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Drinking Bomb & Shooting Meth: An Interview with “Asia Shorts” Author Jeffrey W. Alexander

Last July, Hendrix College President and AAS Editorial Board Chair Bill Tsutsui introduced #AsiaNow readers to a new AAS book series, Asia Shorts. In these “small volumes with a big message,” Tsutsui explained, readers would find “rigorous, timely, and accessible work in our field,” written in concise, readable prose. We are happy to announce that the first Asia Shorts book is now available: Drinking Bomb & Shooting Meth: Alcohol and Drug Use in Japan, written by Pueblo (CO) Community College Dean of Arts and Sciences Jeffrey W. Alexander. Drinking Bomb & Shooting Meth relates the history of drug and alcohol production and sale in Japan between the late 19th century and the present day, using these substances as an entry point into an examination of the country’s cultural, social, and economic evolution over the decades. Here, Tsutsui interviews Alexander about his research, the challenges he faced in writing the book, and what’s most likely to be filling his own ...

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Best of the EAA Archives: Maritime History Edition

Maritime History is a field of study that often is not integrated into high school or beginning undergraduate survey courses. The articles and essay below, from our fall 2014 special section “Maritime Asia,” provide readers with a variety of choices that are applicable to world history, geography, and anthropology courses. The “Best of EAA Articles” are a series of posts that include outstanding articles, essays, interviews, and reviews that are among the over 1,500 archived open-access materials available on the Education About Asia website. Titles, short annotations, and links are below. • “When the World Came to Southeast Asia: Malacca and the Global Economy” Historian and Southeast Asia specialist Michael Vann uses a once-great port city in assisting readers to understand that Southeast Asia has played an important role for a long time in the global economy. • “Maritime Southeast Asia: Not Just a Crossroads” Historian and anthropologist Jennife ...

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Excerpt: The Book of Swindles

The roads and rivers of China saw a steady stream of travelers during the late Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), as merchants moved from place to place, creating a vibrant commercial network that bound together the country’s flourishing southern cities. On the road, however, people were vulnerable: cut off from familiar places and faces, it was easy to fall prey to the roving con men who had devised a plethora of get-rich-quick schemes that would relieve their victims of money and goods. English-language readers can now learn about a wide range of the frauds perpetrated in 17th-century China by picking up The Book of Swindles: Selections from a Late Ming Collection (Columbia University Press, 2017), written by Zhang Yingyu (fl. 1612-17) and recently translated by AAS Members Christopher Rea and Bruce Rusk, both professors in the Department of Asian Studies at the University of British Columbia. Zhang’s work, Rea and Rusk write in the book’s introduction, “presents a panoramic survey of dec ...

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#AsiaNow Speaks with Foong Ping

FOONG Ping is Foster Foundation Curator of Chinese Art at Seattle Art Museum and author of The Efficacious Landscape: On the Authorities of Painting at the Northern Song Court, published by Harvard University Asia Center and winner of the 2017 AAS Joseph Levenson Book Prize, Pre-1900 Category. To begin with, please tell us what your book is about. The book is about ink landscape painting, one of the most distinctive features of Northern Song dynasty culture. It addresses how these works fulfilled diverse functions at court during the late 11th century—as forms of decoration, as a medium of social exchange, and even as an integral element of this pivotal period’s political history. Through landscape’s unique ability to communicate through embodiment, they became potent symbols of imperial authority, and later became objects through which exiled scholars expressed disaffection and dissent. The first part of my study focuses attention on how and why the Song imperial establishment—emper ...

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#AsiaNow Speaks with Janet Gyatso

Janet Gyatso is Hershey Professor of Buddhist Studies and Associate Dean for Faculty and Academic Affairs at Harvard Divinity School, and author of Being Human in a Buddhist World: An Intellectual History of Medicine in Early Modern Tibet, published by Columbia University Press and winner of the 2017 AAS E. Gene Smith Award for Best Book in Inner Asia. To begin with, please tell us what your book is about. The book is about the history of science and its interactions—and tensions with—religion in the context of early modern Tibet (1300-1800). It studies the intellectual history of medical thought in Tibet, and contrasts it with Buddhist thought in the same time and period. It is also interested in the ways in which medical knowledge borrowed from Buddhist practices and values, while still maintaining a certain distance from religious world views. It uncovers deeply humanistic values and practices that were developed in medical circles in Tibet. And it also questions assumptions that empiricism a ...

