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A short, recent history of Congo

Mapping the war in Congo: mineral wealth, militias and an epic march
Seth Dixon's insight:

To understand much of the political situation in Central Africa, a short history of the recent political and ethnic turmoil in Rwanda and Congo are helpful.  This particular videographic from the Economist is a few years old, but the historical context is still incredibly relevant  This series provides a wealth of information and several will be added to the place-based geography videos interactive map.


Tags: Congo, political, conflict, devolution, refugees, Africa.

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Kristin Mandsager San Bento's curator insight, April 9, 2015 2:39 PM

This is another sad story.  There is fast wealth in this area.  More than enough to get this economy off the ground and be a booming source of wealth for the countries.  Ever since the British, Belgiums, and foreigners created conflict in the area there has been so much unrest. They need to get out of their own ways and elect someone who won't steal millions.  They could get back to the golden days, but not until they have some peace which would then lead to prosperity.  

Martin Kemp's curator insight, December 17, 2015 3:00 PM

once again a recurring theme, greedy and corrupt people running countries. with such immense mineral deposits how can this country not be prospering. because the people of these countries are selfish and once again not nationalistic to the point where people will try to make a significant change.

Brian von Kraus's curator insight, January 12, 6:15 PM

Amazing videographic from The Economist showing the recent history of Congo that explains the current instability of the country. 

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Take This State And Shove It: The New Secession Movement

Take This State And Shove It: The New Secession Movement | Geography Education | Scoop.it
Residents of rural areas feel shut out of their states' politics, so why not create their own?
Seth Dixon's insight:

One county commission discribed these political movements thus: "It's grounded in the legitimate feeling that if you're marginalized by geography, it's easy to feel neglected by the central government."  The political division between urban and rural citizens can lead to pockets of the population feeling as though the state government ignores your and the surrounding communities.  It took the Civil War to separate West Virginia from Virginia, and while many may want to be in a different state, it's not happening simply because there is grassroots support for greater local autonomy.  Hypothetically, let's say that many new states are generated; what consequences might come of this?  Would it leading to further gerrymandering?      


Tags: political, conflict, devolution, autonomy, bordersgerrymandering.

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Heather Ramsey's curator insight, November 18, 2013 2:25 PM

On election day this year, several Colorado counties voted on whether to secede from Colorado and create a new state. Many of the counties voted in favor of the idea. (See the link below for more info on the Colorado secession movement.) This is not the first time groups of Americans have considered (and voted on) breaking away from their state. When political issues come up and decisions are made by the government and/or the people, some get their way and others do not. The article explains one way that some people have decided to take action when they do not feel their interests are being served.

 

BONUS for my students:

1) What steps do you think should be taken before people consider seceding from their state?  

2) What are some possible pros and cons of breaking away from a state to create a new one?  

3) Hypothetically speaking, what would it take for you to want to create a new state?

 

Here is the link to the article about Colorado's secession movement:

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory/colorado-rural-voters-approve-secession-idea-20850962

Victoria McNamara's curator insight, December 11, 2013 11:43 PM

Some states urban and rural areas have had differences and beliefs when it comes to politics. For example Virginia and West Virginia have had their differences and this is what has caused them to seperate. If every state did this there would be too much craziness because im sure each state would have a different belief and nobody would agree on anything. 

Nathan Chasse's curator insight, February 1, 2014 7:57 PM

This article is about segments of California, Colorado, and Oregon wanting to separate and become their own states so their voices can be heard in Congress.

 

If, hypothetically, new states were formed out of existing ones this kind of gerrymandering would likely only lead to even more new states. It might even lead to a secession arms race to gain more Democrat and Republican seats in the Senate. With so many new states, it could lead to increased division, with no Democrat or Republican wanting to set foot in an opposition’s state. In the long run though, political affiliations do eventually change and we would have a precedent analogous to attempting to take the ball home when the other kids don't want to play the same game as you, which is not how a democratic republic works.

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Flag wars

Flag wars | Geography Education | Scoop.it

"Mr Füzes had voiced support for the Székler people, a group of ethnic Hungarians who live in Transylvania, after two Romanian counties banned the display of the Székler flag (pictured above with men in hussar uniform) on public buildings. Zsolt Nemeth, Hungary’s state secretary for foreign affairs, described the ban as an act of “symbolic aggression” and called for local councils in Hungary to show solidarity by flying the Székler flag from town halls. The Hungarian government then raised the Székler flag above Parliament, further enraging Bucharest..."

Seth Dixon's insight:

Flags are important symbols of cultural identity and displaying them can be a strong political statement.  For Hungarians, displaying symbols of a "Greater Hungary" shows some desire for irredentism--to redeem Hungarians of the 'wrong' side of the border.  For those Hungarians in Romania this is an act of defiance that show that they want greater autonomy. 


For sports fans, ESPN did a "30 for 30" documentary on the early 90's Yugoslavian basketball team that was a major talent (1990 World Champions) but was torn apart as devolutionary forces fractured the countries and the once-teammates were estranged after what some perceived as disrespectful acts to the Croatian national flag.  Vlade Divac (a Serbian) was pitted against some of his best friends from Croatia as the civil war was playing itself out on the court as well.  This is a great way to get a sports fan to learn about ethnic conflict and about the importance of cultural symbols ("Once Brothers"--$1.99, free for Amazon Prime users).   

