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The fate of religious freedom in the former USSR, 25 years after its collapse

The fate of religious freedom in the former USSR, 25 years after its collapse | Geography Education | Scoop.it
It's been 25 years since the fall of the Soviet Union. How has religious freedom fared in this part of the world?
Seth Dixon's insight:

The collapse of the former Soviet Union was one of the biggest political events of the 20th century with long-reaching cultural ramifications.  The generations of state-sponsored atheism followed by a variety of new political policies has meant that religious freedoms vary greatly in the regions that were once a part of the USSR.  This article gives a good breakdown of all the former SSR’s and the state of religious freedom today in each of them.    

 

Tags: religionChristianityIslam, Russia, Ukraine, Armenia, AzerbaijanGeorgia, Belarus, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Moldova, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan.      

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David Stiger's curator insight, October 22, 2018 10:20 AM
For post-Soviet countries, power and fear might be freedom's greatest challenges. On one hand, there is a dominant religious institution -  Eastern Orthodox Christianity - seeking to grow its influence and power. This might be a goal for a religion that is not popular elsewhere around the world (many Americans only know of Protestants and Roman Catholics, completely oblivious to the third major branch). They may see their geographic location as especially important - serving as a home-base of spiritual operations to launch evangelical missions, build coalitions, and influence national policies that shape society in a way their particular brand of Christianity approves of. On the other hand is fear of extremist groups which have resorted to terrorism to achieve their objectives. Countries like Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Tajikistan, and Azerbaijan have all placed restrictions on minority faiths, such as Muslims and Protestants, requiring these groups to register with the state. Geographically, the Islamic world, which is in a constant state of turmoil, lies directly south of the post-Soviet Union, making Islam a key focus as immigrants and ideas easily flow into the region. This need for state approval is a form of control which clearly hampers independence and freedom of expression.  The irony in all of this is that fear of extremism leads to more extreme measures of security. This toxic process will only sow discord, distrust, and animosity between sub-populations leading to civil unrest.  




Matt Danielson's curator insight, October 22, 2018 5:49 PM
It is not surprising to me as a history major that they is still suppression of religious freedom in many former soviet territories. The more westernized countries have less of an issue than the countries farther from the west. This is partially due to them wanting to join Nato which requires religious freedom for joining. The more Islamic countries to the south seem to have the most difficulties with religious freedoms (as do a majority of Islamic nations). Russia would also have some problems from years of atheism being forced by the communist party. Somehow the Eastern Orthodox religion was able to hold on through out it all, but they seem to be the only;y religion openly accepted in Russia.  
Kelvis Hernandez's curator insight, November 1, 2018 10:45 AM
After years and years of suppression under the Atheistic USSR, many would not be unreasonable to have believed that when the USSR fell they would be able to practice their religion however they would like. Unfortunately, nothing changes in a day and when fear is a tactic learned from their former occupiers. Many countries still use the growing terrorism in the region to suppress their own citizen's rights to religious freedom.  Countries such as Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan are of great concern where Religious minorities, mainly Muslims, are rounded up and registered, monitored during religious practices or severely restricted. It is not a surprise that this is happening is former-USSR countries, but you must understand it takes time for deeply rooted behaviors to change. 
 
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Putin fills another U.S. leadership void in Nagorno-Karabakh

Putin fills another U.S. leadership void in Nagorno-Karabakh | Geography Education | Scoop.it
Russia exploits a conflict in Azerbijan’s breakaway region while Washington watches.

 

On April 1, an obscure conflict in Azerbaijan’s breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh nearly devolved back into full-scale war between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Transatlantic leaders called for an end to the violence and for redoubled efforts to settle the underlying political conflict but did little else. Russian President Vladimir Putin, by contrast, launched decisive actions to shore up Russia’s international reputation and pull Armenia and Azerbaijan away from the West.

 

TagsArmenia, political, war, borders, political, geopolitics, Central AsiaAzerbaijanRussia.

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David G Tibbs's curator insight, March 1, 2018 9:43 AM
Russia is filling the power vacuum that the US has created since the fall of the Soviet Union. If America and the West are concerned about growing Russian involvement in the South Caucasus region then it should provide aid to the region. If Russia wants to create a Eurasia version of the Eu then they should be able too. It would add competition to markets and bring a balance to global powers. However, Russia should be using diplomatic means in order to achieve this Union has opposed to using military force. If the West is opposed to his means of creating this "union" then they should intervene to show they will not tolerate military aggression. 
 
