Surprising alternatives to "so what do you do?"—from New Orleans to New York.
Global news with a spatial perspective: Interesting, current supplemental materials for geography teachers and students.
Curated by Seth Dixon
Surprising alternatives to "so what do you do?"—from New Orleans to New York.
The types of questions that you ask when you are meeting someone new for the first time has some regional variations but there is much more to the geography of small talk than that as see in this 4 minute video. People want to understand your cultural, ethnic, socioeconomic context by asking spatial questions about where you are from. Identity and place are tightly woven and these neighborhood questions are almost invitations to share much more personal information, as if to ask, "how do you fit in this world?" When you are being introduced to someone, what are the questions that you ask, and what type of information are you hoping to get? Each person has their own little geography that has profoundly shaped who they are---so what’s your story?
"A state commission working on a much-discussed report titled 'Foundations of State Cultural Politics' will release their findings in two weeks, presidential advisor Vladimir Tolstoi announced last week, adding that the basic formula of the report could be summarized as 'Russia is not Europe.'"
At times Russia has sought to be perceived as a part of Europe only to be excluded in the minds (and institutions) of Western Europe. Now, in a discursive way to protect itself, it is reaffirming and building a cultural buffer zone between Europe and Russia. What are the borders of Europe as you think of it? Can world regions change over time? Any examples of regions having their borders redrawn?
"Here's how the United States looks when it is measured on the county level by the same standards used to rank countries by the UN, the Human Development Index. Five variables are taken into account: life expectancy, income per capita, school enrollment, percentage of high school graduates, and percentage of college graduates."
Often we treat countries as solid areas and miss many regional patterns; in part because we view global data sets that are at that scale.
Questions to ponder: what regional patterns do you see? What accounts for these patterns? What do you think other countries would look like with data at this scale?
In the 20 years since it entered into force, the North American Free Trade Agreement has been both lauded and attacked in the United States. But to properly assess NAFTA’s record, it is important to first be clear about what the agreement has actually done. Economically speaking, the answer is a lot.
NAFTA was the first comprehensive free-trade agreement to join developed and developing nations, and it achieved broader and deeper market openings than any trade agreement had before.
NAFTA did that by eliminating tariffs on all industrial goods, guaranteeing unrestricted agricultural trade between the United States and Mexico, opening up a broad range of service sectors, and instituting national treatment for cross-border service providers. It also set high standards of protection for patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets.
NAFTA ignited an explosion in cross-border economic activity. Today, Canada ranks as the United States’ largest single export market, and it sends 98 percent of its total energy exports to the United States, making Canada the United States’ largest supplier of energy products and services. Mexico is the United States’ second-largest single export market. Over the past two decades, a highly efficient and integrated supply chain has developed among the three North American economies. Intraregional trade flows have increased by roughly 400 percent.
North Americans not only sell more things to one another; they also make more things together. About half of U.S. trade with Canada and Mexico takes place between related companies, and the resulting specialization has boosted productivity in all three economies. NAFTA has also caused cross-border investment to soar.
In spite of this impressive economic record, NAFTA has its critics. Most of those who attack it on economic grounds focus on Mexico, not Canada, and claim that the partnership is one-sided: that NAFTA is Mexico’s gain and America’s pain. But the economic data prove otherwise.
"For Regional Geography, I ask that all my students take an online quizzes before coming to class because it is very difficult to intelligently discuss European issues if you don’t know the countries of Europe, where they are and what other countries are on their borders. Quizzes and knowing places doesn’t define geography, but if geography were English literature, knowing about places could be described as the alphabet–before you write a sonnet or critique an essay, you better know your ABC’s and basic grammar. Given that, I like the Lizard Point Geography quizzes, Sheppard Software quizzes and those from Click that ‘Hood; they are simple, straightforward and comprehensive."
"A fisherman's cottage is described by real estate agents as a 'property not to be missed' but it is also just yards away from two nuclear power stations."
A photograph (or landscape, map, etc.) is not an innocent reflection of reality. They can be carefully crafted to tell a story which might reflect the bigger picture and your ideological framework--but it just as easily might obscure some important contexts and truths. I use these images at the beginning of the semester to discuss the bias inherent in our own perspectives as I try to infuse my classroom with a variety of lenses with which to view different regions (images found here).
