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Geography Education
Geography Education
Global news with a spatial perspective: Interesting, current supplemental materials for geography students and teachers. http://geographyeducation.org
Curated by Seth Dixon
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The Putin Factor: Russia, America and the Geopolitics of Ukraine

The Putin Factor: Russia, America and the Geopolitics of Ukraine | Geography Education | Scoop.it

"President Obama came into office promising a 'reset' in U.S.-Russia relations. Six years later, the reset, for all intents and purposes, is dead."

Seth Dixon's insight:

A more informed, globally aware citizenry helps to strengthen U.S. foreign policy and diplomatic efforts; we need citizens with a spatial framework within which to organize political, environmental, cultural and economic information.  This interview with political science professor Michael McFaul is a great introduction to understanding Russia, Putin and today's most pressing geopolitical issue.    


Tags: Russia, Ukraine, geopoliticspolitical.

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Culture Ministry Affirms 'Russia is not Europe'

Culture Ministry Affirms 'Russia is not Europe' | Geography Education | Scoop.it

"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.'"

Seth Dixon's insight:

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?  


Tags: RussiaEurope, regions.

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Lauren Sellers's curator insight, May 28, 9:46 PM

Russia is usually associated with Europe but not Western Europe but there is a push to separate Russia from Europe.

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Take Me Home, Mother Russia

Take Me Home, Mother Russia | Geography Education | Scoop.it
10 places that would welcome a Putin landgrab, and 10 parts of Russia that want the hell out.
Seth Dixon's insight:

One of the ideological weaknesses in the idea that Russia should annex Crimea because of the large number of ethnic Russians that want to join the Russian Federation, is that there are many places within the Russian Federation without a majority of ethnic Russians that would want out of the Russian Federation.  This list from Foreign Policy is pretty intriguing and they provide insight about the geographic context for each place on the list.

Top 10 looking for a way into Russia (abbreviated)

  1. Transnistria
  2. Donbass
  3. New Russia
  4. Abkhazia
  5. South Ossetia
  6. Belarus
  7. Northern Kazakhstan
  8. Russians in the Baltic
  9. Nagorno Karabakh
  10. Brighton Reach, Brooklyn


Top 10 look for a way out of Russia:

  1. Chechnya
  2. Tatarstan
  3. Idel-Ural
  4. Kalmykia
  5. Kaliningrad
  6. Karelia
  7. Komi Republic
  8. Circassia
  9. Karachay-Balkaria
  10. Birobizhan
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Kevin Barker's curator insight, March 22, 7:03 AM

For every argument to aquire land based on ethnic boundaries, there is at least one that would argue land should be lost. This would apply to essentially any country in the world. 

Paige Therien's curator insight, May 4, 7:57 AM

In the recent light of the Crimea annexation and following conflict, many are questioning what Russia's next move will be and how this region may change in the future.  The former USSR encomassed a huge amount of land, and therefore many different ethnic groups.  Of course this has always been a problem, and this article illustrates how it probably always will be a problem.  As politics and cultures in different countries change, people will favor either secession or affiliation due to these centripetal or centrifugal forces .  While some may be far-fetched (Siberia and Brooklyn), it is important to remember that as long as there are some people who are in favor, there may be conflict at same scale.

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Ukraine’s leader urges Putin to pull back troops

Ukraine’s leader urges Putin to pull back troops | Geography Education | Scoop.it
Ukraine's interim prime minister says the country is "on the brink of disaster."
Seth Dixon's insight:

Many observers fear that Russia's military control of the Crimea could lead to more centrifugal forces in the region.  In response, pundits are discussing what the U.S. response should be; clearly this will be a major issue for the Obama administration.

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Linda Alexander's comment, March 3, 6:29 AM
We've been asleep at the wheel while the genocide goes on in Syria and Russia blocks UN action. Well, this is the outcome...Putin acts as though no one will blink. Shameful.
Elizabeth Bitgood's curator insight, March 3, 6:50 AM

That this could happen at all in this day and age just goes to show that the Cold War may be over but Russia is still flexing its muscles.  As a child of the 1980s, this turn of events frightens me.  I lived my childhood with the fear that there could be a nuclear war at any time always in the back of my mind.  Younger people just don’t understand what it was like living during the cold war and perhaps poo-poo it a bit too much.  But the threat was always there and it was something that was real and did not lesson until the fall of the Soviet Union.  The fact that this event has occurred just brings up the old fears and memories of the tensions between America and the USSR.  I hope that a solution can be found that doesn’t hurt the Ukrainian people.

Jessica Rieman's curator insight, March 5, 1:41 PM

Crimea has been a region whee Russian traditions have been strong throughout the years and will continue t stay strong but if Putin is going to be the President who decides that he wants to isrupt part of Europe by putting the Ukraine and Russia against eachother on a battle field then there are going to be some drastic differences and not just in Crimea.

