Education About Asia: Online Archives

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Feature Article

Getting the Foundations Right When Teaching Asian Religions

For teachers seeking resources to instill greater global literacy on world religions, it is the best of times and the worst of times. Cultural diversity in American schools is increasing, and the number of Hindu temples, mosques, and Buddhist meditation centers is rising. Because of popular media, references to Hindu gods, Daoist geomancy, or Buddhist karma teachings no longer seem exotic. Yet much information about Asian religions, whether promulgated by mass media or local practitioners, can b...

Feature Article

Neighborhood Shinto: Tokyo’s Ana-Hachiman Shrine

One of the remarkable traits of the Japanese today is, in a way similar to many Europeans, they tend to identify themselves as non-religious. This does not mean, of course, that they don’t have strongly held values that guide their lives and have been transmitted through tradition, families, and schools. It does mean, however, that a majority of the Japanese population has only weak ties to religious institutions. Funerals and memorial services for the dead seem to be the chief reaso...

Feature Article

Teaching Buddhism from a Comparative Perspective

For the past twenty years, I have offered an introduction to the study of religion at the University of Vermont with a comparative focus on Buddhism and Christianity. In the essay that follows, I provide a basic overview of that course, highlighting my rationale for organizing the course material within a comparative framework and identifying some of the pedagogical advantages that such a framework offers. A comparative perspective, I maintain, addresses some potential problems that secondary an...

Feature Article

Teaching East Asian Religions through Literature and Film

“Sacred” and “Secular” in East Asia Taking his position at the hub of things, the writer contemplates the mystery of the universe. . . . Moving along with the four seasons . . . gazing at the myriad objects, he thinks of the complexity of the world.1 So wrote Lu Chi (261–303 CE), an early medieval Chinese author who used “secular” literary genres such as the rhymed prose (fu) that developed in China during the Han dynasty (202 BCE–220 CE) to explore “sacre...

Feature Article

Taijiquan: Teaching Daoism through Experiential Arts Learning

In Jet Li’s classic, pre-Hollywood film Taiji Zhang Sanfeng (1993, aka The Tai Chi Master and Twin Warriors), the young monk Junbao (portrayed by Jet Li) and his trouble-making best friend, Tianbao (Chin Siu Ho), are expelled from the Buddhist Shaolin monastery, the famous and infamous cradle of China’s most popular martial arts. Unfamiliar with the ways of the world, the two soon find themselves assisting a band of anti-government rebels. Tianbao becomes disillusioned and decides to join th...

Feature Article

Water, Wood, and Women: The Persistence of Ancient Traditions in Modern India

In the state of Bengal, in northeastern India, the annual September-October harvest and fertility festival called Durga Pūjā (“offering to Durga”) generates a massive half-year effort of preparation for its nine nights (Navaratri) of celebrations.1 Durga is a three-eyed, ten-armed, buffalo-demon destroying Hindu warrior goddess. Durga is constructed in wildly varied forms from wooden armatures wrapped in straw and covered with unfired clay dug from the bed of the sacred Hoohley River (a ...

Feature Article

Teaching Modern Hinduism

HINDUISM—ANCIENT OR MODERN? Textbooks dealing with Asian religions tend to make short work of Modern Hinduism. In doing so, they reflect the demands of an academic market that places a premium on conciseness. When a teacher is in the awkward position of having to introduce students to the dizzying array of Hindu traditions in a brief amount of time, something has to give. What usually gives in discussions of Hinduism is the modern period. Students are therefore denied a complete picture of th...

Feature Article

A Short Survey of the Development of Traditional Chinese Medicine in China

Chinese medicine (CM), known as traditional Chinese medicine or TCM in the West, is not only an integral part of the Chinese national healthcare systems, but it is also one of the most popular complementary and alternative medicines in the world. The important role that CM plays in the Chinese healthcare systems, and in promoting global medical pluralism, has been attributed to its unique approach toward understanding diseases and the methods used to treat them. Since California became the firs...

