Pomona's Asian Studies Program offers students the chance to specialize in an area of interest.

Pomona is a community of daring minds. It is a place for students who are venturesome by choice, who have talent, passion, and independence of spirit, and who are prepared to dream big and work hard in order to make a difference in the world.

One way that Pomona College provides opportunities for students to excel is through research opportunities. Conducting research as an undergraduate not only gives students an advantage when applying for fellowships or graduate school; it also gives them a chance to tackle real-world problems and to find out what it's like to be treated as colleagues by their professors, many of whom are the leading experts in their fields.


Aikido: Transcending Japanese Nationalism

Milo Barisof ’16; Mentor: Jonathan Hall

Aikido, a modern Japanese martial art, has an intriguing connection with Japanese nationalism. Aspects of aikido, especially its spiritual teachings, can suggest nationalistic associations. Before and during World War II, the Japanese state used the slogan hakkō ichiu (“all the world under one roof”) to justify its imperialism. The founder of aikido, Ueshiba Morihei (1883-1969), used the similar-sounding phrase jinrui ikka (“humanity as one family”). Yet, the founder considered his art to be universal rather than a Japanese cultural possession. This project explores the ways in which aikido offers a transcendental reinterpretation of ideas connected with Japanese nationalism.
Funding Provided By: Cion Estate

Japanese Textbooks in Colonial Korea During the Asia-Pacific War (1931-1945)

Kenneth An ’17; Mentor: Samuel Yamashita; Collaborator: Song Lee Han ‘16

This project examines textbooks used in Korean schools under Japanese colonial rule during the Asia-Pacific war (1931-1945). We asked: what do the textbooks reveal about Japanese colonial officials’ view of Korean children and their preferred pedagogical approaches. The textbooks translated in this project include Elementary School Korean Language Primer, vol. 4 (1933), Elementary School Korean Language Primer, vol. 6 (1935), and Elementary Korean Language Primer (1939). Our reading of these textbooks revealed several recurring themes, including exemplary children, labor, family, folktales, national pride, and war. Published by the governor-general of Korea, the textbooks promoted the development of exemplary subjects. The Japanese domestic situation and its policies towards Korea, particularly the assimilation policy of the 1930s, influenced the curriculum of Korean schools. For example, Japan’s agricultural policies correlated with an emphasis on labor and agriculture in textbooks; as Japan became more embroiled in the Asia-Pacific war, later editions of textbooks introduce war propaganda and stress loyalty to Japan. The Japanese colonial government also continued to instill traditional Confucian values, such as filial piety and diligence, through stories and folktales; this, together with a focus on loyalty to Japan and the assimilation policy, infused a sense of Japanese nationalism among Korean children. The Japanese goal was to create a model citizenry through education.
Funding Provided By: Cion Estate

The Great Escape to Hong Kong

Ruiqi Li ’17; Mentor: Angelina Chin

Using recent TV documentaries produced by Hong Kong companies as our main source, we look at the massive illegal immigration frenzy in the 1950s to 1970s when Mainland China was suffering from the Cultural Revolution and extreme poverty, causing over a million people to escape to Hong Kong. Interviews with the former escapers offer striking accounts of the hardship these people had endured in their escape attempts. One escaper, Yip, lost his mother to a heavy flood on the night of their escape, while another man named Cheung had to leave his girlfriend with a broken leg behind as he fled the patrolling police, causing her to be crippled for life. Our research of the documentaries focuses on how the Economic Reform in 1978 led by Deng Xiaoping affected the way these migrants have interpreted their past. Many since then have expressed ambiguous sentiments towards their decision to escape, seeing Mainland China quickly catching up and thriving. Seeking better lives in Hong Kong, one migrant, Mo ended up working as a taxi driver. Another migrant, Cheung, lost his savings in the economic crisis in 1997 and became a truck driver to make a living. In contrast, Tam failed in his first attempt and stayed in Shenzhen. He took advantage of the opportunities in the 1970s and made huge profits. These recent documentaries showed the complexity of the problem of border-crossing and begged the question of many escapers today: Does a successful escape necessarily mean a better life?
Funding Provided By: Rand 1970

Influence of Ethnic Policy on Chinese Middle School History Curriculum Since 1949

Mingyan Ma ('13); Mentors: Dru C. Gladney, Arthur Rosembaum (CMC)

Abstract: Through comparing and analyzing the 7 different sets of History Curriculum Standard issued by the Ministry of Education of the PRC, as well as the 7 respective sets of middle school history textbooks published by People's Education Press, this research investigates the pattern of changes of history curriculum from 1949 to 2010. Through examining the interpretation of related historical events, I found that even though “China is a united multi-ethnic country” has been an official PRC policy since 1949, the representation of ethnic minority in history curriculum experienced some rather radical changes. From a historiographical perspective, these changes represented a shift of understanding in the trends and driving forces in ancient Chinese history. From a policy perspective, these changes represented the shifting idea of what it means to be “Chinese,” gradually incorporating more ethnic minority groups into the Chinese identity.
Funding Provided by: Asian Studies Program Summer Research Grant