Education About Asia: Online Archives

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Feature Article

Visualizing Cultures: Postcards From the Russo-Japanese War (1904–05)

Editor’s Note: New EAA subscribers might not be aware of Visualizing Cultures, founded in 2002 by Massachusetts Institute of Technology Professors Shigeru Miyagawa and John Dower. Visualizing Cultures, which uses technology to blend images, video, and text into superb interactive teaching units, is the source for all the graphics in this photo spread. Readers interested in the Russo-Japanese War are particularly encouraged to explore the units titled “Throwing off Asia,” “Asia Rising,”...

Feature Article

Teaching Early China and Ancient Rome Comparatively

World history instructors constantly encounter the exhortation to teach Han dynasty China and the Roman Empire comparatively. The reason for this is clear: teaching early China and ancient Rome comparatively invites students to calculate and evaluate what David N. Keightley calls the “costs and benefits” of “great civilizations” for themselves—not only explicitly, in terms of first-millennium antecedents, but also implicitly, in terms of third-millennium legacies.

Film Review Essay, Resources

Journeys in Japan: the Japanland

Karin Muller’s Japanland book was published in 2005, and the double DVD set was released in 2006. Classroom supplements went online at japanlandstudyguide.com at the end of 2007. This review focuses on the four hours of short video segments that can be viewed as stand-alone pieces or played as a linear story that follows Muller’s year of observing and participating in mainstream Japanese life, as well as pursuing far less common experiences across the islands.

Feature Article

The Russo-Japanese War and World History

As with any war in history, the Russo-Japanese War enjoys its share of myths and legends that range from Admiral Alekseev’s barber being a Japanese spy, to the saga of the Baltic Fleet becoming the “fleet that had to die.” Perhaps because of such legends, or perhaps because World War I broke out less than a decade after the Russo-Japanese War formally ended with the Treaty of Portsmouth in 1905, the centennial anniversary of Japan’s stunning victory witnessed a resurgence in Russo-Japane...

Feature Article

China’s Chang Jiang: Dealing with the Deluge

What we know as the Yangtze River the Chinese call the Chang Jiang, or Long River. As China’s longest river, the Chang Jiang plays a major role in shaping the country’s physical, cultural, and economic character. Its headwaters are in the rugged Tibetan and Qinghai Plateaus in western China, and flow eastward for 6,300 kilometers before reaching the sea near Shanghai (Fig. 1). Its watershed covers 18,000,000 square kilometers—about twenty percent of the total land area of China. Transporta...

Feature Article

Korea: From Hermit Kingdom to Colony

At the end of the eighteenth century, Korea was a land with more than a millennium of political unity, proud of its rigid adherence to Confucian cultural norms, and at peace with its neighbors. Under the reigns of two able kings, Yŏngjo (1724– 1776) and Chŏngjo (1776–1800), Korea prospered. In the nineteenth century, however, the state entered a period when weak kings were dominated by powerful clans related to the monarch through royal marriages. Some historians see this as a sign that Ko...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Babur Nama: Journal of Emperor Babur

Originally written in Turkish by Emperor Babur (1483–1530) and translated into Persian by his grandson, Emperor Akbar (1556–1605), Babur Nama, Journal of Emperor Babur is now available in English, complete with maps, tables of the family tree, glossary, list of main characters, an Islamic calendar, Babur’s daily prayer, and endnotes that are not too overbearing. Dilip Hiro has done a marvelous job of editing this classic of the autobiographical account of the founder of the Mughal Empire i...

Book Review, Resources

The Illustrated Cultural History of India

This volume is an adaptation of A. L. Basham’s 1975 collection of articles entitled A Cultural History of India, which succeeded in capturing the state of scholarship at the time of its publication. That volume and the present illustrated version boast contributions from a plethora of respected scholars and authorities from the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth nations on aspects of South Asian history and culture. Names such as Romila Thapar and Percival Spear, who wrote volumes one and t...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time

More than anything, Three Cups of Tea is about promises kept. In a world where, for many, empty words, corruption, and the pursuit of money—rather than humanitarian values—have become the norm, this book is a journey of hope, not simply imagined but realized. It is the personal journey of a rock climber, Greg Mortenson, who wanted desperately to reach the summit of K2 in Pakistan’s Karakoram mountain range to memorialize his sister, Christa, by leaving her necklace at 28,267 feet. Christa ...