Tagspolitical, conflict, devolution, autonomyEurope, culture.

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Conor McCloskey's comment, April 30, 2013 10:26 AM
The past is the past. Or is it? The past seems to mean more to the people of Hungary and Romania these days. The Treaty of Trianon of 1920 sectioned the region of Transylvania from Romania to Hungary. For the ethnic Hungarians living in Transylvania, this posed quite the issue. For many people around the world, the homeland does not always match up with geopolitical boundaries of the country that they live in. While this identity crisis causes conflict for many groups of people all over the world, in Hungary the fight to regain greater-Hungary continues today.
This article also poses interesting questions of voting and citizenship. The Hungarian government granted citizenship beyond its borders, and jurisdiction, to ethnic Hungarians in Romania. What does this say about those Hungarians in Romania? Does it bring Hungary any closer to regaining the borders of the once Greater Hungary? Regardless of the questions of citizenship, such public and federal efforts to expand their borders and regain their ethnic population and homeland is doing more then turning heads. Look to this region for future conflict because the failure of geopolitical nations to represent ethnic homelands rarely ends peacefully.
John Peterson's comment, April 30, 2013 10:37 AM
This article helps to illustrate tensions that can be caused by seemingly simple acts within a society that is home to two conflicting groups. While flags do not have any actual influence or power in society, they are a source of emotion, and pride in ones nation and heritage. Because of the emotion that is tied with flags, it can be a very tense situation when the use of these flags is banned, or if these flags are taken down or destroyed. It is amazing how something so simple as a flag can bring about so much anger, and be the source of such bad blood and violence between different nations or ethnic groups. In the example given, there has been conflict for years, which was recently fueled even more over the use of a flag. While the act of displaying a flag is simply a display of loyalty, the actions of the Romanian government against this practice shows how although it is not a violent act, it can lead to very hostile actions and interactions.
Zakary Pereira's comment, April 30, 2013 4:12 PM
This article got me thinking. The tensions between Hungary and Romania seem trivial to me. The Romanians are the right ones in my opinion and the act of displaying the Székler flag about the Hungarian Parliament was plainly a theoretical middle finger to Romania. The more than a million Hungarians living in present day Romania relates to our unit on culture and nations/states. There is a Hungarian nation of people in Romania that the Hungarian government has now granted rights to, again purposely antagonizing Romania, and Romania is rightfully concerned of their dual-loyalty. Overall, the situation is taken way out of proportion by Hungary and what former piece of an empire wants that flag flown in their country. In Ireland do you see the Union Jack… that’d be a no.
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Belgians divided by language barrier

Failure by Belgium's political parties to form a government since elections in June have prompted fears of a split in the tiny European country. Al Jazeera's...
Seth Dixon's insight:

This 2007 video is dated, but many of the same issues are still seen today.  This video briefly lays out the cultural context for the political divisions between the French-speaking Walloons and the Dutch-speaking Flemish populations of Belgium.  For a longer video on the topic, see this half hour video.


Tags: language, culture, Belgium, unit 4 political, Europe, devolution, unit 3 culture.  

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BTC's comment, February 12, 2013 10:46 AM
Interesting, but the reality is much more complex....
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Northern Ireland flag riots 'threatening jobs'

Northern Ireland flag riots 'threatening jobs' | Geography Education | Scoop.it
The riots linked to flag protests in Northern Ireland are causing "significant damage" to the economy, the secretary of state warns.
Seth Dixon's insight:

Flags are tangible symbols of communal identity and political power.  If the meaning behind these identities are unresolved, the symbols of these identities in public spaces becomes all the more there is contentious.  Currently, the Union Jack is a lightning rod for controversy in Northern Ireland and the riots stemming from this are harming the local economy. 


Tags: Ireland, political, conflict, devolution, autonomy, economic, Europe, unit 4 political.

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Elizabeth Bitgood's curator insight, March 3, 2014 11:39 AM

This article shows that no matter how small the world is becoming nationalism is still present and will cause issues between different factions and supporters of different national identities.  The issue over what flag will be flown in a country can spark outrage and anger not by people against the flag but the people for it as they feel it should be flown all the time as opposed to a limited amount of days in the year.

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The Italians who want to be Austrian

The Italians who want to be Austrian | Geography Education | Scoop.it
It is Italy's richest province, and has been part of the country for almost 100 years - but some in South Tyrol just do not feel fully Italian.
Seth Dixon's insight:

While the idea of everyone of the same nationality belonging to the same country might be considered an ideal situation, the world's ethnic geography is too jumbled to create perfect nation-states.  South Tyrol is a part of Italy that is one of those places with mixed a ethnic, linguistic and political heritage.  By different criteria, many of the residents could be considered German, Austrian or Italian or a combination of the them.  Since the Euro Zone fiscal crisis, the push for political autonomy in South Tyrol has intensified, in part because this region has avoided the crisis and is economically fairing better than the rest of Italy.  


Questions to Ponder: How do political borders reveal and conceal "the truth" about places on either side of the line?  What elements are a part of a regions heritage?  Can regions have multiple, overlapping heritages?  How does devolution impact the whole country?  


