EAS103 Final Essay, F21
The following are suggested topics for the final essay. Please also review the essay and
citation guidelines from the first essay.
1. “Mainstream historiography,” Peter Shapinsky writes, “has tended to ignore the histories
of seafarers and to overemphasize the development of land-based institutions”
(“Predators, Protectors, and Purveyors,” 304). The history of East Asia is frequently
told as the histories of three land-based regimes. Does East Asia look different if
“viewed from the sea?” In what ways might the maritime view challenge mainstream
histories of East Asia? Are there land equivalents to the maritime “space between”?
Do you believe that taking such places (and the peoples who inhabited them) into account
alters the history of East Asia? A place to start thinking about this topic might
be to compare the view of the world in Kangnido map with the picture of East Asia
provided by the Selden map.
2. In 1444, a scholar-official under King Sejong in Joseon Korea wrote a memorial in
which he stated,
As we share with China at present the same writing and the same institutions,
we are startled to learn of the invention of the Korean script. Only such peoples
as the Mongolians, Tanguts, Jurchens, Japanese, and Tibetans have their
own writings. But this is a matter that involves the barbarians and is unworthy
of our concern. It has been said that the barbarians are transformed only by
means of adopting Chinese ways; we have never heard of Chinese ways being
transformed by the barbarians (de Bary, Sources, 575-6).
Think of this statement in conjunction with Han Yu’s memorial on the relic of the
Buddha and the other works we’ve read about East Asian cultures’ understanding of
difference. How did premodern East Asian cultures define “barbarians”?
3. To what extent do the variations in folk tales and folk culture common to different regions
in East Asia reflect differences in systems of thought, political life, religion, and
value systems? What social, cultural, or political factors may have inspired different
E A S 1 0 3 , F a l l 2 0 2 1 Prof. Thomas Keirstead
EAS103 Final Essay, F21
regions to adopt different versions of the same tales? Conversely, what factors might
account for any similarities you note?
4. Historians tend to cite the voyages of Western explorers to the New World, around
Africa to the Indian Ocean, or across the Pacific to East Asia as the beginning of globalization.
Should other movements in other time periods also count as periods of
globalization? (If so, what movements? What time periods?) What qualifies a moment
as a period of globalization?
5. What impact did the military have on society in East Asia? Argue for or against the
following statement: warriors and aristocrats constituted two different and opposed
social classes, with markedly different approaches to power. Provide examples from
the readings to defend your position.
6. Women figure prominently in the folk tales, religious parables, and other works of
fiction we have read. Why is this the case? How are women portrayed in these
works? How does the portrait of women emerging from such texts compare with that
set out in more official circumstances, such as the neo-Confucian texts discussed by
7. How does “Neo-Confucian East Asia” differ from “Buddhist East Asia” in its conception
of such ideas as state, national identity, and “East Asia”? Is such a distinction
meaningful? Obviously you will not have space to address these subjects individually;
you will need to think about how they are interrelated and about how Neo-Confucian
approaches to these notions might differ from Buddhist ones. Or perhaps you’ll
want to argue that the differences aren’t so great.
E A S 1 0 3 , F a l l 2 0 2 1 Prof. Thomas Keirstead
Your essay should be about 2000 words in length. A draft of your essay is due via Quercus
on November 19th. It will be marked and returned to you with comments and suggestions
for revision. If you receive a mark of 80 or better, revision is optional; for
everyone else, the revised essay is due December 10th.
For this essay, I’d like you to find and make use of a minimum of three outside sources.
Of course, you should make full use of the assigned readings, but this essay will also be
an opportunity for you to exercise your research skills. The outside sources must be
quality academic sources—books, journal articles, chapters in edited collections, for example.
Simply Googling the essay topic will not do. Make use, instead, of the library’s
resources for finding scholarly materials.
Unexcused late papers will be penalized three points for each day they are late. The description
of our expectations and the citation guidelines that accompanied the short essay
apply to this essay as well. What follows is a quick rundown of the most important
aspects of writing the essay:
1. Choose one of the topics.
2. The questions are meant to guide your thinking. They are not a proposed outline
for your essay. You do not need to—and should not—answer the questions one by
3. The most important aspects to writing an essay are, first, to develop an argument—
an opinion about the topic—and, second, to back up that argument with evidence.
So, I expect that you will make extensive use of the readings, particularly the readings
from primary sources. I also expect you to make use of the resources available
through the library to identify external sources.
4. Do not use Wikipedia or other online websites as sources; the information available
on the internet about premodern East Asian history is particularly unreliable and
can easily lead you astray. The random information available on Wikipedia also
tends to be very general; your essay should be much more focused and deal with
specific examples. The only portal you should be using to find external sources and
information is the UofT Libary’s website. For tips on how to get the most out of
E A S 1 0 3 , F a l l 2 0 2 1 Prof. Thomas Keirstead
searching the Library’s collections, see https://guides.library.utoronto.ca/librarysearchtips/
5. How you present your ideas matters almost as much as the quality of your ideas
themselves. Proofread your essay, and if you’re unsure about grammar or other
aspects of writing, have some one look over a draft of your essay: the writing centre
at your college is an excellent place to start. For more information about the writing
centres and about how to book an appointment, see the writing centre website:
www.writing.utoronto.ca/writing-centres. The UofT has lots of useful advice about
how to write well. See the webite: www.writing.utoronto.ca.