Recent developments in Croatia and Scotland highlight a stark divide between Eastern and Western Europe on the topic of same-sex marriage.
Regions are fluid constructs that we use to think about places. The region that we think of today as "Latin America" would not have been a discrete region 600 years ago since historical events have shaped the geographic evolution of the attributes of the region and the borders of world regions will continue to be redrawn. Some have recently argued that since the end of the Cold War, the monikers Eastern and Western Europe are less meaningful in an economic context. This map shows this old division can still be seen in this cultural/political context. Some have argued that Russia's recent move against gay rights is a geopolitical strategy to differentiate themselves from the West.
I had the shapefiles with the various neighborhoods of Providence and the good folks at "Click that 'Hood" were gracious enough to upload it and make a local quiz based on the the 25 neighborhoods of Providence (as defined by the city government officials). In addition to city neighborhood quizzes, they also have quizzes for regions such as Africa, South America and Europe. This is a crowd-sourced database, so if you have the right data, you can help them to create more online quizzes.
Boston-born Jennifer Grout has amazed Middle Eastern viewers, reaching the Arabs Got Talent final despite speaking little Arabic
Born and raised in Boston, Grout's Arabic accent has inspired debates about whether she is merely pretending to be a westerner. Her fellow contestants are from different parts of the Middle East, and include Mayam Mahmoud, 18, billed as Egypt's first hijab-wearing rapper.
TV shows have regionalized networks, but sometimes the audience wants something beyond their local borders and that pushes the limits of what many think that audience might want or even redefine the audience itself. Hijab-wearing rappers and blond-haired, blue-eyed girls from Boston singing in Arabic (watch here) certainly blur the distinction between what we think is Middle Eastern and what think of as American. Globalization is increasing erasing those cultural lines.
Red states and blue states? Flyover country and the coasts? How simplistic. Colin Woodard, a reporter at the Portland Press Herald and author of several books, says North America can be broken neatly into 11 separate nation-states, where dominant cultures explain our voting behaviors and attitudes toward everything from social issues to the role of government.
“The borders of my eleven American nations are reflected in many different types of maps — including maps showing the distribution of linguistic dialects, the spread of cultural artifacts, the prevalence of different religious denominations, and the county-by-county breakdown of voting in virtually every hotly contested presidential race in our history,” Woodard writes in the Fall 2013 issue of Tufts University’s alumni magazine. “Our continent’s famed mobility has been reinforcing, not dissolving, regional differences, as people increasingly sort themselves into like-minded communities.”
Take a look at his map.
What do you like about these regional divisions? What do you think about this map is inaccurate? Here is an NPR podcast interview with the author of the book and map.
How many of these 107 regional slang words do you use? This week on Mental Floss' YouTube information session, author and vlogger John Green explains 107 slang words specific to certain regions.
"Counties where at least 10 percent of people speak a language other than English at home."
While this is ostensibly a map that would be great for a cultural geography unit, I'm also thinking about the spatial patterns that created this map. What current or historical migrations account for some of the patterns visible here? What would a map like this look like it it were produced 50 years ago? Why are Vermont and West Virginia the only states without a county with over 10% of the population that speak another language at home?
The region's emerging majority is progressive. Its capitols are more conservative than ever. Something's got to give.
Political affiliation differs tremendously from region to region. This article is a great reminder that there is plenty of intraregional diversity in the South as well. Migration, urbanization and a changing economic landscape is reshaping Southern demographics as well as the voting constituency. Imagining that all of the South will vote in one particular way as a solid block is now an antiquated way of thinking about Southern politics.
" A new online tool released by the Department of the Interior this week allows users to select any major stream and trace it up to its sources or down to its watershed. The above map, exported from the tool, highlights all the major tributaries that feed into the Mississippi River, illustrating the river’s huge catchment area of approximately 1.15 million square miles, or 37 percent of the land area of the continental U.S. Use the tool to see where the streams around you are getting their water (and pollution)."
This is a fantastic teaching image, especially if you teach within the Mississippi River Basin. However, my main purpose in showing this image is to demonstrate the potential of the National Atlas' new Streamer application. Streamer is a new way to visualize and understand water flow across the United States. With Streamer you can explore major streams by tracing upstream to their source or downstream to where they empty. A watershed is a critically important region and many have little idea about how they are connected to other places within a watershed; this tool ccan help alleviate some of those problems.
