Myron L. Cohen
Department of Anthropology
Columbia University

This course is a survey of social and cultural patterns in the East Asian societies of China , Japan , Korea and Vietnam . Emphasis is on the shared traditions that define East Asia as a culture area, on the growing involvement of East Asia and its component societies with the forces associated with cultural, social and political “globalization” historically and during recent decades, and on the particular characteristics of each society. Among the topics we consider with reference to these societies are local-level social organization and social change, the relationship between local communities and the nation as a whole, and globalization's impact at the local level.

Course Requirements :

There will be an in-class midterm and a take-home final examination. Both will cover classroom lectures and the assigned readings.

Required Readings:

  • All of the following required books are on reserve at the Starr East Asian Library in Kent Hall; they also are available for purchase at Labyrinth Bookstore.
  • Adrian, Bonnie. Framing the Bride: Globalizing Beauty and Romance in Taiwan's Bridal Industry . University of California Press, 2003.
  • Cohen, Myron L. Kinship, Contract, Community, and State: Anthropological Perspectives On China . Stanford University Press, 2005
  • Bernstein, Gail Lee. Haruko's World: A Japanese Farm Woman and Her Community with a 1996 Epilogue . Stanford University Press, 1996
  • Bestor, Theodore. Tsukiji: The Fish Market at the Center of the World . University of California Press, 2004
  • Hendry, Joy. Understanding Japanese Society . Third edition. RoutledgeCurzon, 2003.
  • Huang, Shu-min. The Spiral Road: Change in a Chinese Village through the Eyes of a Communist Party Leader . 2 ed. Boulder : Westview Press, 1998.
  • Ikels, Charlotte , ed. Filial Piety: Practice and Discourse in Contemporary East Asia . Stanford University Press, 2004.
  • Janelli, Roger L. and Dawnhee Yim. Ancestor Worship and Korean Society . Stanford University Press, 1982.
  • Kendall, Laurel . Getting Married in Korea . University of California Press, 1996.
  • Malarney, Shaun Kingsley. Culture, Ritual and Revolution in Vietnam . University of Hawai'i Press, 2002.
  • Watson, James L. Golden Arches East , Second Edition. Stanford University Press, 2005.
  • Zhang, Li. Strangers in the City: Reconfigurations of Space, Power, and Social Networks Within China 's Floating Population. Stanford University Press 2001.
Lecture Topics and Reading Assignments:

September 6, 8: Introduction: The Societies of East Asia

September 13, 15: China : Overview

Reading : Cohen, chs. 1-3

September 20, 22: China : Family and kinship

Reading : Cohen, chs. 4-7; Ikels, chs 1-4

September 27, 29: China : Rural Society

Reading : Cohen, chs. 8-9; Huang

October 4: China : Urban Society

Reading : Zhang; Ikels, chs. 5-6

October 6, 11: China : Religion and Ideology

October 13: The “Other Chinas”: Taiwan and Hong Kong

Reading : Adrian


October 20, 25: Japan : Overview

Reading : Hendry

October 27: Japan: Family and Kinship

Reading : Ikels, chs. 9-11.

November 1: Japan: Rural Society

Reading : Bernstein

November 3: Japan: Urban Society

Reading : Bestor

November 10: Japan: Religion

November 15: Korea : Overview

November 17: Korea : Family, Kinship, Religion

Reading : Janelli & Janelli; Ikels, ch. 7.

November 22: Korea : Rural Society

November 29: Korea : Urban Society

Reading : Kendall; Ikels, ch. 8.

December 1, 6: Vietnam : Culture, Society and State

Reading : Malarney

December 8: East Asian Societies: Unity and Diversity in Traditional Cultures and in Modern Social Change .

Reading : Watson