The Muslim Brotherhood has been gaining power in several countries since the Arab Spring. The rise of Islamist power in the Middle East is culturally and politically complex. This interactive lets the user click on selected countries to see how groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood or Hamas are impacting them politically.
Evolutionary biologists say the first speakers of what would become the Indo-European languages were probably farmers in what is now Turkey — a conclusion that differs by hundreds of miles and thousands of years from a longstanding linguistic theory.
This research potentially can explain much about the geography of languages and the distribution of cultural groups in Eurasia.
The University of Wisconsin-Superior is in one of the least ethnically diverse regions of the United States and the university is partnering with other local organizations across that region aimed at highlighting structural advantages within society for Caucasians. This campaign to make 'white privilege' visible has not surprisingly generated controversy and has made race and its impact of society an issue quite visible, to the discomfort of many. The author of the book, "Colorblind," speaks about this issue on PBS as he argues that the United States is not in a post-racial society.
Questions to Ponder: In what tangible ways can you see 'white privilege' in our society? Is this ad campaign a good idea? What does the term normativity mean and how does it relate to this topic?
Tags: race, racism, culture, unit 3 culture, book review and ethnicity.
Protesters upset over an American-made video denouncing Islam attacked the United States Consulate in Libya, while Egyptian demonstrators stormed over the walls of the United States Embassy in Cairo.
The idea of anti-U.S. protests in the Middle East and Northa Africa on the 11th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 was initially quite shocking. As always, a greater understanding of the cultural context and timing helps explain (not necessarily justify) the situation. The video produced by "Sam Bacile" that has sparked the controversy is truly reprehensible and as cultural insensitive as it gets. Still, the protests, by blindly lashing out at the United States embassy, only exacerbate the cultural problems.
UPDATE: This public gathering of Libyan's in Benghazi to apologize for the death of Chris Stevens is quite poignant.
Questions to Ponder: How does one single YouTube video impact geopolitics? Culturally speaking, what makes this such a powerfully charged issue? Will this issue become fodder for the election?
Manhole covers are ubiquitous in the modern urban fabric; they are typically drab and purely utilitarian. In Japan, municipalities take pride in the this ordinary piece of the landscape and convert them into extraordinary works of art that reflect the local people, place and culture.
Tags: book review, landscape, art, urban, culture, place, EastAsia.
This map is a fantastic geovisualization that maps the spatial patterns of languages used on the social media platform Twitter. This map was in part inspired by a Twitter map of Europe. While most cities would be expected to be linguistically homogenous, but London's cosmopolitan nature and large pockets of immigrants influence the distribution greatly.
Tags: social media, language, neighborhood, visualization, cartography.
India’s era of economic growth has created something unthinkable a generation ago: business opportunities for members of India’s untouchable caste, the Dalits.
Critics of globalization often site that globalization has changed indigenous cultures around the world and mourn the 'impurities' in these societies. Is all cultural change a bad thing? This article shows one way that global capitalism has been helping (some of) the poorest of the poor within India. How is globalization connected to cultural changes within any given society? How is capitalism changing a formerly 'immobile' social structure?
TED Talks HIV is a serious problem in the DR Congo, and aid agencies have flooded the country with free and cheap condoms. But few people are using them. Why?
This video highlights why some well-intending NGOs with excellent plans for the developing world don't have the impact they are hoping for. Cultural barriers to diffusion abound and finding a way to make your idea resonate with your target audience takes some preparation. This also addresses some important demographic and health-related issues, so the clip could be used in a variety of places within the curriculum. FYI: this clip briefly shows some steamy condom ads.
Partly just because I love this highly quotable movie with an incredible soundtrack, but this short clip can start be a good conversation starter. I'm hoping to use it when discussing relative location (or isolation) as well as the space-time compression. I ask my student how far away they live from campus and invariably they answer with a unit of time (even though distance was implied in the question). Why answer with time when discussing distance? What technologies are dependent on our temporal analysis of distance? How would our perception of distance change based on our access to transportation and communication technologies?
For the most part in American culture, intellectual struggle in school children is seen as an indicator of weakness, while in Eastern cultures it is not only tolerated, it is often used to measure emotional strength.
As upscale, high-rise condos and hipster bars opened nearby, longtime customers joked: Is this really still “the ’hood”? Not anymore.