Tags: Italy, states, autonomy, ethnic, language, devolution.

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Scarpaci Human Geography's curator insight, December 14, 2012 11:13 AM

Questions to Ponder: How to political borders reveal and conceal "the truth" about places on either side of the line?  What elements are a part of a regions heritage?  Can regions have multiple, overlapping heritages?  How does devolution impact the whole country?

Allison Anthony's curator insight, December 14, 2012 1:46 PM

Take note Kate and Johnny!!

Kaitlin Young's curator insight, November 30, 2014 8:14 PM

Being an eighth Tyrolean, I remember my great uncles and other family members complaining about this at every family reunion. Newer generations in my family would refer to themselves as Italian, and the arguments would ensue. That being said, it is no surprise that those living in what was once Tyrol have faced conflict. Historically, peoples with languages, cultural heritages, or religions that differ from the rest of a country usually hold grievances. During the time of Mussolini, Italians were encouraged to move to the northern reaches and Italian was forcibly taught in the school systems. Italy's past of forcing the Austrian speaking Tyroleans to assimilate into a more Italian culture may remain, but fortunately, they have worked to preserve their culture. The bilingual nature of this region allows for the people to thrive in business and tourism. Unfortunately, this autonomous state is facing dark times as Italy's financial crisis puts pressure on South Tyrol by increasing taxes. Many see this as a continuation of Italian oppression on a not so Italian demographic. 

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God Grew Tired of Us

God Grew Tired of Us | Geography Education | Scoop.it

The story of the "Lost Boys" of Sudan is a heartbreaking and inspiring tale of youth caught in cultural and geopolitical conflicts and fored to leave their homes. The film God Grew Tired of Us tells a moving story of young people overcoming incredible challenges and struggling to improve their own lives and those of family and friends left behind."  Linked here is a lsson plan from National Geographic "to teach students about concepts of migration, cultural mosaics, sense of place, and forces of cooperation and conflict among communities" using this 90 minute documentary.  The film can be viewed online on HULU as well as other media outlets.  


Tags: culture, Africa, political, conflict, war, migration, development, APHG

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Spanish Crisis Revives Calls For Catalan Secession

Spain's dismal economy has residents of the country's richest region, Catalonia, wondering if they'd be better off going it alone. With their own language and distinct culture, Catalans have long pushed for independence from Spain.


This podcast merges several geographic strands together as economic turmoil in the southern portion of the Euro Zone has fanned the flames of cultural resentment and put discussions for Catalonian independence on the agenda for local politicians. 


Questions to ponder: Will this internal devolution cause greater disintegration in the European Union or Spain?  Would an independent Catalan be a wise move for the Catalonians?  How would their independence impact Spain?    


Tags: political, autonomy, economic, Europe, devolution, sovereignty, unit 4 political.

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Syria could Balkanize as Assad falls

Syria could Balkanize as Assad falls | Geography Education | Scoop.it
Syria is destined to fragment into three separate sectarian states after the regime of Bashar al-Assad is extirpated, according to Mohammad Yaghi, a Syrian jour...


"It no longer matters whether what is happening in Syria is a revolution or a conspiracy that preempted a potential revolution — or even a conspiracy targeting the 'non-aligned' countries. The substance of the matter is: Is it possible to save Syria from imminent disintegration?"  This article that originally came from a Palestinian news agency serves as a good material to start a discussion about centripetal and centrifugal forces.


Tags: Middle East, devolution, political, unit 4 political and war

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Don Brown Jr's comment, September 4, 2012 12:17 PM
This article reveals that diversity and stability in society may not be synonymous in a location where there is limited population diffusion. If a population is never diffused throughout a particular space, you risk creating a situation where ethnic and religious groups become highly regionalized which in turn further erode the solidarity of nations like Syria.
Chris W's comment, September 5, 2012 11:21 AM
the whole situation in the Middle East right now is on a dangerous and slippery slope when it comes to governments controlling the populations by force. the Arab Spring was a turning point in the history and current direction of the region as Arabs across the region are striving for freedoms that they see as essential to their livelihoods. In Syria's case, Assad has taken over the country using his military forces to overrun cities and villages in efforts to establish his control. Opposition forces are battling to drive Assad out of power. There are record numbers of refugees fleeing Syria as it descends in civil war. Al-Jazeera has a really good article on what constitutes a civil war and if Syria is indeed heading towards one or is in fact currently in a civil war. the link is posted here: http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/insidesyria/2012/08/201282683723964944.html
Megan Becker's curator insight, May 26, 2015 11:49 PM

Summary: Syria's composition of multiple nations has lead to stress and internal conflict in the country. This article discusses the balkanization of Syria, if these centrifugal forces were to come to the breakup of the country.

 

Insight: This article relates to unit 4 in that the devolution of Syria, and possible balkanization, is due to the centrifugal force of having several different nations inside your country, that don't share the same culture, religion, or even language. This article does a great job of explaining the forces that can lead to the breakup of a country, scarily evident in present day Syria. 

