APP 101-01: Introduction to Asian Studies

T/TH 2:30-3:45pm SCC 601


Instructor: Katherine Chu, Ph.D.  
Office: SBS B-140 Office Phone: 310-243-1029
Office Hours: 12:00-1:00pm T & Th, 7:30-8:30am F, or by appointment Email:


Course Description

This course is designed for students with little or no previous study of, or experience with, Asia and is intended to be an introduction to Asia for those who might be thinking of pursuing Asian Studies in more depth. At the same time it is suitable as a “stand-alone” course, either for those interested in broadening their education through gaining some understanding of non-Western societies and traditions, or for those with an Asian Studies emphasis who wish to expand their knowledge of Asia beyond their area of specialization. It could also be of interest of Asian students who are curious about other Asian cultures and about the way the West looks at and studies of Asia.

APP101 focuses on a range of cultural areas, including South, Southeast and East Asia. It is intended as an introduction rather than a survey, and is composed of a broad cultural-geographical introduction followed by modules that provide a series of samplers that examine specific themes, issues and traditions. This approach is multi-disciplinary and, as well as being set in historical context, each module focuses on a core “text”, for example a novel or a film. By learning about the history, religion, literature, politics and popular culture of Asia, students will begin to see beyond commonplace perspectives and generalizations, gaining the skills to think in critical and informed ways about Asia and its place in the world. Students will also learn to foreground Asian voices and perspectives in the study of Asian cultures, and they will reflect on the ways in which issues such as orientalism, colonization, nation building and political culture shape contemporary Asia and its many representations. Through this course, students will be introduced to current research in the field of Asian studies, and they will carry out a small independent research project. Students from all departments and backgrounds are welcome to take this course. No prior knowledge of Asian language or culture is required.

At the end of this course, students should be able to demonstrate:

  • Learn about foundational themes in the historical and contemporary cultures of East, South and Southeast Asia, as well as key concepts and debates in the field of Asian studies.
  • Gain critical skills for approaching Asia’s place in world history and in contemporary global culture that enable one to have an informed perspective about Asia.
  • Learn to critique conventional media representations and culture stereotypes about Asia.
  • Develop the basic research and analytical skills necessary to responsibly approach the study of Asian cultures within any academic discipline or professional field.
  • Complete a small original research project in Asian studies.


The Facebook GROUP ( is a site where my students can interact with each other and share knowledge on Asia. This is a valuable place to network and to learn. I strongly recommend you join the GROUP, get involved and engage with the community. The GROUP is also a great resource for Asian studies.


Course materials include novels and films by Asian writers and filmmakers, as well as a number of documentary videos.


Rhoads Murphey’s text book, A History of Asia, provides historical and cultural contexts, and integrates the course is reserved at the Library. You may also check Kimball Charles, Chapters on India, Southeast Asia, China, Korea and Japan. Please check the website: [ONLINE]


Two features films are scheduled for viewing on Oct 17 and Oct 19.


Nora Okja Keller’s Comfort Women is required for presentation and discussion.


Other additional required readings are posted on Blackboard.


Before class, you will read all the chapters & videos according to the class schedule. Not all topics in these readings will be covered in class, but you are responsible for them on the exam and in class discussion.



During class time there will be a combination of lecture and discussion. All students are expected to participate in discussions. I will regularly lead discussions based on the course readings. I periodically ask you to answer questions based on those readings, so students should come to class prepared. A film (probably more than one) will also be shown and this film is a serious and integral part of the course. Attendance and note taking are expected.





Course Requirements

Below are a summary of course requirements and their share of the final semester grade:


Lecture Attendance 10%
Discussion Participation (including THREE Presentations) 25%
Map quiz 5%
Weekly Reading Journals (FIVE total equally weighted) 25%
Final Paper Pre-assignments (3 total) 15%
Final Paper            20%
                                                             Total 100%


Lecture Attendance (10%). This course is designed for motivated students who attend all lectures, do all the readings, and ask questions when they don’t understand. Preparation and attendance is required. “Required readings” in the class schedule must be read before each class. Active participation in discussions is required. Students who feel that they could learn as much on their own should not be in this class. No student, regardless of her or his performance, can pass this course without regular attendance. I may also use this component of the final grade to reward special contributions to the class, consider any mitigating circumstances, or penalize students for poor effort, sleeping during class, late arrivals, or irresponsible behavior.

Attendance will be taken every class meeting. In order for your attendance to be counted, you must be on time, not leave early, and be actively engaged during the entire class. You are allowed to have two (2) unexcused absences without penalty. Each additional unexcused absence will be penalized as follows: An unexcused absence = 3-point subtraction from final grade. (For example, if you have an 89 final average with 1 unexcused absence, your final grade will be 86). If you miss more than five (5) classes for this course, you cannot receive a grade higher than C. Eight (8) or more unexcused absences will result in an automatic failure for this course. If you experience life-altering circumstances and cannot attend class, seek advice from the Advising Office about withdrawing from the course.

An absence is excused if:

  1. You are required to participate in an official CSUDH activity (documentation required)
  2. You are under a doctor’s care (documentation required)
  3. You are granted a leave of absence from CSUDH for reasonable cause by an academic dean (documentation required)


Bear in mind you are now in a professional school, and a member of learning community. Thus you are expected to comport yourself as a professional person. For instance, be on time for class, do not leave the class while it is in progress other than emergencies, turn off cell phones and personal computers, be respectful of other’s viewpoints even if you disagree with them, and dress appropriately for a professional activity.