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Military industrial complex: These 15 countries have the largest defense budgets

Military industrial complex: These 15 countries have the largest defense budgets | Geography Education | Scoop.it
World defense spending is expected to go up for the first time in five years, thanks to China and Russia.
Seth Dixon's insight:

The top 3 shouldn't come as any big surprises, but there might be a few farther on down the list though that might raise some eyebrows.  There are specific geopolitical, historic, economic and cultural rationales for each of these countries that explain why they are on this list, and discussing those reasons is a conversation would having. 

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Albert Jordan's curator insight, February 12, 2:22 PM

Brazil being in the top 15 of countries with the largest defense budget is not all that surprising considering the political, social, and economic situations of South America. Within Brazil’s sphere of influence, especially areas west of its developed cities, the Amazon jungle still is used by those deemed enemies of the state, whether actual or politically based. Because of that, there comes the difficult task of tracking and deterring rebel activity, arms or drug smuggling, etc. The borders that Brazil share with Bolivia, Colombia, and Venezuela; border security is  likely to be a concern due to the history of drug manufacture and shipping from those nations, along with the violence and corruption that comes with that activity. Not to mention the historical and violent political instability these countries have faced, which are still a concern for the region and world. Venezuela, being an “enemy of the U.S.” and Brazil being an ally, this border area is probably highly militarized or monitored. With this in mind, a slight musing could be given towards how much of the military aid and counter narcotics aid from the United States goes into Brazil’s military funding.

Brazil is also the one of the most stable and economically strong countries on the continent and in order to continue that, the government must be able to keep instability coming over from the border in check as well as deal with rebel forces using the Amazon as a safe haven. What is surprising to me however is that with how far away the rest of the countries in South America are from Brazil in military expenditures causes me to pause and think about just what they may be worrying about from their neighbors? Perhaps as they attempt to get a seat at the big table in international affairs, they feel having a stronger military will improve their image. They may not be worried about regional infighting due to the difficult terrain of the area which would make any military campaign extremely difficult and costly, besides a host of other reasons. In conclusion, Brazil is more than likely looking towards international interests in addition to showcasing their swelling national pride by spending $175 U.S. dollars per person on military expenditures while many continue to go hungry living in the famous favelas of Cidade de Deus.

 

Giovanni Sonego's curator insight, February 13, 4:48 AM

Con 25,2 miliardi di dollari L'Italia si piazza 14esima, prima dell'Iran


Oltre alla spesa complessiva, per i primi 10 paesi è riportato anche l'ammontare di spese militari pro capite.


Stati Uniti 2.000 $

Cina 83 $

Russia 475 $

Arabia Saudita 2.100 $ 

Regno Unito 900 $

Francia 797 $

Giappone, meno di 400 $

Germania 450 $

India 29 $

Brasile 175 $

 
E l'Italia? Basta dividere. Sono 413 $ a persona.

Ogni anno, la mia famiglia dà ben 2.065 $ alla difesa.

Jessica Rieman's curator insight, February 18, 10:32 AM

Russia is the third highest goverment military that spends around 143 million people lived in Russia in 2012 and they spent around $475 per person on it's military. Russia compared to China and the US is another story the US is number one in who spent the most on their military forces at $600.4 billion. As far as China is concerened it comes in at number two at spending around  $112.2 billion. These numbers make sense especially for the power house that China is and how their values of militarism affect their spending and their way of society/life.

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Why Sochi?

Why Sochi? | Geography Education | Scoop.it
Why would Vladimir Putin want to host the Olympics in an underdeveloped place where terrorists lurk nearby? The answer is not as complicated as it may seem.
Seth Dixon's insight:

This article is an excellent explanation of the geopolitical significance of holding the Olympic Games in Sochi.  Geographer Carole McGranahan writes critically about the location of the Olympics given Putin's policies in the Caucasus Mountains (especially in regard to the 2008 invasion of Georgia to protect Russian interests in South Ossetia).  Additionally, here is a link from Stratfor discussing the shifting foreign policy concerns of the United States towards Russia.


Tags: sport, political, conflict, devolution, Russia.

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Jessica Rieman's curator insight, February 18, 10:46 AM

It comes at not shock that Russia has had it's share of bad rulers that exzibit totalitarianistic views. Russia has always been in a state of massacre or some time of bad war torn conflict happeening. Russia is also the type of place where you can drive in each way 45 minutes and be able to either swim in the black sea or ski on the snowy trails. I think this is one of the reasons why the winter olympics are hosted here.

Lauren Stahowiak's curator insight, February 18, 11:52 AM

There are many reasons as to why the Olympics this year are held in Sochi, Russia i. Although it is an underdeveloped, terrorist driven area, it holds much potential and Vladimir Putin has reasons to why it is the perfect place.