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UNPO: Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization

UNPO: Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization | Geography Education | Scoop.it

The Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) is not affiliated with the United Nations (UN). The UNPO seeks to represent nations (as opposed to states) that are not fully autonomous are without a vote in the UN. This group supports all ethnic groups in their pursuit for political self-determination, economic empowerment and environmental resource control.  This is an excellent source for case studies in devolution, ethnic conflicts, indigenous peoples and many issues from both cultural and political geography.

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Devolution: A Beginner's Guide

Devolution: A Beginner's Guide | Geography Education | Scoop.it
What is devolution and how has it changed how Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales are governed?

 

This article with videos, charts and images was designed as a primer for UK voters for the 2010 election to understand who devolution in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland were reshaping the political landscape in the United Kingdom.  It is general enough that even though it is outdated as a news story, it serves as a concrete example from geography students to understand the processes and reasons for a decentralization of political power.

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Jacob Crowell's curator insight, December 8, 2014 11:44 AM

The parliament in London is shifting more power to Scotland and other areas in what is called devolution.  This reflects a push for more independence of countries in the UK that are not England. In order to keep the UK together concessions must be made, this devolution is the British Parliament's efforts to keep the UK intact.

Miles Gibson's curator insight, February 11, 2015 9:30 AM

Unit 4 political geography 

This picture explains how devolution works and provides a specific example with the breaking down of power of the imperialist England and it's control into an equally represented United Kingdom. This is an example of devolution at it's best.

This picture relates to unit 4 because it shows how devolution, which is a major part of unit 4, works. It explains it's parts and gives specific geographic examples as in the U.K. this overall relates to unit 4.

Matthew Connealy's curator insight, March 22, 2015 4:04 PM

Devolution is the transfer of powers from a central government to more regional power, in this case, the UK. The UK devolved its powers to England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. These countries have had independent parliaments since 1997. Some "reserved powers" have not been devolved from the UK such as foreign affairs, military defense, international and  economic policies. This change of power has stirred questions on public spending and tax policies, and is still a debate and event to keep your eye on.

 

I feel that devolution has many benefits that outweigh the negative consequences such as money spending. Countries can function in a more independent manner and govern themselves within their defined boundaries in a more efficient way. This topic and article gives greater insight to our political unit and provides great insight for each country's respective parliament.

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The 2011 Failed States Index

The 2011 Failed States Index | Geography Education | Scoop.it

How can political stability and security be measured?  What constitutes effective governance?  Foreign Policy, in conjunction with the Fund for Peace, has created a statistical ranking to measure the lack of effective political institutions.  For the 4th year running, Somalia has been statistically measured as the most failed state on Earth. Chad and Sudan are respectively ranked as the 2nd and 3rd most failed states.The 12 metrics that are a part of this index are:

•Demographic Pressures 

•Refugees/IDPs

•Illegitimate Govts.

•Brain Drain

•Public Services

•Inequality

•Group Grievances

•Human Rights

•Economic Decline

•Security Forces

•Factionalized Elites

•External Intervention

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Don Brown Jr's comment, July 16, 2012 9:57 PM
The global fallout of the Arab revolutions may be largely determined by demographics and political stability. Unlike Somalia for example which is in total anarchy, the Arab Spring uprisings occurred in more stable but oppressive governments. So this brings up the question, can a failed state rescue itself?
Derek Ethier's comment, November 5, 2012 2:35 PM
Althought sub-Saharan Africa has 5 of the 10 most quickly developing countries, they still lag very far behind the rest of the world in quality of living. Somalia, Chad and Suda are the most failed states on Earth, in order. The governments are unable to protect/provide for their people, brain drains suck the great minds to more developed countries, income inequalities ravage the nations, basic human rights are denied and the economies are pathetic. Overall, it is a sad story as many of these African nations also suffer from drought, famine and massive food shortages.
Kenny Dominguez's curator insight, November 29, 2013 4:11 PM

 I wonder why it is difficult for states to be formed. I would think it would be great because the village people won’t be forced to make big decisions they can just hire someone to do it for them. But in the other hand there would be other people who will make it difficult for them and will ruin it for everyone else. Becoming a state can change there live. They should have approved to become a state.

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The mystery of the Basques

The ancient Basque culture has survived against the odds.

 

The Basques are an intriguing cultural group to study in part because of their linguistic distinctness is Europe (Basque is a non-Indo-European language) but also because they strive for greater political autonomy within Spain.  This video could be used when teach about folk cultures, language, devolution, heritage as well as within a regional context. 

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Kmcordeiro670's comment, February 2, 2012 5:15 PM
The CNT remains one of the organized labor organizations in Spain which adheres to the autonomy of Basque as declared in the Second Spanish Republic and the Revolutionary Republic. Thank for posting this and helping revive this wonderful culture. If globalization has contracted space parallel to time, can we through our actions and struggle revive what time may have lost through our new form of connectedness?
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So you want to form your own state? It may take a while

So you want to form your own state? It may take a while | Geography Education | Scoop.it

Voters in five Colorado counties said on Tuesday they want to form their own state.  But the breakaway regions face almost impossible constitutional and political obstacles. The North Colorado movement supporters claim that their counties have little in common with more urbanized parts of the state, and they are unhappy with state-wide laws about gun control and energy standards. 