Discussion Participation (25%). Students are expected to participate in all discussion activities. Full participation includes all of the following: arriving on time, bringing the weekly reading to class in printed form, bringing a notebook, asking questions and making contributions to discussion, listening attentively when a classmate or instructor is speaking, and contributing to a positive class atmosphere in which everyone has opportunity to contribute. If students have concerns about their participation grades, they should speak directly with the instructor during office hours.


Student Presentation. Each student is required to give one presentation during the semester, which will count toward 5% of student’s overall course grade. Students mostly should work in pairs and will sign up during discussion in Week 1. The group will have approximately 7-10 minutes for the presentation. The purpose of student presentation is to give students a chance to gain a deeper understanding of material presented in the weekly readings and viewings and to share this knowledge with their classmates in a way that helps students better understand the reading and stimulate discussion.


Book Presentation/Film Discussion. Book presentation will take place in week 8, while film discussion will take be on week 10. Your job is to summarize each chapter or the films and present it to the class. Perhaps you can do some outside research. You should be prepared to talk about the book and the films with expertise. This presentation will count toward 5% of student’s overall course grade. Students should work in pairs and will sign up during discussion in Week 3. The group will have approximately 5-8 minutes for the presentation. And a written report is recommended to submit to the instructor on the day of the presentation/discussion.


Weekly Reading Journals (25%). Weekly reading journals are designed to evaluate students’ completion of the assigned readings/ viewings and to stimulate student’s active and critical engagement with the course materials. Journal are due by 11:59pm every Fridays and must be submitted electronically on Blackboard. The Journals will respond to the assigned readings and viewings for that week. Students are required to write FIVE weekly journals throughout the semester.

Reading Journal Grading Criteria: Reading journals should be at least 300 words in length (approximately half page, single-spaced) and should accomplish the following:

  1. Demonstrate completion of the weekly readings/viewings, usually by citing specific examples taken from these materials in your response;
  2. Provide critical reflection on the weekly readings/viewings based on your own personal thoughts and ideas.

How you organize your response is open, but be sure that you reference all of the readings/viewings somewhere in your response (references can be by title or author; no formal citations are needed). How you demonstrate critical reflection is open. Here are some questions you might consider: How do the readings/ viewings connect to issues discussed in lecture? What did you find most interesting about the readings/viewings and why? Do you agree with the ideas presented? What issues did the authors overlook? How do these issues or ideas relate to your own life or to things you are leaning about in other classes? Did this reading change your perspective on something?


Journals are worth 5 points total and will be graded using the following       rubric:

5          Excellent – shows completion of the assignment in its entirety;

4         Very good – nearly complete but missing some element;

3         Good – follow expectations but without any sources;

2         Fair – submitted late or missing a major element;

1          Poor – submitted late or provides no evidence of a comprehensive overview ;

0         No Submission


Reading Journals are graded on completion (not on providing “correct” answers), so students should not feel concerned if they did not fully understand the readings the first time. Students are encouraged to use discussion as a chance to ask questions about the readings and get further clarification. Assignments must be submitted on time to receive full credit. Reading Journals may be submitted late but will automatically receive a grade of 2/5, assuming they are complete in other ways.


Map Quiz (5%). In order for you to gain a better understanding of the course matter, it is necessary for you to know the locations of some places in Asia. I will distribute a detailed guideline on this assignment.


Final Paper Pre-Assignments (15%). During the final unit of the course, students will complete THREE short assignments designed to help them develop skills and stay on schedule for their final papers. These assignments will be submitted on Blackboard and will be due by the end of the assigned dates. Detailed requirements for these assignments will be provided separately.


Final Paper (20%). Students will complete one 1,500 words (about 3-page singled spaced) final paper for this course, which will be the culmination of research and writing carried out in the second half of the semester. The focus of this paper will be a cultural analysis of a single Asian primary source text. The term “text” here is very open, and students are encouraged to be creative and explore any medium of their interest. For example, students could choose to analyze a novel, an art work, a memoir or essays, a musical composition, a historical newspaper, a map, a play or dance performance, a film, a political event, a religious scripture or ritual, etc. If they contain language, sources may be analyzed either in their original language or in translation. Students will offer their own analysis of the primary source material, building on their own original research and interpretation and using skills and ideas developed in the course. Papers will be submitted on Blackboard before the end of December 8th.   Late submission, without a University excused absence, will be penalized by one letter grade for each day past the due date (e.g. a B becomes a B-). No late paper will be accepted after the end of December 12th. Detailed guidelines will be distributed in the middle of the semester, and students are encouraged to approach the instructors early to brainstorm possible topics.


Extra Credit: There are TWO (and only two) ways to receive extra credit – (1) write an extra Movie Reaction Paper; (2) attend a pre-approved public talk sponsored by on-campus units, after each of which you would write up (in an assigned due date) a 1-paged summary and analysis. Choosing any of these options will—assuming you do a good job—result in the participation component of your final course grade being raised by up to 3-point (for example, from a 87 to 90). But you can only pursue up to three assignments for extra credit; your main energies should be focused on mastering the materials in the readings and lectures and participating energetically in discussions.



