Geography Education
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Curated by Seth Dixon
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Kosovo-Serbia land swap could end conflict – or restart war

Kosovo-Serbia land swap could end conflict – or restart war | Geography Education | Scoop.it

"A land swap proposal between Kosovo and Serbia could end the last ethnic conflict of the Yugoslav Wars, or it could reignite it. The proposal involves swapping Serbian-majority district of Mitrovica in north Kosovo, and the Albanian-majority Presevo Valley, in southwest Serbia. The deal excludes 6 Serbian-majority municipalities within Kosovo."

Seth Dixon's insight:

Land swaps are about fixing problematic borders--and we know that the world is full of problematic, contentious, and disputed borders.  Yet land swap are incredibly rare because it upends the status quo.  A few years back Belgium and Netherlands swapped some land, but more often then not, calls to simply give land to another country just because the land appears to be controlled by the 'wrong' country usually go unanswered.  This proposed swap is especially intriguing because (to an objective outside observer) it could benefit both countries and lead to a mutual recognition of their shared border.  This BBC podcast explores local impacts and opinions about borders, ethnic identity, and place.   

 

GeoEd Tags: borders, political, territoriality, unit 4 political, Serbia, Kosovo, Europe.

Scoop.it Tags: borders, political, territoriality, unit 4 political, Serbia, Kosovo, Europe.

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Timeline of the Breakup of Yugoslavia

Map animation depicting the break up of Yugoslavia through the series of political upheavals and conflicts that occurred from the early 1990's onwards. Different areas of control are colour coded.

 

Tags: devolutionhistorical, political, states, borders, political, Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia.

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Flag wars

Flag wars | Geography Education | Scoop.it

"Mr Füzes had voiced support for the Székler people, a group of ethnic Hungarians who live in Transylvania, after two Romanian counties banned the display of the Székler flag (pictured above with men in hussar uniform) on public buildings. Zsolt Nemeth, Hungary’s state secretary for foreign affairs, described the ban as an act of “symbolic aggression” and called for local councils in Hungary to show solidarity by flying the Székler flag from town halls. The Hungarian government then raised the Székler flag above Parliament, further enraging Bucharest..."

Seth Dixon's insight:

Flags are important symbols of cultural identity and displaying them can be a strong political statement.  For Hungarians, displaying symbols of a "Greater Hungary" shows some desire for irredentism--to redeem Hungarians of the 'wrong' side of the border.  For those Hungarians in Romania this is an act of defiance that show that they want greater autonomy. 

 

For sports fans, ESPN did a "30 for 30" documentary on the early 90's Yugoslavian basketball team that was a major talent (1990 World Champions) but was torn apart as devolutionary forces fractured the countries and the once-teammates were estranged after what some perceived as disrespectful acts to the Croatian national flag.  Vlade Divac (a Serbian) was pitted against some of his best friends from Croatia as the civil war was playing itself out on the court as well.  This is a great way to get a sports fan to learn about ethnic conflict and about the importance of cultural symbols ("Once Brothers"--$1.99, free for Amazon Prime users).  

 

Tagspolitical, conflict, devolution, autonomyEurope, culture.

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Conor McCloskey's comment, April 30, 2013 10:26 AM
The past is the past. Or is it? The past seems to mean more to the people of Hungary and Romania these days. The Treaty of Trianon of 1920 sectioned the region of Transylvania from Romania to Hungary. For the ethnic Hungarians living in Transylvania, this posed quite the issue. For many people around the world, the homeland does not always match up with geopolitical boundaries of the country that they live in. While this identity crisis causes conflict for many groups of people all over the world, in Hungary the fight to regain greater-Hungary continues today.
This article also poses interesting questions of voting and citizenship. The Hungarian government granted citizenship beyond its borders, and jurisdiction, to ethnic Hungarians in Romania. What does this say about those Hungarians in Romania? Does it bring Hungary any closer to regaining the borders of the once Greater Hungary? Regardless of the questions of citizenship, such public and federal efforts to expand their borders and regain their ethnic population and homeland is doing more then turning heads. Look to this region for future conflict because the failure of geopolitical nations to represent ethnic homelands rarely ends peacefully.
John Peterson's comment, April 30, 2013 10:37 AM
This article helps to illustrate tensions that can be caused by seemingly simple acts within a society that is home to two conflicting groups. While flags do not have any actual influence or power in society, they are a source of emotion, and pride in ones nation and heritage. Because of the emotion that is tied with flags, it can be a very tense situation when the use of these flags is banned, or if these flags are taken down or destroyed. It is amazing how something so simple as a flag can bring about so much anger, and be the source of such bad blood and violence between different nations or ethnic groups. In the example given, there has been conflict for years, which was recently fueled even more over the use of a flag. While the act of displaying a flag is simply a display of loyalty, the actions of the Romanian government against this practice shows how although it is not a violent act, it can lead to very hostile actions and interactions.
Zakary Pereira's comment, April 30, 2013 4:12 PM
This article got me thinking. The tensions between Hungary and Romania seem trivial to me. The Romanians are the right ones in my opinion and the act of displaying the Székler flag about the Hungarian Parliament was plainly a theoretical middle finger to Romania. The more than a million Hungarians living in present day Romania relates to our unit on culture and nations/states. There is a Hungarian nation of people in Romania that the Hungarian government has now granted rights to, again purposely antagonizing Romania, and Romania is rightfully concerned of their dual-loyalty. Overall, the situation is taken way out of proportion by Hungary and what former piece of an empire wants that flag flown in their country. In Ireland do you see the Union Jack… that’d be a no.
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Classifying languages is about politics as much as linguistics

Classifying languages is about politics as much as linguistics | Geography Education | Scoop.it
CROSS the boundaries of the former Yugoslavia and you face a few hassles.
Seth Dixon's insight:

The linguistic differences between languages can be slight, but if politics and identity are involved (as they invariably are), these small linguistic differences can seem massive.  "Languages" can occasionally be dialects with their own armies.  

 

Scoop.it tags: languageculture, borders, political, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia, Slovenia.

WordPress TAGS: language, culture, borders, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia, Slovenia.

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K Rome's curator insight, October 6, 2018 7:37 PM

The linguistic differences between languages can be slight, but if politics and identity are involved (as they invariably are), these small linguistic differences can seem massive.  "Languages" can occasionally be dialects with their own armies.  

 

Scoop.it tags: languageculture, borders, political, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia, Slovenia.

WordPress TAGS: language, culture, borders, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia, Slovenia.

Nancy Watson's curator insight, October 12, 2018 10:23 AM
Political unit 
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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.