Monthly Archives: May 2021

Yangon

Yangon: formerly Rangoon City (metro. Area pop., 1996 est.: 4,000,000), principal seaport, and capital of Myanmar, on the Yangon River. It was a fishing village until the present city was founded c.1755 by Burmese King Alaungpaya, and developed into a port. The British occupied in 1824-26 during the First Anglo-Burmese War and again took it in 1852 during the Second Anglo-Burmese War. After the British annexation of all of Burma (Myanmar) in 1886, Rangoon became the capital city. During World War II the Japanese occupied it and it suffered severe damage. In 1988 it was the scene of severe repression of anti-government demonstrators by the military. It handles more than 80% of Myanmar’s foreign commerce.”

Excerpted from: Stevens, Mark A., Ed. Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Encyclopedia. Springfield, Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster, 2000.

 

Cultural Literacy: Indochina

Here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on Indochina, which is a region rather than a nation. It’s not a word much heard anymore. When I was a child in the 1960s, however, as the Vietnam War escalated and raged, it was a fairly commonly heard locution.

The term was coined by one Conrad Malte-Brun in the early nineteenth century as a way of emphasizing the influence (as you can hear in the word itself) of Chinese and Indian culture in Mainland Southeast Asia. Later, the modifier French was added to give us French Indochina, obviously a reflection of France’s colonial presence in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. In other words, this is a term invented by Europeans to describe several distinct ethnicities and cultures–another Orientalist trope.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

The Pandemic Continues

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Mark’s Text Terminal has undergone a number of major changes during the COVID19 pandemic while the author has been unemployed. The blog is now more searchable while at the same time fewer, and more descriptive (I hope) categories and compound tags serve to guide you toward what you seek. If you’re looking for the original COVID 19 at Mark’s Text Terminal post that was previously pinned here, you’ll find it here. If you have any questions about the material you find here, leave a comment with contact information (all comments on the blog require my approval, so you won’t be exposing your email address to the open Internet; I’ll delete your comment after I take your contact information from it) and I’ll get back to you. The only other change here is that I deleted the Twitter account associated with this blog: Twitter, for reasons that escape me, suspended my account, and I just don’t care enough about it to work at resolving whatever caused the suspension.

Stay safe, be well, and let’s all get back to educating children.

Ho Chi Minh on Sniffing Imperialist Dung

[Remark, ca. 1946] “It is better to sniff the French dung for a while than eat China’s all our lives.”

Ho Chi Minh, Quoted in Jean Lacouture, Ho Chi Minh: A Political Biography (1968) (translation by Peter Wiles)

Excerpted from: Schapiro, Fred, ed. The Yale Book of Quotations. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006.

The Weekly Text, May 7, 2021, Asian-Pacific Heritage Month Week I: A Reading and Comprehension Worksheet on Mao Zedong

This week’s Text, in observation of Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month 2021, is a reading on Mao Zedong along with its accompanying vocabulary-building and comprehension worksheet.

His image, when I was in high school, was instantly recognizable–though I must stipulate that I ran with a crowd that tended to have his one of his various complimentary portraits displayed. Back then, and perhaps now, he was a demigod a certain sort of political aficionado–the forgiving sort, to be sure. While Mao is unquestionably a world-historical figure, his balance sheet tips toward liability, especially in the light of the excesses of the Cultural Revolution and the Great Leap Forward. If one considers the Chinese Annexation of Tibet and its subsequent corollary, the Sinicization of that nation, Mao emerges, in terms of both domestic policy and statecraft, as an unmitigated disaster.

One could plan on unit on Mao and use it to examine a number of conceptual processes of history, including, war, revolution, peace, types of tyranny, utopias and their drawbacks and downfalls, the individual and the collective, political theory and practice, free and regulated markets, capitalism and communism–well, this list could go on at some length.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Yang Di or Yang Ti

“Yang Di or Yang Ti orig. Yang Guang (569-618) Second ruler of the Chinese Sui dynasty. Under Yang Di canals were built and great palaces erected. In 608 he built a great canal linking the rice-producing areas in the south with the densely populated north, and he extended this system in 610, contributing to what was to become the Grand Canal network. He embarked on military campaigns in Vietnam and Inner Asia. Three expeditions to Korea were so disastrous that the Chinese people turned against him; he was assassinated in S China. One of his former officials reunited the empire and established the Tang dynasty.”

 Excerpted from: Stevens, Mark A., Ed. Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Encyclopedia. Springfield, Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster, 2000.

Cultural Literacy: Chiang Kai-shek

Here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on Chiang Kai-shek, the Generalissimo, as he was known for his service to the Chinese National Revolutionary Army.

Like Mao Zedong (of which more tomorrow), Chiang is a controversial figure. His record of imposing the White Terror on the island of Taiwan says quite a lot about him, I think. 38 years is a long run of martial law by any standard I recognize. The Kuomintang, known for its excesses, used anxiety about the Chinese Communist Party to sustain oppression of political opposition across the period of the White Terror. As in most tyrannies, one example serves to illustrate the absurdity of the oppression, to wit the case of Bo Yang, who made the mistake of translating a Popeye cartoon in a way that didn’t conform to the Kuomintang political orthodoxy.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Ashrama

“Ashrama: The Sanskrit name for the four stages of life in Hinduism: (1) brahmacharin, the austere life of a student of sacred lore; (2) grhasthya, the life of a householder with wife and family; 93) vanaprastha, the life of a hermit, involving increasing separation from worldly affairs after birth of grandchildren; (4) sannyasin, the life of homeless wanderer, with all earthly ties broken. Combined with varna (‘caste’) and dharma, ashrama is integral to the basic Hindu doctrine of varnashramadharma, or sacred duty appropriate to one’s rank and stage of life.”

Excerpted from: Murphy, Bruce, ed. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Fourth Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.

Cultural Literacy: Brahmins

OK, on a rainy morning, here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on the Brahmin caste in India.

I don’t know how your school or district handles global studies, or world history, or whatever it calls a social studies survey course on world history, but in New York City we took a thorough, two-year excursion through the seven continents, the four oceans, and the seven seas. One social studies teacher with whom I co-taught did a very nice job of exposing and examining the caste system in India–and by implication, in the United States.

In any case, as the short reading on this half-page worksheets explains, the proper noun Brahmin has entered the English language as a descriptor of a wealthy and/or eminent person. If nothing else, the three questions on this document will lead students toward that understanding, thereby building their vocabularies.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Gennady Nikolaevich Aigi

“Gennady Nikolaevich Aigi: (1934-2006) Chuvash poet and translator. Aigi published six collections of poetry in his native Chuvash language in the period 1958-1988, and several translations into Russian. Later, however, he was only able to publish poems in Russian abroad, in Stikhi, 1954-71 (Poems, 1975) and the two-volume Otmechannaia zima (The Naked Winter, 1982). Aigi worked on various translation projects from the mid-1960s until the early 1980s. His best-known anthologies of translations into Chuvash include works of the French poets (1968) and the poets of Hungary (1974). In 1992, an English-language edition of Chuvash poems selected by Aigi—An Anthology of Chuvash Poetry—appeared in the West. Since the onset of Perestroika, Aigi’s poetry in Russian has once again been officially published in Russia—Zdes (Here, 1991) and Teper vsegda snega (Now There Is Always Snow, 1991). Aigi writes in free verse and searches for new means of expression to embody his vision; he sees the world as broken apart and composed of isolated images, and his metaphors are often abstract. Because his work can be obscure, he sometimes provides his own commentary.”

Excerpted from: Murphy, Bruce, ed. Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Fourth Edition. New York: Harper Collins, 1996.