MARK YOUR CALENDARS: Notify me if you have conflicts:


Map Quiz Sept 7
Final Paper Pre-Assignments Oct 31, Nov 16, Nov 29
Final Paper Dec 8



Grading Scale

This course uses the +/- grading scale. The corresponding percentages and point scores for each letter grade are outlined below:


Letter Grade Percentage
A 94-100
A- 90-93
B+ 87-89
B 84-86
B- 80-83
C+ 77-79
C 74-76
C- 70-73
D 60-69
F 0-59



Additional Issues & Class Rules

Please be sure you follow these basic class rules and policies throughout the semester:


Late Arrivals and Early Departures. I find people entering and leaving the classroom during lecture to be very unpleasant and distracting. If you know that you must leave early on a given day, please let me know before class. If you are more than 10 minutes late, please don’t come to class. Repeat offenders will find their semester grades reduced.


Checking the Internet, cellphones or laptops in class. This is rude; you’re not learning anything; and you annoy your fellow students. Therefore, please never do it in class. I will help you, because if I catch you doing it (and it’s easy to spot from the front of the room), I will reduce the participation component of your final course grade by up to 50% and invalidate all extra credit. This is a promise. And please don’t assume that if I haven’t warned you, I haven’t observed it.


So, I expect you to consistently behave in ways that demonstrate your respect for me and the course, your fellow students, and yourself.


Communication. I would like to encourage questions and comments in class as well as face-to-face communication after class or during my office hours. Email is the most common way for students and faculty to communicate outside of class. I try to answer messages promptly, but do not expect emails sent after 5 pm to be answered until after 8 am the following day. Also, check your university email account regularly; I use that address when sending messages related to the course.


Blackboard. I do almost everything through blackboard and email. You should check your lecture section page on blackboard every day for announcements, new posts, outlines, tips, and other information that I may not have had time to give you in class or that surfaced since class. Those who do not check this site will most likely not be prepared for class and miss important announcements and assignments.


Student Disability Services. If you have a documented disability as described by the “Definition of Disability” ( and would like to request academic and/or physical accommodations, please contact Disabled Student Services at Welch Hall (WH), B-250, phone 310-243-3660(voice) or 310-243-2028 (TDD). Course requirements will not be waived, but reasonable accommodations may be provided as appropriate. Please consult for more information on student disability services.


Academic Integrity & Plagiarism. All work submitted under your name is assumed to be your original work. The penalty for plagiarism (including self-plagiarism) and/or cheating in this class ranges from failure of the assignment to failing the course. Additional penalties are also possible. For purposes of a course grade, academic misconduct can result in a grade of “F” on the assignment, on the final grade, or both. A student who is unsure whether an action constitutes an offence, or who needs help in learning how to avoid offences (e.g., plagiarism, self-plagiarism, and cheating) should seek guidance from the course instructor, academic advisor or the Dean.   Please consult for more information on academic integrity.


A Final Caveat: Please, please, please keep up with the weekly assignments. This course is not too burdensome if you come to class and stay current with assignments. If you fall behind, however, and try to play catch-up at the last minute, you will easily become overwhelmed. If you are not prepared to devote at least 6 hours a week to this course, it’s very likely you’re going to fail this class.





*****Readings should be completed by the date indicated *****


Week 1: Asian Studies Overview


Aug 22 (T): (1) Introduction to the Course – Where is Asia? What is Asian Studies?




  1. Murphey, Introduction [Blackboard]
  2. Video: Intro to Asia Video (Link)


Aug 24 (TH): (2) – The Beginning of the Asian Civilizations




  1. India – Ashoka. Segments from The Word and the Sword: History of the World [Video File] (Link 1) (03:13) (Link 2) (03:45)
  2. Ancient India[Video file]. (1996). (50:05) (Link)
  3. Ancient China[Video file]. (1996). (50:12) (Link)
  4. China – Qin. Segments from The Word and the Sword: History of the World [Video File] (Link 1) (02:02) (Link 2) (02:14) (Link 3) (03:46)
  5. Murphey, Chapter 1; Chapter 4, 68-72; Chapter 5, p.90-93
  6. Kimball, Chapter 1 on India (Link), Chapter 3 on China (Link), the first two Topics which are “The Kingmakers of Qin” & “The Qin Dynasty)


Week 2: Asian Religions


Aug 29 (T): (3) – The Power of ideas: India’s religions


Readings/Viewings: [Presentation #1]

  1. The story of India: The power of ideas[Video file]. (2008). (54:57) (Link)
  2. Hinduism[Video file]. (1999). (57:30) (Link)
  3. Murphey, Chapter 2, p.28-32, p.40-43, p. 44-46


Aug 31 (TH): (4) – Understanding the Religions in China: The wisdom of faith


Readings/Viewings: [Presentation #2]

  1. Confucianism[Video file]. (1996). (56:00) (Link)
  2. Buddhism[Video file]. (1999). (57:15) (Link)
  3. Religions of China[Video file]. (1999). (58:14) (Link)
  4. Murphey, Chapter 2, p.36-40






Week 3: Asian’s Golden Ages I


Sept 5 (T): (5)– Mughal India


Readings/Viewings: [Presentation #3]

  1. The story of India: The meeting of two oceans[Video file]. (2008). (54:56) (Link)
  2. Murphey, Chapter 10
  3. Kimball, Chapter 3 (Link) Up to the topics of “The Moguls Besieged”.


Sept 7 (TH): (6) – Tokugawa Japan


Readings/Viewings: [Presentation #4]

  1. The age of the Shoguns (1600-1868)[Video file]. (1989). (51:29) (Link)
  2. Samurai Japan[Video file]. (1996). (47:14) (Link)
  3. Murphey, Chapter 12
  4. Kimball, Chapter 3 on Japan (Link)


Week 4: Asian’s Golden Ages II


Sept 12 (T): (7) – Golden Ages in China


Readings/Viewings: [Presentation #5]

  1. Forging the future: China’s industrial heritage[Video file]. (2000). (57:00) (Link)
  2. Voyage of the dragon king[Video file]. (2003). (48:28) (Link)
  3. Murphey, Chapter 5, p. 93-103; Chapter 8
  4. Kimball, Chapter 3 on China (Link), topics of “The Western Han Dynasty” & “The Xin and Eastern Han Dynasties; Chapter 4 on China (Link); Chapter 5 on China (Link) up to the Topic “Qianlong”.


