How alarmist, racist coverage of Ebola makes things worse. A dressing down of the latest #NewsweekFail.
Global news with a spatial perspective: Interesting, current supplemental materials for geography teachers and students.
Curated by Seth Dixon
How alarmist, racist coverage of Ebola makes things worse. A dressing down of the latest #NewsweekFail.
The recent Newsweek Cover showing a Chimpanzee for the article, Smuggled Bushmeat Is Ebola's Back Door to America, has received a lot of criticism for being factually inaccurate, but also for it's portrayal of Africa that taps into deep-rooted cultural anxieties about Africa in United States. Western writers have use many cultural conventions to talk about "the Dark Continent" stemming from a long colonial tradition. Africa had been developing rapidly in the last decade and how Ebola fares seems to be a referendum on the continent for many cultural commentators. This great Washington Post article is less about Ebola, but uses the outbreak to analyze how we think about Africa, and sometimes it isn't a pretty reflection. The Ebola outbreak is teaching us how we perceive Africa as much as it is about Africa itself.
These maps are crucial for understanding the region's history, its present, and some of the most important stories there today.
Titles like the one for this article, 40 maps that explain the Middle East, are becoming increasingly common for internet articles. They helps us feel that we can explain all of the world's complexities and make sense of highly dynamic situations. While we can all agree that maps are great analytical tools that can be very persuasive, sometimes we can pretend that they are the end all, be all for any situation. Maps can also be used to show how something that we thought was simple can be much complex and nuanced than we had previously imagined, as demonstrated by this article, 15 Maps that Don't Explain the Middle East at All. Both perspectives have their place (and both articles are quite insightful). Not connected to the Middle East, but East Asia, this article entitled Lies, Damned Lies and Maps continues the discussion of maps, truth and perception.
"About the history of the creation of Africa borders and debates about African borders."
Disregard the rough English grammar; this is a nice article to show some of the historical, ethnic, linguistic and political complexities behind African borders. This would be a great supplemental article to help AP Human Geography students to prepare for Question 2 of the 2014 AP Human Geography Exam that focused on superimposed boundaries within an African context.
"A radical fringe Islamic group names ISIS is fighting to establish a extremist Islamic state in Iraq and Syria...and beyond. They control eastern Syria, western Iraq, just took control of Iraq's 2nd largest city of Mosul and are advancing on the capital Baghdad. In this podcast, the professor John Boyer outlines just a few of the contributing factors to why this significant event is taking place, the geographic/historic background of the state, and the consequences for the future of the region."
If you haven't yet discovered John Boyer, a.k.a. the Plaid Avenger, I recommend exploring his site. He has numerous resources for world regional geography and current global affairs. His colorful persona is highly entertaining for college age-students as his class attracts over 3,000 students each semester (you can decide for yourself whether that personality works for you and your classroom). This particular 'plaidcast' discussion focuses on Iraq's current devolution and possible total collapse.
Brought to Europe from the New World by Spanish explorers, the lowly potato gave rise to modern industrial agriculture
The Colombian Exchange is a term that describes the most dramatic biologic transfer in history. European explorers brought animals and agricultural items from the Old World to the New and subsequently brought back items from the New World back to the Old. This exchange profoundly reshaped many societies as agricultural diffusion of the potato lead to the changes across northern Europe.
While this is not a perfect map, it is still a powerful one to convey several points. One, the impact of colonialism is still felt in the the cultural, economic and political institutions of Africa. Two, given that most of African countries have many indigenous languages spoken by the population, the old colonial language remains as a de facto Lingua Franca in most places, especially among the elite.
"Ben Schmidt, assistant professor of history at Northeastern University, has visualized the routes of 19th Century ships using publicly available data set from NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). The resulting image is a hauntingly beautiful image that outlines the continents and highlights the trade winds. It shows major ports, and even makes a strong visual case for the need for the Panama and Suez Canals."
President's decision to shift official language from English to local language comes months after its decision to withdraw from the Commonwealth
The Gambia has been showing signs that they want to remove neo-colonial influences. Last year the President withdrew the Gambia from the Commonwealth (a collection of 54 countries, mainly former British colonies), tired of being 'lectured' about human rights. Now they have rejected English as the official language. Mandingo (38%), Fula (21%) and Wolof (18%) are the three most widely spoken languages but it is currently unclear if one of these will become the new official language or if several will receive that status.
