Education About Asia: Online Archives

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Feature Article

Suggestions for Comparing The Life of an Amorous Woman, Moll Flanders, and Memoirs of a Geisha

One of the greatest challenges faced by teachers is identifying common ground on which we can meet to consider the different cultural expectations that separate us and the common human values that unite us. This essay suggests we can find such common ground by comparing content and literary techniques shared in three much admired novels: The Life of an Amorous Woman (Koshoku Ichidai Onna) by Japanese poet and novelist Ihara Saikaku (1623–93); Moll Flanders by English essayist and novelist Dani...

Resources, Web Gleanings

Web Gleanings: Asian Art

Title: Asian Art Museum of San Francisco URL: This museum with one of the largest collections of Asian art (over 12,000 objects) presents highlights of its collection on-line. There are bronzes, ceramics and jade objects from China, manuscripts and sculpture from Southeast Asia, and works from India, Iran and Korea, as well. Click on the graphic image and there will be a descriptive article for each item.

Essay, Resources

Bringing Sight and Sound to the Classroom: The Asian Education Media Service

Few people will deny the power of media to bring far away places and events to life. Audiovisual media can be a vital supplement to printed material, not simply describing but showing everyday life in a distant country, putting a human face on wars and famines, and bringing music, dance and theater into the classroom. Most educators are aware that documentaries, slides, CD ROMS, and Internet sites about Asia exist, but few are aware of the breadth of subject matter available or how to find and c...

Essay, Film Review Essay, Resources

A Personal View of Child Labor and Its Depiction in That’s Why I’m Working

That’s Why I’m Working is a deeply moving story of young boys and girls in the urban trenches of Dacca (Dhaka), Bangladesh, a country with more than 110 million people. This is a story that is very close to my heart, as it closely reflects my own personal experience as a boy growing up in Nepal. Embedded in this story is the instinct and imperative of survival. It is moving, not so much because it is a familiar Dickensonian tale of children trapped in poverty, but because children themselves...

Film Review Essay, Resources

The Written Face

The Written Face is a poetic meditation on femininity as seen through the world of Japanese performing arts. In the traditional performing art of kabuki, men play all of the roles, male as well as female. The male kabuki actors who play female parts (onnagata), have often created idealized female characters on stage. It is this idealized femininity that the film addresses.

Film Review Essay

Sun-tzu: The Art of War

Of all the Great Books written in East Asia since writing began, The Art of War is probably the best known title in the English-speaking world today, thanks in part to its popularity among business strategists and international consultants. The producers of this film thus had a great opportunity to use the existing fascination for the book to encourage a deeper understanding of early East Asian philosophy and history. Unfortunately, they chose to skim lightly over the history of The Art of War a...

Film Review Essay, Resources

Robert A. F. Thurman on Buddhism

Robert A. F. Thurman, a professor of Indo-Tibetan studies at Columbia University, is best known for his translation of The Tibetan Book of the Dead, as well as for authoring Inner Revolution, Circling the Sacred Mountain, and Essential Tibetan Buddhism. The videos are broken into seventy-minute lectures delivered from the podium of the scholar with wit and humor to match the lofty and complex elements of the Three Jewels of Buddhism: the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha. The lectures are not in...

EAA Interview, Feature Article

EAA Interview with Franklin Buchanan

Now 85, Franklin Buchanan, along with Elgin Heinz, was among a small group of people who in the 1960s redirected their educational efforts toward encouraging the teaching of Asian studies at the precollegiate level. As with John Fairbank who is credited with bringing Asian studies into the university as a major subject area, Franklin and Elgin were among those who took the next logical step and began to explore ways to introduce Asia into the K–12 classroom.

Feature Article

Pioneers in Asian Studies Outreach: Teaching about Other Cultures

Most people in Asian Studies outreach at the K–12 level are familiar with Frank Buchanan and Elgin Heinz. They, along with a few other people, created the field in the U.S.  We are pleased to publish this essay by Elgin Heinz and the following interview with Frank Buchanan. Special thanks are due Lucia Pierce, David Grossman, Carol Marquis, Carol Murphey, Namji Kim Steinemann and Lynne “Tuckie” Yirchott for their assistance on this feature section.

Feature Article

New Additions to the Search Party: Using The Search for Modern China: A Documentary Collection

First published more than ten years ago, Jonathan Spence’s The Search for Modern China has become a popular text for many courses in Chinese history since 1600. Promised in the acknowledgments to the first edition was “a companion volume of primary sources,” being compiled by Cheng Pei-kai and Michael Lestz. This companion, The Search for Modern China: A Documentary Collection appeared in January 1999, along with the second edition of Spence’s textbook. The Documentary Collection present...