Sept 14 (TH) (8) –Introduction to Research


Readings/ Viewings:

  1. Link 1 Link 2 Link 3 CSUDH Library Research



Week 5: Colonialism and Imperialism I    


Sept 19 (T): (9) – India, Inc.: European Colonialism in Asia


Readings/Viewings: [Presentation #6]

  1. The story of India: Freedom[Video file]. (2008). (54:56) (Link)
  2. Murphey, Chapter 13, Chapter 14
  3. Kimball, Chapter 3 (Link) From the topics “The West moves in” to the End.


Sept 21 (TH): (10) –The Opium Wars and the Self-strengthening in China


Readings/Viewings: [Presentation #7]

  1. The Opium Wars—China: 1750 – 1918. [Video file]. Films Media Group, 2015. (10:26) (Link)
  2. The Qing Dynasty—China: 1750 – 1918. [Video file]. Films Media Group, 2015 (11:41) (Link)
  3. Murphey, Chapter 15, Chapter 16
  4. Kimball, Chapter 5 on China (Link) from the Topic “The Opium War” to the End, Chapter 7 (Link)



Week 6: Colonialism and Imperialism II  


Sept 26 (T): (11) – Asian Imperialism: Japanese Empire


Readings/Viewings: [Presentation #8]


  1. The Meiji Period (1868–1912) [Video file] (1989). (52:00) (Link)
  2. Murphey, Chapter 17
  3. Kimball, Chapter 4 on Japan (Link)


Sept 28 (TH): (12) – The Pacific War


Readings/Viewings: [Presentation #9]


  1. Japan: Return of the samurai[Video file]. (2014).  (25:42) (Link)
  2. Murphey, Chapter 18 p. 382-392


Week 7: The Making of Modern Asia


Oct 3 (T): (13) – Expelling the West: Anti-imperialism and Decolonization


Readings/Viewings: [Presentation #10]

  1. The road to Indian independence[Video file]. (1990). (15:29) (Link)
  2. India after independence[Video file]. (1990). (20:12) (Link)
  3. The WPA Film Library: People celebrate independence in Pakistan and India ca. 1947[Video file]. (1947). (2:00) (Link)
  4. The WPA Film Library: Indian refugees flee violence following the division of India and Pakistan ca. 1947[Video file]. (1947) (01:13) (Link)
  5. Kashmir: The legacy of partition of India[Video file]. (2001). (22:37) (Link)
  6. The road to freedom: Gandhi[Video file]. (2009). (51:58) (Link)
  7. Murphey, Chapter 20
  8. Kimball, Chapter 4 on India (Link)



Oct 5 (TH): (14) – China’s Rise: New World Order


Readings/Viewings: [Presentation #11]


  1. The Chinese World Order[Video file]. (2016). (46:54) (Link)
  2. TEDTalks: Martin Jacques—Understanding the Rise of China[Video file]. (2011). (21:26) (Link)
  3. Inside China 1: The Rise of a Superpower [Video file](2014). (25:18) (Link)
  4. China inside out: Building relationships with the next superpower[Video file]. (2008). (41:32) (Link)
  5. Murphey, Chapter 18 p.392-409
  6. Kimball, Chapter 7 on China (Link) , Chapter 5 on Japan (Link)


Week 8: Literature in Asian History


Oct 10 (T): (15) Book Discussion – Comfort Woman


Readings/Viewings: [Presentation #12]

  1. Constable, P. (2015, April 22). 70 years later, a Korean ‘comfort woman’ demands apology from Japan. The Washington Post, p. The Washington Post, April 22, 2015. (Link)
  2. Spirits of the state: Japan’s Yasukuni shrine[Video file]. (27:48) (2004). (Link)
  3. Because we were beautiful: Indonesian comfort women tell their stories[Video file]. (2010). (52:05) (Link)



Oct 12 (TH): (16) Book Discussion – Comfort Women


Recommended Readings:

  1. Qiu, P., Zhiliang, S., & Lifei, C. (2014). Chinese Comfort Women: Testimonies from Imperial Japan’s Sex Slaves(Contemporary Chinese Studies). Vancouver: UBC Press. (e-Book Link)
  2. Hilbourn, N. R. (2013). American mansin: Representation of trauma and domestic resistance against imperialism in nora okja keller’s comfort woman and fox girl (Order No. 1543618). Available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global: The Humanities and Social Sciences Collection. (1431455300). Retrieved from (Download Link)
  3. Jeyathurai, D. (2010). Intergenerational Transmission of Trauma in Nora Okja Keller’s Comfort Woman. Asian Journal of Women’s Studies,16(3), 62-79. (Link)
  4. Gilbert, P. (2012). The Violated Female Body as Nation: Cultural, Familial, and Spiritual Identity in Nora Okja Keller’s Comfort Woman. Journal of Human Rights, 11(4), 486-504. (Link)


Week 9 Film in Asian History


Oct 17 (T): (17) Film Screening – City Life of Death (2009) (Link)


Oct 19 (TH): (18) Film Screening – The Flowers of War (2011)


Recommended Viewings: (See Oct 24’s Readings/Viewings)


Week 10: Film in Asian History


Oct 24 (T): (19) – Film Discussion


Readings/ Viewings: [Presentation #13]


  1. The Rape of Nanking[Video File]. (2007). Films Media Group. (1:43:21) Link [NOTE: a film on Iris Chang, author of the book The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II] (Link)
  2. The rape of Nanking[Video file]. (2007). (52:53) (Link)


Oct 26 (TH) (20) – How to write a research paper?