Nathan Chasse's curator insight, February 28, 9:59 PM

This article explains why Putin wanted the Winter Olympic games to be in Sochi. The Olympics have historically been used as a way for a nation to showcase progress or power, and the case is no different here. By hosting the games in Sochi, Putin was drawing attention to his successful crushing of the Chechen rebels and Russia's reinvestment into the area. Through the games, Putin is trying to make an international statement about the security and progress in this war-torn area. Still, there are a number of Chechen rebel cells and Circassian protesters in the area with a grudge against Russia.

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9 questions about Ukraine you were too embarrassed to ask

9 questions about Ukraine you were too embarrassed to ask | Geography Education | Scoop.it

Watch a video that explains Ukraine's crisis in two minutes or read this quick article that covers the same material.  

 

Ukrainians have been protesting since Nov. 21, when President Viktor Yanukovych rejected a deal for closer integration with the European Union, instead drawing the country closer to Russia. They are still in the streets in huge numbers and have seized regional government buildings in several parts of the country. In Kiev, the capital, clashes between protesters and security forces have become violent, killing several people. On Tuesday, the prime minister resigned. No one is quite sure what will happen next.


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Cam E's curator insight, February 18, 8:55 AM

Ukraine is one of those countries on a fault line between two major regional powers, with it splitting the country almost neatly in half. Could Ukraine become a split country akin to Germany during the Cold War? The clean cut Russian influenced East and the pro-European west seem almost too divided to reach an agreement

Amy Marques's curator insight, April 24, 10:08 AM

This two minute video perfectly explains where there is such a crisis in Ukraine. The country is literally divided. The people in areas closest to Russia speak Russian, and the farther west the less people are speaking Russian. It makes sense why the people who are Pro-Russian speak Russian and were most likely displaced during the years of the USSR and Soviet Russia.

Jess Deady's curator insight, April 30, 5:44 PM

This article is somewhat humorous. It nails asking and answering questions that people are "to afraid" to ask. Ukraine has had its ups and downs and the division of land has been a huge problem for it. Ukraine is going to have to work harder to get the exact European ties that it wants to have. Protests are being a serious issue in Kiev and Ukraine needs to get a grip on whats happening to its country.

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Stalin’s Ethnic Deportations—and the Gerrymandered Ethnic Map

Stalin’s Ethnic Deportations—and the Gerrymandered Ethnic Map | Geography Education | Scoop.it

"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."

Seth Dixon's insight:

This is a painful page in world history, but it needs retelling.  The Soviet era profoundly reshaped the cultural, political and economic geographies of the region.  

 

Tags: Russia, migration, Central Asiahistoricalwarethnicitypolitical, gerrymandering.

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Ryan Amado's curator insight, December 11, 2013 12:43 AM

Stalin probably did not have the outlook of his country's geography in mind when he deported all of these people.  It goes to show that ruthless dictatorships are never the way to go, as impulsive decisions and tyranny can have consequences for the long term.

Nathan Chasse's curator insight, February 28, 10:09 PM

This article details the ethnic deportation of peoples during the Soviet era. Many peoples were relocated under the guise of creating an ethnically unified Soviet Union but the truth was while some of the deportations were to simply move workers places of planned industry, many were to exile those deemed enemies of the state. The article estimates over 40% of those relocated died of diseases, malnutrition, or mistreatment. These forced migrations changed the demographics of Eastern Europe and Asia while causing major conflicts between various ethnic groups and Russia.

Elizabeth Bitgood's curator insight, March 3, 6:22 AM

This article describes the practice of Lenin and Stalin of Russifacation.  This policy led to many ethnic minorities with in the Soviet Union being deported from their home soil to the interior of Russia.  The aim was to place ethnic Russian in boarder areas and to bring the ‘undesirable’ ethnicity into the interior to become Russian or sent to the gulags to die.  The effects of this mass relocation of ethnicity is still being felt today.  The rising conflict in Ukraine is a direct result from these policies as the country is split between ethnic Ukraine and the decedents of the ethnic Russians move there to secure the ports to the Black Sea.

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Stray Dogs Master Moscow Subway

Stray Dogs Master Moscow Subway | Geography Education | Scoop.it

"Every so often, if you ride Moscow's crowded subways, you may notice that the commuters around you include a dog - a stray dog, on its own, just using the handy underground Metro to beat the traffic and get from A to B.  Yes, some of Moscow's stray dogs have figured out how to use the city's immense and complex subway system, getting on and off at their regular stops."

Seth Dixon's insight:

Even if only a small fraction of strays have figured out how to navigate the subway system, it represents another example of how animals have adapted to the urban ecosystem in a way that human did not intend.  The dogs get on the subway in the morning and go downtown searching for food and return to the suburbs to sleep.  This has been circulating on social media sites, and I find it endlessly fascinating.   


Tags: urban ecologyRussia, environment adapt, biogeography.

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Joseph Thacker 's curator insight, February 18, 8:25 PM

This article shows how intelligent some dogs are. They are adapting to the environment around them and figuring out how to survive within the city. I give them credit, as I am sure they have their tactics to survive, whether its begging for food or traveling subways to look for food. 

