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Posting-Scupins Asia

Learning Points

Asia is a culturally diverse region with a variety of languages, ethnic groups, and
religions (363).
In India, the fourfold varna schemebrahman, kshatriya, vaisay, sudrasprovided
ideological framework for organizing thousands of diverse groups, which eventually
results in the hierarchical castes and subcastes, according to descent, occupational,
marital, and ritual-religious factors (365). The concept of race is closely related to the
system of castes. However, later on, the racial aspects of Hinduism is minimized and the
cultural and religious traditions are more emphasized. The Hindu majority is dominant
over other ethnicity (366). The Hindutva movement has created conflict among different
ethnic communities in India. The tension between the Hindus and Sikhs has gone down
since the Sikh president was elected.
Sri Lanka needs policies of reconciliation to restore political and economic stability and
overcome three decades of ethnic conflict (368).
Both China and Japan are not monocultural and culturally homogeneous nations. They
are known for their interethnic tensions. Cultural homogeneity there is superficial (369).
In China, with the Han majority, there are other 56 different nationalities, within which
there are10 Muslim nationalities. Among the Hui Muslims, though the expression of
ethicity is dramatically different, they share the notion of beloning to the Islamic faith
(372). With the new forms of globalism and economic expansion in southern China,
different groups from within the Han majority have begun to reassert, reinvent, and
rediscover their own ethnic and cultural differences.
In Japan, there are other ethnic minorities, such as the Koreans, Chinese, and Okinawans.
There are many difficulties among these groups, including widespread discrimination.
Globalization has brought foreign workers from Korea, China, India, and even Africa and
Middle East. The notion of cultural homogeneity is less and less likely to be maintained
In Thailand, there are also people who are different ethnically, linguistically, and
culturally from the ethnic Tai. What we have still today in Thailand is Muslim-Buddhist
ethnic-religious tension and insurgency (380).
for example, regarding the Malay and Chinese races in relation to economic success,
have been debunked by modern researchers. It was the business experience the Chinese
had at home preadpated them for success in Southest Asia, not race (381). An affirmative
action plan is employed to reduce the structural barriers that prevent the native people
from participating in education and employment. However, this type of system of
preferential treatment is abused by the government against others. Interestingly, Malaysia
is seen as an ethnocracy (382).
At times, primordial features of ethnicity are building blocks, and at other times, group
economic, social and political interests result in permutations of ethnic identity (382).
Throughout the region of South, East, and Southeast Asia, there exist indigeneous
concepts similar to notions of race emphasizing the intimate connections between biology
and culture (383). What we have here is a pseudoscientific concept of race, incoporated

and synthesized with earlier native conceptions, and further promoted by both colonial
and postcolonial governments to distinguish among various ethnic majorities and
minorities (383).

Ethnocentrism and racism, beside religious conflicts are serious issues among many
Asian countries. In China, intertwined with political ideologycommunismany of
these issues are not easy to resolve. How is todays China different from the China of the
past, say, 10 years ago, with regard to these issues? Is there progress?
India is traditionally defined by social hierarchy, and the caste system embodies much of
the social stratification in Indian society. How do you think economic, social and political
interests due to globalization result in desirable social change in Indian society?
Scupin concludes this section by calling for continuing ethnographic research to help
people understand each others traditions as one major step in helping to reduce these
[ethinic or racial] tensions (383). What are some other things that can be done to reduce
ethnic, racial, religious tension in Asia? Are globalization and economic expansion
helping esablish better relationships among different ethnicities in Asian societies?
Scupin, in my view, interchangeably uses race and ethnicity. For example, the
Japanese race? is Japanese ethnicity or race or both? What we have in Japan is
discrimination against other ethnic groups.

Missiological Implications

Without doubts, Western churches must learn the complexity of cultural, ethnical,
linguistic and religious diversity with each one of Asian countries in order that
Christianity may better relate to non-Christian Asian societies.
In pluralistic, multi-religious and multi-cultural Asian contexts, mission must be
prophetic but dialogical. On the one hand, Christian mission demands faithfulness to the
gospel message of Christ Jesus, but on the other hand, the points of view of other faiths
must be respected and listened to.