Matt Danielson's curator insight, October 22, 2018 5:54 PM
This seems to be a problem reoccurring for both The US and Russia since the cold war. When a country attempts to jump into another countries conflict it tends to make things worse and bring about no positive change( examples being US in Vietnam and Russia in Afghanistan). At the same time when one country sits idly by the other nation is able to do some good gaining much influence over the country.  International reputation and determination are important international factors on the global political field, but this must be balanced with not interfering to much causing more enemies when the situation is avoidable. 
Corey Rogers's curator insight, December 15, 2018 11:36 AM
To keep Western influence out of Azerbaijan's conflict the Russians made sure to step up and take their own actions. Since they don't want the US coming into their region they want to make sure there is no war that happens between Azerbaijan and Armenia. 
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Complex International Borders

More complex international borders in this follow up to part 1
In this video I look at even more enclaves and exclaves."

Seth Dixon's insight:

This video (like part 1) shows some great examples of how the political organization of space and administration of borders can get complicated.  Here are the examples (and time in the video when they are covered in the video) on these complex borders:


Tags: borders, political, territoriality, sovereignty, video.

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Danielle Lip's curator insight, April 7, 2015 9:13 PM

Borders seem to be a problem whether you live in one continent or another, everyone wants power and control but not everyone can gain it. This video focuses and goes into depth about enclave and exclave borders, showing the irregularity of the borders in different areas that causes conflicts and problems. An example of a problem that the citizens have to deal with is that some villages can not leave due to the road blocks due to the borders. I can not imagine not being able to leave a certain area for all that time, I would go insane and I imagine those people are as well. International borders power has to be split somehow and not everyone can always come to an easy decision because parts of the land are claimed but the people do not have any control of it. Irregular borders cause more trouble than they are worth in my opinion. The final interesting fact about this video was that you learn that Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan are the two locations that have the most irregular border, these places must have the most conflict and problems. These borders are in places such as Germany, South Asia, China, Belgian, Sweden and Central Asia.

Nicholas A. Whitmore's curator insight, December 17, 2015 5:17 PM

A fascinating look into the complexity of borders. It is always important to keep in mind when looking at maps that the borders are neither permanent or defined as it exists in reality. Borders on world maps are rough estimations of what the borders actually are for they can't depict precise details on such a large scale. Furthermore regional/local maps sometimes do not whether as to conform to the border misconception unfortunately. In Central Asia as defined int he video the border were primarily a result of the Soviet Unions attempts to divided ethnic minorities reducing their power (primarily Stalin). As a result the countries after the collapse proceeded to claim the ethnic groups which created enclaves within each-other. As long as these groups are on peaceful terms this kind of thing isn't an issue. Unfortunately it does make the peoples lives in the enclaves slightly more difficult due to having to cross the border twice to see the rest of your country. This kind of thing was even done to the Jews in the first century AD who like the Russians wanted to eliminate or at least reduce attempts at revolution by the local populace. Hopefully Central Asia has or will make the lives of these enclaves easier.

David Stiger's curator insight, October 28, 2018 8:56 PM
I think it's fair to say that people in general take maps for granted. The devotion and reverence for the written word - specifically the published written word - prevents people from realizing that much of the world is a social construct. Geographically, borders are social constructs - sometimes loose agreements between different groups of people to establish territorial boundaries in order to claim resources. This video, which speaks to the complicated reality of territorial enclaves and 'exclaves,' illustrates how borders are social constructs. They can often be illogical, awkward, and highly disputable. Examining the several exclaves and enclaves shared between Armenia and Azerbaijan is evidence of the geopolitical mess that disputed borders create.  What is most fascinating about this case is the assessment of how Joseph Stalin tampered with international borders as a geopolitical strategy in order to sow instability and weakness. This strategy allowed the the Soviets to more easily conquer and subjugate foreign peoples - all in the name of proletariat revolution. 
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Technology and Tradition Collide: From Gender Bias to Sex Selection

Technology and Tradition Collide:  From Gender Bias to Sex Selection | Geography Education | Scoop.it

"Every year, as a result of prenatal sex selection, 1.5 million girls around the world are missing at birth.  How do we know these girls are missing if they were never born? Under normal circumstances, about 102 to 107 male babies are born for every 100 female babies born. This is called the sex ratio at birth, or SRB."