"By using Facebook data from the 2.5 million people in New York or New England that ‘like’ either the Red Sox or Yankees I was able to create a more accurate rivalry map than ever before."
Sports maps with team logos on them are often hand-drawn works of art without much data to back them up--not so with this map. Read the article to find the actual data which is much messier than these bold color proclaim. These regions aren't homogenous (are they ever?) but this is the best fit line between the major groups of fans, showing that Connecticut is the true 'battle ground' for this regional rivalry.
There is a pretty ridiculous North-South split, although Maryland, northern Virginia, and southern Florida (which is pretty much the North anyways) fall into pancake territory, while Waffle House has made inroads into Ohio and Indiana.
I was unaware that Waffle House is based in Atlanta and IHOP began in California. So, given those points of origin, what does this map (and the other maps in the article) tell us about how these restaurants diffused? What does this tell us about diffusion in general?
An isogloss is a line that divides regions based on the words that are used to describe the same item or concept. This series of 22 maps is a delicious way to visualize some of the lingusitic differences in the United States. Why are these distinct vocabulary terms regionally used?
Notice that this map shows that Rhode Island and Wisconsin are distinct in using the term "bubbler" where there rest of the country would refer to the same object as a drinking fountain (West) or a water fountain (South).
There are 8 major English dialect areas in North America, presented on the map. These are shown in blue, each with its number, on the map and in the Dialect Description Chart below, and are also outlined with blue lines on the map. The many subdialects are shown in red on the map and in the chart, and are outlined with red lines on the map. All of these are listed in the margins of the map as well.
This map is incredibly busy, but the best elements of this interactive map are the links to YouTube videos of particular accents and pronunciation examples. It's not winning any cartographic prizes but the links make the map it worth perusing given its rich detail. See also this article about the map from GeoCurrents.
Put away that old Rand McNally map — it's time for a new way to see what America really looks like.
There is a great series of maps in this NPR article that show that internal political divisions do not always line up with actual regional interactions. The map of the United States shows the what money flows within regions that do not always follow state borders (see Wisconsin, Idaho and Pennsylvania). The map of Great Britain shows the connections based on telephone calls.
Europe’s divisions are indeed grave. But counting the ex-communist countries as a single category is outdated and damaging
What places belong in a region together? What are the boundaries of that region? How has this region changed over time? Regional classification is inherently an exercise that relies on our geographic knowledge and requires some spatial thinking. Each semester I have students divide the United States into the regions that explain how they conceptualize the different parts of the country. This 2 minute video is a great example that argues that the regional category of Eastern Europe is less meaningful today mainly because of the changing political and economic geography that is blurring the regional borders of Europe.
The NBA has the cleanest map of all the sports leagues.
Sports league have historically used geographic references to describe their league, conference or divisions (This was just one of the many reasons I was so appalled that San Diego State was going to join the Big East. Thankfully that plan was stymied). To have successful rivalries, teams often play up local proximity of fan bases (Yankees/Red Sox, Duke/North Carolina, Michigan/Ohio State) to add intensity to the on-field action. Given that teams and fans travel, the logistics make regionally based division economically prudent. This map (and the full set of major professional leagues in North America) shows that the NBA has the most geographically consistent divisions.
50% yes, 50% no. The raw statistics would tell you that the country is perfectly divided on this question of whether or not the University of Alabama has the greatest college football program of all time. Not surprising to geographers, in evenly split polls, elections, or other data results, there are oftentimes strong regional factors that influence variation in the data (in this case, local allegiances, media bias and general sport fanaticism).
Questions to Ponder: Alabama's voting pattern is obvious, what explains for some of the other poll results from particular states? Why is there a general East/West divide on this question? What are the regional factors that influence the voting patterns? Would the result be different on 6 months from now?
|Suggested by Thomas Schmeling|
The National Rifle Association gives members of Congress a grade ranging from A to F.
Since the Newtown CT tragedy, gun control and second amendment rights have been prominent in the minds on many Americans. Your ideological position on what should be done in th future might be in part a product of geography. How do most people feel about the second amendment where you live? What about your local geography might influence those opinions?
This map might appear to be completely trivial and it probably is. Still, there are interesting historical and colonial patterns that can be seen in this technological culture region map.
Questions to Ponder: Will there one day be a single format? When? What are barrier to that happening? What does this tell us about the extent of globalization?