Education About Asia: Online Archives

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Curriculum Materials Review

From Silk To Oil: Cross-Cultural Connections Along the Silk Roads

The Silk Road, a series of interconnected trade routes linking the Far East with the Mediterranean, enabled cultural exchanges significant to the advancement of the greatest civilizations throughout Asia and Europe, and helped lead to the development of our modern world. Consequently, the cultural exchanges conducted along the Silk Road have had effects far greater than the over 5,000 miles that the routes cover. From Silk to Oil, a curriculum guide for educators, serves as a tool to facilitate ...

Film Review Essay, Resources

Donald Richie: Throne of Blood and the Films of Akira Kurosawa

Many Western educators would have a more difficult time deciphering much of twentieth-century Japanese film without the aid of author and critic Donald Richie. Author of more than forty books, including dozens on film, Richie’s rewarding relationship with Japan has lasted nearly sixty years. His writing is a Rosetta stone for those who may be mystified by elements of Japanese film and its most famous director, Akira Kurosawa.

EAA Interview, Resources

EAA Interview with the 2006 Franklin R. Buchanan Prize Winners

This is our tenth interview with Franklin R. Buchanan Prize winners. The Association for Asian Studies awards the prize annually for the development of outstanding curriculum materials on Asia. The 2006 prize was awarded for the teaching guide From Silk to Oil: Cross-Cultural Connections Along the Silk Road (funded by the US Department of Education and produced by the China Institute in America, 2005). Project directors included Morris Rossabi, Nancy Jervis, and Marleen Kassel. Others crucial to...

Feature Article

China 1905–1908: Harrison Sacket Elliott’s Letters and Photographs

While a student at Ohio Wesleyan, Harrison Elliott served as secretary to President J. W. Bashford. When Bashford became the Bishop in charge of the Methodist Church’s work in China, he asked twenty-two-year-old Elliott to accompany him on his inspection tours of China and serve as his stenographer. Between 1905 and 1908, Elliott helped organize the Bishop’s trips, took charge of all his correspondence, and detailed their experiences in several hundred photographs taken with a bellows camera...

Feature Article

A Voice for Southeast Asian Muslims in the High Colonial Era: The Third Baron Stanley of Alderley

The years 1873 and 1874 are seen as a turning point in the colonial advance in Southeast Asia, when Britain and the Netherlands aggressively imposed their rule on areas they had decided between themselves to be their destined territories. An 1824 Anglo-Dutch treaty declared that Sumatra was to be a Dutch sphere and the Peninsula (contemporary Malaysia and Singapore) a British one. Another treaty in 1871, following the opening of the Suez Canal, intensified European trade and traffic through the ...

Feature Article

Asian Travelers’ Visions of Britain and Ireland in the Early Modern Period

Much of world history, and even Asian history, often appears centered on Europe and on distinctions between Europeans and others. In particular, many prominent scholars have shown how European travelers’ accounts contributed to the post-Enlightenment development of early “modernity” that valued the “discovery” of other peoples and places and that also led to European colonial rule over much of the globe. Undoubtedly, European imperialist incursions into Asia linked parts of the world a...

Feature Article

Bringing Japanese Pop Culture Travelers into Your Classroom: Perils, Pitfalls, and Payoffs

No discussion of Japanese travelers is complete without mentioning the most widely traveled and influential figures to have ever left the country. They’ve been everywhere, representing their nation and their culture, and wherever they’ve gone they have left an indelible impression. They are the icons of Japanese popular culture—everything from Hello Kitty to Pokemon. But perhaps the most widely traveled figures in Japanese popular culture have come from the movies. Among the most familiar ...

Feature Article

Crooked Cucumber Comes to America

From an early age Shunryū Suzuki, a Japanese monk, dreamed of bringing Buddhism, as he understood it, to the West, the way of his teachers and ancestors. He not only dreamed, he studied hard, prepared, struggled, suffered, and matured. It took so long to come true he almost gave up his dream. He later said it was good he hadn’t gone earlier, for he wasn’t yet ripe. And neither was America.

