Education About Asia: Online Archives

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Using Film in Teaching about Asia: A Cautionary Essay

All of us struggle with the challenges of teaching the peoples and cultures of Asia. After slides and novels, the first thing that comes to mind is to show a film in class: whether good or bad, a film can bring a narrative “to life” the way no slide or novel can. Or so we think. All moving-image media that might be used in the classroom have problems.


Paranoia Agent: The Anime Series by Satoshi Kon

Japan’s Lost Decade, about 1992 to 2003, encompassed the systemic economic, political, and social crisis left by the collapse of the bubble economy. During that time Japan seemed to lose direction, and the Japanese, afflicted by youth violence, alienation, and the aftereffects of a spending spree that brought ruinous debt and spiritual emptiness, were left to wonder what their hard work since the end of World War Two had accomplished. Anyone who wants to understand the existential angst that g...

EAA Interview

An EAA Interview with Houghton Freeman

In 1978, Mansfield Freeman, an American who spent much of his life in China and who helped found the company that later became American International Group, Inc. (AIG), established a trust whose primary mission would be to establish a foundation that would facilitate the development of mutual understanding among Americans and East Asians. In 1993, one year after Mansfield Freeman’s death, the family established the Freeman Foundation to promote his vision. Since then, the Freeman Foundation ha...

Book Review Essay, Columns

House Home Family: Living and Being Chinese

Outside my window, under the oppressive yellowish-gray blanket of smog laying over Beijing, are brand new high-rises in places until recently occupied by thousands of families’ homes, disappearing here as elsewhere across China at breathtaking speed, making the poignancy and importance of Ronald Knapp and Kai-yin Lo’s majestic edited volume all the more apparent. The sixteen-chapter book, beautifully designed and magnificently illustrated with color and black-and-white photographs, maps, pri...

Book Review, Columns

Aurel Stein on the Silk Road

Dr. Susan Whitfield has a number of publications dealing with the Silk Road. Aurel Stein on the Silk Road is an enjoyable, light introduction to one of the leading figures in the development of Silk Road studies during the early twentieth century. Dr. Whitfield’s clear prose is injected with moments of dry humor, such as the chapter entitled, “The Cook, The Thief, His Dog, But No Lover,” which encapsulates Stein’s difficulties finding a decent chef, his encounter with a prolific forger, ...

Book Review, Columns

Muslims in China: The Growth and Influence of Islam in the Nations of Asia and Central Asia

The media fog of the “war on terror” has tended to obscure the complexity of global trends. Thus, thinking about the increasing prominence of both China and Islam gravitates easily towards the realm of fantasy and science fiction. That being so, an ungainly but important task is to distinguish between phantoms and substance in contemporary engagements with the perceptions of Beijing’s power and the representation of Muslim identities. In this respect, Hollian-Elliot aims to dispel the igno...

Book Review Essay, Columns

The Asian American Century

In this short volume, the esteemed historian of US-East Asian relations, Warren I. Cohen, offers an overview of the last one hundred years of that relationship. This collection actually consists of three lectures, the Edwin O. Reischauer Lectures, given at Harvard University’s John King Fairbank Center for East Asian Research. The three lectures, or chapters, “The Struggle for Dominance in East Asia,” “The Americanization of East Asia,” and “The Asianization of America,” offer a co...

Book Review Essay, Columns

Charting the Ends of the “Modern” Period Contemporary Japanese Literature, An Anthology of Fiction, Film, and Other Writing Since 1945

Howard Hibbett’s Contemporary Japanese Literature, first published in 1977, was reissued in 2005, making this well-known anthology again readily available. Except for the preface, the book is unchanged and provides a time-capsule of Japanese writing in the post-war period between 1945 and 1975. College or high school world literature teachers should own this book because the selections are highly readable and represent many canonical Japanese writers of the twentieth century. But teachers look...

Book Review Essay, Columns

Leaves from an Autumn of Emergencies: Selections from the Wartime Diaries of Ordinary Japanese

What is war like? How can we view war through the eyes of those experiencing it without knowing its certain outcome? Samuel H. Yamashita brings us major excerpts from eight extraordinary diaries, left by what he calls “ordinary Japanese,” that give us access to the inner lives of individuals in the midst of the great catastrophe of the Asian and Pacific War. All writing during the war in widely dispersed parts of Japan, these people tell us of their concerns and their experiences in deeply p...

Book Review Essay, Columns

From Marco Polo Bridge to Pearl Harbor: Who Was Responsible?

Who Was Responsible? is a fascinating volume. It is the English-language version of a massive Yomiuri newspaper inquiry that published its final installment on August 15, 2006. The anniversary of Japan’s surrender in 1945 was not a coincidence. Watanabe Tsuneo, Yomiuri’s octogenarian editor-in-chief, has been a force for facing the past, and he has opposed ceremonial visits by prime ministers to Yasukuni Shrine. The major players were seventeen researchers— all men, named only in a note on...