Seth Dixon's insight:

How do local cultures create these demographic statistics?  How do these demographic statistics impact local cultures? 


Tags: gender, technologyfolk culture, statistics, China, population.

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Why Germany's recognition of Armenian genocide is such a big deal

Why Germany's recognition of Armenian genocide is such a big deal | Geography Education | Scoop.it
Armenian American journalist Liana Aghajanian says the German parliament's decision is all the more groundbreaking because it was a politician of Turkish descent who pushed it through.

 

The German Bundestag's overwhelming vote last week in favor of this resolution, with just one vote against and one abstention, brought both gratitude and anger. Armenian communities, many of them descendants of genocide survivors who are dispersed across the world, are grateful. Turkey, however, was incensed and recalled its ambassador to Germany. Many Turks see the vote as not just a threat to longstanding German-Turkish relations, but to Turkish national identity.

Seth Dixon's insight:

I've posted in about the Armenian genocide in the past, and until Turkey acknowledges that it was a genocide, this issue will continue to fester.  Considering that Germany has a large Turkish population and an obvious historical connection to genocide, this recognition is far more important some other random country taking this stance. 

 

TagsArmenia, genocidepolitical, conflict, TurkeyGermanywar, historical.  

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Richard Aitchison's curator insight, March 7, 2018 10:09 AM
If Turkey wants to move forward it must address its past. This basis of this article is that with Germany, who has its own very bad past history with genocide, officially acknowledging Turkey's genocide when will Turkey finally do so. Germany not only has a history of genocide, but as the article state it has a key history with the Ottoman Empire (formerly where Turkey is located) and thus many Turkish ancestors, including at the time the Prime minister. Turkey who has refused to acknowledge that this genocide ever occurred and that it was simply just a causality of war must make certain cultural changes unless it will continue to fall into a land in which progressive ideas will never reach. Turkey who wants to economically move forward, thus aligning with the EU can not do this until they take ownership of its past and make an effort to continue human rights actions into the future. Will Turkey ever do this? One would think they would have to if they do ever want to be apart of the the EU which would be a major political and economic victory for the Turks. Germany on the other hand can be a world leader in human rights as it tries to correct the wrongs of its past as well. 
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The Armenian Genocide-100 years

The Armenian Genocide-100 years | Geography Education | Scoop.it

“For most of the world, the Armenian Genocide is the slaughter you know next to nothing about. But every year on April 24, Genocide Remembrance Day, we Armenians remember the injustice of a crime that is rarely acknowledged and often flatly denied. It was April 24, 1915, when the Armenian intellectuals, professionals, editors and religious leaders in Constantinople were rounded up by the Ottoman authorities — and almost all of them executed. During World War I, the Ottoman Empire killed three of every four of its Armenian citizens. The majority of Armenians alive today are descendants of the few survivors.”

Seth Dixon's insight:

2.5 million Armenians lived in the Ottoman Empire--1.5 million were killed. Not just killed, but horrifically slaughtered--beheaded, crucified, burned alive in their churches, loaded like cattle onto freight trains and sent to concentration camps, raped, assaulted, sold as slaves, herded into the DerAzor desert and left to die.  

The United Nations recognizes the massacres and the systematic destruction of two-thirds of the Armenian population as the first genocide of the 20th century, and has stated that the mishandling of its aftermath set the stage for future genocides, from the Holocaust to Rwanda and Sudan and everything in between. Hitler studied what happened and borrowed many of the Ottoman Empire’s techniques to use against the Jews.

And even though some countries in the world recognize and agree with the UN assessment of the fact, Turkey denies it, and the US still stands silent and refuses to officially state that what happened was genocide...because to do so would offend Turkey, and Turkey is a US political ally.  Many are calling on Israel, a country founded in large part because of a genocide, to acknowledge the first genocide of the 20th century.   

