Few know "boondocks" is a relic of U.S. military occupation in the Philippines.
Global news with a spatial perspective: Interesting, current supplemental materials for geography teachers and students.
Curated by Seth Dixon
Few know "boondocks" is a relic of U.S. military occupation in the Philippines.
I imaged that the term 'the boondocks' was of Asian origin, but I was surprised to learn how this U.S. military lingo was able to become a mainstream term. The Tagalog word bundok means mountain and given the guerrilla warfare tactics, U.S. soldiers thought of their enemies as hiding 'in the boondocks.' This term spread throughout the military to mean an isolated region, but today the term has morphed from its military-based meaning of mountainous jungles to one that can also describe a sparsely populated rural America. This is a fascinating article from NPR's Code Switch team that focuses on issues of culture, identity and race.
"Charles Marville photographed Paris' transition from medieval hodgepodge to modern metropolis. Marville made more than 425 photographs of the narrow streets and crumbling buildings of premodern Paris, including this view from the top of Rue Champlain in 1877-1878."
This NPR podcast adds some great insight into Charles Marville's 19th century photography currently on display at the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. The urban transformations designed by Haussmann made Paris the global capital of modernity and the many cities around the world copied the principles of Haussmannization. A photographic glimpse into Paris before and during these changes that brought about social upheaval is a marvelous tool for an historical geographic analysis of urbanization.
"Historian Susan Schulten writes in her book Mapping the Nation: History and Cartography in Nineteenth-Century America that during the 1850s many abolitionists used maps to show slavery's historical development and to illustrate political divisions within the South. (You can see many of those maps on the book’s companion website.) Schulten writes that President Lincoln referred to this particular map often, using it to understand how the progress of emancipation might affect Union troops on the ground. The map (hi-res) even appears in the familiar Francis Bicknell Carpenter portrait First Reading of the Emancipation Proclamation of President Lincoln, visible leaning against a wall in the lower right-hand corner of the room."
|Suggested by Sylvain Rotillon|
" The Smithsonian Magazine recently dipped into David Rumsey's collection of over 150,000 maps to find some of the best representations of American cities over the past couple hundred years. With some simple programming, they were able to overlay images of vintage maps of some major cities onto satellite images from today. The results are fascinating."
The 'spyglass' feature gives thesse gorgeous vintage maps a modern facelift. The cities that are in this set of interactive maps are:
Dr Sarah Parcak uses satellite technology to unearth Egypt's ancient settlements, pyramids and palaces lost in the sands of time.
The uses of geospatial technologies are NOT limited to studying geography, but it is the bedrock of many research projects that involve spatial thinking (as demonstrated in this TED talk). Geographic principles and geographers can be very important components of interdisciplinary research teams.
The Stanford History Education Group has amassed some great resources for social studies teachers. Their chief resources is a program called Reading Like a Historian. The program has 71 stand-alone lessons for U.S. History organized within 11 units. These lessons span colonial to Cold War America and cover a range of political, social, economic, and cultural topics. They are continuing to expand the Reading Like a Historian program to World History. Currently there are 15 lessons from across the world history sequence with more lesson plans under development that will be released in the next few months.
This 1868 pocket map of Chicago shows the city in full-blown expansion, a mere 3 years before the infamous blaze
This interactive map with a 'spyglass' feature. Chicago is displaced during a economic boom period as the U.S. was expanding westward. Where where the railroads located then? Why have some of them vanished today? Notice anything curious about the coastline along Lake Michigan? Follow this link to see similar interactives of other major U.S. cities.
"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?
I recently got my hands on a fabulous atlas entitled Mapping Mormonism which shows the historical geographies of this particular Christian denomination (see a review here). I'll briefly share just this one cartogram above that is from the atlas; it displays territory not by the size of the landmass but by the LDS population living within the given territory. While we would expect to see Utah to be very large on this cartogram, are there other pockets of large LDS populations that are surprising to you? What explains the small spatial distribution patterns of limited diffusion that you see? The LDS church is well-known for its missionary program and proselytizing efforts—does that play a role in this map?
On a related side note I found a curious political/religious map of the United States (a map that is partially explained by understanding some of the patterns on the map above). The most typical religious maps show where particular religions are pre-dominant. This map shows territories marked not by the faith of the residents but by the religion of the local congressmen. This make me wonder: Is this map religious or political? Is there valuable information to glean from this maps or is it simply a fun curiosity? How does the religious geography of the United States impact political geography (or vice versa)?
Today we take it for granted that through GPS technology we can instantaneously determine our latitude and longitude. This video documents how for centuries it was fairly easy to determine latitude at sea by measuring the height of the sun in the sky, but longitude (determined by the difference in time between local noon and the noon of a fixed point) could only be estimated. The British Empire saw solving the "longitude problem" as the key to solidifying their economic dominance at sea and they established the Board of Longitude in this 18th century "race to the moon." Today the University of Cambridge has digitized the Board of Longitude's archives with a series of five shorter video clips.
The Pentagon has upset patriots by labeling the body of water between Korea and Japan in an exhibition depicting various battles fought during the 1950-53 Korean War as "Sea of Japan" rather than "East Sea."