Jess Deady's curator insight, April 30, 5:46 PM

Dogs are creatures of habit. They get on at one stop and off at another every day or every so often. This is because there is an abundance of stray dogs and since no one is taking them in, Moscow will continue to have interesting subway surfers among them.

Paige Therien's curator insight, May 4, 8:06 AM

Humans commonly think of themselves as separate from nature.  However, we very much are a part of it and animals, like these stray dogs, know it.  When dealing with something more powerful than yourself, you have to learn how to navigate the system in order to survive.  That is exactly what these dogs have done, literally and figuratively, by learning the complex subway systems in Moscow.  It is an example of how animals can adapt to their man-made surroundings and how persistent (the rest of) nature can be.

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The Geography of Chechnya

The Geography of Chechnya | Geography Education | Scoop.it
The Caucasus region, dominated by the imposing Great Caucasus mountain range and stretching between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, has long been known as one of the world’s ethnically and linguistically most diverse areas.
Seth Dixon's insight:

After this weekend it has become glaringly obvious that many are painfully ignorant of the geography of Chechnya and the surrounding Caucasus Mountain region.  This article from GeoCurrents discusses the linguistic diversity of the region and this Geography in the News article outlines the contentious geopolitical situation of Chechnya within the Russian Federation. Also, the Washington Post published an article entitled, 9 questions about Chechnya and Dagestan you were too embarassed to ask.   


I do not post these materials to lay blame to an entire ethnic group, religion or region for the terrorists acts of two individuals.  On the contrary, I post these articles because I find this to be a teaching moment where we as educators can clarify the geographic context of an unknown part of the world to our students.  As we teach this context, quick labels and lazy narratives become harder to maintain and our students can become less prejudiced and critically think about the situation with greater depth and clarity.

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Rebecca Farrea's curator insight, October 17, 2013 12:01 PM

Using this article helps to teach ourselves, students, and others about particular places in the world that are unknown or very little known.  We can use articles such as this one to be less prejudiced and more apt to think about these places of the world in a different context rather than just a negative, terrorism-related one.

Marissa Roy's curator insight, November 19, 2013 7:16 AM

Most Americans had never heard Chechnya before the Boston bombing in April 2013. Now, most think that it is full of America-hating terriosts. However, Chechnya is so very complex and diverse a place, that it is ludacris to think that. Over 100 languages are spoken in the country. The southern half speaks languages such as Georgian, Svan and Mingrelian. Turkish, Iranian and Chechens are the languages you will probably hear in the North. Another misconception is that there are many Christians in Chechnya as well as Muslims. This country is made up of so many different groups, it is incredible. 

Elizabeth Bitgood's curator insight, March 3, 6:27 AM

It is amazing to consider such a small area (the size of New England) could hold such a vast area of languages.  The mountainous region certainly helps in creating such diversity as it isolated villages from each other in the ages before modern communication and travel.

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Impact: Earth!

Impact: Earth! | Geography Education | Scoop.it
Seth Dixon's insight:

Given the recent meteor in Russia, interest has been high on the subject.  Have you every wanted to simulate a the impact of a meteorite?  Then this is just what you've always wanted. If you would rather to see an incredibly entertaining clip from the Daily Show, then knock yourself out (disclaimer: it's a VERY irreverant look at the the dash-cam footage from Russia that many just discovered after the meteor hit last week).  

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Ignacio Conejo Moreno's curator insight, February 25, 2013 2:56 AM

¡¡Realmente, acongoja un poquito!!

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Feuding Over Food

Feuding Over Food | Geography Education | Scoop.it
In the Caucasus, culinary nationalism is an extension of the region's long-simmering disputes.
Seth Dixon's insight:

"There is perhaps nothing more closely bound up with one's national identity than food. Specific local dishes are often seen as the embodiment of various cultures and many nations promote their food as a celebration of national identity. Sometimes, however, a country's cuisine can also be used to highlight national rivalries." 


This opening paragraph nicely shows how cultural traditions from a similar cultural hearth may have much in common.  However, since these groups are neighbors, the geopolitical relationship may be strained despite the cultural commonalities. 


Tags: food, culture, unit 3 culture.

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Jamie Strickland's curator insight, January 29, 2013 11:36 AM

This is a great addition to include for my World Food Problems course this semester.

Meagan Harpin's curator insight, September 30, 2013 8:25 AM

A nations food is often used to celebrate their national identity but it can also be used to highlight national rivalries. For example the Czechs reffer to their Slovak cousins as Halusky after one of their traditonal dishes. Culinary flashpoints can also arise when nations claim the same dishes as their own.  

Lauren Stahowiak's curator insight, February 18, 12:30 PM

Azerbaijanis, Turks, and Armenian share a lot of the same foods. Instead of enjoying the similarities and cultural nationalism, they are disputing. Eat, drink and be  merry?