Learn about genocide and teach genocide--what causes it, what perpetuates it, what the cost of denial can be. Don’t remain silent. Be a peaceful person in your own life, and in all your relations with others--and speak up about any wrong or injustice. 

*Most of this post is courtesy of Janet Rith-Najarian, professional geographer and member of the Minnesota Alliance for Geographic Education.


TagsArmenia, genocidepolitical, conflict, Turkey, war, refugees, empirecolonialism, historical.

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Maricarmen Husson's curator insight, April 17, 2015 7:37 PM

A 100 AÑOS DEL GENOCIDIO ARMENIO

Cada año el 24 de abril, día de la conmemoración del Genocidio, nosotros los armenios recordamos la injusticia de un crimen que rara vez se reconoció y a menudo negó rotundamente.

Era el 24 de abril de 1915, cuando los intelectuales armenios, profesionales, editores y líderes religiosos de Constantinopla fueron detenidos por las autoridades otomanas - y casi todos ellos ejecutados. Durante la Primera Guerra Mundial, el Imperio Otomano mató a tres de cada cuatro de sus ciudadanos armenios. La mayoría de los armenios vivos hoy son descendientes de los pocos sobrevivientes ".

Kristin Mandsager San Bento's curator insight, May 1, 2015 4:17 PM

I have to be honest, I never knew we had a Genocide Remembrance Day.  As I get older, there seems to be a day for everything.  This is a horrific act.  Unfortunately, as we've seen historically many countries have tried this.  There is never a good outcome.  It's atrocious that we could ever standby and not do something.  

Eden Eaves's curator insight, May 24, 2015 6:24 PM

Unit 3

For most of the world, the Armenian Genocide is the slaughter we know almost nothing about. But every year on April 24,Genocide Remembrance Day, Armenians all over the world remember the injustice of a crime that is rarely acknowledged and often flatly denied. It was April 24, 1915, when the Armenian intellectuals, professionals, editors and religious leaders in Constantinople were rounded up by the Ottoman authorities — and almost all of them executed. During World War I, the Ottoman Empire killed three of every four of its Armenian citizens. The majority of Armenians alive today are descendants of the few survivors

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Crimea, Nagorno-Karabakh and the Gordian Knot

Crimea, Nagorno-Karabakh and the Gordian Knot | Geography Education | Scoop.it
Is this an opportune moment for Eurasian powers to tackle the festering Nagorno-Karabakh conflict?
Seth Dixon's insight:

Recently Crimea has has been a hot topic and in years past Chechyna was another much discussed topic.  Both of these ‘hot spots’ have some important geographic reasons as to why they are hot spots.  The collapse of the Soviet Union and the subsequent re-emergence of the Russian Federation have created geopolitical ripples that reverberate throughout the region.  Transnistria, Abkhazia and Novorussiya are places that few have ever heard about, but are now becoming critical locations for international relations because of they have an uncertain status that might shift soon.  One place to add to that list is Nagorno Karabakh, a region that is ethnically Armenian but nestled within Azerbaijan.  This article argues that now is an opportune moment to settle this issue that has been festering since the 90s, even if many feel that the international community is indifferent on the issue.    


Tags: political, sovereignty, territoriality, statesAzerbaijan, Armenia.

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Stephen Zimmett's curator insight, May 19, 2014 12:26 PM

You can find this on https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nagorno-Karabakh

Jason Wilhelm's curator insight, May 27, 2014 12:44 PM

The Crimea region has been hotly debated and fought over for quite a while now. The collapse of the USSR created a power vacuum in Eastern Europe which led to the contest for power in many of the former Soviet Satellite countries, including Ukraine. The Crimean peninsula, while mostly occupied by Russians, is legally a part of Ukraine, but maybe not for long. The Russian government is seemingly working to annex the peninsula while the Ukrainian government is working to keep it. The region will continue to be under lots of tugging and pulling for a while until a single government wins in to their nation. 

Benjamin Jackson's curator insight, December 14, 2015 11:36 AM

this is a perfect example of some of the conflicts which have resulted because of the failure of the soviet state. with many of these states trying to gain land that the view as theirs, these wars can only really end in bloodshed or massive investments in peace.

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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 2:36 PM

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

Meagan Harpin's curator insight, September 30, 2013 11:25 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, 2014 3:30 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?