Seth Dixon's insight:

There are other secessionist movements, and other ways the states might have formed, but these are all very unlikely.  There's that little document called the Constitution that makes these movements impractical.  

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Tony Aguilar's curator insight, November 17, 2013 6:26 AM

movements to secceed and create their own state is a popular idea but will not be easy because of the political and cultural implications. Already exisiting states would become smaller and turn into smaller autonmous states. in the long run it may be more to manage because we would not more representatives and senators to represent this additional state. THe independant states may have more states but could become a headache for the 50 original states we already have.

Steven Flis's curator insight, December 16, 2013 10:27 AM

Theres an old saying that fits well with this article and its "if its not broke dont fix it" theres no major problem with having some demographicial differences in a state. Sure Nor Cal and So Cal may be nothing alike but that doesnt mean they need to officially seperate. Thanks to the constitution the seperation of a state/ forming of a state isnt a easy proccess, because if it was there would be endless amounts of states in this country because no 2 people share the exact same opinion.

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A 250-mile show of support for Catalonia independence

A 250-mile show of support for Catalonia independence | Geography Education | Scoop.it
More than 1 million flag-draped and face-painted Catalans held hands and formed a 250-mile human chain across the northeastern Spanish region Wednesday in a demonstration of their desires for independence.
Seth Dixon's insight:

September 11th means different things is different places.  While many Americans were remembering the terrorist attacks of 2001, it was Catalonian National Day.  In addition to the festivities, they organized a massive public demonstration to support independence and to garner international attention.  They created a 'human border' that sretched across the region to apply pressure on the Spanish government to allow a vote that would let Catalonia break away and form their own country.  While this energy and enthusiasm swept Barcelona, the Spanish government stopped the protest from spreading into neighboring Valencia (many Valencians speak Catalan).

  

Questions to Ponder: How do events such as this in public places impact the political process?  Is it significant that the link about the Spanish government stopping Valencia comes from a Scottish newspaper?  Why?  How can social media and technology (such as the hastags #CatalanWay #ViaCatalana) impact social movements?  


Tags: Catalonia, Spain, political, devolution, autonomyEurope, culture.

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Samuel D'Amore's curator insight, December 14, 2014 7:40 PM

While the early 20th century saw the rise of nationalism leading to the destruction of empires and birth of nations based upon culture not all cultures achieved this. An example of this today is in Catalonia within Spain. The people of Catalonia wish to separate themselves from the rest of Spain and become an individual free nation. Unfortunately for them Spain has no intentions of letting them go and few within the UN are siding against Spain.

Wilmine Merlain's curator insight, December 18, 2014 1:18 PM

There are a lot of unknown countries in the world, for instance Catalonia. A country that is independently located in Spain, Catalonia is one that is rarely heard of. With recent countries wanting to claim independence from their larger states, its looks like Catalonia wants a piece of the pie. Though coming to a place of self-governance is a mile stone, it also comes at a high sticker prize. They not only have to develop national recognition by other states in the world union, they have to be able to produce commodity that is able to compete on a global level. These countries wanting to claim independence have a long way to go.

Rachel Phillips's curator insight, May 7, 2015 2:08 PM

Until pretty recently, I wasn't even aware of Catalonia, nevermind their hope for independence. I didn't know that they didn't consider themselves Spain, but another place entirely.  But, because they've been considered part of Spain for so long, it seems like independence from Spain could be hard to achieve. However, holding marches and things like this are a great way to get a movement going, as long as it doesn't become violent or any sort of serious public disturbance, because that never solves anything.

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Top 10 Countries That Disappeared In The 20th Century

Top 10 Countries That Disappeared In The 20th Century | Geography Education | Scoop.it
New nations seem to pop up with alarming regularity. At the start of the 20th century, there were only a few dozen independent sovereign states on the planet; today, there are nearly 200!
Seth Dixon's insight:

This list of countries that no longer exist in their current form include Czechoslovakia, Tibet, Sikkim, the Ottoman Empire and the Soviet Union. 


Tags: unit 4 political, historical, devolution.  

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Al Picozzi's curator insight, July 2, 2013 11:38 AM

Amazing to see many of the countries and empires that are no longer around.  Also with the dissoution of many of the empires it lead's to many of the issues that were are dealiing with today.  Splitting the Austro-Hugaraian Empire after WWI along ethnic lines didn't really work and helped to lead to WWII.  The Germans in the Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia fro example.  See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Sudetendeutsche_gebiete.svg

 for the area of German population.

Lauren Stahowiak's curator insight, February 27, 2014 5:01 PM

10 countries that have become nonexistent in the 20th century include Tibet, East Germany and Yugoslavia. These countries have died off because of ethic, religious and cultural falls that were quickly taken over by bigger and more powerful countries.

Amanda Morgan's curator insight, October 23, 2014 9:13 PM

Essentially this article boils down to the issues of religion, ethnicity and nationalism.  People who are diverse and have different ideas generally cannot all live together under one rule and agree on everything, hence nations split and new ones form to cater to their own beliefs and similarities.

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Catalonia asks Spain for 9 Billion Euros

Catalonia asks Spain for 9 Billion Euros | Geography Education | Scoop.it
The independence-minded region of Catalonia asks the Spanish central government for an extra 9bn euros (£7.7bn) in bailout money.
Seth Dixon's insight:

Catalonia appears to want the benefits of independence AND of being politically connected to Spain.