  1. Derntl, M. (2014) ‘Basics of research paper writing and publishing’, Int. J. Technology Enhanced Learning, Vol. 6, No. 2, pp.105–123.
  2. Ashby, Mike. (2015) “How to Write a Paper”. (Link)



Week 11: Critical Approaches in Asian Studies I


Oct 31 (T): (21) – Orientalism and Asia as “Other” to European and the U.S.


Readings/ Viewings: [Presentation #14]

  1. Said, Edward W. (1978). Orientalism, intro and the chap 1 (I-III) (Link) [Whole Book Download]
  2. Great thinkers: Culture wars[Video file]. (2011). (59:26) (Link)
  3. Edward Said 1986 Orientalism Full Documentary RARE (54:11)
  4. Edward Said On Orientalism (40:31)


*** Final Paper Proposal Due Oct 31 11:59pm


Nov 2 (TH): (22) – Critiques of Said’s Orientalism


Readings/ Viewings: [Presentation #15]

Issues: How valid is Said’s criticism to the study of Islam and is it applicable to other parts of Asia? Was the West also shaped by the East in similar characteristics and processes?


  1. Arif Dirlik, “Chinese History and the Question of Orientalism”, History and Theory 35, 4 (Dec 1996): 96-118. (Link)
  2. “Review Symposium: Edward Said’s Orientalism,” Journal of Asian Studies 39, 1980: 481- 517. (Link) (Link) (Link)


Week 12: “Yellow Peril”: Asia in American Imagination


Nov 7 (T): (23) – Pictures of the Exotic (Issue: What makes the National Geographic a model or unique for travel and explorer accounts? What in the stories, photos, perspectives, etc. that make the places and peoples exotic? How does people are “framed”?


Readings/Viewings: [Presentation #16]

  1. Lutz, C., & Collins, J. (1993). Reading National geographic. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. (p. 1-46) [Library Reserve]



Nov 9 (TH): (24) – Seductive Orientals (Issues: What do the Orient protagonists represent: an Oriental Despot, a noble savage, a colonized charm, a masculine fool, a clown, a mystic seduction, victim, or victor? What do the Western protagonists represent: civilization, secular missionary, enlightened femininity, prey, predator, victor or victim? Find out different narratives the same movie can create. )


Readings/Viewings: [Presentation #17]

  1. De la Campa, R., Kaplan, E., & Sprinker, M. (1995). Late imperial culture. London ; New York: Verso. (p.11-32) [Blackboard]
  2. Films: The King and I (1956) / Anna and the King of Siam /A Passage to India (1984)


Recommended Readings: Margaret Landon, Anna and the King of Siam or E.M. Forster, A Passage to India.



Week 13: Lifting the Curtain: Southeast Asia


Nov 14 (T): (25) – “Vietnam”: Country? Enemy? Mistake? Haunted past? Ghost? (Issues: What is “Vietnam” in American Films about the war? Is it an allegory? IF yes, or what? How, in what ways (techniques, narratives, special effects) is it represented as such? Compare these films and the ones on recent battles in Middle East and Africa.)


Readings/ Viewings: [Presentation #18]

  1. Dittmar, L., & Michaud, G. (1990). From Hanoi to Hollywood: The Vietnam War in American film. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press. [Library Reserve]
  2. Auster, A., & Quart, L. (1988). How the war was remembered: Hollywood & Vietnam. New York: Praeger. [Library Reserve], p. 1-22.
  3. Films: The Green Berets or Rambo II / The Deer Hunter/ Apocalypse Now/ Full Metal Jacket
  4. Murphey, Chapter 19, p.419-425
  5. Kimball, Chapter 5 on Southeast Asia (Link); Chapter 6 on Southeast Asia (Link) Topic on “Vietnam”


Nov 16 (TH): (26) – What happened in Burma/Myanmar?


Readings/Viewings: [Presentation #19]

  1. Aung Aung. (2013). Promoting Democracy in Myanmar: Political Party Capacity Building. IDEAS Working Paper Series from RePEc,IDEAS Working Paper Series from RePEc, 2013. (Link)
  2. Nilsen, M. (2013). Will democracy bring peace to Myanmar? International Area Studies Review,16(2), 115-141. [Link]
  3. Murphey, Chapter 19, p. 428-432
  4. Kimball, Chapter 6 on Southeast Asia (Link) Topic on “Burma”


Recommended Viewing

  1. Documentary: Mekong Region (248 mins) (Link)


*** Final Paper Primary Source Analysis Due Nov 16 11:59pm


Week 14: Work On Your Project


Nov 21 (T): (27) – Current Research on Asian Studies: Whitewashing in Asian Films?


