Education About Asia: Online Archives

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Film Review Essay

China From the Inside

How shall we describe the scope, pace, and consequences of change in contemporary China for students in American classrooms? China from the Inside, a four-hour Jonathan Lewis documentary that originally aired on PBS in January 2007, is a valuable resource for teachers who embrace this challenge. Lewis’ goal was to obtain candid perspectives on politics, gender, and the environment.

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

Teaching China’s Legal and Political System: Culture and Revolution

Teaching about China’s legal and political system is closely related to the issue of whether—and how—China’s government might change in the future. Good teaching cannot be based on inappropriate Western models or fly in the face of available evidence. After a century of research on China, one would think that Western expectations of China’s conformity to any foreign models would be diminished. After all, scholars have had decades to consider Jonathan Spence’s To Change China, which c...

Film Review Essay

Losers and Winners

What happens when the German efficiency and discipline that built the world’s most modern coking plant collides with the frontier industriousness of china and its hunger for modern industry? Losers and Winners vividly portrays such an encounter by documenting the issues, perceptions, and emotions surrounding the purchase of Germany’s Kaiserstuhl coking plant by a Chinese company, and the subsequent dismantling of the plant in preparation for its shipment and reassembly in China. By chronicli...

Film Review Essay

Angry Monk: Reflections on Tibet

Luc Schaedler’s rich and timely film Angry Monk: Reflections on Tibet opens with a series of contrasting and provocative images: Tibetan boys toss firecrackers in an alleyway of the old Tibetan capital as a pair of monks walk by. A devout pilgrim prostrates himself across Lhasa’s trash-ridden streets, narrowly avoiding the late-night taxi traffic. Caretakers of the country’s holiest shrine segue into Tibetan line-dancers performing to electronic music in a local nightclub. a woman stares b...

Film Review Essay

Tug of War: The Story of Taiwan

The geographic separation imposed by the Taiwan Strait is also political. Judith Vecchione’s Tug of War: The Story of Taiwan helps students understand that the question “Who should rule Taiwan?” is not settled. Sequences from this video have enhanced student learning in three of my introductory political science courses and two upper-division Asian studies classes. Short excerpts or even the entirety of this movie will enhance high school classes in geography, world history, and Asian stud...

Film Review Essay

Magnificent Obsession: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Buildings and Legacy in Japan

The celebrated modern American architect Frank Lloyd Wright (1867–1959) is less well known as an enthusiastic collector, exhibitor, and dealer of Asian art, Japanese ukiyo-e woodblock prints in particular. The recently-released documentary, Magnificent Obsession: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Buildings and Legacy in Japan, contributes to the growing body of scholarship that explores Wright’s profound engagement with Asian art and architecture.1 This DVD’s combination of rare film footage, plans, ...

Feature Article

Korean Weddings: Then and Now

The culmination of a long and formal process, the Korean wedding contains many traditional elements, while at the same time incorporating a surprising number of modern or “new style” elements. To contain these varied elements, most Korean weddings include dual ceremonies.

Feature Article

Entrepreneurial Families in Việt Nam: Controversial Symbols of Moral Dilemmas in Changing Times

In late 1990s Việt Nam, urban areas such as Hồ Chí Minh City (formerly known as Sài Gòn) bustled with private entrepreneurship, and the ranks of conspicuously consuming middle classes swelled. As desirable as this development may have been, it made many urbanites, cultural critics, commentators, and government officials profoundly uneasy. Would markets, individualism, consumerism, and globalization wreak havoc with traditional moral values and family relationships? Would middle class pare...

Feature Article

Imaging Marriage and Family in popular Hindi Film

THE IDEA OF MARRIAGE AND FAMILY — In India the words “joint family,” “arranged marriage,” and “dowry” are shorthand references to a wide spectrum of social norms that apply almost universally throughout the country, regardless of religion. Living as a joint family is generally understood to be three or four generations living under one roof in a family home. While nuclear families are increasingly the norm in the metros, the joint family offers protection of wealth and property for...

Film Review Essay

Still Life (Sanxia haoren)

In contrast to the so-called “Fifth generation” filmmakers who used only 35mm cameras, Jia Zhangke, perhaps the most prominent of the “sixth generation,” prefers to use digital equipment, which seems less professional but also more convenient. this equipment is ideal to carry on Jia’s cinematic mission: to focus on the gritty life of the lower classes in China. Jia feels it regretful that china, with its rich continuous civilization, lacks detailed records on the history of its ordinar...

