Education About Asia: Online Archives

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Feature Article

Christianity in Modern Korea

Any visitor to South Korea today is struck by the sheer number of churches everywhere, from great cathedrals in big cities to humble village churches visible from any train or bus in the countryside. Christianity has a long history in Asia, beginning in India and reaching China and Japan in the 1500s. In China and Japan, however, Christians never numbered more than a small percentage of the population. Though individual Christians have been important in shaping the modern histories of both count...

Resources, Web Gleanings

Web Gleanings: Unusual Asian Sites

Title: A Virtual Village URL: http://virtualvillage.wesleyan.edu/ This site combines visual effects and text in an exemplary fashion. One unusual aspect of the “visit” to Arampur is photography produced by village residents. The teaching materials contain suggested questions for students who have explored the site. Title: Claire Holt Papers URL: http://rmc.library.cornell.edu/holt/home.htm As part of the Cornell Indonesian Arts Project, there are approximately 1,780 slides tak...

Film Review Essay

Firefly Dreams

The first problem that confronts a reviewer considering John William’s Firefly Dreams is one of classification. Filmed in Japan with a native cast, it is unquestionably a product of the Japanese cinematic world. Yet director Williams is a transplanted Englishman residing in Japan. However, no matter how one labels it, Firefly Dreams (Japanese title, Ichiban Utsukushii Natsu) achieves an astonishing level of stylistic resonance with the work of other contemporary directors whose films explore v...

Film Review Essay

Con/texts for Viewing Geisha

Arthur Golden’s 1997 novel Memoirs of a Geisha remains remarkably popular among college students. Yet far more of our students are likely to have watched the 2005 film version (Rob Marshall, director) than to have read the book. Like the book, the appeal of the film is rooted, in large part, in its claim of authenticity and its capacity to present a complex, exotic world that fuses erotic sensibilities with the rigid conventions of geisha performance art. Anne Allison’s thoughtful 1999 revie...

Feature Article

Oral History as a Teaching and Learning Tool

“Every student should do oral history at least once. You get to live history,” remarked a student in my Pacific War course. This endorsement came after the student completed an oral history project on his great-uncle, a soldier in the South Pacific during World War II. As a teacher of Asian history I often hear students say they “hated history,” then proceed to enumerate the usual complaints about history being nothing but names, dates, and dry-as-dust details. Many students have never e...

Feature Article

Asia in the ReMaking of the Modern World

The usual story of the modern world thus is told in the narrative of “the Rise of the West” or “the European miracle” in which endogenous developments—sometimes seen as arising relatively recently, sometimes in medieval times (ca. 1300), or sometimes as long ago as the Greeks with their democratic institutions—propel “progress,” “development,” and “advancement” in Europe, while the rest of the world, in particular Asia, “stagnates” under “despotic” rulers and “b...

Feature Article

Rethinking Early East Asian History

There may be Asian-Americans in the United States, but as Ronald Takaki shrewdly commented, “there are no Asians in Asia, only people with national identities, such as Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Indian, Vietnamese, and Filipino.” Asia is simply too enormous, spanning the better part of the entire Old World, and too diverse, to serve as a very meaningful label. In fact, according to Robert Marks, on the eve of the American Revolution, in “1775, Asia produced about 80 percent of everything i...

Feature Article

Americanization of East Asia

Some years ago, in the heyday of John King Fairbank, it was customary to think of change in East Asia, evidence of modernization, as a response to the West, as Westernization. Today that view is considered ethnocentric, a failure to recognize the internal drive of Asian peoples to transform their cultures. A few of us have taken a step further and written of the Asianization of the West— or at least of America. Nonetheless, some of the changes in the way people of East Asia live today can be b...

Feature Article

Zheng He Goes Traveling—Again

Prompted by its real and growing dependence on foreign supplies of oil, natural gas, and other commodities—supplies transported predominantly by sea—China has turned its gaze to the seas for the first time in centuries. As it does so, leaders in Beijing are busily fashioning what the historian Henry Steele Commager would call a “usable past” to justify an increasingly ambitious maritime strategy to China’s traditionally land-oriented populace and to ease worries such a strategy might a...

EAA Interview, Feature Article

Rethinking Our Notions of India: An EAA Interview with Frank Conlon

Frank Conlon, University of Washington Professor Emeritus of History, South Asian Studies, and Comparative Religion, has enjoyed a distinguished career as both an outstanding teacher and scholar. Conlon, known to many readers of this journal as the cofounder of H-ASIA, has been widely published on a variety of India-related topics including caste, the role of women, colonialism, religion, and urban history. Given Frank’s extensive experience with India, we think EAA readers will profit from hi...

