VIDEO: 5,000 years of religious history in two minutes.
Global news with a spatial perspective: Interesting, current supplemental materials for geography teachers and students.
Curated by Seth Dixon
VIDEO: 5,000 years of religious history in two minutes.
Short, sweet and to the point--this video is a great way to show the historical geographies of major world religions. What are the cultural barriers to the diffusion of one of these particular religions? What geographic factors helped to facilitate the expansion of one of these world religions?
During summer, the sun never sets in Sweden's northernmost town, posing challenges for Muslims observing the holy month.
Like many early religious traditions, Ramadan is observed based on measurements from the moon and sun. The start of Ramadan is determined by the sighting of the new moon, which moves about 11 days back in the Gregorian calendar each year. During Ramadan the consumption of food and water is prohibited between dawn and dusk, how do Muslims observing the fast manage in the far north of Scandinavia, where the sun never sets in the summertime (in 2015, Ramadan is from June 17 to July 17)? Some Muslims in the West (and north) argue that ancient customs from the Arabian desert need updating now that the religion has diffused beyond the Middle East.
It's a good thing we have so many guardians of Indian culture to protect us, the impressionable Indian youth, from being corrupted and misled. (Much like Indian culture, this post is very NSFW.)
Hinduism is much more sensual and explicit in their depictions of the human body and sexuality than other religious traditions. Sacred spaces in India consequently feature a different ethos on their temples and shrines. The image here is among the more 'tame' ones in this set (just sayin').
See how people around the world pray...video examples of prayer and the cultural/spiritual significance are shown highlighting Buddhists, Mormons, and Sikhs. Place is very important component to prayer for many and the 4th example shows how some use a labyrinth as a tool to commune with the divine.
"More than 60 percent of Utah’s residents are Mormons, who typically abstain from alcohol, caffeine and tobacco. With those vices frowned upon, candy is an acceptable treat. Hispanics like Hershey’s Cookies ’n Creme bars in disproportionate numbers, and Minnesotan buy six-packs of Hershey bars at higher rates than any other Americans, particularly in the summer (think s’mores)."
This report brings up three interesting tidbits about candy consumption in the United States, but this is also a good article to discuss how businesses should take geography and demographic statistics seriously when crafting their marketing strategies.
Abraj Kudai, a complex in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, is set to become the world's largest hotel by room count when it opens in 2017.
Las Vegas currently has the four of the five largest hotels in the world; people flock to the Nevada desert in droves for the gambling and nightlife. Mecca has a very distinct draw that pulls tourists in from all over the world. As a sacred pilgrimage site, the tourism industry thrives and needs an immense infrastructure to handle the high volume of visitors that come for the Hajj.
There are more religiously unaffiliated Americans than Catholic Americans or mainline Protestant Americans.
Christianity is on the decline in America, not just among younger generations or in certain regions of the country but across race, gender, education and geographic barriers. The percentage of adults who describe themselves as Christians dropped by nearly eight percentage points in just seven years to about 71 percent, according to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center.
"Despite predictions that religion will go the way of dinosaurs, the size of almost every major faith -- sorry, Buddhists -- will increase in the next 40 years, according to a study released Thursday by the Pew Research Center. The biggest winners, Pew predicts, will be Islam and Christianity."
The government of the People’s Republic of China calls the country’s westernmost region Xinjiang, but the people who have lived there for centuries refer to their home as Eastern Turkistan. Many times when two groups do not refer to a place by the same name, it points to a cultural or political conflict, as is the case here.
Multiple names on the map can hint at bigger cultural and political fault lines. Is it Londonderry or just Derry? The Sea of Japan or the East Sea? This article I wrote for the National Geographic Education Blog is on the always simmering tensions in the China's westernmost province.
According to new Pew Research demographic projections, by 2050 there will be near parity between Muslims (2.8 billion, or 30% of the population) and Christians (2.9 billion, or 31%), possibly for the first time in history. Read more at http://pewrsr.ch/projections.
This video is a sneak peak at some of the statistical projections from the Pew Research Center on what the world of religion will look like in 2050. Here are the other highlights:
"TeachMideast is an educational outreach initiative developed by the Middle East Policy Council. TeachMideast is a resource designed primarily to give high school and community college teachers the foundation they need to teach about critical , complex, and intriguing subjects."
After writing an article about cultural empathy and stereotypes for National Geographic Education, I was delighted to hear from the educational outreach coordinator at Teach Mideast. The amount of resources they have for teachers is impressive--check it out!
Most of the world's major religions are made up of multiple sects or denominations, and Islam is no different. Islam's two major sects are the Sunnis and the Shiites, and the division and interplay between the two is a major factor in the geopolitics of the Middle East. How well do you understand Sunni and Shiite Islam? Take our quiz and find out!
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. Take this quiz to test your knowledge.
Amid the celebrations this St Patrick's Day, there are also more somber commemorations taking place. In Mexico and in a small town in Galway, Ireland, they are remembering the hundreds of Irishmen who died fighting for Mexico against the United States: the San Patricio Battalion.
On St. Patrick's Day and afterward, many people shared happy pictures of Ireland, and that's lovely but I wanted this story. This is not a well-known story in the United States because it reveals the cultural prejudice against the Irish that was prevalent in the United States in the 1840s. I first learned about them in Mexico City, walking by a monument, that memorialized St. Patrick's Battalion. They were a group of soldiers that deserted from the U.S. army and chose to fight with their Catholic brethren on the Mexican side.
