Global news with a spatial perspective: Interesting, current supplemental materials for geography teachers and students.
Curated by Seth Dixon
"Glance at the map above, Second Largest Religious Tradition in Each State 2010, and you will see that Buddhism (orange), Judaism (pink) and Islam (blue) are the runner-up religions across the country.
No surprises there. But can you believe that Hindu (dark orange) is the No. 2 tradition in Arizona and Delaware, and that Baha'i (green) ranks second in South Carolina? These numbers, although they look impressive when laid out in the map, represent a very tiny fraction of the population in any of the states listed."
Questions to Ponder: What are the most interesting stories and patterns visible in the spatial, mapped data? What is the main second religion that is not as visually dominant on the map? Why are both data sources valuable in understanding religions in the United States?
Maria says she's black and Lucy says she's white. Together, they prove none of this makes sense.
These twins also have three siblings and they say "we are at opposite ends of the [skin color] spectrum and they are all somewhere in between." Their lives show that the differences underlying the cultural constructs of "white" and "black" as discrete categories isn't defensible, but it doesn't mean that it isn't culturally important. As stated in the article, "here's no question that the way people categorize Lucy and Maria, and the way they think of themselves, will affect their lives. That's because, even though race is highly subjective, racism and discrimination based on what people believe about race are very real."
From a long-running radio show to bilingual street signs, efforts are being made to preserve a vernacular once repressed by law.
This radio show is part of a conscious effort to sustain an iteration of French that followed its own evolutionary path here, far from the famed vigilance of the Académie française. Many now believe Louisiana French to be endangered, even as other aspects of the state's rural culture flourish amid the homogenizing forces of modern life. "We're not losing the music. We're not losing the food," Mr. Layne said from his office, Ville Platte, a city of 7,500 about two and a half hours west of New Orleans. "But we're losing what I think is the most important thing, which is language."
Have you ever wondered why Northern Ireland a part of the U.K.? Read this article from the Economist.
"There’s nothing more irritating to a pedant’s ear and nothing more flabbergasting than realizing you’ve been pronouncing the name of so many places wrong, your entire life! Despite the judgment we exhibit toward people who err in enunciating, we all mispronounce a word from time to time, despite our best efforts. Well, now it’s time we can really stop mispronouncing the following places."
I've only been mispronouncing 8 of them, but many of these toponyms (place names) are chronically mispronounced. Some of these have curious local of pronouncing the name, while others show that translating one language into another can be quite difficult since many sounds don't naturally flow off the tongue of non-native speakers.
"Walk along the streets of London and it’s not uncommon to hear a variety of langauges jostling for space in your eardrums. Step inside a tube carriage on the underground and the story is no different.
Oliver O’Brien, researcher in geovisualisation and web mapping at University College London’s department of geography, has created a map showing what the most common second language (after English) is at certain tube stops across the capital.
Using a map of tube journeys and busy stations that he had previously created, O’Brien used 2011 Census data to add the second most commonly spoken language that people who live nearby speak."
This map is an excellent way to introduce the concept of ethnic neighborhoods and show how they spatially form and what ties them together. This other article shows how the spatial arrangement of London's population has changed from 1939 to today.
Before its subversion in the Jim Crow era, the fruit symbolized black self-sufficiency.
The stereotype that African Americans are excessively fond of watermelon emerged for a specific historical reason and served a specific political purpose. The trope came into full force when slaves won their emancipation during the Civil War. Free black people grew, ate, and sold watermelons, and in doing so made the fruit a symbol of their freedom. Southern whites, threatened by blacks’ newfound freedom, responded by making the fruit a symbol of black people’s perceived uncleanliness, laziness, childishness, and unwanted public presence. This racist trope then exploded in American popular culture, becoming so pervasive that its historical origin became obscure."
One urban planning professor has defined this as a process that occurs in discrete stages.
Much has been made of the wave of millennials moving to cities. In intriguing new work, geographer and urban planner Markus Moos of the University of Waterloo gives the phenomenon a name: “youthification.” Moos defines youthfication as the “influx of young adults into higher density” cities and neighborhoods. And in some ways these neighborhoods are “forever young,” where new cohorts of young people continue to move in as families and children cycle out in search of more space.
King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia passed away on Jan 23rd and has been replaced by King Salman. What does that mean for Saudi Arabia? What will it mean for the region? The Plaid Avenger has the answers (here are the links for part 2 and part 3).
The clip which starts at 0:25 (speaking at 0:50) is an audiovisually rich cultural collage. Folk cultures are often described as regionally based, nearly homogenous, rural cultures. These societies are typically dominated by the older generation, traditional, family-based and slow to change. Folk cultures typically rural, religious, agricultural, family-based and in a word: traditional. This classic movie's opening is a good primer for markers of folk cultures and struggles that folk cultures have to maintain there vitality in a globalizing world. If you continue on in the movie, the actual song Tradition is also rich in explaining how the society maintains itself.
