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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 ...

#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 ...

#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 ...

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 ...

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—people like her gr ...

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