Tags: Spain, Europe, devolution, autonomy.

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Ryan Amado's curator insight, December 11, 2013 3:21 AM

This is sad news for an area that is trying to persuede the world it deserves to be independent. Unfortunately,  they still have to rely on the Spanish government to help their economy, something that does not help their case.  While other countries do take money from other powers, one that is trying to establish itself might want to have a more optimistic outlook on it's economy before it tries to go off on it's own.

Elizabeth Bitgood's curator insight, March 3, 2014 11:28 AM

This area seems to want it both ways.  To be independent from Spain, but also dependent economically on Spain.  This region should sort out its priorities and decided if independents is worth it and if so then they should not be asking Spain for help.  It’s like a twenty-something person that moves out of their parents’ house and then comes back again and again with their hand out.  Catalonia seems to be facing this same issue.

Hector Alonzo's curator insight, October 30, 2014 9:00 PM

Catalonia, an independent region wants Spain to give them 9 billion euros in order to help them stay out of debt, but also want to keep themselves independent of Spain. The most interesting aspect of this article is how the region of Catalonia wants to be independent, but still seek help from the very place it wants to be independent from.

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As Kurds Fight for Freedom in Syria, Fears Rise in Turkey

As Kurds Fight for Freedom in Syria, Fears Rise in Turkey of Following Suit
Seth Dixon's insight:

Since the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the Kurds have been caught in other people's plans for what the states of the Middle East should look like and are the largest 'stateless nation' in the world.  Divided between Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey, the Kurds have not been able to politically mobilize support for Kurdistan as they have been violently oppressed in these countries.  The Kurds in Iraq have been able to gain political autonomy with the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime, and the Syrian Kurds are hoping to do the same if and when the Assad regime crumbles at the end of the civil war.  This make Turkey concerned that the Kurds in the southeastern part of Turkey will make renewed efforts to push for sovereignty. 


UPDATE: This PBS feature explains the historic timeline of the important political events for the Kurds in Iraq.This article from the Economist focuses on the key reason that outside forces won't leave the Kurds alone: oil.


Tags: Syria, ethnic, conflict, political, Turkey, culture, devolution.

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Joshua Choiniere's comment, December 18, 2012 11:23 AM
This is really interesting professor
Eliana Oliveira Burian's curator insight, December 28, 2012 6:34 AM

How to handle it?

 

Martin Kemp's curator insight, December 17, 2015 2:10 PM

what i find interesting about this is that both syria and turkey are trying to remove the kurds from their countries. neither country will allow more kurds to immigrate into their land, but both are encouraging them to leave and go fight in the other country. the kurds seem to not care which country they live in as long as they are all together but no country wants them.

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More than a club: FC Barcelona and Catalonia's road to independence

"As Catalonia goes to the polls, Sid Lowe looks at one of the region's great cultural sporting icons and its role in Catalan identity..."


Seth Dixon's insight:

Sports and cultural identity of a region are often intertwined. As Catalonia is poised to break from Spain, this video shows how the local teams (especially FC Barcelona) are at the center of political identity and part of the very fabric of the political movement that is pushing for independence.  For more, see this recent Geography in the News article.


Tags: sport, Spain, Europe, devolution, autonomy.

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Jessica Martel's curator insight, April 28, 2013 4:37 PM

its understood that catalonie has a completely different country from the rest of spain. In fact many people associate catalonia as a seperate country. It would be cool to see spain let them have thier independence. However that would mean spain would lose land and money. For the most part, atleast the catalonia poeple are expressing thier feelings and wishes in a humane manor, rather than with vilolence

Hector Alonzo's curator insight, October 30, 2014 9:10 PM

As a soccer fan and a fan of FC Barcelona, Whenever I watch FC Barcelona play against Real Madrid, the commentators always describe both clubs as a symbol of independence and the symbol of political identity. Both teams are embodiments of the struggle that Spain and Catalonia are going through.

Bob Beaven's curator insight, February 19, 2015 3:01 PM

As a soccer fan (although of CR7 in La Liga), I know that Barca has the saying "Mes que un club" which means more than a club in the Catalan language.  FCB's colors, in fact, represent the colors of Barcelona, which is the major force in the region of Catalonia.  The club allows the ethnic people to express pride in their heritage, and allowed them in the Franco era, a freedom of expression that was not otherwise granted to them.  However, as the video discusses, FCB cannot be the main force for the region's independence, that will have to come from the people pressing the people to the Spanish Government.  However, FCB represents for the Catalans a pride in having their own unique culture, and being a unique people different than ethnic Spaniards.  Barca being more than a club is far different from the BPL team of Manchester United or the La Liga club of Real Madrid.  While these clubs may represent regions within the countries, they do not represent regions who are different than the status quo.  Followers of Man U are not very different than the Southern English (they are not their own people).  I think it is highly interesting how sports teams can mean so much to certain regions.

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Little England: What's Left If Scotland Leaves?

Little England: What's Left If Scotland Leaves? | Geography Education | Scoop.it
What is more likely to happen first: Greece will leave the eurozone, or Scotland will leave the UK?


