Education About Asia: Online Archives

Modern China and India: Asian History or Third World History?

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Experts on China and India tend to stay away from each others’ fields. This is in stark contrast to the popular perception, shared by many undergraduate students, of Asia as a single historical and cultural entity that can be studied in a coherent manner. Of late, this notion has been buttressed by media attention on the “Asian” economic miracle, which as we know has now turned into the “Asian” economic crisis. While Asian Studies is now popular on campuses, with a growing number of conferences and professional bodies (the ASIANetwork consortium, for example1) to support the trend, scholars within the field still remain confined by the traditional demarcations: East Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and Central Asia. Perhaps the only time all these regions are really studied together is in the traditional Asian Civilization survey, generally taught to freshmen as a humanities requirement. Once faculty are done teaching this course, a task they do not always enjoy, they go back to their own areas of specialization.