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#AsiaNow Speaks with Jisoo M. Kim

Jisoo M. Kim is Director of the George Washington University’s Institute for Korean Studies and Korea Foundation Associate Professor of History, International Affairs, and East Asian Languages and Literatures. She is author of The Emotions of Justice: Gender, Status, and Legal Performance in Chosŏn Korea, published by University of Washington Press and winner of the 2017 AAS James B. Palais Book Prize. To begin with, please tell us what your book is about. By asking the question of justice in premodern Korea and how it was shaped by emotions, my book contends that the state’s recognition of the sentiment of being wronged permitted every subject regardless of gender or status to seek justice by voicing grievances to the state. This study illuminates the intersection of law, emotions, and gender in premodern Korea. In its approach, the work contests the typical image of the Chosŏn state (1392–1910) as being socially rigid because of its hereditary status system, slavery, and Confucian ...

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#AsiaNow Speaks with John Stratton Hawley

John Stratton Hawley (a.k.a., Jack) is Claire Tow Professor of Religion at Barnard College, Columbia University and author of A Storm of Songs: India and the Idea of the Bhakti Movement, published by Harvard University Press and winner of the 2017 AAS Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy Book Prize. To begin with, please tell us what your book is about. India celebrates itself as a nation of unity in diversity, but where does that sense of unity come from? One important source is a widely accepted narrative called the “bhakti movement.” Bhakti is the religion of the heart, of song, of common participation, of inner peace, of anguished protest. The idea known as the bhakti movement asserts that between 600 and 1600 CE, poet-saints sang bhakti from India’s southernmost tip to its northern Himalayan heights, laying the religious bedrock upon which the modern state of India would be built. In A Storm of Songs, I clarify the historical and political contingencies that gave birth to the concept of the b ...

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A Mother’s Memories Inspire a Daughter’s Journey

By Kathleen Burkinshaw The journey that led me to write The Last Cherry Blossom, a book for middle-grade readers about the atomic bombing of Japan, began about eight years ago with one question. My daughter was in 7th grade at the time, and something that happened in her history class had upset her. They would be covering the end of World War II that week; after class, she overheard some kids talking about how they couldn’t wait to see the “cool mushroom cloud picture.” She asked if I would speak to her class about the people under the mushroom cloud that day—people like her Grandma. I called my mother and asked if it was okay to tell others about her experience in Hiroshima. My mom was a very private person and never spoke about August 6th in public. When I was a young child, she told me she came from Tokyo. Only after I questioned her about the nightmares she had at the beginning of every August did she confide that she had actually been born in Hiroshima. She told me how she lost ...

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AAS Member Spotlight: Kathleen Burkinshaw

Kathleen Burkinshaw Author of the middle-grades historical fiction book, The Last Cherry Blossom Your discipline and country (or countries) of interest: Historical fiction; Japan How long have you been a member of AAS? Two months. Why did you join AAS and why would you recommend AAS to your colleagues? I want to be a part of a community that values Asian history and culture that I can learn from and contribute to. I visit with many schools to discuss my mother’s Hiroshima experience and The Last Cherry Blossom, and will be sure to mention the valuable information at #AsiaNow. How did you first become involved in the field of Asian Studies? I first became involved when my daughter was in 7th grade. Her class was studying World War II and she overheard some kids saying they couldn’t wait to see the “cool mushroom cloud” pictures. This deeply upset her and she asked me to visit her class and talk about the people under those now famous mushroom clouds— ...

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AAS Member Spotlight: Wen-hsin Yeh

Wen-hsin Yeh is Richard H. & Laurie C. Morrison Chair Professor in History at the University of California at Berkeley. She will deliver the keynote speech at this year’s AAS-in-ASIA conference at Korea University on Saturday, June 24. Your discipline and country (or countries) of interest: Modern Chinese History How long have you been a member of AAS? Possibly since 1983—I can’t recall! Why did you join AAS and why would you recommend AAS to your colleagues? I joined when I was a graduate student. AAS provided great opportunities to learn about the state of the field. How did you first become involved in the field of Asian Studies? I can’t say for sure. I have always been interested in history and I love reading books. One book leads to another. And I also enjoy working with documents—about recovering the circumstances of their creation. What do you enjoy most or what were your most rewarding experiences involving your work in Asian ...

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