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9 questions about Ukraine you were too embarrassed to ask

9 questions about Ukraine you were too embarrassed to ask | Geography Education | Scoop.it

Watch a video that explains Ukraine's crisis in two minutes or read this quick article that covers the same material.  

 

Ukrainians have been protesting since Nov. 21, when President Viktor Yanukovych rejected a deal for closer integration with the European Union, instead drawing the country closer to Russia. They are still in the streets in huge numbers and have seized regional government buildings in several parts of the country. In Kiev, the capital, clashes between protesters and security forces have become violent, killing several people. On Tuesday, the prime minister resigned. No one is quite sure what will happen next.


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Samuel D'Amore's curator insight, December 15, 2014 5:50 PM

This article does a good job of explaining some of the many aspects of the current crisis in the Ukraine. While the media has been covering this conflict it has done little to provide background information on the Ukraine and precisely why Russia has invaded. This article goes into enough detail to flesh out the conflict without becoming in accessible to the average reader.

Alyssa Dorr's curator insight, December 17, 2014 5:58 PM

Ukrainians have been protesting since Nov. 21, when President Viktor Yanukovych rejected a deal for closer integration with the European Union, instead drawing the country closer to Russia. They are still in the streets in huge numbers and have seized regional government buildings in several parts of the country. In the capital, clashes between protesters and security forces have become violent, killing several people. Recently, the prime minister resigned. No one is quite sure what will happen next. What's happening in Ukraine is really important, but it can also be confusing and difficult to follow for outsiders who don't know the history that led up to. Here are some basic questions that have basic answers for people who are still confused. What is Ukraine? Why are so many people protesting? How did Ukraine get so divided? What role does Russia play and why do they care so much? Why haven't the United States or Europe helped? But most important, the question we all want to know the answer to is what is going to happen next?

Rachel Phillips's curator insight, May 7, 2015 3:01 PM

Such a helpful article, especially for people like me who don't like to look like an idiot.  This was so informative in a way that condensed the big issue into one short article that covered every aspect and made it easy to understand.  I knew there was something going on in Ukraine but didn't really know what it was, so this was awesome.  However, this is a real issue that people need to be aware of, especially when thinking, "well why doesn't the west just step in?" because that seems to be what we do everywhere else.  However, I think we've pretty much proven that stepping in can sometimes do more harm than good.  And honestly, it is not our problem to solve.

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Stalin’s Ethnic Deportations—and the Gerrymandered Ethnic Map

Stalin’s Ethnic Deportations—and the Gerrymandered Ethnic Map | Geography Education | Scoop.it

"An earlier GeoCurrents post on Chechnya mentioned that the Chechens were deported from their homeland in the North Caucasus to Central Asia in February 1944.  However, the Chechen nation was not the only one to suffer such a fate under Stalin’s regime."

Seth Dixon's insight:

This is a painful page in world history, but it needs retelling.  The Soviet era profoundly reshaped the cultural, political and economic geographies of the region.  

 

Tags: Russia, migration, Central Asiahistoricalwarethnicitypolitical, gerrymandering.

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Alec Castagno's curator insight, December 12, 2014 1:43 PM

The Soviet Union forced vast amounts of people and ethnic groups out of their historical homelands to settle new areas during the early and mid 20th century. Many of those forced into resettlement died, and today some consider it a genocide or crime against humanity. As ethnic groups were moved out, ethnic Russians were moved in to take their places, and explains why many places outside of Russia (Ukraine) have populations that still maintain strong Russian identities. It also explains why places like Chechnya have such a long history of insurgency and extremism against Russian authority and power.

Matt Ramsdell's curator insight, November 25, 2015 2:37 PM

This graph represents the areas where many of the Chechnes had been displaced to in the era of Stalins regime. Many of these people were displaced from their homes and forced to move. Many of them either had to leave family behind of they were forced to move together and had no initial home to live in.

Martin Kemp's curator insight, December 17, 2015 1:51 PM

i see this as history retelling itself. for some reason throughout history terrible men think that their race is better than another, this is not true and if a person wants to think this that is their prerogative, but some men think it to such an extent that they seek to eliminate the entire other people. nothing good can come of this and it turns into mass conflict every time. it destroys countries and breeds hate on all sides.

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Stray Dogs Master Moscow Subway

Stray Dogs Master Moscow Subway | Geography Education | Scoop.it

"Every so often, if you ride Moscow's crowded subways, you may notice that the commuters around you include a dog - a stray dog, on its own, just using the handy underground Metro to beat the traffic and get from A to B.  Yes, some of Moscow's stray dogs have figured out how to use the city's immense and complex subway system, getting on and off at their regular stops."

Seth Dixon's insight:

Even if only a small fraction of strays have figured out how to navigate the subway system, it represents another example of how animals have adapted to the urban ecosystem in a way that human did not intend.  The dogs get on the subway in the morning and go downtown searching for food and return to the suburbs to sleep.  This has been circulating on social media sites, and I find it endlessly fascinating.   


Tags: urban ecologyRussia, environment adapt, biogeography.

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Jess Deady's curator insight, April 30, 2014 8:46 PM

Dogs are creatures of habit. They get on at one stop and off at another every day or every so often. This is because there is an abundance of stray dogs and since no one is taking them in, Moscow will continue to have interesting subway surfers among them.

Paige Therien's curator insight, May 4, 2014 11:06 AM

Humans commonly think of themselves as separate from nature.  However, we very much are a part of it and animals, like these stray dogs, know it.  When dealing with something more powerful than yourself, you have to learn how to navigate the system in order to survive.  That is exactly what these dogs have done, literally and figuratively, by learning the complex subway systems in Moscow.  It is an example of how animals can adapt to their man-made surroundings and how persistent (the rest of) nature can be.