The Impact Did The Military Have On Society In East Asia
One of the fundamental features in the current development of countries within the East Asian region has been the central function of the military in the social and political affairs.after the Cold War, the military forces were active intervenors in the policies of these countries. While the active intervention of the military in society is considered an exception, in these countries, the intervention of the military in political affairs was considered quite normal. It is prudent to note that the military is primarily a state apparatus and a tool to be used by the ruling class. To this effect, their active participation would have an effect of developing two opposite social classes depending on their economic status. The military forces constituting warriors and aristocrats would have a considerable impact on the societies within East Asia specifically through the establishment of two different and opposed social classes, with markedly different approaches to power.
The Impact of the Military in the Society in East Asia
Generally, the region’s shift towards maritime force-building and strategies would be extensive such that at least 50% of the states were involved and deeply entrenched. This would be proven by the dramatic changes that happened to their military resources such as equipment, manpower holdings, the promotion of various officers to greater positions within the military hierarchy and national leaders constantly speaking oig the military strategy. For instance, in the last half of the 20th century, many naval officers got promoted to higher military positions in Mainland China and North Korea. Different countries would implement different strategies to ensure their military capacities.
It should be noted that military organizations have a higher propensity of being drawn towards or seeking to develop political coalitions with civilian actors with similar perspectives in matters especially when the legitimacy of the political structures is facing challenges. Military explanations have never explained the military interventions because the latter only makes up one of the particular manifestations happening within the broader phenomenon in the underdeveloped societies. Military forces are mainly focussed on the general politicization of social forces and institutions. When a political institution is being challenged in terms of its legitimacy, then social groups could organize themselves to take direct actions to set up a new order or be defensive against any actions poised by their adversaries. In such situations, the likelihood of one or the two sides looking for allies from potential candidates within the military goes up. The appeals exert additional pressure in the military parties to become part of politics
After the second world war, the countries in the East-Asian region started to regain their power or emerge through collaborations. However, these collaborations among the states were generally frail and weak hence being considered susceptible to different forms of military intervention. Many of the countries that were facing this risk in the mid 20th century had their governments respond with military strategies so that stability would be maintained and anyone harming the political regime was overthrown. It is prudent to hence acknowledge that the military became a strong political actor in these countries. For instance, South Koprea and Thailand had historically had its military as the single most powerful institution and for the civilian authoritarian regimes such as Taiwan, the military was integrated into the ruling power bloc. Therefore, in all the different countries, the military exerted considerable influence on various political issues and conducted multi-functional obligations related to national security law enforcement and building the countries. The authoritarian rules in the region would constantly depend on the coercive capabilities of the military in guaranteeing regional security while maintaining law and order. Additionally, the military folklore in both Thailand and Indonesia would assert that their military forces were not mere elements of their country but rather the creators of these countries. Even South Korea and Taiwan where the military was considered an agent for building the country. This role would be downplayed as the military imagined themselves as the narrators of the country’s survival and the defenders to communist subversion.
Given the constant interactions between the military and politics during the auritarian duration, it is to be expected that a reduction in military influence over the political realm is fundamental in a democratic government. For Taiwan, the political power would react to the dominance of the KMT party and its leaders. As the country was trying to move towards democratization, it was as if the political influence of the military was growing, President Lee who was confronted with opposition from the conservative mainlander faction chose to appease and co-opt the military. The president together with his successor worked towards strengthening the position of government vis-a-vis the military through the promotion of professional soldiers and increasing the share of native Taiwan citizens into the military leadership. This became an important assessor counterbalancing the conservative elements within the officers;’ corporation and steadily mitigated the potential of the military in opposing public policy.
It is important to note that despite the region being the most successful one in the world in terms of development in the 20th century, all of the countries were once part of the developing world. The fact that that there is no standard socio political development that can happen in the developing world due to both the bourgeois and socialuist norms and criteria,. This in itself provides an explanation as to why the developing world comprising a particular community could be classified into a capitalist or socialist society. Nonetheless, the lack of clarity does not suggest that there is a special third route existing that is neither socialism or capitalism. Nevertheless, one of the fundamental elements that will describe the developing countries as belonging to a unique category is the underdevelopment in these countries. Underdevelopment or backwardness made it impossible for these societies to be determined as either socialist or capitalistic community, the challenge is that the yardsticks of measuring industries in regards to the social and cultural elements that are used to establish where a state is a capitalist or socialist could not be applied here.