Reading/Viewings: [Presentation #20]

  1. Film: Ghost in the Shell (2017)
  2. Kilday, Gregg. “Ghost in the Shell: How a Complex Concept, “Whitewashing” and Critics Kept Crowds Away.” April 2 2017. (Link)
  3. Rose, Steve. “Ghost in the Shell’s whitewashing: Does Hollywood have an Asian Problem?” (Link)
  4. Yamato, Jen & Justin Chang. Debate “Ghost in the Shell and the dangers of Hollywood whitewashing”. (Link)
  5. Feagin, J. R. (2009). Hollywood Films Are Racist. In R. Espejo (Ed.), Opposing Viewpoints. The Film Industry. Detroit: Greenhaven Press. (Reprinted from Screen Saviors: Hollywood Fictions of Whiteness, 2003, Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.) [Blackboard]


Nov 23 (TH): NO Class: Thanksgiving !


Week 15: Work On Your Project


Nov 28 (T): (28) Current Research on Asian Studies: Voices of Dissent


Readings/ Viewings:

  1. Voices of dissent: Freedom of speech and human rights in China[Video file]. (2008). (45:01) (Link)
  2. The Nobel Peace Prize Award Ceremony 2010.  [Video file]. (2010) (Link)
  3. “The Nobel Peace Prize 2010 – Presentation Speech”. org. (2014). (Link)
  5. Link, Perry. “At the Nobel Ceremony: Liu Xiaobo’s Empty Chair”, The New York Review of Books. (Dec 13, 2010) (Link)
  6. Lewis, Margaret K., Human Rights and the U.S.-China Relationship (May 26, 2017). 49 Geo. Int’l L. Rev. 471 (2017). (Link)


Nov 30 (TH): (29) Peer Review


*** Final Paper Fist Draft (1.5 pages) Due Nov 29 11:59pm


Week 16: Work on Your Project


Dec 5 (T): (30) Peer Review

***Final Research Paper Due Dec 8, 11:59pm


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FOREIGN FORCES at work in Hong Kong?

Hong Kong's Umbrella Movement and Beyond

[Like other blog posts, this one is regularly updated to reflect the latest developments, including the BBC controversy.]

Instead of blaming foreign forces, why doesn’t the HK government try to win back hearts and minds?

A student from HK asks this question: What is foreign and what is not foreign in HK? Good question. HK is not a fortress. Let us not forget that HK is an international city that is fully integrated with the rest of the world.

E.g., what do we make of HK’s brightest and richest — including top-level policymakers — who often have dual citizenship? They are both local and foreign.

HK has always invited and welcomed “foreign forces”. The HK government, the business sector, and civil society have always looked to the world for the best talents, best ideas and best practices, and have always tried to sell the best of HK to the world. It is hardly surprising that the Umbrella Movement…

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Time (Asia version) 10/13: Hong Kong Stands Up

Why the territory’s fight for democracy is a challenge for China

The typhoons that lash Hong Kong make quick work of umbrellas, the squalls twisting them into Calder sculptures of disarranged fabric and metal. On the evening of Sept. 28, prime typhoon season in this South China Sea outpost, flocks of umbrellas unfurled on the streets of Hong Kong. This time, they guarded not against rain and wind but tear gas and pepper spray. One of the world’s safest and most orderly cities—a metropolis of 7.2 million people that experienced just 14 homicides in the first half of this year—erupted into a battleground, as gas-mask-clad riot police unleashed noxious chemicals on thousands of protesters who were demanding democratic commitments from the territory’s overlords in Beijing.

As the first rounds of tear gas exploded in Admiralty, a Hong Kong district better known for its soaring bank buildings and glittering malls, demonstrators armed with nothing but umbrellas and other makeshift defenses—raincoats, lab glasses, ski goggles, milk and plastic wrap—defied the fumes and surged forward. The protests, drawing tens of thousands of people from all walks of life, were galvanized by mounting anger over Beijing’s decision in late August to deny locals the right to freely elect Hong Kong’s top leader, known as the chief executive (CE), in 2017.

When the onetime British colony was reunified with China in 1997, Hong Kong was promised governance under a “one country, two systems” principle that guaranteed significant autonomy for 50 years. But residents fear that, just 17 years after the handover, the freedoms that differentiate Hong Kong from everywhere else in China are eroding. Shocked by the volleys of pepper spray and tear gas, which injured dozens, the protest movement was energized by desperation. “We are not afraid of the Chinese government,” said Kusa Yeung, a 24-year-old copywriter helping to distribute water to fellow protesters just past midnight on Sept. 29. “We are fighting for a fair democracy.” The Umbrella Revolution had unfolded.

Hong Kong’s civil-disobedience campaign—which began Sept. 28 as the Occupy Central With Love & Peace movement, after the Central city district where it originated—soon occupied the city’s downtown, along with two key shopping and tourist districts. But while the sit-ins, with their umbrellas and yellow ribbons, captured the world’s attention, they will not topple China’s ruling Communist Party. The People’s Republic celebrated its 65th year of existence on Oct. 1 with a blaze of fireworks and militaristic pageantry in Beijing, a symbol of the party’s unquestioned grip on the country—though the fireworks were canceled in Hong Kong.

Still, the protests engulfing this tiny splinter of the motherland present China’s strongman President Xi Jinping with an unexpected dilemma at a time when the party is already facing scattered discontent at home. The side effects of three decades of unfettered economic growth—a poisoned environment, a growing income gap, rampant corruption—have contributed to an uneasy sense that, for all of China’s remarkable rise, things are not quite as they should be. “The Hong Kong protests are the last thing Xi Jinping wanted to see,” says Jean-Pierre Cabestan, a political scientist at Hong Kong Baptist University. “He has so many other problems to tackle.”