Alyssa Dorr's curator insight, December 17, 2014 5:51 PM

Every so often, if you ride Moscow's crowded subways, you notice that the commuters around you include a stray dog. Some of Moscow's stray dogs have figured out how to use the city's complicated subway system, getting on and off at their regular stops. The human commuters around them are so accustomed to it that they rarely seem to notice. As many as 35,000 stray dogs live in Russia's capital city. They can be found everywhere, from markets to construction sites to underground passageways, scrounging for food and trying to survive. Using the subway is just one of many strategies that they use to survive. Living in the streets in tough and these dogs know this better than some humans. What is most impressive about their dogs is their ability to deal with the Metro's loud noises and packed crowds, distractions that domesticated dogs often cannot handle.

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The Geography of Chechnya

The Geography of Chechnya | Geography Education | Scoop.it
The Caucasus region, dominated by the imposing Great Caucasus mountain range and stretching between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, has long been known as one of the world’s ethnically and linguistically most diverse areas.
Seth Dixon's insight:

After this weekend it has become glaringly obvious that many are painfully ignorant of the geography of Chechnya and the surrounding Caucasus Mountain region.  This article from GeoCurrents discusses the linguistic diversity of the region and this Geography in the News article outlines the contentious geopolitical situation of Chechnya within the Russian Federation. Also, the Washington Post published an article entitled, 9 questions about Chechnya and Dagestan you were too embarassed to ask.   


I do not post these materials to lay blame to an entire ethnic group, religion or region for the terrorists acts of two individuals.  On the contrary, I post these articles because I find this to be a teaching moment where we as educators can clarify the geographic context of an unknown part of the world to our students.  As we teach this context, quick labels and lazy narratives become harder to maintain and our students can become less prejudiced and critically think about the situation with greater depth and clarity.

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Marissa Roy's curator insight, November 19, 2013 10:16 AM

Most Americans had never heard Chechnya before the Boston bombing in April 2013. Now, most think that it is full of America-hating terriosts. However, Chechnya is so very complex and diverse a place, that it is ludacris to think that. Over 100 languages are spoken in the country. The southern half speaks languages such as Georgian, Svan and Mingrelian. Turkish, Iranian and Chechens are the languages you will probably hear in the North. Another misconception is that there are many Christians in Chechnya as well as Muslims. This country is made up of so many different groups, it is incredible. 

Elizabeth Bitgood's curator insight, March 3, 2014 9:27 AM

It is amazing to consider such a small area (the size of New England) could hold such a vast area of languages.  The mountainous region certainly helps in creating such diversity as it isolated villages from each other in the ages before modern communication and travel.

Samuel D'Amore's curator insight, December 15, 2014 6:46 PM

This map does a fantastic job of highlighting the cultural diversity within Russia and the former Soviet states. Understanding how these cultural regions overlap one another is paramount in understanding the region's tensions and the repercussions that result including Chechen terrorism in Russia and even in America (Boston bombings).

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Impact: Earth!

Impact: Earth! | Geography Education | Scoop.it
Seth Dixon's insight:

Given the recent meteor in Russia, interest has been high on the subject.  Have you every wanted to simulate a the impact of a meteorite?  Then this is just what you've always wanted. If you would rather to see an incredibly entertaining clip from the Daily Show, then knock yourself out (disclaimer: it's a VERY irreverant look at the the dash-cam footage from Russia that many just discovered after the meteor hit last week).  

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Ignacio Conejo Moreno's curator insight, February 25, 2013 5:56 AM

¡¡Realmente, acongoja un poquito!!

Benjamin Jackson's curator insight, December 13, 2015 5:00 PM

this is interesting, as one rarely thinks about what is involved in a meteor hitting the planet. try it, the results might terrify you.

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Feuding Over Food

Feuding Over Food | Geography Education | Scoop.it
In the Caucasus, culinary nationalism is an extension of the region's long-simmering disputes.
Seth Dixon's insight:

"There is perhaps nothing more closely bound up with one's national identity than food. Specific local dishes are often seen as the embodiment of various cultures and many nations promote their food as a celebration of national identity. Sometimes, however, a country's cuisine can also be used to highlight national rivalries." 


This opening paragraph nicely shows how cultural traditions from a similar cultural hearth may have much in common.  However, since these groups are neighbors, the geopolitical relationship may be strained despite the cultural commonalities. 


Tags: food, culture, unit 3 culture.

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Jamie Strickland's curator insight, January 29, 2013 2:36 PM

This is a great addition to include for my World Food Problems course this semester.

Meagan Harpin's curator insight, September 30, 2013 11:25 AM

A nations food is often used to celebrate their national identity but it can also be used to highlight national rivalries. For example the Czechs reffer to their Slovak cousins as Halusky after one of their traditonal dishes. Culinary flashpoints can also arise when nations claim the same dishes as their own.  

Lauren Stahowiak's curator insight, February 18, 2014 3:30 PM

Azerbaijanis, Turks, and Armenian share a lot of the same foods. Instead of enjoying the similarities and cultural nationalism, they are disputing. Eat, drink and be  merry?

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Russian Summer

Russian Summer | Geography Education | Scoop.it
At the dacha, the soul of Russia--and its cultural divide--is on display. In vacation cottages the women are in housedresses. The men, Speedos and rubber boots. They brood, plant, party, and restore their souls.


The dacha (a seasonal second home or a vacation spot) is incredibly important in Russia.  It is is estimated that over 50% of city residences in Russia own a dacha as a way to culturally connect with the countryside.  This is a nice glimpse into that life. 

