Education About Asia: Online Archives

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Book Review, Resources

Escape from Camp 14: One Man’s Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West

This is a book that should be read by anyone interested in North Korea and in human rights issues. It joins Kang Chol-Hwan and Pierre Rigoulot’s The Aquariums of Pyongyang and Barbara Demick’s Nothing to Envy as among the most engaging and insightful accounts of life in that secretive country. Escape From Camp 14 is the story of Shin Dong-hyuk, the only known inmate in North Korea’s “total control” political prison camps to have escaped and made it to the West. The author, Blaine Harde...

Feature Article

The Korean War 101: Causes, Course, and Conclusion of the Conflict

North Korea attacked South Korea on June 25, 1950, igniting the Korean War. Cold War assumptions governed the immediate reaction of US leaders, who instantly concluded that Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin had ordered the invasion as the first step in his plan for world conquest. “Communism,” President Harry S. Truman argued later in his memoirs, “was acting in Korea just as [Adolf] Hitler, [Benito] Mussolini, and the Japanese had acted ten, fifteen, and twenty years earlier.” If North Korea...

Resources, Web Gleanings

Web Gleanings: U.S., Asia, and the World: 1914–2012

ASIA, GENERAL American Economic Relations with Asia URL: In this article written by Marcus Noland for the Asian Economic Review in 2009, the author discusses the necessity of shared prosperity for Asia and the US. He looks at the current global financial crisis and long-term challenges. The Globalist URL: There are few discussions on the Internet about Asia and Latin America. “Changing Asian and Latin American Relations” focuses on re...

Online Supplement

Remembrance: Dissident Vietnamese Poet Nguyen Chi Thien

We would like to thank Dan Duffy, editor and publisher of the Việt Nam Literature Project, for providing this tribute to Nguyen Chi Thien, an outstanding twentieth-century Vietnamese poet who recently died. What follows is a short essay about Thien accompanied by examples of his poetry. My Mother My mother on anniversaries or festival days is wont to put her hands together and pray for a long time Her old saffron dress has somewhat faded But I would see her take it out for the o...

Online Supplement

Viewing China: Observations of China’s Cultural Landscapes

Twenty-nine photos accompany this article. Most Americans lack accurate mental images of what China looks like. For example, geography textbooks often present students with a limited range of Chinese images such as terraced rice fields, a modern city skyline, or historical landscapes such as the Forbidden City or the Great Wall. As a result, Americans have an extremely limited, often inaccurate, perception of the structures in China’s everyday built environment. Many Westerners have difficu...

Online Supplement

Japanese Exclusion and the American Labor Movement: 1900 to 1924

While Chinese exclusion remained an important political issue in the late nineteenth century, efforts to exclude Japanese immigrants gained momentum in the early twentieth century and culminated in the Japanese Exclusion provision of the 1924 Immigration Act. Anti-Japanese agitation, sometimes rising to the level of hysteria, occurred despite the fact that there was no great influx of immigrants from Japan. According to the annual report of the commissioner general of immigration, the continenta...

Online Supplement

Teaching Resources to Accompany the Feature Article “China’s Great Leap Forward”

TO LIVE MGM World Films, 2003,video and dvd release, 2007 English subtitles, black and white and color Many insightful narratives of the Great Leap Forward exist that work well in the classroom. Although its scope is broader than the Great Leap Forward, the film To Live depicts both the enthusiasm and tragic consequences of the campaign. Directed by Zhang Yimou, To Live was released in 1994 under the title Huozhe. Although it was banned in China, it received accolades abroad and is readily ...

Film Review Essay, Resources

ANPO: The Art X War: The Art of Resistance

DIRECTED BY LINDA HOAGLUND, PRODUCED BY NEW DAY FILMS, 2010 JAPANESE WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES, 89 MINUTES ANPO is an intriguing mix of anti-war paintings, documentary, feature film, anime (animation) clips, interviews with the artists in Japanese with English subtitles, and brief English language comments by author and CIA critic Tim Weiner. Although there are references to such things as Japanese atrocities in World War II and the terror felt by victims of American firebombing, most of the emph...

Film Review Essay, Resources

The Revolutionary

In 1945, Sidney Rittenberg arrived in China as a US Army language specialist. Soon thereafter, he trekked across the country to Mao Zedong’s capital in Yan’an and asked to join the Chinese Communist Party. For the next three decades, Rittenberg remained in China, serving as a vocal and powerful defender of Mao’s revolution. The Revolutionary combines powerful visual images together with interview footage to tell the fascinating tale of Rittenberg and the momentous, world-changing events he...

Feature Article

Using India and China to Interest American Students in Economics

The rapid growth of the Indian and Chinese economies in the past thirty years is a boon for any teacher of the social sciences because they are a source of engaging stories that illustrate important economics concepts. The economic events in the two countries that have led millions of people to escape heart-wrenching poverty have a strong human interest element, and the stories surrounding the events have much appeal to today’s high school and college students who tend to have more global cons...