Although there is currently only about 30% of Scotland that would support independence, this is something that will be gaining importance.  The United Kingdom is a complex political entity, with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland connected with England.  The "divorce referendum" will be help on October 2014 to see if Scotland wishes to dissolve this union and many of the political and economic events throughout Europe will be seen through this prism, especially the Euro Zone crisis in southern European countries (e.g.-Italy, Greece, Spain and Portugal).  The possibility that this might happen are small, but as the article stated, "not zero." 


Tags: devolution, supranationalism, political, states, sovereignty, autonomy, Europe, unit 4 political.

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Matthew DiLuglio's curator insight, October 12, 2013 7:27 PM

Good for Scotland... as anyone that has watched Braveheart knows, all they need is Mel Gibson to fight for their independence, and they will surely win!  I know some people that play the bagpies, and I like the Scottish music better than much English music.  I don't know much about the UK, so I have little to guide me in favor or against Scotland declaring independence, but aw heck, why not...  The US declared independence, and it seemed to work out for them until... whenever...? forever? it depends on what you use as criteria to look at it...  But live and let live, let people do what they want, the only advice to that is not to let people harm others.  That way, true peace can be achieved.  Harmony, instead of harm.  So I would advocate for Scotland to wear women's clothing with turtle shells in their crotches and dance to celebrate their independence if that's what they want, as long as there are no epic battle sequences that precede or follow their dancing.  Don't be an elitist, open your eyes, the governments own your brothers and their lives... We must work to change this.

Amanda Morgan's curator insight, October 23, 2014 8:42 PM

I had the pleasure of actually meeting a couple from Scotland who was in favor of Scotland's independence. I asked them what they thought would happen to their relationship with England and the rest of the European union.  The woman told me that they were uncertain of what would happen exactly but it would still be worth the shot, that she was willing to risk it to just be Scotland, and the UK because she identified with Scotland.

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The New World

The New World | Geography Education | Scoop.it
An interactive series of maps show possible new additions to the world’s list of independent nations.


This is great way to show examples of devolution and political instability.  Included are 11 potential scenarios where further fragmentation/disintegration might occur or even greater regional integration that would redraw the map.  These case studies include: Somalia, Korea, Azerbaijan, Belgium and the Arabian Gulf Union.


Tags: political, devolution, supranationalism, war, autonomy, unit 4 political.

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Benjamin DeRita's comment, September 23, 2012 9:36 PM
Very interesting and informative piece, I found slide (10) especially intriguing with its discussion on the possibility of China claiming parts of Siberia.
Anna Sasaki's curator insight, March 24, 2015 8:53 AM

This article is probably one of my favorites I have read so far. It describes perfectly the political instability still present in the world, and that the globe and its boundaries are constantly changing, never staying put for too long. It surprised me at the new borders which most likely are going to happen, such as the unification of parts of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Also, the fact that South Korea is subtly getting ready for the reunification of North and South Korea. Also, there may be devolution in Mali and splintering devolution in the Congo's.

This shows devolution as the power in these nations in which are breaking up, such as Belgium and the Flemish peoples. It shows the centrifugal forces behind the breakup of nations, such as ethnicities which vary, or the centripetal forces which bring nations together such as the combination of South and North Korea. 

Caroline Ivy's curator insight, May 21, 2015 11:12 AM

Devolution/Fragmentation

 

This article is about nations that could become potentially independent in the near Future, whether due to chronic ethnic incoherence, redrawn governemnt policies, or a growing stateless nation group. Some examples given are an independent Khurdistan, a larger Azerbaijan, and the split of Belgium. 

 

Centrifugal forces are the root of conflict in many countries. These forces include ethnic variety, lack of common language, political instability. These are what may be causing a split in both Belgium (developed country) and Somalia (developing country). There may also be a unification of countries—the map gives an example of the Saudia Arabia, Oman, Yemen, Bahrain, and other melding into one Arabian Gulf Union, of China absorbing Siberia. This does not necessarily herald the presence of centripetal forces, as these countries may be the result of military conquest. 

 

 

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Is Assad Carving Out A Haven For Syria's Alawites?

Questions are growing about the fate of President Bashar Assad's regime. One possibility is the creation of a breakaway region in the northwest coastal mountains dominated by the president's Alawite minority.

 

This podcast explores the geopolitical possibilities that are facing the minority Alawites of Syria. If the major cities of Syria fall to the rebels, would a smaller Alawite breakaway state even be economically or politically viable? This podcast argues that it would not, and therefore many Alawites see this as a zero sum game.  While this is all speculative, it uses spatial and geographic prinicples to assess the viability of possible outcomes. 

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Decades After Siege, Sarajevo Still Divided

Decades After Siege, Sarajevo Still Divided | Geography Education | Scoop.it
Twenty years ago this week, the Bosnian war began with the siege of Sarajevo, the longest in the history of modern warfare. The siege ended more than three years later, leaving 100,000 dead — the worst atrocities in Europe since World War II.

 

Ethnic and political conflict led to the disintegration of Yugoslavia in the 1990s.  This NPR podcast is a good recap that shows the devolutionary forces of ethnic, religious, cultural and political differences that led to tragic violence and ethnic cleansing. 

