"As a Muslim woman who chooses to wear hijab,I'd like to apologize for this poster, to my non-hijab wearing cohorts. http://pic.twitter.com/IoLfDPEGx7”
Global news with a spatial perspective: Interesting, current supplemental materials for geography teachers and students.
Curated by Seth Dixon
"As a Muslim woman who chooses to wear hijab,I'd like to apologize for this poster, to my non-hijab wearing cohorts. http://pic.twitter.com/IoLfDPEGx7”
The hijab is an incredibly complex cultural artifact full of social meanings all over the political spectrum. This poster shows some of the social pressures exerted on women in Iran to wear the hijab. This poster comes from Iran where the government is using this platform to encourage traditional values and gendered norms using a chocolate bar/candy analogy. This poster struck a nerve on social media throughout the Middle East in part because blends some modern cultural diffusion elements with some older folk traditions. Many hijab-wearing women don't want other women to be shamed into conforming, and many women wear it the hijab in public, but privately subvert the cultural norms on social media. What stereotypes and perspectives are embodied in this poster? Why do you think this poster was seen as inflammatory or culturally insensitive by many? This image would be a great discussion starter for cultural patterns and process as well as the geography of the Middle East.
"A THOUSAND years ago, the great cities of Baghdad, Damascus and Cairo took turns to race ahead of the Western world. Islam and innovation were twins. The various Arab caliphates were dynamic superpowers—beacons of learning, tolerance and trade. Yet today the Arabs are in a wretched state. Even as Asia, Latin America and Africa advance, the Middle East is held back by despotism and convulsed by war.
Pluralism, education, open markets: these were once Arab values and they could be so again. Today, as Sunnis and Shias tear out each others’ throats in Iraq and Syria and a former general settles onto his new throne in Egypt, they are tragically distant prospects. But for a people for whom so much has gone so wrong, such values still make up a vision of a better future."
Is limiting the use of the Arabic word for God a sign of growing intolerance towards minorities?
In Arabic, the word Allah means God. Christian Arabs refer to God as Allah and Arabic versions of the Bible reference Allah. As Arabic and Islam have diffused in interwoven patterns, the linguistic root and the theological meanings have became intertwined to some. BBC World and Al-Jazeera have reported on this issue as the Malaysian government has attempted to ban the use of the word Allah to any non-Muslim religious group. Language and religion just got very political.
The division between Islam's Shiite minority and the Sunni majority is deepening across the Middle East. The split occurred soon after the death of the Prophet Muhammad, nearly 1,400 years ago.
The ghosts of religious wars past are rattling in Iraq; The geography of the Sunni-Shiite division is incredibly important for a good understanding of world regional geography as well as modern geopolitics. This NPR podcast examines the historical and religious aspects of this split to then analyze the political and cultural implications in the Middle East today. Additionally this Pew Research article highlights the 5 countries where the the majority of Muslims are Shiite, with some good demographic data to add to the analysis.
"There have been calls for clearer labelling of halal products in shops, restaurants and takeaways. But what is halal food? And why are campaigners so concerned?"
I know just enough Arabic to read the word Halal (حلال) and know that it means permissible, the opposite of Haram (حَرَام) which means forbidden or illegal. In the context of meat, it means meat that has been prepared in accordance with Islamic traditions and is therefore permissible for an observant Muslim to eat (very similar to Kosher for Jewish people). Today, Halal is becoming an important issue within the European Union for two main reasons: 1) more Muslims are migrating to Europe and 2) Europeans are searching for less artificial food products. Some Europeans, however, feel that the Halal labeling and marketing is a change to the cultural landscape that they are not comfortable with, and don't want to see it become more mainstream. Other meat companies try to present their products as Halal, but don't adhere to all of the customs according to some more strict Muslims. Halal, then is a lightning rod, in either direction right now in Europe. If you want to see the inner workings of a Halal slaughterhouse in New York, this video will show you what it is like.
Thousands of Muslims in the Central African Republic have fled as UN chief warns of 'ethno-religious cleansing'.