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Jess Deady's curator insight, May 1, 2014 12:02 PM

This is definitely a part of the country/cultural side of Russia. Bathing with animals and in lakes like this is definitely not a part of urban Russia. Throughout societies, there is always an urge to live a different lifestyle. In this country, the residents are given an option to live both countryside Russian life and urban Russian life.

Kaitlin Young's curator insight, October 27, 2014 9:07 AM

“Everyone in Russia has a dacha story”. Dachas are small, summer cottages and cabins that over half of Russia’s population owns. While many people in the United States have this mental image of Russians as drunk, stern, communists, the dacha shows insight to a life much more similar to ours than many people would probably imagine. Russians use dachas as a form of escape, in the same way that many Americans visit a beach house or a mountain cabin in the summer. The need to escape and break through the rut of the daily grind is something that transcends ethnicity or nationality. The need to leave our concrete jungles for the simplicities and feeling of completeness offered by the natural environment is something much more  primordial.

Alyssa Dorr's curator insight, December 17, 2014 9:12 PM

Everyone in Russia has a dacha story. It may be a trace of childhood memory like playing ball late into evening by a sun that won’t set, gathering pinecones to perfume the fire, or swimming in an icy pond. It may be quietly romantic, a first love that fades with the season or blossoms into marriage. An older woman tells of coming home from work to find her husband in bed with her best friend. She kicked him out and, with retirement looming and no husband, wondered, What will I do now? The answer was the dacha she bought for 500 rubles, with a forest nearby for mushroom hunting, a lake, and a garden. “The dacha saved my life,” she says. Sweet or bitter, lighthearted or dark, the story always takes place in summer. A dacha, after all, is a summer cottage.

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Troubles on Russia's Lake Baikal

Troubles on Russia's Lake Baikal | Geography Education | Scoop.it
Workers at an ailing paper mill in Siberia are clinging to their jobs in the face of financial pressure and criticism from environmentalists.

 

The environment, industry and politics play key roles in this story of an old style Soviet mono-town on Lake Baikal.  Monotowns had planned economies that revolved around one industry and today many of these are struggling in the post-Soviet era.  While the particulars of the political situation are a bit dated, the overall issue is still quite relevant to understanding Russia today.   

2013 update: The paper plant is now officially closed  

 

Tags: Russia, industry, labor, environment, economic, water, pollution, environment modify, unit 6 industry.

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Paige Therien's curator insight, May 4, 2014 12:05 PM

The Soviet Union scattered "monotowns" around their territory; these monotowns consist of a job-creating industrial institutions like factories which then allow the formation of towns around them.  They are located all around the former Soviet Union and are very isolated.  After the collapse of the Soviet Union, these towns continued to run due to the privatization of the industrial center.  Today, Russia's Lake Baikal, which is the deepest lake in the world and contains 20 percent of the Earth's fresh water, is home to one of these monotowns.  This particular town's economy is based on their paper mill which uses and deposits tons of chemicals.  Environmentalists are very concerned for the future of the lake while the citizens are only concerned with feeding their families and this is creating social unrest.  Due to the isolation and distance from Moscow, people cannot just pick up and leave.  Also, working with "cleaner" alternatives is way out of this town's budget.  Today, many citizens in these monotowns miss the support that the Soviet Union offered and people are literally stuck in a place where their only income is dirty.

Matt Ramsdell's curator insight, November 25, 2015 2:31 PM

This mill on Lake Biakal was created in the soviet era. This was created and made a increasing well place to work with the promise of a bright future for its workers. Instead when it comes to the post soviet era its a failing community. Not because of the workers but because of the era that they live in. The age of environmentalists. because of this the mill and its workers are suffering. Many of the people that had moved there to work in the mill in the 60's with a promise of a bright future. However today the people who originally moved there and the descendents are paying the price for the soviet promise. If the mill were to forever close then the people of the area would basically have no life and future. They wouldnt even have enough money to move out of look for jobs.

Adam Deneault's curator insight, December 14, 2015 1:28 PM

Seeing this video and the lack of human development in this small town is astounding. They are destroying a lake and the environment about them, they do not care though. Unfortunately, they have to not care about the environment, they are so desperate for work to make money to live and support themselves and family, that they are willing to do what it takes to keep their jobs at the mill. The workers and citizens of the area know about the consequences of the pollution, they know it needs to be taken care of, but with the depravity they have, they have to. They are faced with a situation no one want to be in... work and destroy the environment so they have money to live, or be without life necessities. 

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Kabul, A City Stretched Beyond Its Limits

Decades of war, migration and chaotic sprawl have turned the Afghan capital into a barely functioning dust bowl. The city's tired infrastructure is crumbling; water, sewers and electricity are in short supply.

 

Keeping an urban system running smoothly is a difficult proposition in developed countries that are stable--what is in like a place like Afghanistan?  This podcast is a excellent glimpse into the cultural, economic, environmental and political struggles of a city like Kabul.  This is urban geography in about a problematic a situation as possible.   

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John Nieuwendyk's curator insight, October 26, 2014 9:06 PM

Kabul, a once thriving city is now the product of a war torn Afghanistan. During the fighting mass exodus left the city empty and uninhibited. However, after the war civilians fled back to the slums of Kabul in search of job opportunities. With little infrastructure, no electricity, no water due to evapotranspiration and deforestation and a serious overcrowding problem, residents lack the essential resources needed to survive. Due to the cities destabilized economy corruption runs rampant, in consequence it is unsafe to live in the city center. The advocation for city services is high upon the minds of the people. In response, compounds have been made in the foothills to house impoverished people. These compounds will help the overcrowding problem but the informal economy and dangerous shortcuts will further cause destabilization and create an unsafe city center. 