Columns, EAA Interview

Japanese Popular Culture and Globalization: A Brief Interview with William M. Tsutsui

William M. Tsutsui is Professor of History and Dean of Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. Previously he taught for seventeen years at the University of Kansas. He is the author or editor of six books, including Manufacturing Ideology: Scientific Management in Twentieth-Century Japan (Princeton University Press, 1998) and Godzilla on My Mind: Fifty Years of the King of Monsters (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004). Professor Tsutsui’s most recent ...

Columns, Teaching Resources Essay

Students Interrogate Buddhism: Using the Reader Response Technique to Enhance Classroom Interaction

Good teachers know that feedback to students is essential to learning. Often overlooked, however, is feedback to instructors, which is indispensable for quality teaching. And good teaching often takes place without feedback to instructors. But, excellent, highly involved teachers benefit from knowing what is on students’ minds, because this is the “real curriculum.” This is what motivates and ultimately satisfies them. When faculty know what interests their students, they are far more like...

Columns, Teaching Resources Essay

Contesting Twentieth-Century China: A Simulation

The twentieth century was a traumatic era of Chinese history with the fall of the last empire in 1911, the political chaos of warlord rule, the Japanese invasion, and the Chinese Communist revolution. It was also an exciting era, full of dramatic events and remarkable characters: the Communists’ Long March and the charismatic and ruthless leadership of Mao Zedong, the Japanese seizure of the Northeast and creation of the puppet state of Manchukuo, the kidnapping of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-she...

Columns, Teaching Resources Essay

East-West Center Education Programs: Promoting Asian Studies and Cultivating Collaboration between the United States and the Asia Pacific Region

Established by the US Congress in 1960, the East-West Center was founded with the mission to contribute to a peaceful, prosperous, and just Asia Pacific community by serving as a vigorous hub for cooperative research, education, and dialogue on critical issues of common concern to the region. This vision has guided the Center over its fifty year history, and its Asia Pacific Education Program for Schools (AsiaPacificEd) and the Asian Studies Development Program (ASDP) have continued to fulfill...

Columns, Curriculum Materials Review

Asia for Educators (AFE) Web site

Reviewed by James A. Anderson With the recent proliferation of Web-based secondary materials and primary source databases pertaining to Asian Studies, both researchers and instructors are now freer than ever to seek out information online. But, do these resources alone make one a more savvy consumer of this cornucopia of information on Asia? I would suggest that the opposite may be the case, particularly when we ask our students to do the searching. Raw data without contextual information can l...

Book Review, Columns

Shots in the Dark: Japan, Zen, and the West

Shoji Yamada’s Shots in the Dark is a smart book that offers a new perspective on the thriving project of unmasking false representations of Zen culture. A well-crafted work of clarity and logic, Shots challenges the common notion of Zen-as-the-embodiment-ofJapanese essence by historically deconstructing two of Zen’s most potent international emblems. The first of these is the long-accepted sagacity of Eugen Herrigel, author of Zen in the Art of Archery, the other is the aesthetic perfection...

Book Review, Columns

Stones into Schools: Promoting Peace with Books, Not Bombs, in Afghanistan, and Pakistan

PENGUIN GROUP (USA) INCORPORATED, 2009 420 PAGES, ISBN: 0670021156, HARDCOVER Reviewed by Louise Nayer Stones into Schools chronicles Greg Mortenson’s journey into the most remote regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan to promote peace by building schools. This book, unlike Three Cups of Tea, is written in first person point of view which allows readers to fully enter Mortenson’s thoughts as he grapples with his role not only as he builds schools, focusing on girls’...

Columns, Film Review Essay

The Story of India

WRITTEN AND PRESENTED BY MICHAEL WOOD DIRECTED BY JEREMY JEFF MAYA VISIONS INTERNATIONAL, 2009 360 MINUTES ON 2 DISCS, DVD Reviewed by Marc Jason Gilbert For almost two decades, celebrity anthropologist Michael Wood has developed lavishly produced video documentaries exploring the world’s civilizations. In each, the slender, ebullient Wood, rarely off center screen, climbs ruins, rides trains, and sails the seas while attempting to provide sweeping, thematically comprehensive overviews ba...