Below are my choices of the most interesting articles about “Asia” appearing in the New York Times. “Asia” in a very broad sense: including all of South Asia, the Philippines, and the “-stans,” (Afghanistan, Kyrgystan…).
I’ve based my little archive on a giant archive being assembled daily by Kenneth Harris, Slippery Rock University, Slippery Rock, PA. Just about every day Dr. Harris, also mayor of Slippery Rock, sends subscribers to his service a summary of virtually all feature articles on “Asia” in the New York Times, plus a list of all news stories. I signed up when I first attended a National Endowment for the Humanities seminar at the East-West Center in Hawai’i as part of the Center’s Asian Studies Development Program (ASDP). Wow, Dr. Harris! Many thanks almost beyond words.
HERE ARE THE LINKS (going live when material becomes available):
- NY Times “Asia” 2005-2007
- NY Times “Asia” 2008
- NY Times “Asia” 2009
- NY Times “Asia” 2010
- NY Times “Asia” 2011
- NY Times “Asia” 2012
- NY Times “Asia” 2013
- NY Times “Asia” 2014
The articles interesting me the most exist at the nexus of the cultural and political, or they focus on the personal behind the news stories of the day. For example, on March 11, 2012, I made note of three articles:
“Japan Finds Story of Hope in Undertaker Who Offered Calm Amid Disaster,” about a retired undertaker, Chiba, who cared for nearly 1,000 bodies by performing ancient Buddhist rituals in the wake of Japan’s devastating tsunami.
“How India Became America,” Akash Kapur’s op ed complaining that, ”The Americanization of India brings prosperity and the collapse of social structures.” He notes that many are beginning to address their colleagues as “dude”!
“Out at Sea, Relaxing in the Philippines,” Dan Levin’s account of the pleasures of “an utterly aimless sailing and snorkeling trip near some lesser Filipino islands.”
Being Filipino, articles about the Islands always catch my attention, and so from April 25, 2012, I included the article ”Philippine Court Rules Aquino Estate Must Be Split Among 6,000,” which reports on a landmark Philippine Supreme Court decision ruling that the rambling estate owned by the family of President Benigno S. Aquino III, must be broken up and parceled out to more than 6,000 farmers and their families. The effort was to remove “a main obstacle to ending the oppressive plantation culture that has dominated the country for decades.”
My choices follow other interests I have had for years. Because I have used Chang Rae Lee’s great novel A Gesture Life several times in class, for example, I have followed the course of events bearing on the so-called “Comfort Women,” women forced into sexual slavery by Japanese soldiers during World War II. I noted, then, the May 19, 2012, article “In New Jersey, Memorial for ‘Comfort Women’ Deepens Old Animosity.” Over the years, I have added many articles about women striving for equality. On the other end of equality, I have been increasingly concerned about inequality, especially in the United States,* but all too-present everywhere. The September 1, 2012, article “In Vietnam, Message of Equality Is Challenged by Widening Wealth Gap” reports how the Vietnamese message of social justice and equality clashes “with the realities of an elite awash in wealth and privilege.” And there is India. I often think it is closer to me than the country of my birth. The Times series “India Ink” thus always grabs my attention.
My choices idiosyncratic, certainly, but hopefully still full of useful information and insight into “Asia,” a region whose rising dominance we have all noted for the last few decades.