Feature Article

The Mikado, Guranto Shogun, and the Rhapsody of US-Japanese Relations in Early Meiji

Relations between the United States and Japan, relatively close compared to Japan’s relations with European powers during the Meiji era (1868–1912), reached their pinnacle with the three-month visit of General Ulysses S. Grant (1822–85) to Tokyo and its environs during the summer of 1879. Although only a private mission, the Japanese accorded Grant an exuberant welcome and readily sought his advice on a variety of issues that impacted their modernization program. Grant played a key role in...

Feature Article

Looking Both Ways: The Use of Meiji Travel Literature in the Classroom

Although thirty-seven years have passed since my initial visit to Japan, the memories of my first twenty-four hours in Tokyo remain sharply etched in my memory. I still can see— and feel—it all: the dark rain of the first night, the customs officials’ rigidity, the hard bed at the Asia Center, the spaghetti lunch that came when I thought I had ordered a hot dog, the embarrassment of wearing my shoes into the living room of my new apartment, the lovely sour/sweet taste of the Calpis drink m...

Feature Article

Travel Matters: An Indian Subaltern’s Passage to China in 1900

“On June 29, 1900, I, together with the ‘headquarter’ [commanding officers] of the 7th Rajputs, a Bengal regiment, boarded the ship Palamcotta at Calcutta.” This opening line sets the stage for Chin meh Terah Mas (Thirteen Months in China), an account of a “yudh yatra” or war travel (yatra also means a journey, tour, trip, or pilgrimage) penned by an Indian subaltern named Thakur Gadhadhar Singh. He was a subaltern both in the military sense (i.e., a subordinate Indian noncommissione...

Film Review, Film Review Essay, Resources

Spirits of the State: Japan’s Yasukuni Shrine

One of the most difficult issues to teach and explain, whether in the classroom, in public forums, or in friendly conversations, is the seemingly implacable rift between Japan and its neighbors. Sixty years after a catastrophic war in the region, when one would think time would have healed at least some of the wounds, the divisions between the countries in East Asia appear to be growing wider rather than narrowing. Political concerns go a long way to explicate these divisions—the rise of China...

Book Review Essay

Teaching Wu Jingzi’s The Scholars

It is always pleasant to be able to assign a work that is both iconic and fresh. Wu Jingzi’s (1701–54) The Scholars is just such a work. It is rightfully considered an important novel in the Chinese tradition, and yet it is not a work that students are familiar with. This novel is ideal to use in either literature or history survey courses for its unique representation of late imperial Chinese culture and society.

Feature Article

The Travel Records of Chinese Pilgrims Faxian, Xuanzang, and Yijing: Sources for Cross-Cultural Encounters Between Ancient China and Ancient India

The spread of Buddhist doctrines from India to China beginning sometime in the first century CE triggered a profusion of cross-cultural exchanges that had a profound impact on Asian and world history. The travels of Buddhist monks and pilgrims and the simultaneous circulation of religious texts and relics not only stimulated interactions between the Indian kingdoms and various regions of China, but also influenced people living in Central and Southeast Asia. Indeed, the transmission of Buddhist ...

Film Review Essay, Resources

China Rises

China Rises represents an extraordinary international collaboration that pooled the resources of documentary makers in the United States, Canada, Germany, France, and the United Kingdom to accomplish a project literally and figuratively too large for any to complete alone. The result is an exquisitely photographed and thoughtfully scripted introduction to the “new” new China in the era of economic reform. This documentary portrait of China refuses to get trapped in stereotypes—for every ec...

Book Review, Resources

A Concise History of Korea: From the Neolithic Period through the Nineteenth Century

Michael J. Seth’s A Concise History of Korea: From the Neolithic Period through the Nineteenth Century (2006) is exceptional and in many ways tops nearly every chronological narrative I have read on Korean history and culture. His book provides an appreciation of the remarkable durability and stability of pre-modern Korea, a foundation for understanding mod­ern Korea, and, more than any other source, an understanding of Korea’s distinctive culture. Five historical maps, primary documents, a...

Resources, Web Gleanings

Web Gleanings: Asian Literature

Title: The World of Asian Books URL: This is a Library of Congress Interactive Guide to their Asian book collection. By going through this guide, one can see the variety and breadth not only of the Library’s collection, but of Asian literature itself.