Feature Article

Marriages and Families in East Asia: Something Old, Something New

In 1984, I began a research project that, in the fullness of time, would become a book. Getting Married in Korea is an exploration of courtship, matchmaking, weddings, and related practices and how they had all changed over the course of the twentieth century. In the beginning, I spent a great deal of time in the four commercial wedding halls of a Korean town where brides marched down the aisle in white lace dresses and veils to a pianist’s rendering of “The Wedding March.” At the end of t...

Resources, Web Gleanings

Web Gleanings: Marriage and Family in Asia

ASIA, GENERAL Title: Islamic Family Law and Justice for Muslim Women URL: This Web page summarizes the presentations of a conference that dealt with marriage, divorce, child custody, and other important issues facing Muslim women. The participants are mostly from four ASEAN countries: Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, and the Philippines.

Feature Article

Marriage in Japan: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

From the Meiji Period through the end of World War II, the family was the model and the fundamental building block of the state. The family, prescribed by law, was a hierarchical household with a legally designated head who was responsible to the state for accurately maintaining the household registration documents. Marriages were arranged, or at least approved, by the head—the goal of marriage was to continue the family line. In-marrying spouses (usually the daughter-in-law) were expected to ...

Feature Article

We Need 50,000 Babies a Year: Marriage and the Family in Singapore

For the last four decades, issues around marriage and the family in Singapore have been prominent in public discourse and have been represented by the government as features of the economic and political agenda. It seems that, of all the social institutions in Singapore society, marriage and the family are those most often cited as integral to the long-term prosperity of the city-state. The Singapore government has a reputation for authoritarian-style management and a well documented history of ...

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

Of Bound Feet and Stiletto Shoes: Using China in the Introductory Anthropology Classroom

Despite the increasingly complex and diverse information about mainland China available in the United States, in the US undergraduate college world, China remains largely a Cold War-inflected, imagined other: exotic, distant, fanatic, communist. many of these conceptions of China are reflected in popular media representations familiar in contemporary Western society. From newspaper articles that blissfully proclaim the collapse of communism in favor of capitalist logics of production, to politi...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Through Japanese Eyes; 4th Edition

The new edition of Through Japanese Eyes offers source readings that present Japan through the eyes of a diverse set of Japanese people. Editor Richard Minear examines specific themes through (mostly) aptly selected short, and often contradictory, source readings, along with brief and pedagogically valuable introductions. The book successfully achieves the stated “dual goal” of “offering great readings about Japan that also stimulate thinking about the United States. (2) While the specific...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Through Indian Eyes; 5th Edition

BY DONALD J. JOHNSON AND JEAN E. JOHNSON NEW YORK: THE APEX PRESS, 2008 352 PAGES, ISBN: 0-938960-55-5, PAPERBACK Reviewed by Marc Gilbert The most important criteria for selecting classroom materials that support teaching a subject as diverse and complex as Indian civilization should be the degree to which they offer a coherent vision of their subject. A lack of vision may undermine student confidence, and may hinder their ability to examine complexities that lie beneath the “big pict...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Through Chinese Eyes: Tradition, Revolution, and Transformation, 3rd Edition

The first edition of this book, Peter Seybolt’s Through Chinese Eyes (Praeger, 1974; 2 vols) was conceived just after Nixon went to Peking. This was the period of bipolar disorder in American popular attitudes toward China. Emotions swung from Cold War opposition to romantic obsession, from paranoia to pandas. Seybolt realized that neither extreme was fair or sufficient, and crafted a selection of readings to show both the idealism, which he saw in Mao’s model, and the reality that was imple...

Feature Article

The Spirit of the Rule of Law in China

In The Spirit of Laws, Charles Montesquieu argued that China was a despotic state whose principle was fear. A century later, by developing the theory of “Asiatic mode of production,” Karl Marx suggested that China operated under the principle of “oriental despotism” in which the emperors were regarded as fathers of the state. While historian Karl Wittfogel disagreed with Marx on the term of Asiatic mode of production, he generally accepted the notion of oriental despotism—that hydrauli...

Resources, Teaching Resources Essay

Summer Study Tours: Making the Most of a Preeminent Professional Development Opportunity

Summer study tours present an unparalleled opportunity for teachers to continue learning about other people and places, to make new friends, to network, to internationalize curricula, and in the end, to rekindle enthusiasm for teaching. I have been privileged to be part of two Asia study tours. In 1997, I spent July in China with six colleagues, compliments of a Freeman Foundation grant. We traveled by bus, train, and plane in Eastern and Central China visiting cities, schools, and historic site...