 

 

Samuel D'Amore's curator insight, December 16, 2014 1:32 AM

This audio clip provided a detailed view of the capital of Afghanistan, Kabul. It doesn't speak of the city architecture instead it focuses on the failing logistics of the city. It talks about resource shortages and the sheer amount of people crammed within the city. These problems are largely caused by an influx of refugees from the war torn countryside flooding into the city for safety and work. This clip shows the Kabul of today, a ghost of its former prestigious self.

Adam Deneault's curator insight, December 14, 2015 3:37 PM

A war torn country of Afghanistan's capital city Kabul is in the mountains. With a population of five million people, the cities infrastructure is in ruins. Things we take for granted, water, sewers and electricity are all in short supply for Kabul. There is lots of money coming in to the country from corruption of opium trade. Due to terrible construction, it is assumed that when Kabul has their terrible earthquake that there will be much destruction. Cars pack streets that are unpaved and the streets are five to ten times more packed than they are planned out to be. Just to get from one side of Kabul to the other it can take hours. What the government needs to is control immigration and fix the problems that they currently have. 

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Life in Chechnya

Life in Chechnya | Geography Education | Scoop.it
Photojournalist Diana Markosian spent the last year and half covering Russia's volatile North Caucasus region.

 

These 33 photos are arranged to tell the cultural story of life in Chechnya, especially the life of young women coming of age in the aftermath of the war.  As the architecture of this mosque suggests, the influence of traditional Islamic values and Russian political authority have greatly shaped the lives of the Chechen people.

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Lauren Stahowiak's curator insight, February 18, 2014 3:24 PM

These pictures show many examples to how life in Chechnya for women is very different for women in the United States. We can see that these woman take part in similar day to day activities, but in very different ways. This is why their lives overall are much different than ours.

Jacob Crowell's curator insight, December 8, 2014 12:28 PM

These photos show the culture of Chechnya. I found them very effective at mixing the environmental and cultural aspects of the area in these pictures. The one where two young people are on a date in a barren snow covered park sitting on opposites sides of the bench because close physical contact is forbidden before marriage. Although the school gym shows how women have to be dressed modestly even when they are exercising. 

Rachel Phillips's curator insight, May 10, 2015 7:33 PM

A picture says a thousand words.  I saw and learned more through these photos than I could of in any article, because you can really see what it's like there.  Authors and journalists can write and write about the facts and the people and the places, but they'll never really be able to show you, not the way pictures like these can.  The pictures of all these people show you what it's like to be there, how they live, what they do, their culture, beliefs, and ways of life. It's one thing to read about how strict rules for women are, but it's another to see those rules in action, like in gym class, and on dates.  We hear these ideas about countries who are strict with women, but can't really see what it would be like because we don't have that in the U.S., but these pictures make you feel it, not just think it.

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Latvia votes: Is Russian our language, too?

Latvia votes: Is Russian our language, too? | Geography Education | Scoop.it
Like a detective at a crime scene, chief language inspector Antons Kursitis scans the lobby of a hotel in downtown Riga. He spots a brochure that lists hotel services in Russian only, a flagrant violation of Latvia's language laws.

 

"Protecting the Latvian language — that is, safeguarding its supremacy over Russian — has been a priority here since the Soviet occupation ended two decades ago. Those efforts face their biggest test yet on Saturday, in a referendum on whether to make Russian the country's second official language."  What historical, political and demographic factors shape this cultural issue of language?  Why is language often seen as so crucial to cultural identity?  

 

The Latvian voters have spoken: in a massive voter turn-out, they struck down the referendum that sought to make Russian an official language.  "Latvia is the only place throughout the world where Latvian is spoken, so we have to protect it," said Martins Dzerve, 37, in Riga, Latvia's capital. "But Russian is everywhere."  For more on the vote, see: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-17083397    

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Derek Ethier's comment, October 18, 2012 1:14 AM
It is definitely important for Latvians to hold on tightly to their culture. However, the Soviet Union caused Russian culture and language to spread throughout the USSR and countries are feeling the effects today. There are millions of Russians in former satellite nations who hold on to their Russian culture. At the same time, these nations wish to regain their national pride especially after the fall of the Soviet Union. It is a difficult conundrum, but I do agree with the Latvians' decision.
Jason Schneider's curator insight, March 5, 2015 4:54 PM

About 35 percent of Latvia's population (5,000,000) contains Russian ancestors. Russia does not want to give Latvia credit for practicing Russian languages and the Russian heritage because Russian feels like since they take up about 11% of the world, they don't need to share their heritage with any other country. It's kind of like copyright laws that Russia seems to have.

Martin Kemp's curator insight, December 17, 2015 1:37 PM

this article is great. the latvians are doing the right thing. in the place you live and where you are from, the people should speak your language and follow your rules. you should be worried about what the native people want and not what others want. be proud of your culture and preserve it.

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In Russia, a lack of men forces women to settle for less

In Russia, a lack of men forces women to settle for less | Geography Education | Scoop.it
When Russia and China vote together on UN Resolutions (such as their recent veto of the UN Resolution on Syria), I always think to myself that in the two countries’ collective unconscious they realize that they are going to have...

 

Demographic facts: 1) China has more men than women. 2) Russian has more women than men. While these two facts are rather straightforward, their impact on society, gender roles, politics, economics and culture are quite complicated. This article chronicles how this 'shortage' of men in Russia has led to an imbalance of power in heterosexual relationships, altering cultural gender norms.

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Amanda Morgan's curator insight, October 18, 2014 10:02 PM

When hearing of Russia's imbalance of men vs. women I did not think further into how much this fact could affect not only hetero relationships, but the relationships amongst the sexes themselves as well.  Morality is altered in this society where men are so scarce and are "shared" by the women.  It is known that Putin, a married man is married and has had a long term affair, and child with another  women.  The article states "no one really cares."  With our fair share of presidential affairs both in the far past and fairly recent, we see how unacceptable society finds such behavior.  But would the game change if all of sudden men were so scarce?  It is also disheartening that the female population is not united due to the lack of men.  