Resources, Web Gleanings

Web Gleanings: Asia in World History 1750–1914

Title: Internet East Asian History Sourcebook URL: http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/eastasia/eastasiasbook.html This collection of primary sources is remarkable for both the scope and the depth of its offerings. There are the notes of Matthew Perry about landing in Japan and a speech by Kaiser Wilhelm II to the German soldiers going to China during the Boxer Rebellion. These are just two among many documents included on the site.

Book Review Essay, Resources

Interweaving Cultures: Islam in Southeast Asia, A Guide for Teachers and Students

The outcome of a collaborative project by the Asia Society, the goal of this book is to present the complex and diverse religious landscape of Southeast Asia. Through a thematic approach, the guide introduces the Muslim population of the area that is among the largest in the world. The result is an enlightening balance between information about normative Islam—the five pillars—and local specific expressions and interpretations of normative Islamic teachings.

Feature Article

Chinese Tea in World History

Second today only to water as the world’s most consumed beverage, tea comes in many forms and has many sources. The four Chinese teas processed from the Camilla sinensis plant—green, white, black, and oolong —have played so long and so great a role in world history that it is possible to say that no other commodity is more revealing of the global human experience. Indeed, long before oil assumed the title, tea was the world’s “black gold.” Unlike oil, tea is a renewable resource. The...

Book Review Essay, Resources

The Poetry of Zen

“Nothing’s worth noting that is not seen with fresh eyes,” Bashō says. Sam Hamhill and J. P. Seton’s The Poetry of Zen is a surprising, delightful new anthology of Zen. The first surprise is the poets the book includes. The first, Lao Tzu, is perhaps not too much of a stretch since, as the authors say, “Zen is Taoist Buddhism,” or “Zen is Buddhist Taoism.” But, I never expected the Confucian poet Tu Fu or the Shingon poet Saigyō. The authors cast a wide net, including “poets ...

EAA Interview

An EAA Interview with Professor Steven Ericson on Japan in World History: 1750–1914

Steven Ericson is an Associate Professor in the Department of History and Chair of the interdisciplinary Asian and Middle Eastern Studies Program at Dartmouth College. He received his BA from Michigan State University and his masters and doctoral degrees from Harvard. At Dartmouth, he teaches a survey of modern Japanese history, upperlevel courses on Japan’s history since World War II and on imperialism and colonialism in modern East Asia, and seminars on “Shogun and Samurai: Japan in the Ag...

Film Review Essay, Resources

Wings of Defeat

Wings of Defeat is a documentary that contains rare interviews with surviving kamikaze pilots, also known as the tokko or Tokkotai (Special Attack Forces). However, the film deals with much more than the kamikaze. Risa Morimoto, the director of the film, had an uncle in Japan who was a surviving tokko. Although she found this out after his death, she had many questions about his life. For many Americans, the kamikaze may be considered fanatical suicide bombers who did not value human life. yet, ...

Feature Article

The Late Qing Empire in Global History

The role of the Chinese empires in global history at the height of their economic power (roughly 1400–1800) has been well described in powerful books by Andre Gunder Frank, Kenneth Pomeranz, and Bin Wong. In that period, China’s advanced technology and commercial economy, as well as access to their markets over sea and land, created a market that drove technological development, efficiency in industrial organization, and an increasing volume of long-distance trade. The effects were felt firs...

Feature Article

The British Impact on India, 1700–1900

The period 1700 to 1900 saw the beginnings, and the development, of the British Empire in India. Empire was not planned, at least not in the early stages. In a sense, it just happened. The first British in India came for trade, not territory; they were businessmen, not conquerors. It can be argued that they came from a culture that was inferior, and a political entity that was weaker, than that into which they ventured, and they came hat-in-hand. They would not have been viewed as a threat by th...

Book Review Essay, Resources

Haiku Master Buson: Translations from the Writings of Yosa Buson—Poet and Artist— with Related Materials

American fascination with haiku is primarily a post World War II phenomenon. In the 1950s, Beat poets, specifically Jack Kerouac, were drawn to haiku as an easy way to connect to a type of Zen Buddhism made popular through the writings of D. T. Suzuki and Alan Watts. While “on the road,” Kerouac would have liked Haiku Master Buson, first edited and translated by yuki Sawa and Edith Marcombe Shiffert in 1978. Now part of White Pine Press’s Companion for the Journey Series, its present form ...