Education About Asia: Online Archives

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Book Review, Resources

Central Asia: A Global Studies Handbook

Most Americans know little about the vast area called Central Asia. Today it has been arbitrarily redefined as five countries: Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, and Tajikistan. Yet, historically, culturally, geographically, and politically, much links this region that further confounds those who want to study about these five countries.

Resources, Web Gleanings

Web Gleanings: Hiroshima, Nagasaki and World War II in the Pacific

Although this site is fairly crude from a technical standpoint, several areas are useful. There is information about today’s Hiroshima Peace Park in the form of a series of photographs as well as photos taken inside the Peace Memorial Museum. In addition, there are interviews from survivors, the second generation, and children of today.

Feature Article

Teaching Mr. Stimson

For some time now, I have taught a mixed lecture and discussion class on the atom bomb, primarily by using Secretary of War Henry Stimson’s February 1947 Harper’s Magazine article “The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb.” As many EAA readers no doubt know, Secretary Stimson wrote this article in response to a request by Harvard University President James Conant, a distinguished scientist who had himself worked on the bomb and hence was worried about a number of Americans who criticized the ...

Feature Article

Learning from Truman’s Decision: The Atomic Bomb and Japan’s Surrender

August 6 through 9 of 2005 marked the sixtieth anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. These bombings stand as a watershed event in modern history because they brought to a decisive conclusion the greatest and most devastating conflict in human history, and because they ushered in a new age, the era of nuclear weapons and the policies of “massive retaliation” and “mutual assured destruction”—which at the height of the cold war brought with them the very real poten...

EAA Interview, Feature Article

EAA Interview with John Dower

Most EAA readers are familiar with MIT Professor John Dower, who works in modern Japanese history and US-Japan relations. He is the author of numerous publications including the Pulitzer Prize-winning Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II (1999). Dower is both an internationally-prominent scholar and a master teacher. One of his most recent pedagogical projects, with colleague Shigeru Miyagawa, is Visualizing Cultures (VC) a Web-based, multimedia, interactive, curricula project on ...

Feature Article

A Tribute to John Hersey’s Hiroshima

This will be the sixtieth-year anniversary of one of the most remarkable books of American history, John Hersey’s Hiroshima, first published on August 31, 1946, in The New Yorker. In March 1946, William Shawn, managing editor of The New Yorker, called for an article focused on the immediate devastation in Hiroshima rather than on statistics or politics. John Hersey interviewed survivors for three weeks in May and decided to focus on suffering human beings rather than on destroyed buildings. He...

Feature Article

Thank God for the Atom Bomb?

I once received a call from the concerned editor of an education journal: “Could you find a source other than Thank God for the Atom Bomb? We feel it inappropriate for teachers to see it in a journal dedicated to international understanding.” Since the essay on travel versus tourism that I wanted to cite appeared only in this provocatively titled collection of Paul Fussell essays, they finally did allow it to appear in a footnote. The phrase—without the question mark I add above to my own ...

Feature Article

What We Forget When We Remember the Pacific War

Whatever else history is or does, it is an indispensable component of our sense of self, both as individuals and as members of various communities. History in all its forms––memory, experience, and formal study––grounds us in a particular time and place and provides us with an understanding of how we are connected to those who came before us. History is also fundamental to our daily lives because it permeates our every decision and action in the present. From the “everyman” and woman...

Feature Article, Teaching Resources Essay

Exploring the Vietnam War: A Teacher’s Resource Essay

The purpose of this essay is to provide classroom instructors and other interested parties with a review of a range of readings, films, and documentaries about the Vietnam War. The eight areas presented explore the conflict in its complexity, from background to culture to the legacy for US foreign policy. The areas can be shaped into instructional units, with readings and films chosen with a secondary school or college audience in mind.

Book Review, Resources

Daoism and Chinese Culture

Livia Kohn presents us with a textbook meant for classroom use. In colloquial and non-technical language, clearly based on lecture notes, Livia Kohn’s classroom text, Daoism and Chinese Culture, attempts to synthesize in simple terms the very complex social reality of Daoism. Finding coherence in the almost innumerable practices, ritual techniques, and lineages, Kohn defines the unifying principle of Daoism as “aligning oneself with Dao, creating harmony and a sense of participation in it . ...

Book Review, Resources

Po Chu-i: Selected Poems

This anthology of 128 poems and a short prose piece by Po Chü-i offers valuable insight into the work and ideas of the T’ang bard. To date, more than 2,800 poems have been attributed to Po, leaving translators with a substantial selection from which to present a choice personal image of the man. Watson selected a range of themes, from religious issues such as Buddhism and Taoism to less devout depictions of drinking and joviality alongside verse on melancholy. In his early years of literary a...