Feature Article

The Nixon-Mao Summit: A Week that Changed the World?

In an age of unprecedented Sino-American contact, cooperation, and competition, it is hard to believe that a scant four decades ago, our two peoples barely knew one another. In February 1972, President Richard Nixon and Chairman Mao Zedong held a summit that laid the foundation for the Sino-American relationship as we know it. Perhaps you have seen the images before: the president and First Lady Pat Nixon fronting a large entourage on the Great Wall; a frail, though still sharp, Mao wearing an i...

Feature Article

China’s Great Leap Forward

From 1960–1962, an estimated thirty million people died of starvation in China, more than any other single famine in recorded human history. Most tragically, this disaster was largely preventable. The ironically titled Great Leap Forward was supposed to be the spectacular culmination of Mao Zedong’s program for transforming China into a Communist paradise. In 1958, Chairman Mao launched a radical campaign to outproduce Great Britain, mother of the Industrial Revolution, while simultaneously ...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Joe Rochefort’s War: The Odyssey of the Codebreaker Who Outwitted Yamamoto at Midway

Elliot Carlson’s Joe Rochefort’s War: The Odyssey of the Codebreaker Who Outwitted Yamamoto at Midway is a literary masterpiece. This is a long overdue biography of an individual who helped shape the events of the Pacific War following Japan’s raid on Pearl Harbor. It is not a light read, as each of the 456 pages is packed with first-rate research and brilliant analysis. Carlson’s online audio and video descriptions of his book are helpful for teachers and the general reader. But for thi...

EAA Interview, Feature Article

Serving in the Occupation: An Interview with Wilton Dillon

Born in Yale, Oklahoma, in 1923, anthropologist Wilton S. Dillon is now Senior Scholar Emeritus at the Smithsonian Institution, where he has spent more than forty years. He came there in 1969 from the National Academy of Sciences as Director of Smithsonian International Symposia and later Founding Director of Interdisciplinary Studies. Dillon earned a 1951 BA at the University of California, Berkeley, in Communications and Public Policy. His 1961 Columbia Anthropology PhD dissertation was publis...

Feature Article

Pearl Harbor and Pan-Asianism: Teaching Ideology as History

“So, Why Did the Japanese Attack Pearl Harbor?” This question, however fraught with oversimplification we may find it, is still a great one for inspiring students to study history. It tantalizes novices with the possibility of a singular answer. Defying an easy solution, it teaches stern lessons to advanced students about the necessity of deploying multiple and overlapping layers when building historical explanations. It is also a question that continues to fire popular imagination. First...

Feature Article

Japan, the U.S. and the Asian-Pacific War

Few historians today would quibble with the idea that the war against Nazi Germany was necessary. Japan, Hitler’s only major ally, has fared far better with many historians in the West—much better than in Imperial Japan’s former Asian colonies. Because the war ended with the atomic bomb, many in the West today look at the Pacific War in terms similar to what was called “moral equivalence” in the Cold War. That view shows disregard for the nightmarish world that existed during total war...

Feature Article

The U.S. as a Pacific Nation

America’s Pacific Presence On his inaugural visit to Asia as president in November 2009, Barack Obama declared himself “America’s first Pacific president” and the US a “Pacific nation.”(note 1) President Obama’s self-characterization, based no doubt on his unusual biography of having been born in Hawai`i and partly raised in Indonesia, is novel. Identifying the US as a Pacific nation, however, is a longstanding tradition, increasingly common today and one that resonates for many...

Book Review, Resources

Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity

At the 2012 University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Asia Conference, keynote speaker Professor Yasmeen Mohiuddin concluded that India’s greatest challenge in the future is to spread its concentrated wealth among more of its citizens. Katherine Boo’s nonfiction book, Behind the Beautiful Forevers, portrays that challenge in heart-wrenching detail. This is an excellent read for high school and college students because it is a poignant story on one level and thought-provoking on many levels. It ...

Book Review, Resources

Things Chinese: Antiques, Crafts, Collectibles

Defining culture through a collection of objects is a challenging task. How are history, aesthetics, technology, and belief systems revealed in a sampling of material artifacts? How many and what objects are required to tell such a story? In a handsomely designed compendium of things Chinese, cultural geographer Ronald G. Knapp has selected and explained sixty items that together exhibit a distinct sense of “Chineseness.” Illustrated through the exquisite photography of Michael Freeman, this...

Book Review, Resources

Religion and the Making of Modern East Asia

BY THOMAS DAVID DUBOIS CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITYPRESS, 2011 272 PAGES, ISBN: 978-1107008090, HARDBACK Undoubtedly, the vast majority of surviving art produced in both the Western world and Asia in the past millennia has been religious in subject. From an art historical perspective, the significant role religions play in shaping the creative visual expression of cultures is obvious. Historians more often tend to view history from political, economic, military, and, in recent years, social perspec...