Geography Education
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Choices Program--Scholars Online

Choices Program--Scholars Online | Geography Education |

Scholars Online Videos feature top scholars answering a specific question in his or her field of expertise. These brief and informative videos are designed to supplement the Choices Program curricula.

Seth Dixon's insight:

In this Scholar's Online video, Jennifer Fluri briefly answers this question: How has Afghanistan's geography affected its history?  This video nicely shows how contested international disputes have geographic dimensions to them.  The very borders of Afghanistan were created out of geopolitical maneuverings.

Tags: Afghanistanborders, politicalculture, Central Asia, historical, colonialism. 

Louis Mazza's curator insight, March 25, 2:59 PM

In this video Jennifer L. Fluri explains the borders of Afghanistan. At first Afghanistan was used as a border outline between Russia and British India. The border facing India was named the Durand line, after Sir Durand, who convinced the leader of Afghanistan to respect the line.  There is Iranian/Persian influence in Afghanistan also with the celebration of Nowruz, the Iranian/Persian New Year. That is because Southern Afghanistan was part of Iran in 1502-1736, under the Safavid Empire. Also Dari is one of the main languages spoken in Afghanistan which came from Persia. She ends the video saying “where Afghanistan is today both culturally and geopolitically has to do with their geography”

Mark Hathaway's curator insight, October 20, 7:15 AM

Afghanistan's current borders are the result of political maneuvering between empires. Afghanistan's Wakhan Corridor is a result of this political maneuvering. The corridor was created in order to prevent the Russian Empire and British India from sharing a common border. While many afghans may decry the notion, Afghanistan has been shaped by foreign influence. The same can be said for almost every other nation on the globe. Almost all borders are determined by some from of political maneuvering. Our borders with Mexico and Canada have been determined through treaties and wars.

Chris Costa's curator insight, October 21, 12:24 PM

As I have learned more about the world, it's been interesting to see how arbitrary national borders can sometimes be. I think we are taught in school to associate "nations" with "nationalism," and although that is generally the case for most industrialized nations (whose citizens generally feel they are "nationals" within their own borders), it is not always true for the rest of the world. We see this in the numerous ethnic disputes in African nations, in the violent Yugoslav wars in Europe, and today with the Kurd uprising in Syria and Iraq- we see ill-defined borders that do not meet the needs of their peoples, nations that do not encompass the same sentiments of nationalism. As a result, we see indifference between these various peoples at best, or open conflict between varying ethnic and ideological groups at worst. Afghanistan as we know it today is not the result of self-determination or a sense of nationalism, but geopolitical jockeying between Russia and the United Kingdom. It is not a nation, but a political buffer.

As a result, Afghanistan does not act as a single nation- it may have a central government, but that government is incredibly weak, and people in remote areas often do not even know of its existence. Afghanistan is a series of small city-states and even more isolated settlements clumped together behind arbitrarily drawn lines, living their lives in much the same manner their ancestors did 1,000 years ago. This has made the mountainous, isolated regions of the nation a haven for terrorists and religious extremism, posing a serious issue in the region that, despite billions of dollars and a decade of fighting, the US has been unable to find a solution for. Divided amongst itself, Afghanistan is a nation in name only, something that the West likes to place on the map because of a dispute between two global powers nearly 2 centuries ago.


Geography Education
Digital resources to strengthen the quality and quantity of geography education in classrooms the world over.
Curated by Seth Dixon