Jacob Crowell's curator insight, December 8, 2014 12:14 PM

This is a great example of population geography shifting cultural geography. The altering of gender norms in Russia due to the shortage of men shows how all types of geography are intertwined and cultural and population are related deeply. This is a contemporary example of that.

Tanya Townsend's curator insight, November 20, 2015 3:38 PM

Russia: where the men are men. And too many women are nervous wrecks

A great article about how huge an impact unequal gender proportions can have on society norms. With Russia's male population outnumbering women 100 to 40 men have a monopoly. This has increased male infidelity, domestic violence against women, and problems with female friendships.

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Tajik Remittances From Russia up 30%

Tajik Remittances From Russia up 30% | Geography Education | Scoop.it
Tajik migrants working in Russia sent to $2.96 billion in remittances to their families in Tajikistan in 2011, over 30 percent more than the previous year, National Bank Deputy Chairman Malokhat Kholikzoda said on Thursday.

 

The higher the national dependence on remittances, the worse off the country is essentially at being economically independent and viable. 

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cookiesrgreat's comment, March 13, 2012 9:10 AM
Ots hard to imagine how Tajikistan can survive with their work force living otside the country
Derek Ethier's comment, October 18, 2012 1:23 AM
Tajikstan's plight symbolizes the problems most former Soviet Republics face in a post Soviet world. Almost all of these nations have an enormous reliance upon Russia in their day to day activities. As this article states, over $2.96 billion have been sent to Tajikstan from Tajiks working in Russia. Tajikstan's economy is going to tank if it's citizens continue to be so reliant on Russia.
Elizabeth Allen's comment, December 6, 2012 11:03 PM
Yes the remittance work will hurt Tajikstan's chances of economic success. But, the workers have to provide for their families. The workers need to self-preserve, with that in mind, it is natural for them not be concerned about their home country's economics.
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This Map Shows Why The Battle For 'Ukraine's Soul' Is So Pivotal

This Map Shows Why The Battle For 'Ukraine's Soul' Is So Pivotal | Geography Education | Scoop.it
The tug-of-war for Ukraine.
Seth Dixon's insight:

Strategically, Ukraine matters much more to Russia than it doesn't the EU, which is why Russia is flexing there muscles.  Russia's major market for their natural gas are linked through these key pipelines.  


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Nathan Chasse's curator insight, March 1, 2014 12:26 AM

This infographic gives an idea of why Russia is so invested in Ukraine. The energy infrastructure built during the Soviet era runs almost entirely through Ukraine. A significant amount of gasoline consumed in Europe comes from Russia via Ukraine, while over 2/3rds of all the gas Russia exports to the EU goes through Ukraine. This puts Ukraine in a position of power, but the country itself is divided between the East and West making siding with the EU or Russia difficult. These are lasting effects of the Soviet era.

Paige Therien's curator insight, May 4, 2014 11:28 AM

Besides the very intense cultural and political split that exists in Ukraine and the conflict as a whole, one of the key factors in this situation is gas.  This infographic shows that both Ukraine and the EU gets their gas from Russia, and Ukraine is the area which the gas lines flow through.  As soon as many people in Ukraine showed interest in joining the EU, Russia reminded Ukrainians and the world of this fact

Tanya Townsend's curator insight, November 20, 2015 2:51 PM

The tug-of-war over Ukraine's gas lines not only creates political and cultural divides but also a lot of tension. Ukraine has power in its gas lines because it has a resource that is valuable and others need.

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Aral Sea Basin

Aral Sea Basin | Geography Education | Scoop.it

"Dust blows from what was once the Aral Sea floor. Tragic mismanagement of a natural resource."

Seth Dixon's insight:

The collapse of the Aral Sea ecosystem is (arguably) the worst man-made environmental disaster of the 20th century and 21st century has seen the continuation of the desertification set in motion.  Soviet mismanagement, water-intensive cotton production and population growth have all contributed the overtaxing of water resources in the Aral Sea basin, which has resulted in a the shrinking of the Aral Sea--it has lost more of the sea to an expanding desert than the territories of the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg combined.  The health problems arising from this issues are large for the entire Aral Sea basin, which encompasses 5 Central Asian countries and it has profoundly changed (for the worse) the local climates.  Compare the differences with some historical images of the Aral Sea on Google Earth or on ArcGIS Online (also see this article from GeoCurrents


Tags: environment, Central Asia, environment modify.

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Jess Deady's curator insight, April 30, 2014 8:36 PM

The Aral Sea Basin has been a topic of conversation throughout geography for many reasons. What used to be filled with water is now blowing dust because its that dry? This basin is no longer a natural resource.

Gene Gagne's curator insight, November 18, 2015 3:30 PM

Here is a question. Do you think perhaps in the future this could happen to lake Mead in Nevada/Arizona? With all the non-stop building and no rain perhaps one day could it run dry or do we have a way to stop it.

Gene Gagne's curator insight, December 1, 2015 7:17 PM

Once there is less water in a lake there is less water in the air therefore less rain. The long term consequences is that the fishing industry is destroyed where once upon a time there were 61000 workers and now there are under 2000. The water is more saltier. The lands are now ill suited and unbuildable. Also the people there are prone to health problems.