Leave or die. It's come down to this for the Muslims of Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic. Muslims here once lived freely among the Christian majority, running businesses and praying in mosques. Now, many of the city's Muslims have fled, and on Sunday about 1,300 Muslims from Bangui's PK12 neighbourhood were evacuated to safety by peacekeeping forces.
Already one of the world's poorest countries, CAR has seen a wave of upheaval and violence in the past 15 months. The 10-month reign of the Muslim-dominated Seleka rebel group inflamed intercommunal tensions in the country, and spurred the rise of Christian militias called the anti-Balaka. Once the Seleka was forced out of power in January, the anti-Balaka rampaged, targeting Muslims across the country for their perceived support of the Seleka and its bloody excesses.
Also this interactive feature is worth your time...it won't make you feel all sunshine and rainbows, but the hard truth rarely does.
There are about 1.6 billion Muslims, or 23% of the world's population, making Islam the second-largest religion.
Did you think that most of the world's Muslim population lived in the Middle East and North Africa? If so you are not alone, but the Middle East and North Africa account for only 19.8% of the global Muslim population. In fact there are more Muslims in India and Pakistan than the Middle East and North Africa.
"Muslims around the world celebrate the birth of the Islamic Prophet Muhammed, who was born in Mecca, Saudi Arabia in 570 AD. His birthday is marked in way ways is different Muslim countries."
This is a great photo gallery, but I wanted to make a special note of this image. The caption for this picture says, "Egyptians watch as Muslims march on the street to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammed in Cairo, Jan 13, 2014." Is this a representative group of Egyptians? What demographic group would we expect to see in the second story balcony? What does the architecture tell us about the cultural norms of the society?
"CATHOLIC Argentina, Mexico & Phillippines have more babies born per woman than MUSLIM Indonesia, Iran & Turkey."
Gapminder is a tremendous resource that I've shared in the past and total fertility rates is an ideal metric to see in this data visualization tool. As Hans Rosling said in one of his TED talks using Gapminder, religion and total fertility rates are not as connected as previously thought. In this particular mode, you can see how three predominantly Catholic countries (Philippines, Argentina and Mexico) compare in Total Fertility Rates to three predominantly Muslim countries (Indonesia, Turkey and Iran).
Questions to Ponder: Historically many have assumed that Catholic and Muslim populations would have higher birth rates; why is this changing? How important a factor is religion in changing fertility rates? What are other factors impact a society's fertility rate?
In Pakistan's tribal areas, alcohol bootleggers, lured by enormous profits, have created clandestine delivery services to evade recent crackdowns by the Taliban and the police.
|Suggested by Kara Charboneau|
Hijab is an Islamic concept of modesty and privacy, most notably expressed in women’s clothing that covers most of the body.
What is the geography of hijab? Covering one's head pre-dates Islam in the Middle East but many associate this practice strictly with Islam and only for women--read this article (with teaching tips and supplemental resources) for more context on this cultural and religious practice.
Dynamic infographic on world religions (don't be intimidated by the page being in Russian... The graphic is not).
Religious traditions are interconnected and often share common roots and ancestries. This stunning infographic is an attempt to visually reconcile these disparate strands of faith into one cohesive whole (the image above is far too small to do it justice, but I tried to show the image at various scales).
"Burka Avenger is a new Pakistani kids' show about a mild-mannered teacher who moonlights as a burka-clad superhero."
I first learned of the Pakistan's new animated TV series the Burka Avenger last week from an NPR podcast and eagerly wanted to know more. Some are hailing the Burka Avenger to be Pakistan's answer to Wonder Woman, fighting for the rights of the oppressed. There has also been a lot of criticism concerning the role of the burka juxtaposed with this heroine. For many, they see the burka solely as a symbol of female oppression and feel that a heroine shouldn't be donning the clothing of the oppressed (my opinion?--C'mon, it's the logical masked outfit for a female superhero trying to be incognito in the tribal villages of Pakistan). I find this pairing of traditional gender norms and clothing coupled with pop culture's superhero motifs to be a fantastic demonstration of how cultures mesh together. Globalization doesn't mean all cultures are the same; we often see highly localized and distinct regional twists on global themes.