Feature Article

Teaching/Learning Through Confucius: Navigating Our Way Through the Analects

Understanding Chinese thought and its cultural context is one of the greatest challenges for Western students. Many students, and perhaps even those of us who teach them, tend to think that we need to develop a command of the complexities of Chinese thinking, culture, history, and language before we can adequately approach the study of the longest continuous civilization on the planet. Although such an in-depth understanding is crucial for the development and articulation of scholarly work on Ch...

Book Review, Resources

Developing the Mekong Subregion

Nearly three decades after the Khmer Rouge retreated from Phnom Penh and the U.S. military withdrew from Laos and Vietnam, the six countries of the greater Mekong subregion (Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Burma or Myanmar, and China’s southern Yunnan Province) now collectively represent one of the world’s fastest growing regional economies. While the current global economic crisis has severely disrupted political and economic stability throughout Asia, their sustained growth and social h...

Feature Article

Teaching Chinese, Japanese, and Korean: Partnerships Between State and Local School Districts and Community Language Schools

Optimally, providing K-12 education about Asia should go hand in hand with classes in Asian languages and cultures. The following article is a description of how a partnership between Washington state’s Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), local school districts and community-based language schools launched a highly popular summer language camp program which featured Chinese, Japanese, and Korean as three of the five less commonly taught languages offered during the proje...

Book Review, Resources

Pakistan: A Modern History

Scholarly and well-researched are not always the equivalent of accessible. Unfortunately, this is the case concerning Ian Talbot’s Pakistan: A Modern History. The author’s erudition is displayed on every page. He places Pakistani history in various contexts: the legacy of the British Raj; the history and role of Islam in society; the historical importance of different languages to the citizens of the country; the various social and economic constructs of the populace; the issue of Kashmir; t...

Book Review, Resources

Japan’s Minorities: The Illusion of Homogeneity

Michael Weiner, editor NEW YORK: ROUTLEDGE, 1997 272 PAGES Reviewed by Doug Slaymaker This is an important collection of essays that examines, as the subtitle promises, Japan’s illusion of homogeneity. It does so by balanced and thorough examinations of Japan’s minorities, as promised in the title. It appears at a time when minority issues in Japan have (finally) gained increased coverage: in the Korean experience in wartime, highlighted in the fifty-year celebrations and the public stat...

Book Review, Resources

The Logic of Japanese Politics: Leaders, Institutions, and the Limits of Change

The 1990s were a trying decade for Japanese politicians and the public. It was a trying decade for scholars of Japanese politics, too. They struggled to come to grips with changes that had seemingly undone four decades of political stability, and with it the certainties that framed the teaching and research on the subject. Standing at a remove of five years from the 1994 electoral reforms that mark a watershed in postwar Japanese politics, Gerald Curtis’s book is a welcome overview of what has...

Book Review, Resources

Still Life and Other Stories

In 1996, the Smithsonian exhibited a selection of landscape kimonos by Ichiku Kubota. While contemplating the thirty or so kimonos depicting a seaside mountainscape through the four seasons, I realized the layers upon layers embedded in the work. The realization came gradually, after nearly two hours of standing at a distance, turning very slowly to see the panorama, then finally “seeing,” not with eyes but in a kind of Zen perspective. The realization is not sudden, but stunning, emotional,...

Book Review, Resources

Theater and Society: An Anthology of Contemporary Chinese Drama

Translations of Chinese drama are not readily available (especially in reasonably priced editions), so Haiping Yan has performed a great service by providing the English-speaking world with translations of four plays and a film script. In addition, her introductory essay puts the plays in their theatrical context and serves as a scholarly entry into the plays. The book would be useful to teachers of contemporary Chinese history and politics as well as theater historians, since the plays depict c...

Book Review, Resources

Streetlife China

Michael Dutton’s Streetlife China is based on an interesting concept. With the market modernization of China and the shattering of many “iron rice bowls,” the number of people who are not dependent on the government for their livelihood has increased dramatically in the past two decades. In those years, independent shops, stalls and restaurants have blossomed. Chinese cities do have an exciting streetlife.

Book Review, Resources

China’s Living Houses: Folk Beliefs, Symbols, and Household Ornamentation

With increased interest in China’s culture, philosophies, history and politics over the last few decades, much has been written, both in scholarly and popular works. Ronald G. Knapp has now provided a thorough and highly readable book on a lesser-known part of Chinese life and traditions—its domestic architecture.