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Chechnya: 200 years of background in four minutes

Seth Dixon's insight:

I wish I had seen this video from the Washington Post when I was preparing last week's Geography of Chechnya post

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Louis Mazza's curator insight, April 21, 2015 1:24 PM

Chechnya, why so much has been made about Chechnya, the nationality of the Boston Bombers. Since then much talk about Chechnya. Around 200 years ago Russians came to conquer Chechnya. The entire Chechnya population was shipped to Cyberia by joseph Stalin, now recognized as a genocide. This is where the term send them to Cyberia developed. A second war in 1999 brought even more chaos to Chechnya. This morphed a radical religious feeling in the Chechnya people. It can be seen among attacks on Russia from Chechenia’s terrorists.

 

the new leader has a firm grip on the country and it has become a more silent nation

Adam Deneault's curator insight, December 14, 2015 1:40 PM

Clearly, Chechnya has a very violent past. It is nothing but a place of death and heavy conflict. You can even say it had a genocide going on, when the citizens of Chechnya was sent to Siberia to pretty much be killed off by the extreme cold. It is also important to understand that Chechnya wants to be it's own country. It is sad to hear about this country in such  negative way with all the fighting going on and the fact that the Boston Marathon bombers came from there... Why could we not hear of it in a better way better way? For example, they want to be a country of their own. 

Martin Kemp's curator insight, December 17, 2015 1:47 PM

first off i would like to say that i am pretty sure half of the world did not even know Chechnya existed until the marathon bombing happened. also this stuff is really important to know because it give you background and insight into what these people were thinking and how what goes on on the other side of the world can twist people in such a way that it effects us here at home.

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European women marry, give hope to Samaritans

European women marry, give hope to Samaritans | Geography Education | Scoop.it
MOUNT GERIZIM, West Bank (AP) — The Samaritans, a rapidly dwindling sect dating to biblical times, have opened their insular community to brides imported from eastern Europe in a desperate quest to preserve their ancient culture.
Seth Dixon's insight:

Some folk cultures, such as the Samaritans, have historically intermarried and have been plagued by genetic diseases.  Recently, they have turned to global solutions to their local demographic woes.  "Five young women from Russia and Ukraine have moved to this hilltop village in recent years to marry local men, breathing new life into the community."  


Tagsfolk culture, gender, population, Russia, religion, culture,
Middle East


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Nathan Chasse's curator insight, April 1, 2014 12:14 PM

This article describes a how the small religious group, the Samaritans, have seen their numbers shrink to unsustainable levels and have been forced to turn outside to find wives. These men are importing brides from places like Ukraine because of a significant gender imbalance and heightened risk of birth defects due to genetic homogenization over the centuries. These circumstances present an fairly unique case of migration, one which should it become a standard practice, could have an effect on the culture of the Samaritan communities.

Alyssa Dorr's curator insight, December 17, 2014 9:43 PM

The Samaritans, a rapidly dwindling sect dating to biblical times, have opened their insular community to brides imported from eastern Europe in a desperate quest to preserve their ancient culture. Five young women from Russia and Ukraine have moved to this hilltop village in recent years to marry local men, breathing new life into the community that has been plagued by genetic diseases caused by generations of intermarriage. Husni Cohen, a 69-year-old village elder, said the marriages are not ideal, since there is always a risk that the newcomers may decide to leave. But in a community whose population has fallen to roughly 360 people, he saw little choice.

Gene Gagne's curator insight, December 1, 2015 7:30 PM

This is why Denmark gives plenty of incentives for women to have babies so to make sure the population growth stays above 2.06 which is the average number needed to keep a steady population.

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Mapping Europe’s Borderlands: Russian Cartography in the Age of Empire

Mapping Europe’s Borderlands: Russian Cartography in the Age of Empire | Geography Education | Scoop.it

This is a rich and fascinating angle on history enhanced by a bounty of beautiful reproductions. Rare is a book this aesthetically pleasing and intellectually original.


"Maps are not merely distilled representations of geographic realities. Over time, they come to represent an organic bundling of history: reconstructed, imagined, and manipulated. Historically, they have been the tools with which expanding empires have legitimized their conquests, imposed identities, and created administrative order, and with which victims have constructed alternative narratives and salvaged their own national memories. Never was this truer than in the period in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries when a burgeoning Romanov empire joined Austria and Prussia in wiping Poland-Lithuania from the map and absorbing it into their swelling realms. Seegel intricately analyzes the cartography of imperial Russia and Poland-Lithuania as the science evolved and historical demands were placed on it. This is a rich and fascinating angle on history enhanced by a bounty of beautiful reproductions. Rare is a book this aesthetically pleasing and intellectually original. Seegel should be congratulated for creating it, and the University of Chicago Press, for producing it."  You may also see this title on Amazon


Tags: book reviews, Russia, cartography, historical.

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Russian Orthodox believers mark Epiphany with icy plunge

Russian Orthodox believers mark Epiphany with icy plunge | Geography Education | Scoop.it
Thousands of members of the Russian Orthodox Church marked Epiphany on January 19 with a dip in freezing waters blessed by a cleric. Epiphany is a celebration of the baptism of Jesus Christ and the...
Seth Dixon's insight:

Some of the photography and photo galleries of this cultural event are breathtaking--literally for those taking the plunge.  Russians cut the ice in the shape of a cross and bath in water that is blessed and considered holy.  This appears to be a religious tradition that is particularly adapted to the environmental conditions of the religious adherents (since it appears that the extreme climate plays a critical role in the activity).  Part of the practice involves sacrifice; the colder the swim, the greater the manifestation of religious devotion.    


Tags: Russia, religion, culture

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Matt Ramsdell's curator insight, November 25, 2015 2:18 PM

This Russian tradition is based solely on the church and their beliefs. This is a cleansing of the body and soul. The ice ia cut out into shapes of crosses. The people then jump in for this icy plunge. Many believe this is a rite of passage for the church. Done in the monthon January when the waters are at their coldest.