Iranian-American comedian Maz Jobrani takes to the TEDxSummit stage in Doha, Qatar to take on serious issues in the Middle East -- like how many kisses to give when saying “Hi,” and what not to say on an American airplane.
This comedian doesn't just get laughs; he uses stand-up as a platform for discussing important social issues and to foster greater cultural understanding. His big goal is to break stereotypical perspectives of Muslims and show that "there are good people everywhere." Here is another of his entertaining and educational TED talks.
When Anum Hussain heard about the Boston Marathon bombing, she immediately panicked, worried that the culprits would be like her. The 22-year-old Muslim was in the offices of Hubspot, the Cambridge marketing-software company she works for.
Two opposing groups battle to define the word jihad on public buses and subways.
This New York Times video highlights two current media campaigns that are in their own struggle to shape the meaning(s) of the word jihad for the American public. While the definition of "Holy War" is often quoted, it also means a struggle. When you hear the word jihad, who's jihad do you think of first? The cultural context within which a word is used might not be the same context in which the message is received and interpreted. This disconnect can be a part of cultural conflicts and misunderstandings.
TED Talks At TEDGlobal University, Shereen El Feki shows how some Arab cultures are borrowing trademarks of Western pop culture -- music videos, comics, even Barbie -- and adding a culturally appropriate twist.
This TED talk cleverly discusses the cultural processes of globalization by examining two examples from the Islamic world. The examples of the TV station 4Shbab and the comic book series The 99 show that all global cultural interactions don’t have to result in a homogenous “melting pot.” Local cultural forces can tap into the powers of globalized culture that can create dynamic local cultures that are both intensely local and global.
Questions to Ponder: What does the speaker mean when she by refers to cultural interactions as a mesh (as a opposed to a clash or mash) of civilizations? What other examples of cultural meshes can you see that show these processes?
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 Muslim Brotherhood has been gaining power in several countries since the Arab Spring. The rise of Islamist power in the Middle East is culturally and politically complex. This interactive lets the user click on selected countries to see how groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood or Hamas are impacting them politically.
In a country this battered, fractured, dysfunctional – how much can she really hope to achieve?
The issue of female education in Pakistan has exploded after Malala Yousafzai was attacked by the Taliban for publicly advocating for girls to receive more schooling. This attack has lead several media outlets to take a more serious look at the gendered cultural and economic opportunities (or lack thereof) for girls within Pakistan. This NPR podcast also speaks of the real options in front of so many girls like Malala and the cultural and political contexts within which they navigate their lives.
|Suggested by Marc Crawford , Mankato East High School|
The violent backlash against the American film is taking place in Muslim societies, but it doesn't seem to correlate with Islam's reach.
This is a good reminder that the generalizing about "all Muslims" is as inaccurate as generalization about "all Christians" or any other group. The world and people are much more nuanced than that.
Protesters upset over an American-made video denouncing Islam attacked the United States Consulate in Libya, while Egyptian demonstrators stormed over the walls of the United States Embassy in Cairo.
The idea of anti-U.S. protests in the Middle East and Northa Africa on the 11th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 was initially quite shocking. As always, a greater understanding of the cultural context and timing helps explain (not necessarily justify) the situation. The video produced by "Sam Bacile" that has sparked the controversy is truly reprehensible and as cultural insensitive as it gets. Still, the protests, by blindly lashing out at the United States embassy, only exacerbate the cultural problems.
UPDATE: This public gathering of Libyan's in Benghazi to apologize for the death of Chris Stevens is quite poignant.
Questions to Ponder: How does one single YouTube video impact geopolitics? Culturally speaking, what makes this such a powerfully charged issue? Will this issue become fodder for the election?
All over the world Muslims have begun their holiest month of the year by fasting from dawn until dusk each day, broken each evening by large, communal meals.
This photoessay is a visual and cultural delight. Pictured above is a Pakistani boy who prays next to plates of fruits donated to worshippers to break their fast (Karachi, July 21, 2012). On the first day of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, we see the communal ethos of Ramadan.