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Devon marzo's curator insight, February 6, 2014 12:37 PM

This article show political because the population is protesting against the government 

Joshua Mason's curator insight, March 17, 2015 9:36 PM

It's interesting to see a country's government want to maintain ethnic divides rather than bridge the gap between the two groups. This reminds me of a portion of my Anthropology class last semester on the Rwandan Genocide. Afterwards, the new government attempted to bring everyone together and tried to erase the racial differences that caused the conflict in the first place. It did this in an attempt to solidify power and to gain further control. In my mind, I see this reaction as the more logical one than keeping the races at odds with each other. Judging by their own smaller "Occupy" movement and from the commentary within the article, it seems that some in the country are ready to put past old feelings and become united as a country.

Peyton Conner's curator insight, April 8, 9:45 AM
I find this article very interesting due to the reason that after all the fighting and killing that has happened between these three ethnic groups, that they now want to team up to stop their corrupt government. Though the question is can they put their differences aside to work together ? PC
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Somalia's Pirates Face Growing Backlash

Somalia's Pirates Face Growing Backlash | Geography Education | Scoop.it
Abshir Boyah, a pirate who says he has hijacked more than 25 ships off the coast of Somalia, says he will give up this career if certain terms are met.

 

What economic, cultural and political circumstances in the 21st century would allow for piracy to exist?  What are the impacts of piracy on Somalia?  

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Kaitlin Young's curator insight, November 22, 2014 4:25 PM

Somalia's pirates are notorious worldwide, and while the pirates may be committing horrible crimes, it is important to understand why these people have turned to illegal means to survive. The economic state of Somalia is rather grim. Considered a textbook "failed state", men for the most part have to choose between working as a fishermen or turning to piracy. Since fishermen barely scrape a living from the waters, Somalian men turn to piracy. With no other economic opportunities, it is often seen as the only choice. Many Somali pirates openly admit that if they had other options, they would absolutely change occupations. 

John Nieuwendyk's curator insight, December 17, 2014 5:17 PM

The media oftentimes demonizes specific groups of people. So I was presently surpassed that the NYT’s investigated the human aspect of desperation. Many of these Somalians are hopeless and the economic burden on their shoulders drives them to act unethical. When you first priority is survival, courteousness and moral laws often don’t apply. Nevertheless, it was cool to hear about these human stories.

Joshua Mason's curator insight, March 31, 2015 7:37 PM

Just like the pirates of the late 17th and early 18th centuries, these folks bring all the vices of the originals except perhaps without much of the romanticism that comes with the elders. Though perhaps in two hundred years someone will make a movie titled Pirates of the Somalia featuring Johnny Depp's great-great-great grandson. 

 

It's understandable why these people want to get out of the business. Despite the sex and wealth they've gotten, it's not exactly stable employment. Nor is it as safe as sitting at a desk or being a plumber. But when your society simply doesn't support these industries, then the people are left to resort to more drastic measures.

 

It's also interesting to see the quazi-government stepping in to try and combat it. Traditional Muslim values are the reason for them wanting and end to it. It's understandable to not want children to look up to pirates and the life of crime they lead. But in order for the practice to stop, the pirates want international environmental protections, aid, and government support. Should the international community give into piracy or should it be removed by force?

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Fighting for Iraq: A regional powerplay

Fighting for Iraq: A regional powerplay | Geography Education | Scoop.it
Learn more about the ethnic, religious and political powerplays in and around Iraq during a virtual tour of the region led by NBC’s Richard Engel.

 

This is an incredibly well-put together, video/slideshow about the complex geography of within Iraq that has lead to so many difficulties in the post-Saddam Hussein era.   The ethnic patterns, religious divisions, spatial arrangements of resources as well as the larger regional context all play roles in creating the a contentious political environment. 

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Crissy Borton's curator insight, December 11, 2012 8:33 PM

I enjoyed this video. I never really understood why these groups were fighting. It was an easy video to understand and I learned that the fighting is not just about religious but cultural differences as well. 

Stacey Jackson's curator insight, March 22, 2013 11:03 PM

Although I try to keep up with world events, Iraq has puzzled me. This was spectacularly helpful, although I still don't feel like I have the full picture. For instance, I understand that three ethnic groups were forced in to a new country, Iraq, after World War I and that the country has been in turmoil ever since. However, these ethnic groups were all a part of the Ottoman Empire before there was an Iraq, so why did the trouble start after the formation of Iraq?

 

These ethnic groups had their own provinces within the Ottoman Empire. I'm assuming these groups thought they'd establish their own separate nations after the fall of the Ottoman Empire, but were not given the chance to decide for themselves since Iraq was a product of "European powers." If this is accurate, then European nations have a horrible track record when it comes to dictating foreign boundaries that lead to unrest abroad. 

Jacob Crowell's curator insight, December 15, 2014 12:55 PM

Iraq is a complicated country. The current differences and disparities in culture, ethnicity and resources has led to some harsh rivalry between people within the borders of the country. This shows how borders can be artificial and just because a map shows a region as one unit, it is not always the case. After the Ottoman Empire fell many groups of people were thrust together and this is why we see these divisions so clearly.