A canny nationalist, Xi and his coterie regularly blame “foreign forces” for fomenting social disorder in China. A scathing Sept. 29 online opinion piece in the People’s Daily, the Chinese Communist Party’s mouthpiece, accused the Hong Kong protests of being orchestrated by “anti-China forces … whose hearts belong to colonial rule and who are besotted with ‘Western democracy.’” But, if anything, the mess in Hong Kong, along with other instances of social unrest, are self-inflicted by China’s centralized leadership, which has done little to win hearts and minds on the country’s periphery. In his National Day speech in Beijing, Xi proclaimed that China’s leaders “must never separate ourselves from the people.” Yet, at the same time, the authorities detained mainland activists who expressed solidarity with the Hong Kong protesters.

Instead of taking advantage of Hong Kong’s inherently pragmatic temperament, the Chinese government spent the summer rubbing the territory’s nose in its political powerlessness. First came a Beijing white paper that asserted the central government’s “comprehensive jurisdiction” over Hong Kong and trod on treasured local institutions like rule of law. Then on Aug. 31 the Chinese government ruled that Hong Kongers could vote for their CE—but only after a Beijing-backed committee presented the electorate with two or three candidates it deemed suitable. (Currently, an electoral college selects the CE.) “Rejecting democracy in Hong Kong has dramatically backfired,” says Maya Wang, a Hong Kong–based researcher with Human Rights Watch. “People here have now lost confidence in the central government. Trying to clear the protests has just led to bigger protests.” Even if the demonstrators eventually disperse, this breach of trust fundamentally changes Hong Kong’s political calculus.

Protesters block the main street to the financial Central district, outside the government headquarters in Hong Kong
In a massive show of civil disobedience, protesters block the multi­lane thoroughfare leading to Hong Kong’s financial district. Carlos Barria—Reuters

The Umbrella Revolution
If the other democratic upheavals of recent years are defined by a single season or hue, the choice of an umbrella to symbolize Hong Kong’s dissent is as fitting as it is improbable. Umbrellas come in a riot of colors, matching a polyglot city that was birthed by quarreling Eastern and Western parents, neither of which gave much thought to gifting democracy to a few hunks of South China Sea rock.

Umbrellas are also a practical instrument, unsexy but vital, much like this financial hub that has long served as an entrepôt to the vast markets of mainland China. Efficiency is the city’s motto. This being Hong Kong, the protesters picked up their trash after the tear gas subsided. The volunteers who ferried in donated supplies even had sparkling water on tap, offering San Pellegrino to the parched hordes at nearly 3 a.m. on Sept. 29.
Neither the lingering memory of tear gas nor the advent of the workweek in this workaholic city diminished the crowds on Monday and Tuesday. As riot police withdrew amid a barrage of criticism for their tear-gas blitzkriegs, protesters further packed what are already some of the most densely populated places on earth, young families staking out spaces with bright parasols. William Ma, 47, brought his daughter Dorothy, 11, to one protest site on Sept. 30. “When I was young, democracy never came,” he said. “Maybe I’ll have died already, but she can have a better life, she can have democracy.”

The weekend’s anxious mood was replaced by a carnival gaiety, as stockbrokers mixed with the students who had helped kick-start the protest movement. High school kids did their homework on the pavement, squinting at their scientific calculators in the scorching sun. Some of the demonstrators admitted they were newbies, galvanized into political action by the heavy-handed police response. “[People] were just raising their hands without any weapons, and they used tear gas without any warning,” said Raymond Chan, a math teacher, who joined the movement on Monday. “But the fact that they did that just makes us stronger, more unified.”

Such a movement in Hong Kong threatens the national unity Xi and Co. are so keen to maintain. For all of Beijing’s emphasis on enhancing national security—the surveillance apparatus gets more official funding than does the military—China’s fringes are fraying. Beyond Hong Kong, the vast ethnic enclaves of Tibet and Xinjiang are rebelling, with violence in the latter largely Islamic region claiming hundreds of lives over the past year. Taiwan, the island that Beijing has desperately wanted back ever since Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists fled there after losing the civil war in 1949, has been assimilating economically with the mainland. But the Hong Kong crisis has spooked even ardent integrationists in Taiwan, making it hard for Xi to argue that “one country, two systems” can bring the island back into the fold. Even activists in tiny Macau, the former Portuguese outpost that slid back into Beijing’s embrace in 1999 even more eagerly than Hong Kong had two years before it, are demanding more latitude in choosing their local leader.

Hong Kong’s cry for freedom resonates far beyond its 400 sq miles (1,035 sq km); it directly challenges the narrative of a unified People’s Republic. “The truth is Hong Kong is more than ready for democracy,” wrote Anson Chan, Hong Kong’s former chief secretary, the No. 2 leadership post in the territory, in an exclusive commentary for TIME. “It is China that is not ready for a democratically governed Hong Kong it fears it cannot totally control.”

Alternate Universe
Three decades ago, when prime ministers Margaret Thatcher and Zhao Ziyang signed the Sino-British joint declaration setting the conditions for Hong Kong’s return to China in 1997, the then colony was considered an apolitical place, a striving city of businessmen and bankers who would obey whoever was in charge—as long as there was money to be made. Back then, it was communist China that was in the throes of political tumult. Five years later, tanks crushed the pro-democracy student protests at Tiananmen. Hundreds, if not thousands, of students and other peaceful demonstrators were massacred. Political passion was cauterized on the mainland, and the Chinese leadership learned the perils of allowing idealistic students to preach reform in public places.