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Russian Summer

Russian Summer | Geography Education | Scoop.it
At the dacha, the soul of Russia--and its cultural divide--is on display. In vacation cottages the women are in housedresses. The men, Speedos and rubber boots. They brood, plant, party, and restore their souls.


The dacha (a seasonal second home or a vacation spot) is incredibly important in Russia.  It is is estimated that over 50% of city residences in Russia own a dacha as a way to culturally connect with the countryside.  This is a nice glimpse into that life. 

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luisvivas64@hotmail.'s comment, February 3, 2013 7:16 AM
Excelente compartir la tranquilidad rural y el dinamismo de la urbe.
Elizabeth Bitgood's curator insight, March 3, 7:13 AM

This article talks about the almost mythical feelings of a Russian summer spent in a dacha.  The brief summer is enjoyed and experienced from a home in the country that is a representation of freedom to the Russian people.  The oppressive Soviet sate was hard to escape but for a few months out of the year, people who owned dachas could get away and enjoy life.  It gave city dwellers a place to garden and to relax from the city.  The dacha is still an integral part of the Russian soul.

Jess Deady's curator insight, May 1, 9:02 AM

This is definitely a part of the country/cultural side of Russia. Bathing with animals and in lakes like this is definitely not a part of urban Russia. Throughout societies, there is always an urge to live a different lifestyle. In this country, the residents are given an option to live both countryside Russian life and urban Russian life.

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Here are three of Russia's military options in Ukraine

Here are three of Russia's military options in Ukraine | Geography Education | Scoop.it
There have been a number of warnings from Kiev and Washington about the possibility of a direct and open Russian military intervention in Ukraine. But what could that look like?
Seth Dixon's insight:

I'm not saying any of these 3 scenarios are going to happen nor am I endorsing them either.  That said, this article/podcast provides a geopolitical analysis (with maps) of Russia's potential military options if they are planning on invading Ukraine. 


Tag: Ukraine, political, conflict.

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Paige Therien's curator insight, May 4, 8:51 AM

Everyone is awaiting Russia's next move in Ukraine.  Because of this, whatever Russia does next will be very important in shaping both local and foreign perceptions of the situation.  Although the first option seems theoretically unlikely, the current situation is spiraling downhill and is resembling full-out war on the surface, even though Russia believes they are completely in the right.

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Soviet Bus Stops

Soviet Bus Stops | Geography Education | Scoop.it

"Photographer Christopher Herwig has covered more than 30,000 km by car, bike, bus and taxi in 13 countries discovering and documenting these unexpected treasures of modern art. From the shores of the Black Sea to the endless Kazakh steppe, the bus stops show the range of public art from the Soviet era and give a rare glimpse into the creative minds of the time."

Seth Dixon's insight:

This is a delightful glimpse into a time gone by, and what makes it even more surprising is that few would expect such creative architecture to dot the cultural landscape of the old Soviet Union.  I was recently looking at a photo gallery of old Russian Orthodox churches and just like these Soviet bus stops, they are perfect subjects for classic cultural landscape studies.  Geography students can analyze and interpret the cultural, political and economic material landscape as this photographer has.  What do these elements of the landscape mean?  How does it make us re-evaluate the society that created them?   


Tags: Russia, culture, landscape.
 

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Lola Ripollés's curator insight, April 7, 2:15 AM

Las paradas de autobus siempre han sido algo interesante para diseñar. Son oportunidad para, como dicen los ingleses, "make a satement" y esta selección es prueba de ello. Herwig nos ofrece un buen muestrario de lo que se hizo en la antigua URSS.

54321ignition's curator insight, April 7, 4:14 AM

Uniformity has its place. But how brilliant would it be for communities and artists to be able to turn such utilitarian, soulless objects into celebrations of creativity!

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Exit polls show Crimea votes for secession

Exit polls show Crimea votes for secession | Geography Education | Scoop.it
Russian media says exit polls show 93 percent of voters elected to join Russia, in a move the West deems illegal.
Seth Dixon's insight:

The vote wasn't a surprise, but it now means there are more questions than answers about the political future of Crimea,  both regionally and internationally (this is the U.S. State Dept's rejection of the referendum).  Also is interest is how this impacts Turkey, which feels kinship with the Crimean Tatar population.  Historically they've been Black Sea rivals and Turkey was a key NATO ally during the Cold War.  However since the fall of the the Soviet Union they've improved diplomatic relations and Turkey is reluctant to damage relations with Russia.  We all know by now that the majority of Crimean residents speak Russian as their native language, but what's the linguistic geography of Crimea look like at a at a different scale?    

