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Latvia votes: Is Russian our language, too?

Latvia votes: Is Russian our language, too? | Porter Geography | Scoop.it

Like a detective at a crime scene, chief language inspector Antons Kursitis scans the lobby of a hotel in downtown Riga. He spots a brochure that lists hotel services in Russian only, a flagrant violation of Latvia's language laws.

 

"Protecting the Latvian language — that is, safeguarding its supremacy over Russian — has been a priority here since the Soviet occupation ended two decades ago. Those efforts face their biggest test yet on Saturday, in a referendum on whether to make Russian the country's second official language."  What historical, political and demographic factors shape this cultural issue of language?  Why is language often seen as so crucial to cultural identity?  

 

The Latvian voters have spoken: in a massive voter turn-out, they struck down the referendum that sought to make Russian an official language.  "Latvia is the only place throughout the world where Latvian is spoken, so we have to protect it," said Martins Dzerve, 37, in Riga, Latvia's capital. "But Russian is everywhere."  For more on the vote, see: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-17083397    


Via Seth Dixon, Samantha Fraser
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Nicholas Rose's comment, September 4, 2012 11:48 AM
This article is really interesting to read about. The reason why is because of the existence of the Soviet Union during World War II. Each Soviet Republic during that time had their own language and children were taught to speak Russian during school. Since the Soviet Union fell after the Cold War in 1991, all of the former Soviet Republics are free countries now and should be allowed to speak their official language instead of Russian.
Derek Ethier's comment, October 18, 2012 1:14 AM
It is definitely important for Latvians to hold on tightly to their culture. However, the Soviet Union caused Russian culture and language to spread throughout the USSR and countries are feeling the effects today. There are millions of Russians in former satellite nations who hold on to their Russian culture. At the same time, these nations wish to regain their national pride especially after the fall of the Soviet Union. It is a difficult conundrum, but I do agree with the Latvians' decision.
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Martin Luther King Street

A teaser trailer for the MLK Streets Project, a documentary film examining the state of the many avenues, boulevards and thoroughfares named after the slain ...

 

This video echoes much of what the authors of the fantastic book "Civil Rights Memorials and the Geography of Memory" say (in fact one of the authors is shown in this video).  Throughout America, streets that are named after Martin Luther King Jr. frequently are in poor, crime-ridden neighborhoods.  This video highlights the irony between the historical memory of Martin Luther King Jr. and places of memorialization that bear his name.   

 

Questions to ponder: If Matin Luther King Jr. represents non-violence, then why are streets bearing his name often in 'violent' neighborhoods?  Where should Martin Luther King be memorialized in the United States?  Only in the South?  Only in predominantly African-American communities?  Do the geography of the spaces where he is memorialized say something about the United States?    

 

Tags: historical, culture, landscape, place, race, unit 3 culture, USA, urban, poverty, unit 7 cities, book review. 


Via Seth Dixon
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melissa stjean's comment, October 8, 2012 9:49 PM
These streets are the most popular in the country, but they are located mostly located in areas with profoundly poorer incomes. With poorer incomes, leads to increased crime rates, does naming a street after an iconic hero please the people who live here? It seems like the geography of these places is creating a line of segregation by using his name for a street.
Jeff F's comment, October 8, 2012 10:42 PM
Martin Luther King Streets are places into prominently African-American neighborhoods because that is where the dominant white culture says they belong. Martin Luther King jr was a powerful African-American man and a powerful African-American man has no place in white communities according to this philosophy. If a MLK street was to be placed into a white suburb it would likely cause controversy. Cries of myths such as "reverse racism" would likely run rampant. This would be accompanied with the idea that a MLK street should only belong in an area with a heavy African-American population.
Jesse Gauthier's comment, October 14, 2012 3:49 PM
I think Martin Luther King should be memorialized in all parts of the country, and why not with all cultures and races. He did stand for non-violence and non-discrimination, which happens among all types of people.