Film Review Essay

Of Cold War and Political Orthodoxy: From the Masses to the Masses

Political scientist Eric Hyer first captured the dramatic appeal of China’s revolutionary history in his incisive documentary on Helen Foster Snow (2001). With From the Masses to the Masses, he delves substantially deeper into the cultural and political milieu of Mao’s China both before and after 1949. Hyer takes as his subject Jin Zhilin, an artist born in 1928 in Hebei province who began his formal training during the Anti-Japanese war. Jin’s discovery in Yan’an of what was to become h...

Film Review Essay

An Unusual Journey: Afghanistan Unveiled

Many innocent civilians were killed in the war against the Taliban in early 2001. The world soon forgot about these victims as more wars broke out elsewhere. Afghanistan Unveiled is a documentary in the form of a road movie. It visits, in turn, the cave-dwellers of Bamyan—mostly women and children left behind after the men were slaughtered—who have only enough food to keep alive, the Kuchi nomads, also in poverty and feeling devastated, the warm and hospitable Badakshan mountain people, and ...

Film Review Essay

Bride Kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyz society, like societies in all the emerging states in former Soviet Central Asia, is struggling with the clash of “traditional” values and modernization. The tradition of ala kachuu, or bride kidnapping, has received a considerable amount of attention by both Western and Kyrgyz scholars in recent years. Bride Kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan opens this controversial practice to direct scrutiny, revealing how young women in rural areas are frequently pressured into marriages they have not chos...

Film Review Essay

Confucian Film? Food, Family, and Loneliness in Ozu’s Tokyo Story

In classic Hollywood films, food is mostly left out or coded as ethnic, as in Italian gangster films. In postwar Chinese and Japanese film, food often moves the plot, explores relationships, reveals character, or expresses moral and ethical values. Why? Let’s test an idea: how people conceptualize their lives is shaped by inherited stories. The Confucian family story was structured around the father/son relationship, while the American middle class family of Hollywood fame was built around the...

Film Review Essay

Ripples of Change: Japanese Women’s Search for Self

Viewing films about Asian social movements helps students recognize early indicators of emerging issues, and assists them to understand how relatively weak social forces can stimulate change against powerful resistance. As the movement against the Vietnam War challenged authority in Japan, urban women activists reacted to patriarchal leadership in the antiwar movement by forming separate organizations. Although their subsequent record of victories and defeats is mixed, it is impossible to imagin...

Film Review Essay

Nobody Knows

A number of Japanese films position their protagonist children or youth in terms of their relationship to school, functioning happily, struggling miserably, or escaping either violently or fantastically. This is natural considering the extensive time Japanese children spend at school or study. A few films, like the Kitano Takeshi comedy Kikujiro (2000) and now Kore-eda Hirokazu’s tragedy Nobody Knows, make their children yearn for an absent authority rather than wish to escape it, removing the...

Film Review Essay

Two Essays on Japan’s Peace Constitution: The Constitution of Japan

With Hellfire: A Journey from Hiroshima, his eloquent film about the artists Maruki Iri and Maruki Toshi, John Junkerman hit a grand slam home run. It was a finalist for the 1988 Academy Award for documentary films. Like Hellfire, Constitution is a polished production. The photography is good; the transitions are smooth; there is snappy music on the sound track (by the Japanese group Soul Flowers Union). The talking heads are attractive, articulate, on topic; newsreel footage from the archives s...

Film Review Essay

Two Essays on Japan’s Peace Constitution: Japan’s Peace Constitution

John Junkerman wears his political heart on his sleeve. Opposed to any revision of Article 9 of Japan’s constitution, Junkerman has asked twelve distinguished commentators as well as some ordinary civilians from the United States, Japan, Korea, China, and the Arab world to discuss, while being videotaped, why they think the 1947 constitution of Japan should remain intact. To counter “realist” positions that rearmament is necessary, long-established scholars such as John Dower, Chalmers Joh...

Film Review Essay

Dam/Age A Film with Arundhati Roy

This documentary, accessible to students from upper-level high school to college, is direct and compelling, and layered in such a way that it poses questions that linger long after the credits roll. Its primary focus is Arundhati Roy, the graciously articulate author from southern India whose principled and daring stands on behalf of social justice have provoked admiration and outrage on the Indian national scene. Roy first broke onto the international scene with her stirring English language no...