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Utah Geographical Alliance's curator insight, March 17, 11:30 AM

Seth Dixon's insight:
The vote wasn't a surprise, but it now means there are more questions than answers about the political future of Crimea, both regionally and internationally. Also is interest is how this impacts Turkey, which feels kinship with the Crimean Tatar population. Historically they've been Black Sea rivals and Turkey was a key NATO ally during the Cold War. However since the fall of the the Soviet Union they've improved diplomatic relations and Turkey is reluctant to damage relations with Russia. We all know by now that the majority of Crimean residents speak Russian as their native language, but what's the linguistic geography of Crimea look like at a at a different scale?

Aimee Knight's curator insight, March 19, 6:52 AM

While everybody argues over whether or not the referendum complies with international laws and peace treaties, we have to ask, is it right? Does one country have the right to take control of another? We teach our children not to bully one another, and then Russia goes and bullies the people of Crimea into agreeing to secede. What are we teaching people? What messages are we sending to young people by saying that this is okay?  We are spreading the word that it is okay to threaten others into cooperation. If we allow for acts such as this to go unpunished, how can we guarantee that something much worse will not be in our foreseeable future? 

BandKids13-14's curator insight, April 3, 6:56 AM

Russia is just a big bully. If Crimea joins Russia will Russia want to take over other places in the Ukraine? Will they have enough power then? Why do they even want Crimea? How will they benefit if Crimea goes over to Russian power? Will the Ukraine allow Crimea to ever join Russia?

~Jessica 

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West warns Russia amid Crimea threat

West warns Russia amid Crimea threat | Geography Education | Scoop.it

"Western nations have called on Russia to ease tensions in Ukraine's Crimea region after armed men seized the local parliament and raised the Russian flag."

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Nathan Chasse's curator insight, February 28, 9:17 PM

This article is about the rising tension in the Crimean region of Ukraine. There is a strong pro-Russian sentiment among many in this region and the recent ousting of Russia-friendly Viktor Yanukovych has caused unrest in Crimea. The former president of Ukraine was removed due to protest of his refusal to partner with European Union. These events highlight the lasting effects of the Soviet Union on Ukraine and the division it has caused in the country.

Stephen Zimmett's curator insight, March 4, 10:59 AM

I've been watching this inernest. I doubt that Russia will invade any further.

 

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150 Years Ago, Sochi Was the Site of a Horrific Ethnic Cleansing

150 Years Ago, Sochi Was the Site of a Horrific Ethnic Cleansing | Geography Education | Scoop.it
Czar Alexander II may have freed the serfs, but his war against the stateless people of the Caucasus cannot be ignored


The czar’s approval of this rapid expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Circassians to the Ottoman Empire resulted in an ethnic cleansing through disease and drowning as overcrowded ferries crossed the Black Sea. The Ottomans were unprepared for the influx of refugees, and the absence of adequate shelter caused even more deaths from exposure. Those Circassians who attempted to remain in the Russian Empire and fight for their land were massacred. Sochi’s “Red Hill,” where the skiing and snowboarding events will take place during these Olympic Games, was the site of the Circassian last stand, where the Imperial Russian armies celebrated their “victory” over the local defenders.

Seth Dixon's insight:

I mentioned this before, but it is worth repeating.  As the international spotlight in on Sochi, our students interest in the region is also heightened.  This makes it the perfect time to shine a light on parts of history that many have conveniently tried to brush aside. 


Tags: Russia. historical, colonialism.

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Jessica Rieman's curator insight, February 18, 10:56 AM

Czar Alexander II was a horrific leader who " ethnicially cleansed" the people of Sochi and cleansed them through disease and drowning as over populated ferries crossed the Black Sea. This act of innaliation of the war against the stateless people is just outrageous and unforgiving. In Sochi the "red hill" where the skiiers and snowboarders are set to take off is the site at which one of the massacres happened, it makes you wonder if the rest of the world knows this or are they ignorant to the fact that the Olympics at Sochi is glorified as having the two veritile terrains in which you can swim and ski in the a couple miles form eachother. I wonder what people who thnk if they knew the truth about Sochi.

Elizabeth Bitgood's curator insight, March 3, 6:13 AM

It is interesting to learn the history of a place that most American’s didn’t know existed until the Olympics.  It is always helpful to have things placed in a historic perspective.  The historic background makes understanding modern day events easier

Jess Deady's curator insight, April 30, 5:33 PM

This is basically like a mini Holocaust. When do people think its okay to do something like this? It boggles my mind how things like this can actually go on in the world still with todays technologies and armed forces. 

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Security Still A Major Concern In Sochi

ESPN Video: Jeremy Schaap details the threats to the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.
Seth Dixon's insight:

It's not everyday that ESPN will use terms like insurgency, region, state, suicide bombs, attacks, threats, heightened security, terrorists and black widows during a video clip, but when they do it's worth paying attention to the geographic context of their story.  Here is an additional NY Times interactive, also on the geopolitical context of Sochi.


Tags: sport, political, conflict, devolution, Russia.