Xi has used nationalism to argue for an even stronger central command. As China’s military chief, he has taken a more assertive stance on territorial disputes in regional waters, irritating China’s neighbors. Since assuming power in late 2012, Xi has also presided over a civil-liberties crackdown, detaining hundreds of human-rights defenders, from lawyers and bloggers to journalists and artists. He has shown no allergy to repression if it means protecting the party from the people. In September, Ilham Tohti, a moderate academic from the Uighur ethnic minority that populates Xinjiang, was handed a life sentence for separatism. His true crime? Calling on the Internet for China to respect its own regional autonomy laws.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong was busy finding its political voice. Each Tiananmen anniversary, tens of thousands gather for candlelight vigils in Hong Kong, the only place in China where such remembrances are allowed. In 2012 locals balked at a proposal to incorporate patriotic dogma into their education system; a protest movement actually succeeded in scrapping that school legislation.

At the same time, Hong Kongers discovered that their territory’s competitive advantages—unfettered courts, a vibrant press, financial transparency, a clean civil service and a welcoming attitude toward foreigners—were precisely what kept the enclave from becoming just another Chinese city. If Beijing threatened these core values, what were Hong Kong’s prospects? “Hong Kong is still unique, but we see the relentless downhill trajectory,” says Willy Lam, an adjunct professor at the Center for China Studies at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

One Country, Two Systems
It’s easy, now, to track the seemingly inevitable collision course between Hong Kong and China, between these two vastly different systems trying to coexist in a single nation. Any attempt to narrow the gap looks clumsy. Leung Chun-ying, the unpopular, Beijing-backed Hong Kong chief executive, tried to bridge the disparity, amid calls for his resignation. “Hong Kong is a democracy within the context of ‘one country, two systems,’” he said on Sept. 28, before the pepper-spray charge began. “It is not a self-contained democracy.” Leung went on to characterize the chief-executive selection process as “not ideal, but it is better.”
Better isn’t good enough, particularly for the young generation that has taken to Hong Kong’s streets with the greatest numbers and the greatest passion. Like their counterparts on the mainland, these youths struggle with the realization that their material lives might not improve as expansively as their parents’ once did. Hong Kong’s prime method of wealth creation needs to diversify beyond real estate, just as the rest of China’s must. Housing prices have spiraled so high that ordinary young people in big cities must save their whole lives to afford their own homes.

Han Dongfang, a labor activist who was jailed for helping to organize the Tiananmen protests 25 years ago and who now lives in Hong Kong, says the territory’s young activists today “know more clearly what they want” than he did back when he was a youth leader. On Monday night, in the sweaty, swarming district of Mongkok, a 76-year-old tailor named To Fu-tat gave great consequence to Hong Kong’s students. “They’re the hope for China,” he said.

Yet student activists—no matter how much civility they display with their civil disobedience—are precisely what Beijing fears most. It is within the Chinese establishment’s political memory that the Tiananmen tragedy looms largest. Regina Ip was forced to resign as Hong Kong’s security chief in 2003 after half a million locals marched against the anti-subversion legislation she supported. Today she is a legislator heading the New People’s Party. “My own feeling is that the [Occupy] organizers have arranged the whole movement to replicate another Tiananmen incident in Hong Kong,” she says. “What about the interests of Hong Kong people like us? We want peace and stability. Issues … should be resolved through constructive dialogue not through street protests.”
Polls taken in Hong Kong show that a significant chunk—roughly half of the populace, by one estimate—is willing to accept Beijing’s electoral formula. Protests are bad for business and, for all the Tiananmen scare­mongering, it’s hard to imagine Xi ordering Chinese troops to crack Hong Kong heads. Still, given his antipathy thus far toward political reform, it’s equally hard to see him ceding significant ground to Hong Kong’s democratic forces. Even the protesters themselves don’t imagine their full demands—both the resignation of CE Leung and true electoral freedom to choose the territory’s leader—will be met. “It’s very unlikely that Beijing will reverse its position,” says Audrey Eu, chair of the Civic Party, which has supported the Occupy movement. “But the people of Hong Kong must stand up and defend themselves.”

The Umbrella Revolution has already gained a wider significance. “People in China think Hong Kong belongs to China,” says Julian Lam, a 20-year-old student. “But people in Hong Kong think that Hong Kong is part of China but belongs to the world.” With each Hong Kong citizen who emerged, coughing and crying, to face another round of tear gas, a conviction grew: a quest for liberty is not, as the Chinese government charges, some Western-imposed frippery designed to undermine Beijing’s authority, but a universal aspiration. Let the umbrellas of the world unite. —with reporting by Elizabeth Barber, Rishi Iyengar, Emily Rauhala and David Stout/Hong Kong

See Hong Kong Pro-Democracy Protesters Clash With Police
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Here is the full text of the Chinese Communist Party’s message to Hong Kong

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China Scholars Twitterati 100

Dr Jonathan Sullivan Hompeage

Welcome to the China Scholars Twitterati 100, 2014 edition. The following annotated list is an expanded and all-new version of the inaugural list published here last year. My goal with the list this year is to bring attention to some of the scholarly experts active on Twitter who may be less well-known than superstars like @jwassers, @fravel and @LetaHong. Therefore the 2014 edition does not include anyone from last year. It’s nothing personal—and if you haven’t seen last year’s selection please do so.

To be included on the list, people had to be currently employed at a University in a research and/or teaching role (this excludes recovering academics, policy analysts at think tanks, and collectives) and to have academic publications on China (and/or Taiwan). Tweeting activity had to reach a certain threshold in terms of number of tweets and consistency/recency. Following me was NOT a criterion for…

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