Questions to Ponder: Why are these historical events not usually mentioned in the U.S. national narrative? Why is this seen as very significant for Mexican national identity? What were the 'axes of identity' that mattered most to the those in St. Patrick's Battalion?
"Glance at the map above, Second Largest Religious Tradition in Each State 2010, and you will see that Buddhism (orange), Judaism (pink) and Islam (blue) are the runner-up religions across the country.
No surprises there. But can you believe that Hindu (dark orange) is the No. 2 tradition in Arizona and Delaware, and that Baha'i (green) ranks second in South Carolina? These numbers, although they look impressive when laid out in the map, represent a very tiny fraction of the population in any of the states listed."
Questions to Ponder: What are the most interesting stories and patterns visible in the spatial, mapped data? What is the main second religion that is not as visually dominant on the map? Why are both data sources valuable in understanding religions in the United States?
One of the main reasons I wrote this article for National Geographic about how to teach cultural empathy is nicely conveyed in the cartoon above--in spite of our cultural differences, I want people to see themselves in others. This is reminiscent to this New Yorker cartoon on the why there should not be religious conflicts in the world.
The Jewish population in Europe has dropped significantly over the last several decades – most dramatically in Eastern Europe and the countries that make up the former Soviet Union.
It’s been seven decades since the end of the Holocaust, an event that decimated the Jewish population in Europe. In the years since then, the number of European Jews has continued to decline for a variety of reasons. And now, concerns over renewed anti-Semitism on the continent have prompted Jewish leaders to talk of a new “exodus” from the region.
There are still more than a million Jews living in Europe, according to 2010 Pew Research Center estimates. But that number has dropped significantly over the last several decades – most dramatically in Eastern Europe and the countries that make up the former Soviet Union, according to historical research by Sergio DellaPergola of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
"I am torn about how to teach these two ideas about cultures and societies all around the world:
These points may seem like a contradiction, but when put into proper context they teach important truths about culture."
I've posted several resources here about some of the intriguing cultural interactions in the Middle East stemming from globalization. I thought there was some excellent public dialog after the Charlie Hebdo shooting, but I was disheartened by some of prejudiced responses that I've heard since then--that inspired me to pull some of them together in this this article I wrote for National Geographic Education.
"China is in the midst of a crackdown on what it describes as 'terrorism driven by religious extremism'. The campaign is focused on the western province of Xinjiang, home to China's Uighur ethnic minority who are predominantly Muslim."
China does not have a good track record of dealing with ethnic and religious minorities and the murals that can be seen in Xinjiang are a testament to that fact. This has led to many Muslims in Western China being attracted to more radical ideas. While I certainly don't condone radicalism nor China's heavy-handed tactics, I am fascinated by the cultural messages that are strategically being placed in the landscape to influence the politics and culture of the region.
"The position [that belief in God is essential to morality] is highly prevalent, if not universal, in Africa and the Middle East. At least three-quarters in all six countries surveyed in Africa say that faith in God is essential to morality. People in richer nations tend to place less emphasis on the need to believe in God to have good values than people in poorer countries do."
An important part of the geography of religion is how the non-religious are treated and perceived around the world. More secular countries tend to be more developed, affluent and wealthy; generally speaking these are the countries that do not believe that morality and a belief in God have to be linked together. What do you think? What cultural perspectives shape your thinking?
Hundreds of churches around Europe have closed or are threatened by plunging membership, posing a question for communities: What to do with the once-holy, now-empty buildings?
Europe, the most developed region in the world, is also the most secular region today. During colonial times, Europeans were spreading Christianity across the globe, but now Christianity is becoming more a part of Europe's historical landscape. Secularization can be seen as either the cause or the effect of several other European trends such as declining fertility rates. Today Europe is filled with historic cathedrals, but there is no one to fill them.
Questions to Ponder: What are other signs of secularization on the cultural landscape? What would you do with a former sacred site (and an architectural treasure) that is can't be maintained?
"There’s no denying that the Amish are fascinating to the rest of us ("the English," in Amish terms). We buy their furniture and jam, and may occasionally spot their buggies when driving on country roads through America’s heartland. Many may not realize, however, that though the Amish make up only a tiny percentage of Americans (less than 0.1 percent), the Amish population has grown enormously since the early 1960s, with much of the increase occurring in the last two decades."
"A new report released by the Pew Research Centre has found that the proportion of Catholics in Latin America has dropped 25% since 1970. One of the primary drivers for the rise in the numbers leaving the Catholic Church? Conversion to Protestantism."
A sign urging environmental action during a United Nations summit meeting on climate change was placed near a 1,000-year-old geoglyph that is a cultural treasure in Peru. Officials are outraged over the trespassing and the disturbance of the ancient grounds.
Greenpeace is falling for some of the same social media fails as the selfie generation. Peruvian authorities are angry that Greenpeace activists damaged a forbidden archeological site that is both a national symbol and sacred site. UN climate talks are taking place in Peru right now, so this Greenpeace publicity stunt becomes all the more ironic. The Peruvian government is accusing them of irrevocably damaging the environment at this site. Here is an article about how the environmental community was impacted by this Greenpeace stunt.