Adam Deneault's curator insight, December 14, 2015 1:18 PM

The fact that these people are jumping into pretty much frozen water in January is insane. I know we do a polar plunge here in RI, but I do not know of anyone who completely gets wet, I always knew of people just going in up to their knees or waist. Anyway, they obviously do not do it for a charity reason though, they do it to show religious dedication and proving themselves to the Russian Orthodox church. What baffles me most though, is since Russia is the largest country in the world and cold travels harder over larger masses of land, geographically, they are way low in the single digits and negatives while they are doing this. At least here our water is not already pre frozen and we could be in the 20s to 30s in January. 

Martin Kemp's curator insight, December 17, 2015 1:30 PM

all i could think about while reading this article was cultural diffusion, this is a great example of how cultures spread and gets adapted from place to place. here in the united states, also more specifically in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, you can take part in a similar event called the penguin plunge.

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Russians are leaving the country in droves

Russians are leaving the country in droves | Geography Education | Scoop.it
Over a bottle of vodka and a traditional Russian salad of pickles, sausage and potatoes tossed in mayonnaise, a group of friends raised their glasses and wished Igor Irtenyev and his family a happy journey to Israel.


My regional class has been learning about Russia this week and when I first started teaching a few years ago, I would teach that Russia had a population of 145 million.  Today it is 141 million and part of that is due to migrants leaving a country that they see as lacking in economic opportunities and political freedoms (another part of the story is that birth rates plummeted after the collapse of the Soviet Union in what demographers have called the "Russian Cross").  In the last few years the population appears to have stabilized, but there are still many who do not see a vibrant future from themselves within Russia.  


Tags: Russia, migration, Demographics, immigration, unit 2 population.


Via Nathan Parrish
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Meagan Harpin's curator insight, September 28, 2013 11:44 PM

In the last 10 years about 1.25 million russians have emigrated out of Russia, but the way they do it is interesting. When they leave they dont sell their houses, or aparments, or cars they simply lock their doors and quietly slip away to the airports at night. The reasons for leaving are different thought, some are leaving because the prime minister is expected to return while some are leaving because of the awful econonmy. Either way the massive amounts of emigration is leading to a higher death rate then birth rate overall. 

Nathan Chasse's curator insight, March 1, 2014 1:23 AM

This article from a couple years ago is about Russian emigration. A large number of Russians were leaving the country for better economic opportunity. Some cite the overbearing rule of Putin, but the pay in other countries is just better than what Russia can offer. This was particularly the case for the more educated, another instance of "brain drain" hurting a nation which is already in trouble.

Jess Deady's curator insight, May 1, 2014 12:00 PM

Migration occurs for many reasons. People move from country to country every day. Leaving Russia was this families choice and moving to Israel can have an impact on them greater than if they were to stay in Russia.

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Remote Sensing and Land Cover Change

Remote Sensing and Land Cover Change | Geography Education | Scoop.it

By moving the slider, the user can compare 1990 false-color Landsat views (left) with recent true-color imagery (right). Humans are increasingly transforming Earth’s surface—through direct activities such as farming, mining, and building, and indirectly by altering its climate.


This interactive feature includes 12 places that have experienced significant change since 1990.  This is an user-friendly way to compare remote sensing images over time.  Pictured above is the Aral Sea, which is and under-the-radar environmental catastrophe in Central Asia that has its roots in the Soviet era's (mis)management policies.  

 

Tags: remote sensing, land use, environment, geospatial, environment modify, esri, unit 1 Geoprinciples, zbestofzbest.

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Jake Red Dorman's curator insight, November 13, 2014 2:25 PM

Clearly the water level has decreased in Kazakhstan from 1990 until now. Farming, mining, and building are all indirectly changing the geography of some places. The use of rivers for cotton irrigation has shrunk by 3 quarters in the last 50 years and it is extremely affecting the Aral Sea. 

Edelin Espino's curator insight, December 13, 2014 3:10 PM

Is sad to see how humans are changing the environment forcing the wild creatures to abandon the places they've been living for hundred or years or die of starvation. I wonder what will happen in 300 years when there is no more big lakes and the oceans will be completed polluted .

Tanya Townsend's curator insight, November 20, 2015 2:57 PM

Great tool to show students how human use of natural resources can change landscapes and have permanent impacts on geographical landmarks such as the aerial sea. How do we stop it? Can we undo the damage done? How do we prevent these tragedies from happening in the future?

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A Fateful Harvest: Afghanistan under siege

Afghanistan supplies virtually all of the world's illegal opium. For Afghans themselves, however, feelings about poppy are conflicted: It's harmful to their ...

 

Part 1 of an 8 part series on youtube documenting the opium-growing process and how the Taliban manages it.  Agricultural production and rural land use can absolutely play a huge role in geopolitics and cultural patterns and processes, as evidenced by this example.  For more resources on the Afghanistan drug issue, see: www.scoop.it/t/funding-the-taliban-with-opium

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Louis Mazza's curator insight, March 25, 2015 2:46 PM

There are signs in Afghanistan that the new democracy in place has helped to improve living conditions but Afghaniston still has internal trouble. The Taliban are still causing chaos in Afghanistan. Corruption in government is staggering, addiction rates among women and children are growing and at the same time the drug trade in Afghanistan is becoming a multi-billion dollar corporation. Farmers are growing opium like no tomorrow and Afghanistan now has the highest narcotic output of any nation. Prior to 2002 opium cultivation was legal.  Money from opium helps fuel the Taliban. Citizens also use opium as a means of survival so when forces destroy the crop, innocent people also suffer. A man interviewed in the video says no other crop feeds his children, and the government does nothing to help.

