Education About Asia: Online Archives

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Feature Article

The US Founders and China: The Origins of Chinese Cultural Influence on the United States

Walking from the east entrance up the steps to the Supreme Court building, one can see a sculpture of Confucius along with Moses and Solon. The sculpture may serve as an indicator of the impact of Confucius in the formation of American culture. Indeed, Chinese cultural and technological influence on what would become the United States started even before this country was born. Chinese culture became important when some of the US founders looked for resources that could be mobilized in their e...

Feature Article

The Asian Soul of Transcendentalism

The treatment of Transcendentalism by twentieth-century teachers of literature and American history has followed a long tradition of focusing primarily on the European and American cultural influences on its major figures, such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Margaret Fuller, and Bronson and Louisa May Alcott. Their work is seen as fitting into various Western currents such as German Romanticism, Unitarian theology, neo-Platonism, and American utopian thought. In this framework, the...

Feature Article

Back in Time: Pictures Worth More than 1,000 Words

These photographs of Northeast Asia from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries give people today a window on the economic, environmental, and geopolitical context of the time. This essay introduces some of the early photographs from Japan, Korea, and adjacent lands—scenes that families in the US viewed with the aid of the right-eye, left-eye lenses of the viewstand, or stereograph, so they could enjoy a vivid 3-D experience—to learn about lands that were then unknown to them. ...

Essay, Resources

Why Japan Matters

By Patricia Burleson There are many reasons that Japan still matters, most of them well founded in economic statistics and geopolitical analyses. For this commentary, I decided to bypass those and focus instead on my personal experiences and those of local high school students. Students quoted here were participants in one of eleven annual study tours I have led in Japan. I think that Japan matters because there are many lessons about life that can best be learned from the Japanese. Students...

Essay, Resources

Japan Matters: Promoting World Peace through Education, Science, and International Partnerships

By Patience Berkman First winner, Humanities Category, 2002 Headlines in 2011 have trumpeted China bypassing Japan as the second-largest economy in the world. Japan’s move to number three was not surprising, nor should it be alarming. What is remarkable is that Japan, with limited resources, smaller than the state of California, maintained a position of economic dominance for so long. After the devastating earthquake and tsunami, Japan, far from being in free-fall, continues to be a committe...

Book Review

Dharma

BY ALF HILTEBEITEL HONOLULU: UNIVERSITY OF HAWAI’I PRESS, 2010 208 PAGES, ISBN: 978-0824834869, PAPERBACK Reviewed by Catherine Benton Part of the University of Hawai`i series “Dimensions of Asian Spirituality,” Alf Hiltebeitel’s Dharma presents an enlightening discussion of dharma, a fundamental component of Hindu and Buddhist thinking. One of the goals of the “Dimensions of Asian Spirituality” series is to make available “short but comprehensive works [by distinguished schola...

Book Review

A History of Thailand, 2nd Edition

BY CHRIS BAKER AND PASUK PHONGPAICHIT CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS, 2009 315 PAGES, ISBN 978-0-521-75915-1, PAPERBACK Reviewed by Timothy Hoare “History was invented for the nation-state. It has the tendency to imagine the false unity of a self-same national subject evolving through time.” In this opening sentence of A History of Thailand (Cambridge, 2009), authors Chris Baker and Pasuk Phongpaichit identify what is often amiss in our overall assumptions about political entities, i.e.,...

Book Review, Resources

Why Japan Matters

By Masumi Reade Along line of people—hundreds of selfless, patient citizens—quietly waiting to receive water; A big smile on a rescue worker, walking with a just-rescued eighty-one-year old lady on his back; Rescue workers from the Self-Defense Force descending from a helicopter to retrieve a dog that was still alive on a rooftop of a home floating in the ocean, three weeks after the tsunami; The emperor and empress visiting victims in several shelters . . . . . . These are the images ...

Book Review, Online Supplement

Understanding Contemporary India, 2nd Edition

NEIL DEVOTTA, EDITOR LYNNE RIENNER PUBLISHERS, 2010 341 PAGES, ISBN: 978-1588267153, PAPERBACK Reviewed by Christopher Shaw Professors in the evolving field of global and area studies continuously confront the challenge of “coverage.” What might a course on the Indian subcontinent, for example, responsibly omit? If the focus is on political and economic challenges, to what extent does the teacher examine modern versus ancient history? Refer to trade patterns versus regional diplomacy? Re...

Feature Article

Dean Worcester’s Photographs and American Perceptions of the Philippines

When the US acquired its overseas colonies in the aftermath of the Spanish American War, photography quickly established itself as part of the colonial project. Photographs in magazines and newspapers brought the war home to American readers. Postcards and stereographs were popular consumer objects. Illustrated travel books, detailing the landscapes and peoples of the new colonies, were bestsellers. Photographs could provide visual evidence of the supposedly backward state of the colonies, whic...