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Jessica Rieman's curator insight, February 18, 11:14 AM

Security is a major concern in Sochi! There have been suicide bombers and many other forms of bomb threats. The athletes are under MAX security and in my opinion need to be because they are in danger because of the way their society is over there and the current issues they have been dealing or not dealing with.

Lauren Stahowiak's curator insight, February 18, 11:57 AM

The Olympics being held in Sochi, Russia concern many across the globe. Located very close to neighboring terrorists, Olympic athletes question whether it is safe to go or not. ESPN discusses the concerns, threats and  increase of security at the games this year. 

Jess Deady's curator insight, April 30, 5:29 PM

The Olympic games only come around every four years. From a spectators point of view, these games are a worldwide phenomenon. Millions of people will be watching them from home and in attendance in Sochi. Threats against HUGE events like these need to be taken seriously. Whether or not they are realistic, with so many lives in potential danger Russia needs to take the threats seriously.

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This Map Shows Why The Battle For 'Ukraine's Soul' Is So Pivotal

This Map Shows Why The Battle For 'Ukraine's Soul' Is So Pivotal | Geography Education | Scoop.it
The tug-of-war for Ukraine.
Seth Dixon's insight:

Strategically, Ukraine matters much more to Russia than it doesn't the EU, which is why Russia is flexing there muscles.  Russia's major market for their natural gas are linked through these key pipelines.  


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Lauren Stahowiak's curator insight, February 18, 12:04 PM

With gas being the key factor to the Russia-Eu tug of war over Ukraine, Russia fights hard to win this battle. Russia needs Ukraine as their own due to all the pipelines that transport the gas to Europe. Who will win this tug-of-war?

Nathan Chasse's curator insight, February 28, 9:26 PM

This infographic gives an idea of why Russia is so invested in Ukraine. The energy infrastructure built during the Soviet era runs almost entirely through Ukraine. A significant amount of gasoline consumed in Europe comes from Russia via Ukraine, while over 2/3rds of all the gas Russia exports to the EU goes through Ukraine. This puts Ukraine in a position of power, but the country itself is divided between the East and West making siding with the EU or Russia difficult. These are lasting effects of the Soviet era.

Paige Therien's curator insight, May 4, 8:28 AM

Besides the very intense cultural and political split that exists in Ukraine and the conflict as a whole, one of the key factors in this situation is gas.  This infographic shows that both Ukraine and the EU gets their gas from Russia, and Ukraine is the area which the gas lines flow through.  As soon as many people in Ukraine showed interest in joining the EU, Russia reminded Ukrainians and the world of this fact

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Aral Sea Basin

Aral Sea Basin | Geography Education | Scoop.it

"Dust blows from what was once the Aral Sea floor. Tragic mismanagement of a natural resource."

Seth Dixon's insight:

The collapse of the Aral Sea ecosystem is (arguably) the worst man-made environmental disaster of the 20th century and 21st century has seen the continuation of the desertification set in motion.  Soviet mismanagement, water-intensive cotton production and population growth have all contributed the overtaxing of water resources in the Aral Sea basin, which has resulted in a the shrinking of the Aral Sea--it has lost more of the sea to an expanding desert than the territories of the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg combined.  The health problems arising from this issues are large for the entire Aral Sea basin, which encompasses 5 Central Asian countries and it has profoundly changed (for the worse) the local climates.  Compare the differences with some historical images of the Aral Sea on Google Earth or on ArcGIS Online (also see this article from GeoCurrents


Tags: environment, Central Asia, environment modify.

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Joseph Thacker 's curator insight, February 20, 6:49 PM

This is a sad reality humans must live with forever and something we as people must learn from. A man made disaster that occurred many years ago has a negative impact on areas surrounding the shrinking Aral Sea to this day. People cannot exploit an area of water this large, as this is not only harming the environment, but many human beings, as well

Elizabeth Bitgood's curator insight, March 3, 6:24 AM

This startling picture from space of the Aral Sea is heartbreaking.  The destruction of this inland sea is a terrible thing to behold.

Jess Deady's curator insight, April 30, 5:36 PM

The Aral Sea Basin has been a topic of conversation throughout geography for many reasons. What used to be filled with water is now blowing dust because its that dry? This basin is no longer a natural resource.

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Chechnya: 200 years of background in four minutes

Seth Dixon's insight:

I wish I had seen this video from the Washington Post when I was preparing last week's Geography of Chechnya post

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Lauren Stahowiak's curator insight, February 18, 12:13 PM

Chechnya is an area of terror, death and conflict. The best way to understand a country such as Chechnya is to look into their background. This YouTube clip shows a brief summary of Chechnya's background and why things have gotten so bad.

Joseph Thacker 's curator insight, February 19, 3:15 PM

It appears Russia and Chechnya have a violent past. Chechnya, although small in size, wants to be a country. As a result, some people of Chechnya perform acts of terror to show they are serious about becoming a country. Even today tensions between the two areas remain high.