Questions to Ponder: What are the advantages and disadvantages of using the old colonial language as the official language in multilingual African countries? What are the advantages and disadvantages of using a local language/languages as the official language?
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.
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.
"Changes in relationships can be hard to take. The economic bond between Latin America and Spain, its biggest former colonial power, is shifting as the region’s economies mature. Despite some ruffled feathers, the evolution is positive. After two decades in which Spain amassed assets worth €145 billion ($200 billion) in Latin America, last year was the first in which Latin American companies spent more on acquiring their Spanish counterparts than the other way around."
I am hesitant to use the term post-colonial since there are theoretical constructs that use that term to embody cultural hegemonic power structures. I'm simply using it to mean "after colonialism" because the power paradigm is shifting to the former colonies.
With Halloween right around the corner, the Salem Witch trials loom large in the collective American psyche. While many emphasize the supernatural and the scandalous, this Maps 101 podcast (based on the article written by Julie Dixon and yours truly) gives the geographic and historic context to understand the tragedy of the 1692 witch trials.
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?
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.
|Suggested by Michael Miller|
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.
Of all the changes announced by the 2011 census, one of the most startling is the rapid change in the ethnic composition of London's population.
The fact the immigrants moving to the UK have flocked to London is not surprising (View a map of the census data). Immigration isn't the only component to this situation. White Britons are also leaving London in large number, prompting some to refer to this as "White Flight." Today, white Britons are no longer the majority population within London (but still the largest ethnic group). Some feel that this story has gone underreported and deserves more analysis. What elements of human geography should an observer of this situation use in their analysis?
January 19, 2013—The West African nation of Mali is making headlines after a wave of French military actions on Islamic extremist groups now controlling the northern part of the country. National Geographic Senior Writer Peter Gwin has...
This 6-minute video clip is a good way to help students understand the ethnic and geopolitical context of the Mali conflict. What impact did the superimposed borders of colonialism have in creating the conflict?
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?
Find out how the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Native Americans celebrated the first Thanksgiving together at Plymouth Plantation.
Thanksgiving is right around the corner and this is a great resource with videos, primary documents, virtual field trips and lesson plans for all grades, K-12. Students can see aspects of lifestyles, housing types and economic activies of both the Pilgrims and the Wampanoags. For more resources about the Mayflower and the historically re-enacted village, see the Plimoth Plantation website.
Britain has invaded all but 22 countries in the world in its long and colourful history, new research has found.
This is a great map to show the historical impact of colonialism on the world map. The map is based on the work in the new book All the Countries We've Ever Invaded: And the Few We Never Got Round To.
Rising numbers of people of Indian origin born in the West are moving to the country their parents left decades ago in search of opportunity and a cultural connection, reports the BBC's Rajini Vaidyanathan.
Since 2005, the Indian government has been encouraging people of Indian descent and former Indian nationals to return to India. For many Indians living in the UK, there are more and better economic opportunities for them within India. Migrants have many reasons for moving (including cultural factors), but the primary pull factor is most certainly India's ascendant importance in the global economy and rising IT industries.
When African states gained independence, the continent's new leaders agreed to respect the old colonial borders to avoid endless wars.
This interactive map shows the major conflicts on the African continent where the combatants have geopolitical aspirations to separate from the state and create a new, autonomous state. Click on the red arrows and you can read about the warring factions and the current situation in that region.
Below street level in Mexico City, archaeologists have found a jumble of bones dating to the 1480s.
In the 1970s, construction workers unearthed numerous archaeological finds as the subway was being constructed. The Mexican government decided to clear the several block of old colonial buildings to reveal the Templo Mayor, the ancient Aztec religious center. Not coincidentally, the Spaniards built their religious center in the same place. During the colonial era, the indigenous residents who spoke Spanish in Mexico City still referred to this portion of the city as la pirámide. Today more finds such as this one are continuing to help us piece together the past of this immensely rich, multi-layered place filled with symbolic value.