Asian studies sets for itself a very ambitious goal: an interdisciplinary understanding of nearly half the world. Within this mandate, students may choose to focus on a particular region within Asia, a particular time period and a particular discipline, or on a comparative subject that cuts across areas, times and disciplines. Though rooted in history, Asian studies also addresses the concerns, and draws upon the methodologies, of anthropology, literature, foreign languages, political science, religion, philosophy, sociology, economics, ecology and the arts.
Classes in Asian studies aim to develop four fundamental skills. Foundation classes call on students to (1) read critically and (2) write clearly about basic primary sources in translation and scholarly literature. More advanced classes and Plan tutorials require students to (3) define and execute research projects. These projects often entail fieldwork in Asia and work with documents in Asian languages. Finally, all Asian studies classes should help students to (4) cultivate a critical and imaginative appreciation for social systems different from their own.
My own interest in Asia grew from experiences living in Hong Kong and studying modern Chinese history. My dissertation explored the theories and practices of modernization, nationalism, socialism and colonialism in 20th-century China. More recently, I have become very interested in the history and contemporary practice of Daoism in China and abroad.
While I seek to aid students with interests in all corners of Asian studies, I am best versed in the areas of China, Japan and Southeast Asia, and the disciplines of history and anthropology. I especially welcome Plan work in the following fields:
Areas of Interest for Plan-level Work:
- Urban history
- History of migration
- History of Vietnam and the war with America
- Asian religions
- Ancient Chinese philosophy (Confucianism, Daoism, Legalism)
- Ethnicity and nationalism
- Relations between Hong Kong, Taiwan, and mainland China
- Modern Asian literature
- Social constructions of time and space
- Colonialism and imperialism
- Socialism and post-socialism
Good Foundation for Plan
Plans in Asian studies depend on preparatory work in a number of fields. Students develop disciplinary expertise in a separate field—most commonly history, anthropology or politics, but any field could work—and then apply the appropriate methodology to cases drawn from Asia. Usually this requires language study and, where possible, travel to Asia and fieldwork. Strong writing skills are essential for Plans in Asian studies.
The best way to prepare for a Plan in Asian studies depends a great deal on a student’s specific disciplinary and topical interests as well as prior experiences. However the following foundation will serve most students well:
- Discipline-specific foundation courses introducing the methodologies of history, anthropology, political science, literature, etc.
- Foreign language classes
- Intentions to spend time in Asia either on a study abroad program, the World Studies Program or doing independent research.
Students on Plan in Asian studies will want to include Asian Studies Junior Plan Research Seminar and Asian Studies Senior Plan Writing Seminar.
Sample Tutorial Topics
- Japanese Aesthetics
- Philosophy and Spiritual Identity in Traditional Chinese Martial Arts
- Study of Chinese Woodworking
- The Body in Japan
- Writing About the Body & Language in Japan
- Writing Bushido
- How Many Children
- Population Studies in Contemporary China
- Studies on the Contemporary Japanese Educational System