Elizabeth Bitgood's curator insight, March 3, 6:33 AM

This video gives a good background to understand Chechnya.  The dislocation and genocide that the people had to suffer under Soviet Russia certainly has led to the violence in the region.  We are not separate from our pasts and if anything this video explains where that violence and hatred comes from.  It doesn't excuse the violence but it does explain it.

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European women marry, give hope to Samaritans

European women marry, give hope to Samaritans | Geography Education | Scoop.it
MOUNT GERIZIM, West Bank (AP) — The Samaritans, a rapidly dwindling sect dating to biblical times, have opened their insular community to brides imported from eastern Europe in a desperate quest to preserve their ancient culture.
Seth Dixon's insight:

Some folk cultures, such as the Samaritans, have historically intermarried and have been plagued by genetic diseases.  Recently, they have turned to global solutions to their local demographic woes.  "Five young women from Russia and Ukraine have moved to this hilltop village in recent years to marry local men, breathing new life into the community."  


Tagsfolk culture, gender, population, Russia, religion, culture,
Middle East


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Matthew DiLuglio's curator insight, October 12, 2013 3:21 PM

I know a man who is Indian, and his grandparents came from India.  He tells me that their people do not formally or very much at all approve of interbreeding between their people and other cultures.  He says Indians stick with Indians, and that's how it's supposed to be.  I think in the future that the genetic diseases will be abolished by selective characteristic modification through reproductive alteration using technology- I think DNA modification will become a popular trick in both reproduction and everyday life that will allow for the end of illness.  This would allow people to marry into other cultures without fear of genetic complications, but they would still have that cultural barrier my Indian acquaintence referred to.  That same dude has some funny insight about Italians and other cultures, and noted that Italian-Americans are not really Italian at all.  We had a couple of interesting discussions regarding different cultures, and he told me that he is 100% Indian.  I don't mean to seem degrading AT ALL but the first thing that popped into my head was how people breed dogs to be purebreds, which are coveted and expensive, as well as pure.  I'm a blend of many different nationalities, and I'm proud of it... The universe is a blend of many nationalities, and I ever-ponder my connection with the Universe, and it's nice to know that I have a commonality with the Universe!

Cam E's curator insight, February 18, 9:00 AM

It's a very interesting and sad phenomenon when groups that thrived in the past begin to dwindle to a point where the acts of individuals can decide the entire future of the demographic. It brings in questions of tradition and if those people have a duty to propagate their genes to keep their group alive. I can only imagine how tense the environment could be when single accidents or deaths could mean the end of your people.

Nathan Chasse's curator insight, April 1, 9:14 AM

This article describes a how the small religious group, the Samaritans, have seen their numbers shrink to unsustainable levels and have been forced to turn outside to find wives. These men are importing brides from places like Ukraine because of a significant gender imbalance and heightened risk of birth defects due to genetic homogenization over the centuries. These circumstances present an fairly unique case of migration, one which should it become a standard practice, could have an effect on the culture of the Samaritan communities.

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Mapping Europe’s Borderlands: Russian Cartography in the Age of Empire

Mapping Europe’s Borderlands: Russian Cartography in the Age of Empire | Geography Education | Scoop.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.


"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


Tags: book reviews, Russia, cartography, historical.

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Russian Orthodox believers mark Epiphany with icy plunge

Russian Orthodox believers mark Epiphany with icy plunge | Geography Education | Scoop.it
Thousands of members of the Russian Orthodox Church marked Epiphany on January 19 with a dip in freezing waters blessed by a cleric. Epiphany is a celebration of the baptism of Jesus Christ and the...
Seth Dixon's insight:

Some of the photography and photo galleries of this cultural event are breathtaking--literally for those taking the plunge.  Russians cut the ice in the shape of a cross and bath in water that is blessed and considered holy.  This appears to be a religious tradition that is particularly adapted to the environmental conditions of the religious adherents (since it appears that the extreme climate plays a critical role in the activity).  Part of the practice involves sacrifice; the colder the swim, the greater the manifestation of religious devotion.    


Tags: Russia, religion, culture

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Joseph Thacker 's curator insight, February 19, 3:03 PM

These photographs show how intense this purification process is. The members of this religion suffer, as they submerge themselves into ice-cold water. This epiphany the Russian Orthodox members go through seem to be painful, but it proves they are dedicated to their faith. 

Nathan Chasse's curator insight, February 28, 10:14 PM

These photos are an excellent example of how geography influences culture. The extremely cold climate of Russia has led to this baptism-like ritual in the Russian Orthodox religion. The practitioners are cleansing themselves and showing dedication by bathing themselves in the freezing lakes of Russia.

Jess Deady's curator insight, April 30, 5:45 PM

Ice plunges happen all over the world for many different reasons. Some do it on New Years day in honor of ringing in a new year. This ice plunge happened to be in honor of Epiphany for the Russian Orthodox Church.