Global news with a spatial perspective: Interesting, current supplemental materials for geography teachers and students.
Curated by Seth Dixon
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.
|Suggested by Michael Miller|
"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...
|Suggested by Michael Miller|
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.
De-extinction is a new term for to me but this week a TEDx conference hosted by National Geographic focused completely on this concept on the possibility of reviving formerly extinct species. Just because we think we can bring back a lost species, does that mean we should? What would be the benefits? Disadvantages?
I've read enough about passenger pigeons to know that beyond overhunting, the species went extinct as large swaths of North American forests became fragmented and modified. While we may be able to theoretically bring back a species, we cannot rewind the clock and bring all the essential ingredients to their former ecosystem that allowed them to thrive in the first place. De-extinction would NOT be repairing the world so that it was as if the extinction never happened, since other species in the ecosystem have adapted to their absence. Given the length of their absence, could these be considered "invasive species?"
"What's the difference between Holland and the Netherlands?"
This video is produced by the same gentleman that made the video that explains the difference between the terms Great Britain, England and the UK and another one that details why London is not the City of London. His style is to bombard you with facts which tell a rich story about the intricacies of place, power and culture.
This fabulous collection of African maps from 1535-1897 represents an historical geographic vision of both Africa and colonial visions of an imagined Africa. I chose this particular map to display because it beautifully highlights the Mountains of Kong. For generations, European cartographers erroneously believed that this long mountain range extended north of the West African coast and across the continent. Currently this map collection is at Plymouth State, NH, but much of it is archive online here.
The federal government's relentless expansion has made Washington, D.C., America's real Second City.
From 1890-1990, Chicago was America's second largest city. Since then Los Angeles has been the second largest city, acting as the west coast capital for the United States. Both of these cities have declined in economic and political importance in the recession, and in this article Aaron Renn argues that Washington D.C. (although demographically not in the same category) could be considered an emerging second city and chronicles it's historic development. Readers may also be interested in how Renn ("the urbanophile") argues that all our impressions about Detroit are inaccurate.
This is a rich and fascinating angle on history enhanced by a bounty of beautiful reproductions. Rare is a book this aesthetically pleasing and intellectually original.
"Maps are not merely distilled representations of geographic realities. Over time, they come to represent an organic bundling of history: reconstructed, imagined, and manipulated. Historically, they have been the tools with which expanding empires have legitimized their conquests, imposed identities, and created administrative order, and with which victims have constructed alternative narratives and salvaged their own national memories. Never was this truer than in the period in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries when a burgeoning Romanov empire joined Austria and Prussia in wiping Poland-Lithuania from the map and absorbing it into their swelling realms. Seegel intricately analyzes the cartography of imperial Russia and Poland-Lithuania as the science evolved and historical demands were placed on it. This is a rich and fascinating angle on history enhanced by a bounty of beautiful reproductions. Rare is a book this aesthetically pleasing and intellectually original. Seegel should be congratulated for creating it, and the University of Chicago Press, for producing it." You may also see this title on Amazon.
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!
For years, researchers have puzzled over why Viking descendents abandoned Greenland in the late 15th century.
As the climate began to cool the diet of the Greenland settlers changed dramatically. Originally their diets consisted of about 20-30% seafood, but as farming became nearly impossible on this increasingly marginal land, it jumped up to about 80%. The economic livelihood of the settlements was in danger and the solution lay in a cultural transition, but one that they didn't want to make. "They saw themselves as farmers and ranchers rather than fishermen and hunters...[and were] worried about the increasing loss of their Scandinavian identity." In essence they abandoned Greenland in part because they chose not abandon their Viking heritage to embrace a culture that would have be more like that of the Inuits. Cultural factors may have mattered more than economic limitations.
|Suggested by Tara Cohen|
Readers Nick and Riela have both written to ask how and when English colonists in America lost their British accents and how American accents came
30-second animation of the changes in U.S. historical county boundaries, 1629 - 2000. Historical state and territorial boundaries are also displayed from 178...
I love this time-lapse animation of all the county and state-level boundary changes in United States history. Would you like to see this in greater detail? Would you want to download the data and create your own visualization of this? The Atlas of Historical County Boundaries has all of this data as GIS shapefiles, Google Earth KMZ files and PDFs for the whole country as well as for each individual state. This project sponsored by The Newberry and the National Endowment for the Humanities has tremendous potential for use in the classroom for history and geography teachers alike.
|Suggested by cafonso|
I Have a Dream Speech Martin Luther King's Address at March on Washington August 28, 1963. Washington, D.C. When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring fro...
There is much to glean from Martin Luther King's famous I Have a Dream speech as a fantastic rhetorical device. This speech has a profound impact on the the psyche of the America culture and it has endured as a pivotal moment in history. As we celebrate his life and legacy this Monday, it is an appropriate time to contemplate that the ending of segregation (a spatial division of races) has reshaped the United States.
Many streets in the United States bear the name "Martin Luther King Jr." to memorialize both the man and the Civil Rights movement. This streets, as this YouTube video suggests, are often in poor, crime-ridden and violent neighborhoods. This video highlights the irony between the historical memory of Martin Luther King Jr. and places of memorialization that bear his name. This video echoes much of what the authors of the fantastic book "Civil Rights Memorials and the Geography of Memory" say (in fact one of the authors is shown in this video).
Questions to ponder: If Martin Luther King Jr. represents non-violence, then why are streets bearing his name often in 'violent' neighborhoods? Where should Martin Luther King be memorialized in the United States? Only in the South? Only in predominantly African-American communities? What does the geography of the spaces where he is memorialized say something about the United States?
Time lapse video compilation Civilization: Part I - Europe by professional photographer Dominic Boudreault. Shot in England, France, Spain and Italy.
The Great Mosque of Djenné, Mali, is a magnet for tourists, but it is increasingly difficult for locals to live a normal life around it.
This New York Times short video is an intriguing glimpse into some of the cultural pressures behind having the designation of being an official world heritage site. The grerat mosque combined with the traditional mud-brick feel to the whole city draws in tourists and is a source of communal pride, but many homeowners want to modernize and feel locked into traditional architecture by outside organizations that want them to preserve an 'authentic' cultural legacy.
The stunning drop in global child mortality is proof that poor countries are not doomed to eternal misery. Here's how it happened.
Global health has substantially improved in the last two decades. This article explores the improvements in global health that have been made this year, and the attached interactive feature allows users to explore the changes in global health risks. Click here for the Guardian's version of this same data and interactive.
"See Rome as it looked in 320 AD and fly down to see famous buildings and monuments in 3D. Select the 'Ancient Rome 3D' layer under Gallery in Google Earth."
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?
In this age of fast travel and instant digital communications, we tend to forget that not so long ago, distances were subjectively very different.
This series of maps shows the great leaps and bounds that were made during the 19th century in transportation technology in the United States. This impacted population settlement, economic interactions and functionally made the great distances seem smaller. This is what many call the time-space compression; the friction of distance is diminished as communication and transportation technologies improve.
Questions to Ponder: When someone says they live "10 minutes away," what does that say about how we think about distance, transportation infrastructure and time? How is geography still relevant in a world where distance appears to becoming less of a factor?
This map is just overwhelming when you consider that each data point represents a bomb dropped on the city.