Feature Article

Ambassadors of Exchange: The 1860 Japanese Mission to the US

The 1860 expedition of the first Japanese ambassadorial delegation to the US presents instructional opportunities useful in a variety of courses. The 150th anniversary in 2010 of this official establishment of trade relations between the two countries supplemented the already-rich array of primary and secondary resources by adding a proliferation of new documents and websites. While the official purpose of the mission was to ratify the 1858 Treaty of Amity and Commerce, the Japanese entourage be...

Book Review, Resources

The Silk Road in World History

BY XINRU LIU NEW YORK: OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS, 2010 168 PAGES, ISBN: 978-0195338102, PAPERBACK Reviewed by James A. Anderson Professor Liu has written a comprehensive and engaging survey of Eurasian trade through the era of Mongol conquest in the thirteenth century. Her study is truly global; the book covers both East Asian and Mediterranean termini along the extensive commercial network now known as the Silk Road. The reader learns of the vast differences between the sedentary and nomadic ...

Feature Article

America and the Philippines: Modern Civilization and City Planning

The Battle of Manila Bay in the Philippines on May 1, 1898, fundamentally changed the course of American history and America’s relationship with Southeast Asia. In the ensuing months, Spanish colonialism in the Philippines collapsed and was replaced by American sovereignty. As an upshot of this transition, the United States changed from being a republic based on the consent of the governed to, for the first time, being a ruler of a distant territory. Notably, too, its self-perception altered. ...

Feature Article

Spheres of Transaction in Thai Buddhism

If the diversity of religious experience and expression share anything, it is that they are both transactional: one offers something in order to receive something. Actions of sacrifice, prayer, devotional study, and even service are ultimately seeking a balance of some kind between self and other. But, while transaction in itself is universal, the manner in which transactions are carried out is particular, in that it is necessarily determined by a cultural context. Each one shapes the other: whe...

Columns

American Influences on Sun Yatsen

At the beginning of the twentieth century, the United States provided immigrants from troubled nations around the world with safe havens for revolutionary movements aimed at their homelands. Clan Na Gael, an organization seeking Irish independence from Great Britain, began in Philadelphia in 1870 and retained its base in the US. The Cuban Revolutionary Party, aiming at the island’s independence from Spain, was founded in 1892 among Cuban expatriates living in Florida. A bit later, in 1913, the...

Resources, Web Gleanings

Web Gleanings: US, Asia, and the World: 1620–1914

Americans in Eastern Asia URL: http://tinyurl.com/3mqdsly The focus of this book, published in 1922, is on the relations between the United States and Korea, China, and Japan in the nineteenth century. The author relies greatly on Consular correspondence, but also refers to books and articles written in the last half of the nineteenth century. Trading Places URL: http://www.bl.uk/learning/histcitizen/trading/tradingplaces.html This is part of the British Library’s Learning Series. It ex...

Essay, Resources

Advice to Students Choosing a Foreign Language: Go Asian

Having been a college professor for more than three decades, I have come to expect that one or two students will ask—almost weekly—what language he or she should study in college and why. First, I tell my students that studying a foreign language requires a considerable commitment of time and energy, and it should be viewed as a lifetime endeavor; thus, the choice deserves careful consideration. Then I tell them that to answer the question, one must ask: What languages are going to be the...

Essay, Resources

Elgin Heinz Winners Teaching Ideas

from Patience Berkman The Doctor’s Wife by Ariyoshi Sawako URL: http://tinyurl.com/3arorhd This moving historical novel tells the story of Seishu Hanaoka (1760– 1835), a Japanese physician who specialized in breast cancer and pioneered the use of general anesthetics in surgery. The novel focuses on the courageous wife and domineering mother of this surgeon and personalizes the story. I highly recommend this novel for high school students. from Patricia Burleson Hiroshima Peace Site: O...

Book Review, Resources

Modern Japan: A Historical Survey (Fourth Edition)

BY MIKISO HANE AND LOUIS G. PEREZ BOULDER: WESTVIEW PRESS, 2009 578 PAGES, ISBN 978-0-8133-4409-6, PAPERBACK History teachers at all levels are always looking for solid bits of information that they can use in their lectures in order to shore up the essentially narrative structure of history instruction. If this premise is true, then Mikiso Hane and Louis G. Perez’s Modern Japan: A Historical Survey (Fourth Edition), a treasure trove of figures and facts, will become perhaps the go-to book ...

Book Review, Resources

Dreaming in Chinese: Mandarin Lessons in Life, Love, and Language

BY DEBORAH FALLOWS NEW YORK: WALKER AND COMPANY, 2010 208 PAGES, ISBN: 978-0802779137, HARDBACK Breaking the Code: Language Is Key At once charming, eye opening, and educational, Dreaming in Chinese: Mandarin Lessons in Life, Love, and Language is a literary journey using the Mandarin language as a tour guide. Deborah Fallows intends to unlock Chinese culture for her readers through an exploration of the language and of the nuances of Chinese communication. She uses her own experience of liv...

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