In conjunction with the military forces, underdevelopment manifests itself specifically because the society will have no strong ‘basic’ classes that are in a position to attain social hegemony. These two social classes, the bourgeoisie and the proletariat classes, would become completely different social systems that were antagonistic towards each other. While two systems are both influenced by both capitalism and socialism, none of them provided adequate support to have the region discerned as one. Subsequently, members of the bureaucratic bourgeoisie will end up holding fundamental positions in the countries. This becomes the nucleus for the developing ruling class in the country as state ownership is personified in terms of the groups and state affiliated with the contemporary structures with the disintegrating processes becoming predominant due to the ruling cl;ass, this potentially leads to political instability within the region. This is considerably demonstrated through several military coups. The political instability also arose from the inability of the ruling class toi deal with its urgent challenges, specifically those related to beating the economic backwardness and the typical efficiency of the socio economic policy. Elements such as economic stagnation, increasing social contrasts, and reduced living standards for the working population become a norm in this society which arouse a growing dissatisfaction among them.
In almost all the countries, the bourgeis-liberal systems learnt from the parent states but this change was very flimsy. In the 1960s and the 1970s, the social changes in conjunction with a politicization of the masses happened whereby the representative institutions holding executive powers became powerless. This condition manifested the weak foundation and formal character of the politrical structures uinb the countries. The weakness of the state apparatus in these countries will become a determinant of how the different social-cl;ass groups were so politically conducting themselves. The lack of opportunity for the sound social classes with important political perspectives exerted more influence on the country’s activities through mechanisms that were considered legitimate from the viewpoint of bourgei=ois democracy. This meant that through the parliaments and parties political processes were happening outside the formalized respective structures.also, the parliament with its control functions being nullified the efficiency of the actions from executive bodies diminished. The countries had extremely weak reliance that was evident through the elected bodies. This became the mechanism in which the authorities were running only on the basis of impulses that came from above, the difference between the political administration mechanisms and the societal social needs was soi minimal that it led to a crisis emerging which would commonly be settled by the military coups.
Additionally, some of the times, the military coups came from external forces that had conditioned or prompted struggle between the emerging ruling class and the bourgeois-ruling groups. In many countries, the military ascending into power was preceded by the synthesis of all the identified reasons. Within the heterogenous divided society where there is no established leadership, the military looked like a force that could bring national cohesion since it had the capacity of subordinating both private and group interests in favor of general interests. The notion that the military would guarantee some form of unity would however be very illusory, with the military powers ascending into a powerful position. This did not solve the issue of determining a force that had the capacity of organizing and leading a common front which united the different forces while mobilizing the masses in achieving the new aims under a national-liberation revolution. This kind of force will need to have members from distinct strata of the populations and societal elements. They also need to be strongly motivated which is by having a clear ideology and program that would sufficiently ensure social support. The military forces would demonstrate none of the important features. Generally, the army has been very complex considering that while those who enroll into the programs come with very different views on various things but immediately they pass their training levels, they are all part of a single organism that does what the authority has prescribed them to do. Itbis these characteristics of the military that would determine their impact on East Asia.
Regardless of the development that these countries have been able to attain, a development of their military capacity has remained an important part of their strategies. For China, building their military strength is considered a top priority, hence at the same level with economic growth goals. The present China is in constant development of different elements for military strength purposes. For instance there have been consistent building up of their nuclear and ballistic capacities from the time the Cold War ended. This regardless of the lack of security threats being made against China, globally and even when it is compared to a country like the United States. Japan is also on its own right building up their military strength with consideration of the limits established by the constitution. For instance, the Ballistic Missile Defense project is intended to counter the Chinese missiles together with the North Korean missiles. Also, the new National Defence program that was published in 2004 by the Defence Agency indicated that China was for the first time a direct threat toJapan and hence needed to be followed carefully. This threat comes from China’s efforts in building up their nuclear and ballistic capacities in conjunction with the navy and airforce.
Additionally, Tokyo and Washington would also publish declaration that indicated that one of their strategic preioccupations if to come to a peaceful solution on the Taiwan matter,m it is evident that Tokyoi i trying to become stronger in its military power status, this chould be the meaning enforced whenever the country deploys military in the Indian OIcean together wiuth Americans under the guise of fighting terrorism. Therefore, Japan is reacting to a perspective of China which is that it has become very aggressive and it is important that they develop effective defence mechanisms instead of staying with minimal capacities. This is actually a similar reason that India gave to justify its nuclear tests. India indicated that this movie was done to respond to the Chinese threat. Generally, the East Asian countries acknowledge that the military is continuously an important aspect of their ruling ways even when they do not acknowledge how they are entrenched into the political systems.
Conclusively, the increased military presence in the countries within the East Asian regions played a fundamental role in building different social classes within the society who viewed power differently. These societies continue to believe in the importance of having a robust military since they never know which country will become a security threat.
Beckley, Michael. “The emerging military balance in East Asia: How China’s neighbors can check Chinese naval expansion.” International Security 42, no. 2 (2017): 78-119.
Croissant, Aurel, and David Kuehn. “Patterns of civilian control of the military in East Asia’s new democracies.” Journal of East Asian Studies 9, no. 2 (2009): 187-217.
Heginbotham, Eric. “The fall and rise of navies in East Asia: Military organizations, domestic politics, and grand strategy.” International Security 27, no. 2 (2002): 86-125.
Mirsky, Georgy I. “The Role of the Army in the Sociopolitical Development of Asian and African Countries.” International Political Science Review 2, no. 3 (1981): 327-338.
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