In a gentrifying neighborhood in Washington D.C. that was historically African-American, Fish in the ’Hood was an iconic restaurant that captured the feel of the area. Just this May, the storefront restaurant was renamed Fish in the Neighborhood.
Questions to Ponder: Why? Does it matter? What does it mean?
Ever since my first visit to to Disneyland, I was intrigued by the the ride 'It's a Small World After All." As a youngster, it was an opportunity to get in cool boat ride that I always regretted half way into the ride once the song was firmly chiseled into my mind. This blog post explores the curious and fascinating geographical imaginations, the visions of folk cultures and global harmony behind this Disneyland ride. This fabulous map charts that vision.
McDonald's plans to open the first in a series of all-vegetarian restaurants in India next year. But rest assured, in most locations around the world, meat will stay on the menu.
Many of the most successful global companies or brands use highly regional variations that are attuned to local cultural norms and customs. The McAloo Tikki burger— which uses a spicy, fried potato-based patty — is the Indian McDonald's top seller.
Questions to ponder: What are the forces that lead towards an accelaration of human connectivity around the globe? What are the postive impacts of this increased connectivity? What are some negative impacts? Are these impacts the same in all places? Explain.
Tags: Globalization, food, culture, unit 3 culture and SouthAsia.
Here are some seemingly eclectic topics. All of them center around the appropriateness of the body being displayed publicly and the cultural norms that shape how we think about the issue. I've included a sensational restroom, public nursing, top-free protests, and of course, the Kate Middleton scandal.
Tags: culture, popular culture, gender, place, space.
The Gangnam Style! sensation is all over the internet, complete with parodies that both honor and mock the original. This first video is the original, which in a few short months received well ove...
The following link has the video, parodies and infographics to help student explore the meaning behind the cultural phenomenon.
Questions to Ponder: Considering the concept of cultural diffusion, what do we make of this phenomenon? What cultural combinations are seen in this? How has the technological innovations changed how cultures interact, spread and are replicated?
Tags: popular culture, video, diffusion, globalization, culture, place, technology, unit 3 culture.
For the first time in its history, the United States does not have a Protestant majority, according to a new study.
Interestingly, this is not due to the rise of a new religious group, but the rise of secularism in the United States. The fastest growing group in the United States is the religiously unaffliliated. Click here for a simplified AP news story on the report.
Questions to ponder: What are some causal factors that might explain why there is an increase in the non-religious population in the United States today? How does this impact American culture and politics?
In a country this battered, fractured, dysfunctional – how much can she really hope to achieve?
The issue of female education in Pakistan has exploded after Malala Yousafzai was attacked by the Taliban for publicly advocating for girls to receive more schooling. This attack has lead several media outlets to take a more serious look at the gendered cultural and economic opportunities (or lack thereof) for girls within Pakistan. This NPR podcast also speaks of the real options in front of so many girls like Malala and the cultural and political contexts within which they navigate their lives.
Tags: gender, South Asia, podcast, culture, Islam, development, unit 3 culture, education.
Roads? Religion? Accent? Food? Which factor dictates where the North ends?
This is a great intellectual expercise to help student think about regions and how we define them. The article can help also inform some of their thinking since one of the main problems for students in drawing regional boundaries is a lack of place-based knowledge.
The demonstration grew by the minute into an extraordinary expression of anger at the treatment of women by the military police.
This is a teaching moment not to be passed over. What historically has been the 'acceptable' role for women in the Egyptian public square? How do gender norms vary from place to place? When and why do they change (or are they static)? What role does gender play in politics? In your opinion, what values SHOULD the public square embody?
In the Netherlands, Santa doesn't have little elves; he has a helper (slave?) named Zwarte Piet, literally Black Pete. He delights kids with cookies and a goofy persona. Foreign visitors are startled by his resemblance to Little Black Sambo.
Is this a harmless cultural tradition or is it racist? Why might some Dutch not see this as offensive? Why might someone not from there react so strongly to this caricature? What do you think? (Note: a Dutch friend of mine was quick respond: "Sinterklaas' helpers are black because of the ashes in the chimney." I'm curious to know whether that was always the case or if it's a way to 'whitewash' an old tradition from a bygone era. And yes, this is an annual controversy).
An excellent visual aid to process the religious data in the United States. Roll the cursor over the map (after clicking on the link) to see any particular state's religious data. What patterns do you notice? Are there religious regions that could be drawn based on this data?
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