Earlier this week I posted on whether a group of islands off the coast of Argentina should be called the Falkland Islands or Las Malvinas. There is some geopolitical significance to which name you ascribe to particular places. Does it matter if I call the sea to the east of the Korean Peninsula the "East Sea" and if someone else refers to this same body of water west of Japan the "Sea of Japan?" For many years the Sea of Japan has been the defacto name internationally and South Korean officials have lobbied (quite successfully) to bolster the legitimacy of the name within the media, publishers and cartographers and other governments. Last summer, a worker in the South Korean government's Ministry of Foreign Affairs requested that I share some resources that state South Korea's position(see also this 10 minute video), showing their commitment to this rebranding effort. Also see this GeoCurrents article on the subject in 2012, after South Korea's failed attempt to get international recognition.
Questions to Ponder: What other places have multiple names? What are the political overtones to the name distinctions? What are other tricky places on the map where distinct groups would label/draw things differently? Is the map an 'unbiased' source of information?
"David Greene talks to writer Jeremy Miller about the American Centroid. That's the place where an imaginary, flat, weightless and rigid map of the U.S. would balance perfectly if all 300 million of us weighed the exact same."
Every 10 years the centroid (the center of U.S. population) is calculated using the latest census data. As the map above shows, the centroid has continued moved west throughout history, but in the last 60 years has moved to the south and west. The recent shift to the south coincides with the mass availability of air conditioning (among other factors) which opened up the Sun Belt. In this article in Orion Magazine, Jeremy Miller discusses the historical shifts in the spatial patterns of the U.S. population and the history of the centroid. you can listen to podcast versions of this article as well, one by NPR and a much more detailed one by Orion Magazine.
Questions to Ponder: Would the centroids of other countries be as mobile or predictable? Why or why not? What does the centroid tell us?
"GIS has given us the chance to re-examine how the Civil War battle was won and lost."
July 1-3 mark the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, and it seems only appropriate to share these rich, interactive resources to commemorate the event (this particular interactive feature uses an ESRI storymap template). This fantastic example from the Smithsonian Magazine shows how history teaching and research can be benefited by using GIS with the example of Gettysburg. Many student today visit the sites of the Battle of Gettysburg and get a greater appreciation of battle by getting a sense of the lay of the land and the challenged confronting both armies. National Geographic has additionally put together resources to display other Civil War battles. GIS is not a tool that is just for geographers; any analysis that requires spatial analysis can be mapped.
The Atlas of True Names reveals the etymological roots, or original meanings,
of the familiar terms on today's maps of the World, Europe, the British Isles and the United States.
For instance, where you would normally expect to see the Sahara indicated,
the Atlas gives you "The Tawny One", derived from Arab. es-sahra “the fawn coloured, desert”.
This is a fun set of maps that forces us to reexamine the historical linguistic roots of place names. Many toponyms have a complicated histories so the actual root of the name is not always a single straightforward translation as shown in these maps. As you explore these maps, most readers will find something the they would dispute, correct, or want to see contextualized more but all in all, it is a fun set of maps.
"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."
In this Scholar's Online video, Jennifer Fluri briefly answers this question: How has Afghanistan's geography affected its history? This video nicely shows how contested international disputes have geographic dimensions to them. The very borders of Afghanistan were created out of geopolitical maneuverings.
On May 4, 1970, the Ohio National Guard gunned down Jeffrey Miller, Allison Krause, William Knox Schroeder, and Sandra Scheuer during an anti-war protest at Kent State University.
This is a poignant image that strikes a chord with me. History is embedded within place even if the historical events are not memorialized within the landscape. May 4, 2013 not only marked the anniversary of the Kent State tragedy, it also was the day that the great Wilbur Zelinsky passed away. He was a geographer who analyzed the cultural landscape as well as anyone ever did, and I consider myself fortunate enough to have had conversations with him while I was at Penn State.
An infographic of the etymology and cultural origins of the names that made the United States of America.
I would dispute the accuracy of some of the alleged linguistic origins of the state names, so take this with a grain of salt (still it's a clever concept for an inforgraphic and shows some interesting patterns). As with all long infographics on this site, you can "scroll down" on the image by putting the cursor in the top right-hand corner of the image and sliding on the translucent bar.
Africa may have achieved independence, but the old colonial ties are still important as France’s decision to send troops to Mali to fight Islamist extremists shows.
"What we know as the English Language today has evolved over thousands of years, influenced by migrating tribes, conquering armies and peaceful trade. Do you know the origins of the language you speak? Have a look at this detailed infographic from Brighton School of Business and Management."
Languages, just like cultures, are incredibly dynamic and have changed over time. Many people like to imagine an older version of their own culture of "how it used to be" or even "how it's always was." This is an illusion though, to pretend as though cultural change is something new. This fantasy allows for people to nostalgically yearn for what once was, even if that perceived pristine past was but a fleeting moment in history that was shaped by many other peoples, places and times.
Stratfor examines Japan's primary geographic challenge of sustaining its large population with little arable land and few natural resources. For more analysi...
This relic from ancient Persia had a profound influence on the Founding Fathers
This video can be seen as the three minute version of a 20 minute TED talk by Neil MacGregor, the Director of the British Museum. He discusses the profound importance that the Cyrus Cylinder (A clay cylinder covered in Akkadian cuneiform script) had on modern political though on multiculturalism.