Drexel University is taking a hands-on approach to redeveloping one of Philadelphia's poorest neighborhoods with a new center designed to serve not just students but mainly local residents.
This NPR podcast shows a good example of an urban revitalization project that is actively trying to avoid following the gentrification path. Growing colleges can unintentionally displace longtime residents, but this project is about preserving the cultural fabric of the neighborhood and building good will in the community.
"The position [that belief in God is essential to morality] is highly prevalent, if not universal, in Africa and the Middle East. At least three-quarters in all six countries surveyed in Africa say that faith in God is essential to morality. People in richer nations tend to place less emphasis on the need to believe in God to have good values than people in poorer countries do."
An important part of the geography of religion is how the non-religious are treated and perceived around the world. More secular countries tend to be more developed, affluent and wealthy; generally speaking these are the countries that do not believe that morality and a belief in God have to be linked together. What do you think? What cultural perspectives shape your thinking?
As a British expat who has lived and worked in the U.S. for over five years, I remain very much in favor of embracing the various wonderful nuances this country has to offer. However, there was one aspect of my move that—during the initial settling-in period—I secretly feared: the gradual Americanization of my vocabulary.
While this list was created for English speakers in the UK, I will invert the list to show some terms that Americans rarely use, even if we understand their meaning: rubbish, mobile, motorway, petrol, car park, you lot, maths, pavement, football and fizzy drink. If this interests you so will this list of 10 British insults that American don't understand.
Central Asia is full of lands whose names end in -stan. A certain powerful North American country has a related name. How? It's not your standard explanation...
"There’s no denying that the Amish are fascinating to the rest of us ("the English," in Amish terms). We buy their furniture and jam, and may occasionally spot their buggies when driving on country roads through America’s heartland. Many may not realize, however, that though the Amish make up only a tiny percentage of Americans (less than 0.1 percent), the Amish population has grown enormously since the early 1960s, with much of the increase occurring in the last two decades."
"A new report released by the Pew Research Centre has found that the proportion of Catholics in Latin America has dropped 25% since 1970. One of the primary drivers for the rise in the numbers leaving the Catholic Church? Conversion to Protestantism."
A look into Smithsonian's vast archives reveals that Father Christmas tends to get a makeover with every generation that embraces him
The picture archives show the historical evolution behind the cultural representations of Santa Claus. Additionally this ESRI story map shows some of the regional differences in Santa Claus, showing how the cultural diffusion of this icon of a Christian holiday takes on real local attributes. I also enjoyed these pictures from the BBC of Christmas around the world. Merry Christmas to those that celebrate it and a Happy New Year to all.
"Sometimes, rehabilitating a rough neighborhood is a tough process. But in one West Coast American city, it was as simple as adding a Buddha statue. Since the statue's installation, a street corner has been transformed from a notorious eyesore to a daily prayer spot for local Vietnamese Buddhists. For this Geo Quiz, we're looking for the city where this shrine is located — can you name it?"
“The Midwest is this big nebulous part of the country and it's kind of what's left over after all the other regions of the country are defined. Those regions have much stronger identities if you think of the East Coast or maybe New England or the Pacific Northwest or certainly the South. The Midwest is kind of the catchall for what's left. We [Minnesota] should be called the North.”
Whether I agree or not with the ideas being discussed, I simply love that this discussion is taking place and how intensely geographical the ideas and evidences being brought forward are.
Questions to Ponder: So what region do you live in? What defines that region? Are there other regions that you can claim to be a part of also? How would you divide the United States into various regions? How come?
"Self-taught Iranian photographer gains rare access to shoot religious buildings as they've never been seen. It's a side of Iran the rest of the world doesn't normally get to see -- the kaleidoscopically brilliant interiors of the country's intricately designed mosques.With beautiful mosaics and stained glass framed by powerful architecture, the buildings are astounding."
Conflict Kitchen is an art project based in the centre of Pittsburgh which serves food from countries with which the US is 'in conflict'. The founders get to define what conflict means - it can range from outright war to economic sanctions - and since opening in 2010 they have prepared food from Afghanistan, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela and Cuba. But the restaurant's latest choice of cuisine, Palestinian food, has caused controversy in the city and even led to a death threat which temporarily closed the venue. Critics pointed out that the US is not in conflict with the Palestinian people. They claimed that the pamphlets served with the dishes included 'anti-Israel' propaganda. But Conflict Kitchen's founders said the project was designed to encourage debate among Americans."
Questions to Ponder: What do you think the purpose of Conflict Kitchen is for the restaurant owners? Many people choose restaurants for a cultural experience; what type of cultural experiences are these patrons searching for by eating at Conflict Kitchen? What political overtones are there to these cultural encounters? Is this a form of 'gastro-diplomacy?'