Book Review Essay, Columns

Japan in the 21st Century: Environment, Economy, and Society

Japan is home to one of the world’s largest economies—in fact, the second or third largest, depending on the use of purchasing power parity. It is a center of technology, manufacturing, finance, and, increasingly, an exporter of culture through media such as anime and manga. Yet interestingly, relatively little has been written about Japan in the past fifteen years for use in academic environments. Remarkably lacking have been wide-ranging geographical texts on this country. With regard to r...

EAA Interview, Feature Article

An EAA Interview with Houghton Freeman

In 1978, Mansfield Freeman, an American who spent much of his life in China and who helped found the company that later became American International Group, Inc. (AIG), established a trust whose primary mission would be to establish a foundation that would facilitate the development of mutual understanding among Americans and East Asians. In 1993, one year after Mansfield Freeman’s death, the family established the Freeman Foundation to promote his vision. Since then, the Freeman Foundation ha...

Columns, Essay

Why Perspective Matters

Something happens in the humanities classroom when the student realizes that his/her world is infinite, without borders, and that knowledge is not solely confined to a textbook. They reach the understanding that they know. In my classroom, understanding and gaining perspective is the essential outcome I want for them. The memorization of historical dates and trivia, knowing the state standards, and scoring “above proficient” on standardized tests pale in comparison. In fact, I think none of ...

Columns, Curriculum Materials Review

The Power of Place: Geography for the 21st Century. Small Farms, Big Cities: Northern Japan and Tokyo

Power of Place: Geography for the 21st Century is an educational video series for high school and college students that teaches the geographic skills and concepts necessary to understand the modern world. The series is divided into ten units, including an introduction. In all, twenty-six half-hour video programs—fifty sites in thirty-six countries—are coordinated with a textbook and an excellent Web site of value to student and instructor: resources/series180.html. Th...

Feature Article

Hope for Renewal: Photographs from Indonesia after the Tsunami

We extend our gratitude and thanks both to the East-West Center in Honolulu, Hawai`i, and to Marco Garcia, the Hawai`i photographer who traveled to Aceh Province in northwestern Sumatra, Indonesia, in the days and months following the December 26, 2004, tsunami. Marco’s photographs capture not only the disaster, recovery, and relief efforts, but also the resilience and positive spirit of the survivors and those who came to their aid. EAA is also grateful to Betty Buck, formerly with the East-W...

Feature Article

The 2004 Tsunami: A Survivor’s Story

My name is Ari Palawi, and I was born on November 10, 1974. I grew up in Banda Aceh, the capital of Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam (Aceh). Aceh (pronounced Ah-chay) is a special territory (daerah istimewa) of Indonesia, located on the northern tip of the island of Sumatra. I finished my elementary, junior high, and senior high school there. In 1993, I went to Java Island to pursue my undergraduate degree at the Yogyakarta Indonesian Institute of Arts where I graduated in 2000. I began working in 2002 ...

EAA Interview, Feature Article

An EAA Interview with Ambassador Alphonse F. La Porta

Ambassador La Porta retired from the US Foreign Service in the fall of 2003 after thirty-eight years of service in the Department of State, and an overall US Government career of forty-four years. During his time in the Foreign Service, he served as Ambassador to Mongolia and Political Advisor to the Commander of NATO Forces in Southern Europe, Naples, Italy. He also served overseas in Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, and Turkey. He is a graduate of the National War College. Ambassador La Porta...

Feature Article

Ten Years of Extraordinary Change in Indonesia

Changes in Indonesia over the past ten years have affected the whole country to varying degrees and left almost no one untouched. Whether political, economic, social, or environmental, the changes have been rapid and unprecedented. Just ten years ago, Suharto and his military government were in power; the country had yet to experience the economic crisis of 1997–98, which brought considerable poverty and lowering of standards of living to tens of millions of people; relationships among members...

Feature Article

Living with Risk; Coping with Disasters: Hazard as a Frequent Life Experience in the Philippines

The interrelationship of human beings and the natural world, and the influence of the physical environment on a community’s social and cultural development, are graphically demonstrated in societies that face the persistent threat (and reality) of disasters. A prime example is the Philippines, whose over seven thousand islands are located in an extremely hazard-prone area. The Philippines as a whole experiences more earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and tsunamis than any other place on earth. A...

Feature Article

The Great Kantō Earthquake of 1923 and the Japanese Nation

In the autumn of 1923, educator Miura Tōsaku toured the remains of a thoroughly destroyed city: Tokyo. Walking through the once vibrant, now blackened and broken remains of Japan’s capital, Miura concluded in no uncertain terms that the recent disaster that struck Japan was a moment of apocalyptic revelation. “Disasters,” he wrote, “take away the falsehood and ostentation of human life and conspicuously expose the strengths and weaknesses of human society.” The disaster in question wa...