book Islam: The View from the Edge, Richard Bulliet states, “The story of Islam has always privileged the view from the center.” He then recounts a standard version of that story found in many introductory textbooks. In summary, in 611 CE Muhammad hears the revelation of God and becomes the Prophet of Islam. In 622 he immigrates to Medina and establishes the first Islamic polity. After conquering Mecca, he dies in 632 and the Muslim community (ummah) institutes the...

EAA Interview

An Interview with Morris Rossabi

EDITOR’S NOTE: We are grateful to Marleen Kassel and Zainab Mahmood of the Asia Society, as well as to our distinguished subject, for the following interview. City University of New York Professor Morris Rossabi is an internationally known expert on Central and Inner Asia, areas where Islam is a dominant religion. Please note that our interviewer, Zainab Mahmood, also provides a very useful introductory-level annotated list of recommended sources for educators interested in learning about Isla...

Feature Article

Mosque and Mausoleum: Understanding Islam in India Through Architecture

In compiling a checklist of what makes a civilization great, there are some universal markers. What original ideas did the civilization advance and have they had staying power? How many notable leaders were produced and what were their accomplishments? How influential were their cultural values and did these contribute to the civilization’s rise and spread, or subsequent decline? Another measure of civilization, perhaps not as frequently used but no less significant, could be the number of gre...

Feature Article

Islam in South Asia

Religious identity is a decisive force in the political and social life of many South Asians. Religion was the basis for the 1947 partitioning of British India into Pakistan and India. Today, the impact of religions, particularly Islam, continues to shape the political geography of South Asia. India and Pakistan have fought several wars to control the Muslim-dominated Kashmir region. Decades-long political conflicts in Afghanistan are centered around the imposition of strict Islamic ideology. Th...

Essay, Resources

Recommended Titles for the Educator Interested in Learning about Islam

Basic Introductory Volumes Jamal Elias, Islam, Religions of the World Series (Prentice Hall, 1999) This volume serves as an excellent starting point for a reader with little background in Islam. Written in clear, straightforward prose, this book includes a basic introduction to the history, belief, and practices of Islam. Teachers will enjoy the eminently usable maps, glossary, pronunciation guide, photographs, list of sacred days and festivals, and lists of suggested reading.

Curriculum Materials Review, Resources

The Silk Road

The Silk Road, a series of trade routes connecting the Mediterranean with the Far East for several millennia, was at its height from the first to twelfth centuries CE. Travel and commerce led to the diffusion of languages, religions, inventions (e.g., paper, gunpowder, and the compass), and expensive and prized goods (jade, rugs, spices, etc.). In a multicultural world and pedagogically, lesson plans that include the Silk Road are essential and provide a compelling platform for supplementary act...

Curriculum Materials Review, Resources

Arts of the Islamic World: A Teacher’s Guide

This thoughtfully compiled teaching tool is essential for today’s educators. While it emphasizes the visual arts, it is a cultural study, and could be taught within the fields of Social Studies, History, or Religion. The brief introduction makes clear that specific categories— Book, Mosque, and Portable Object—are highlighted. The fine color plates, found in a sleeve of the folder, are works from the Smithsonian Institution’s Freer Gallery and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. On the back of ea...

Resources, Web Gleanings

Web Gleanings: Study in Asia Programs

This column offers links to databases or to directories of study abroad programs. The goal is to help facilitate the search for a program that fits the needs of each reader. GENERAL Title: Study Abroad Links URL: There are three ways to use this guide to study abroad. It contains: 1) a directory with a list of countries followed by links to types of programs within the country, 2) a directory of types of programs (e.g., Language Schools) followed by links to ...

Essay, Resources

Linking US and Chinese Schools: The China School Project

For US K–12 classrooms studying China, the China School Project provides a unique opportunity to explore the Middle Kingdom and interact directly with students who live there— without leaving the classroom. The project links partner classes in the US and China through curriculum-based online travel; e-mail Q&A exchanges; physical exchanges of student artwork and music; and Study Partnerships, which culminate in exchanges of student-made picture books or videos. The mission: to build cross-cu...

Book Review, Resources

Jihad in Paradise: Islam and Politics in Southeast Asia

A paucity of resources and literature still plagues the topic of terrorism in Southeast Asia despite horrific bombings in Bali, Jakarta, southern Thailand, the Philippines, and other places in recent years, and despite the connections established between these events and the worldwide activities of terrorist organizations. Millard’s effort must therefore be seen as a welcome addition to this thin inventory.

Essay, Resources

Terrorism in Southeast Asia: A Study Guide

Terrorism in Southeast Asia is a topic that rapidly changes in dynamics, character, and factual base. Terrorist organizations and concerns, by their very nature, are shadowy, hidden, and certainly mysterious. Alliances and arrangements within their worlds are always shifting. Leaders come and go in quick succession because they are caught, killed, or replaced; and the strategies, tactics, and even the goals of such movements are never totally clear. This is demonstrated in Southeast Asia by the ...

Feature Article

Cultural Relativism, Universal Human Rights, and Women in Islamic Societies

How are we to teach about women in Islam? There is no single “woman in Islam,” no single Islamic interpretation of what a woman is and should be, and no single view of Islamic women’s aspirations among those women themselves. Still less is there agreement in the non-Islamic world on this topic, except for two contradictory notions: the first, that Islamic societies should define their own realities regarding gender, not do what the West thinks best for them; and second, that Islamic women ...

Feature Article

Teaching Islam in Southeast Asia

The frustrating part is the paucity of material suitable for the level of high school and college students. In spite of its accessibility, the area used to be among the stepchildren of Islamic studies. After 9/11 several publishers have started to include Southeast Asia in their textbooks about Islam, yet few books or articles are at an introductory level. However, works are being commissioned as we speak. In the meantime, teachers can take refuge in articles, book chapters, newspaper articles, ...

Book Review, Resources

Reading the Korean Cultural Landscape

Je-Hun Ryu’s Reading the Korean Cultural Landscape provides an invaluable compendium of short essays on the cultural geography of southern Korea. The range of essays can be seen in the book’s five major sections: “Religious Landscapes” describes a variety of Buddhist, Confucian, Catholic, and Protestant imprints on the landscape of Korea; “Folk Landscapes” adds discussions of spirit halls, stones and pebble piles, and village rituals; “Linguistic Landscapes” addresses isoglosses,...

Feature Article

Tracing Muslim Roots: A Brief History of the Hui

In November of 2004 an account of ethnic fighting in rural Henan, China, appeared in newspapers in the United States. Seven people were reported killed and dozens injured after a traffic accident involving a Han Chinese driver and a Hui Chinese driver erupted into violence. The inference that ethnic tensions are ongoing between Han and the Hui, however, is inflated. Muslims have resided in China for over 1,300 years. Some twenty million Muslims live in China, and nearly half of them are Hui, Chi...