Feature Article

Japan’s Schools: Myths, Realities, and Comparisons with the United States

In the 1980s, when the Japanese economy was booming, debates over educational reform in the United States seemed often to start in Japan. The Japanese economy was outperforming the US economy because Japanese schools were outperforming our schools, or so the argument went until their economy collapsed. When the US economy eventually rebounded, no one cited our educational system as a source of its recovery, and the connection between education and the economy was forgotten.

Book Review Essay, Resources

Mao: The Unknown Story

If you visit Tiananmen Square in Beijing, you can’t avoid the huge portrait of Mao Zedong that presides over tourists, an amazing number of automobiles, and his own mausoleum. Few who see that portrait today think of Mao’s classic slogans: “to rebel is justified,” “a single spark can start a prairie fire,” “never forget class struggle,” much less the catastrophic famines of the 1950s. The Party’s claim to legitimacy has shifted from Marxism and revolution to economic developmen...

EAA Interview, Resources

EAA Interview with John Williams, Director of Japanese Films

John Williams grew up in Wales and studied Languages at Cambridge University. After moving to Japan in 1988, he made a series of short films before attempting the full-length movie Firefly Dreams (Ichiban Utsukushii Natsu) in 2001. Filmed in Aichi prefecture in central Japan, the film was named Best Feature Film at the Hawai`i International Film Festival, and won awards at five other international film festivals. Williams is also Associate Professor at Sophia University in Tokyo, where he teache...

Curriculum Materials Review

Shuhai Wenyuan: Classical Chinese Digital Database and Interactive Internet Worktable

The Shuhai Wenyuan Classical Chinese Digital Database and Interactive Internet Worktable is a Web-based resource developed and maintained by the University of Hawai`i at Manoa.1 This valuable resource enables even first-time users with limited knowledge of Chinese languages and cultures to encounter “classic” Chinese texts (jing); e.g. the Lunyu or Analects of Confucius and the Dao dé (jing) in their original language. Users of this site are enabled, for instance, to construct their own tra...

Curriculum Materials Review

Learning from Asian Art: Korea

Learning from Asian Art: Korea is an exceptional teaching resource. Educators who know little about Korea can be confident in adopting the lessons with minimal preparation time. This resource is one of three complete lesson books on Asian Art developed by the Division of Education at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Teachers of all levels will be able to adapt these materials for their specific needs. Beautiful photographs and slides inspire assignments and research in art, history, and language ...

Book Review, Resources

The Nanjing Massacre: A Japanese Journalist Confronts Japan’s National Shame

Honda Katsuichi’s Nanjing Massacre: A Japanese Journalist Confronts Japan’s National Shame is not light reading nor for the faint of heart. It is a searing but even account of the systematic butchery of between 150,000 to 300,000 Chinese villagers and unarmed soldiers by an invading Japanese Imperial Army that had been instructed to live off the land and have their provisions furnished “by the enemy.” Given the lack of troop supply plans, Commander-in-Chief General Matsui Iwani, who was ...

Book Review, Resources

China’s Political System: Modernization and Tradition 5th edition

We are indeed fortunate that, with the appearance of the fifth edition of China’s Political System, June Dreyer brings her long-term examination forward to 2005. Her broad perspective on politics examines its connections with just about every aspect of Chinese culture from industrialization to the arts.

Book Review, Resources

China’s Generation Y: Understanding the Future Leaders of the World’s Next Superpower

Youth under the age of twenty-five make up roughly 39 percent of China’s population, yet sources on Chinese children are few and far between. Books like James Watson’s Golden Arches East, Jun Jing’s Feeding China’s Little Emperors, and Vanessa Fong’s Only Hope: Coming of Age Under China’s One Child Policy, combined with articles on education, popular culture, and consumerism, have provided a valuable window on the lives of young Chinese. Michael Stanat’s book, China’s Generation ...

Book Review, Resources

A History of Modern Indonesia

Adrian Vickers uses a unique style to provide his readers with a view of twentieth-century Indonesia. Throughout this book, Vickers, a Professor of Asian Studies at Australia’s University of Wollongong, references Indonesia’s history to the writings of and incidents in the life of Indonesian author Pramoedya Ananta Toer. Pram, as his countrymen and women commonly refer to him, was a giant among Indonesian authors and well known by Indonesians and scholars of Indonesia as an outspoken critic ...

Book Review Essay, Resources

The Genesis of East Asia: 221 B.C.–A.D. 907

In a time when marveling at the modern “rise of China” is a familiar topic of conversation, scholarship on China’s historical place in the world has once again become fashionable. Such scholarship often takes its lead from research on transnational economic and cultural flows in modern world history, although scholars of premodern East Asia are seeking out the historical roots in this region of these supposedly recent phenomena. Charles Holcombe’s The Genesis of East Asia: 221 B.C.–A.D...

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