Education About Asia: Online Archives

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EAA Interview, Feature Article

An EAA Interview with Donald Richie

Donald Richie has long been celebrated as one of the world’s most insightful observers of Japan. He first arrived in Japan as a military serviceman in 1947, and has lived in Tokyo for most of the sixty years since. For that entire period he has kept notes and journals of everything he saw and experienced, and his observations have been given public form in numerous books, essays, films, and commentaries on Japan. Richie first came to international attention for his writing about Japanese films...

Feature Article

The Keys to Understanding Indonesia

By nearly any measure, Indonesia is a major country, and its current and future economic, social, and political development will have important consequences for the US, the Asia Pacific, and the wider world. Despite its significance, Indonesia’s profile remains surprisingly low, and many people around the world are more familiar with particular parts of Indonesia, such as Bali, Java, or the Moluccas (Spice Islands) than with the country as a whole. The following ten keys are intended to open t...

Feature Article

Rethinking the Rise of European Hegemony: Asia in World History, 1450-1750

For most of US history, students have been taught that the advent of European hegemony began with Columbus’ famous voyage that moved Europe, because of its exceptional and superior culture, to the forefront of world history. Until recently, twentieth century textbooks have routinely introduced this era as the “Age of Discovery” or the “Age of Exploration” and featured European explorers and expansion. Asians were usually grouped with other non-Europeans as, in Eric Wolfe’s definition...

Feature Article

India in the World; the World in India 1450-1770

“WORLD HISTORY” MEANS MANY THINGS to many scholars, teachers, and students. So does “Indian History.” This article explicitly brings these two enterprises together, to situate the history of India in ongoing larger processes that were transforming the entire world through three centuries, from the second half of the fifteenth century to the second half of the eighteenth. It asks several fundamental questions: Which people and processes brought India into greater participation in the wide...

Feature Article

Admiral Yi Sun–Shin, the Turtle Ships, and Modern Asian History

Though little-known in the West, Korean Admiral Yi Sun-Shin (1545–1598) is a major figure in Korean and Japanese history. His technological and strategic innovations sparked a revolution in Asian naval warfare and initiated both the “modern” naval force and style of combat. These innovations helped Korea repel a series of Japanese invasions from 1592 to 1598, paving the way for more than 250 years of Japanese semi-isolation from world affairs. The ultimate adoption of Yi’s ideas by the d...

Feature Article

Japan and the World, 1450-1770: Was Japan a “Closed Country?”

Half-truths make the world go round. One conceit American pundits seem most determined to nurture is that in 1853 the US “opened” Japan to “civilization,” ending its days as a backward “closed country” (sakoku). Even though scholars—Ronald Toby most convincingly—established decades ago that Japan was not “closed,” the notion lives on in popular culture and public perceptions.1 The image of Japan as “closed” or “isolated” is reinforced by the companion notion, still fo...

Feature Article

China and the World History of Science, 1450-1770

HISTORIANS HAVE PORTRAYED the period from 1450 to 1770 mainly through European frames of reference, even when their accounts stress comparative themes. Because the emergence of capitalism, political revolution, and modern science in the industrializing portions of Western Europe represents their central story, they have not probed how interactions since 1500 between Asia and early modern Europeans evolved from the Asian perspective. Most modern portraits of the rise of science, for example, usu...

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

Confucianism: Understanding and Applying the Analects of Confucius

Examination of the world’s most influential scholars and philosophers helps students to understand the values, ethics, and lessons considered important at given times throughout history. The understanding of these elements also helps students realize how the legacy of these scholars and philosophers continues to impact and influence modern society. Any study of the world’s most influential and important philosophers includes Confucius. While his ideas resonate throughout all aspects of life ...

Columns, Resources

The Real North Korea: Four North Korea Documentaries

What we rarely see in any of the common media representations are images of the everyday lives of ordinary North Koreans. In the last two or three years, a few television and feature filmmakers have tried to document real life in this isolated and carefully controlled society. In late 2006, for example, Diane Sawyer (who happened to be in North Korea at the time of the October 9, nuclear test) gave a wide-eyed-American-girl-in-Pyongyang report for ABC television, with mixed results. Three of the...

Columns, Resources

China’s History and World History: Bridging World History

CHINA’S PLACE IN WORLD HISTORY IS UNQUESTIONABLY AN IMPORTANT ONE.1 As Richard von Glahn has aptly described it, “China looms over world history like the proverbial eight-hundredpound gorilla.” But its place, however weighty, is not unproblematic. In most world history textbooks, China stands out from other parts of the world in comparison to Europe.2 The longevity and sophistication of Chinese civilization make it the equal or better of Europe in implicit competition for first place among...

Columns, Resources

They Chose China

WHY WOULD AN AMERICAN PRISONER OF WAR (POW) CHOOSE TO SWITCH SIDES IN WARTIME? What factors would explain such a decision? In his recently released film, director Shuibo Wang attempts to answer these and many other questions. In his thought-provoking documentary, They Chose China, Wang forces the film’s viewers to take a long, hard look at their own biases and assumptions regarding the Cold War, American society, and the United Nations’ “police action” in Korea. The film highlights the a...

Columns, Resources

Teaching Modern Japanese History with Animation: Satoshi Kon’s Millenium Actress

I n this essay, I will give suggesions on how anime can be used profitably in the classroom, with specific reference to Satoshi Kon’s Millennium Actress (Sennen joy†, 2001).1 This animated feature, which distinguished itself by sharing the Grand Prize at the 5th Japan Media Arts Festival held by Japan’s Agency of Cultural Affairs, is so replete with cultural and historical references that it lends itself well to any discussion of modern Japanese culture and history.2...

Columns, Resources

On the Road with the Red God Macchendranath

FILMMAKER KESANG TSETEN, A CITIZEN OF NEPAL, has created a magnificently choreographed depiction of a twelve-year Newari festival. The Newari are the indigenous group of the Kathmandu Valley. The festival is said to have been observed in the Kathmandu Valley for a millennium. During the festival, a chariot (ratha, a flat platform on four huge wheels) bearing the red god Macchendranath goes on the road between the towns of Bungamati (near Kathmandu) and Patan, with stops in between. This festival...

Columns, Resources

Online Music Resources for Teaching Silk Road History and Geography

Like a good story, music has the power to transport us to a different time and place. A music listening activity is a fun way to engage students in an exploration of geography and history, and fits especially well into a Silk Road unit emphasizing longdistance trade and cross-cultural interactions. Orienting students in Silk Road geography makes for a good starting point before embarking upon a journey through the vast, complex cultural and historical territory of the Silk Road. The Electronic ...