Felix Ramos Jr.'s curator insight, April 1, 2015 7:10 PM

Most people would agree that Opium is a devastating addiction.  But what most of us don't see is the other side of the drug trade. This video shows the vulnerability of the drug-dealers and poppy-farmers.  The Afghanistan government finds and destroys a poppy farm and the interview with a boy of the farming family is riveting.  You can't help but feel bad for these people, especially the children who are directly effected by it.

Rachel Phillips's curator insight, May 8, 2015 12:49 PM

Drug trafficking is a problem all over the world, but this is really something else.  Realistically, these people are just growing flowers, but it's their intent that is the problem.  I was always aware that Afghanistan was a major producer of drugs, but I had no idea the extent. I agree that if someone has illegal drugs, that they should be punished.  But these poppies are these people's life line.  That's not to say that what they are doing is acceptable, but you can't help but feel bad.  They live in a poor region where they are doing what they need to just to feed their families. It's kind of heartbreaking, but there are laws against these drugs for a reason, and they should be penalized.  Then there is the question of how do they choose one family to punish, when this is clearly a huge problem that is not easily hidden; these people are growing these plants in plain sight.  The government has every right to punish them, and as upset as they are to have their crop destroyed, I would think it's got to be better than getting thrown into an Afghani prison.

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The BRIC Countries

The BRIC Countries | Geography Education | Scoop.it
For some time now, Brazil, Russia, India, and China have been grouped together under the acronym BRIC.

 

What are the demographic profiles of these "BRIC" countries that are increasingly looming large in the global consciousness?  While they to not quite fit the profile of more developed countries (MDCs), the BRIC countries are notable for how rapidly they are closing the gap in many metrics. 

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Hector Alonzo's curator insight, November 2, 2014 9:21 PM

The BRIC countries are among the top 10 riches countries in the world and this article shows data supporting the idea that by 2050, These countries will pass the top 4 countries due to their booming economies. As the countries continue their upward climb they will be closer to securing their place atop of the richest countries list.

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How tiny Estonia stepped out of USSR's shadow to become an internet titan

How tiny Estonia stepped out of USSR's shadow to become an internet titan | Geography Education | Scoop.it
The European country where Skype was born made a conscious decision to embrace the web after shaking off Soviet shackles Eesti keel | Estonian language version...

 

Can you imagine walking over 100 miles without losing your internet connection?  Estonia has done it by making internet access a public service along the lines of water and electricity.  The impacts and effects or profound considering that 9 in 10 Estonians have a computerized ID card that they can use to vote, transfer money and access all the information the state has on them.  Although this may sound very dystopian and authoritarian to many, Estonians argue that it actually empowers citizens to keep the state in check.      

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Brian Nicoll's curator insight, December 11, 2012 11:03 PM

I actually like the idea of the computerized ID card.  Yes, undoubtedly from the outside looking in this does appear to have some big brother qualities but I think it's brilliant.  The card allows people to transfer money and vote.  It's also nice to see a country that doesn't just treat their internet use like a toy.  They use it to benefit their society, making it accessible to everyone in the country and not just those who can afford it. 

Al Picozzi's curator insight, October 13, 2013 10:43 AM

Just an amazing fact to see a county that was once under the controll of the USSR for so long as come so far.  Now a part of NATO and the EU Estonia has stepped out of the control of Russia to become a virbrant place to live.  Once independant and then under the contol of the USSR at the start of WW II it has once again become a nation itself.  Also notice a very different view in the article, the people there feel this electronic system lets them keep and eye on the government and not a big brother view many people in the US have over electronic ID systems.  Is it because they have always been use to being looked at by the government, ie the USSR over the last 50 years and because we are so use to freedoms that we have had for hundreds of years?

Cam E's curator insight, February 27, 2014 11:04 AM

I actually had no idea that Estonia birthed Skype. It was an amazing foresight that Estonia immediately jumped into the computer and internet age, and even more surprising that you can get Wi-fi across most of the country, no matter how remote. That's something that hasn't been accomplished in even the US. They had Internet in most schools by 1997 and can even vote online!

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50 Pictures Of Chernobyl 25 Years After The Nuclear Disaster

50 Pictures Of Chernobyl 25 Years After The Nuclear Disaster | Geography Education | Scoop.it
50 Pictures Of Chernobyl 25 Years After The Nuclear Disaster: Today marks the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. ...

 

A haunting gallery that displays the effects of environmental and political mismanagement. 

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Brett Sinica's curator insight, October 20, 2013 3:03 PM

The pictures are breathtaking.  What was once a modern and prosperous area is now completely devestated and basically irreparable for hundreds of years to come.  In some of the pictures it is possible to see the haste and desertion of buildings and rooms which gives a sense of fear and panic that the people experienced.  There is surely still so much that can be explored, but the radiation limits people and the danger of the area is hard for civilians to be within the boundaries of Chernobyl.  Places like this show how drastic the rise and fall of the Soviet Union really was.  Similar to mono-towns in Siberia, these areas were set up for people to flourish and become successful, but as history went on and disasters ensued, the great empire came crashing down.

Ryan Amado's curator insight, December 11, 2013 3:51 AM

These photo's are rather gripping.  Many of the images seen here are of objects that have not moved or been touched in 25 years.  The entire population of Pripyat had to pack their bags and leave all in an instant. The chaos that must have ensued after the nuclear meltdown must have been haunting. Pripyat will remain like this for years to come, and one can imagine what it will look like in 25 more years.

Benjamin Jackson's curator insight, December 13, 2015 5:06 PM

this is a haunting reminder that we must always try to prevent the horrifying failures that result from mismanagement. that this was an event that had impacts as far away as France is often forgotten, and the thoughts of what may happen if something larger happens is even more horrifying.