Geography Education
2.0M views | +26 today
Geography Education
Supporting geography educators everywhere with current digital resources.
Curated by Seth Dixon
Your new post is loading...
Scooped by Seth Dixon!

The Xinjiang Conflict: Uyghur Identity, Language Policy, and Political Discourse

The Xinjiang Conflict: Uyghur Identity, Language Policy, and Political Discourse | Geography Education |
This study explores Chinese language policy and language use in Inner Asia, as well as the relation of language policy to the politics of Uyghur identity. Language is central to ethnic identity, and official language policies are often overlooked as critical factors in conflict over ethnic nationalism.
Seth Dixon's insight:

A while back I wrote this blogpost for the National Geographic Education Blog about the Uyghur people of Eastern Turkestan.  The cultural policies of assimilation that are working to erase Eastern Turkestan and more fully make it Xinjiang are politically powerful, but the situation is more pressing that most people today realize. This academic article, The Xinjiang Conflict: Uyghur Identity, Language Policy, and Political Discourse, is an excellent primer to the cultural and political complexities of this place with two names where East Asia and Central Asia meet. 


GeoEd Tags: political, conflict, governance, China, East Asia, religion, culture, Islam, landscape. Tags: political, conflictgovernance, China, East Asia, religion, culture, Islam, landscape.

No comment yet.
Scooped by Seth Dixon!

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 |
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.      

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. 
Scooped by Seth Dixon!

How Islam Created Europe

How Islam Created Europe | Geography Education |

"For centuries in early and middle antiquity, Europe meant the world surrounding the Mediterranean. It included North Africa, but the swift advance of Islam across North Africa in the seventh and eighth centuries virtually extinguished Christianity there, thus severing the Mediterranean region into two civilizational halves, with the 'Middle Sea' a hard border between them rather than a unifying force. Islam is now helping to undo what it once helped to create. A classical geography is organically reasserting itself, as the forces of terrorism and human migration reunite the Mediterranean Basin, including North Africa and the Levant, with Europe." 

Seth Dixon's insight:

The title is a bit overstated (aren't they all in this click-bait driven media age?), but the article shows nicely how regions are cultural constructs that change over time. 


Tags: op-edregions, Europe, historical, Islamreligionhistorical, culture, Christianity.

association concert urbain's curator insight, September 22, 2016 9:06 AM


The Atlantic


Politics, culture, business, science, technology, health, education, global affairs, more. Tweets by @CaitlinFrazier

Washington, D.C.

Violaine Maelbrancke's curator insight, December 3, 2016 12:06 PM
Dans sa cartographie, l'Europe a souvent intégré le nord africain qu'elle a pourtant colonisé et soumis. Bien que ce nord africain ait gagné son indépendance il a conservé une relation Nord-Sud privilégiée avec l'Europe. Le terrorisme permet aujourd'hui de reconstruire une Europe bien délimitée en détruisant ce que le nord africain avait dessiné.
L'auteur critique ici une volonté européenne d'intégrer d'autres pays dont la méthode est calquée sur la méthode romaine de constitution d'un empire. L' Europe doit aujourd'hui trouver un autre moyen d'intégrer de nouveaux pays pleinement. Pour l'exemple du nord africain elle doit apprendre à pleinement intégrer l'islam en abandonnant un peu la logique législative catégorisante. Il faudrait alors construire un système où ces grandes lois deviennent des valeurs universelles qui prennent en considération les individus et leurs droits selon une hiérarchie des besoins.
David Stiger's curator insight, September 28, 2018 3:35 PM
After the fall of the Roman Empire, Europe was a disparate and disorganized collection of ethnically similar Christian tribes and kingdoms. Without Rome, there was no driving force to unify these proto-European entities. Bickering, feuding, and divisiveness dominated Christendom. 

An Islamic threat from the south, coming up through North Africa, eventually united Europeans against an "other". By sizing up to Arabic and African Muslims, Europeans saw their common ethnic and religious threads more clearly. This development culminated during the Crusades. Arguably, Islam defined and shaped the final product of Europe. 

Europe believed itself superior to the Islamic world and colonized it. Despite acknowledging the breathtaking accomplishments and advancements of their Muslim counterparts, Europeans saw themselves as something better. During the post-colonialization, 
Europe's excessive exploitation left  these old possessions in shambles without a foundation to build healthy democracies that could support human rights. Seeing itself as democratic and morally sophisticated, Europeans once again defined themselves against an Islamic backdrop.

Times are changing and Europe cannot pursue its old system of defining its civilization. Because of the geographic situation, Europe is poised to absorb the brunt of migration waves from the Islamic world. Failed states, inhumane governments, civil war, and economic collapse have propelled mass waves of North African and Arab immigrants to the shores of Europe. Cultures are mixing and the strict boundaries the old civilizations are disappearing in a more interconnected world. Europe must figure out a way to navigate these turbulent waters of change or risk giving into nationalistic extremist movements that are highly xenophobic and Islamophobic.  
Scooped by Seth Dixon!

Gender Equality Activists in the Muslim World

In a time where interfaith and cultural and religious diversity are scrutinized and need support, Raheel Raza is a force to be reckoned with. Her outspoken and strong opinions on Muslim society and Islamic beliefs have been groundbreaking and inspiring; however others consider them to be a source of criticism and condemnation. Yet Raza remains undeterred in her fight against gender prejudices and her mission to improve the female position in Islamic society continues.
Seth Dixon's insight:

Islamophobia is a real problem today and I teach to reduce geographic ignorance and fears about an unknown ‘other.’ That has also created an environment where many--myself included--are hesitant to shine the light on issues of gender equity and other cultural problems in the Muslim world for fear of it entrenching students with bigoted viewpoints to cling to them all the more firmly.   Also, many are worried that critiques will also be perceived as Islamophobia.  Recently the Swedish foreign minister called out Saudi Arabia's legal restraints on women--some called this Islamophobic, Saudi Arabia removed its Swedish ambassador and stop issuing visas to relative silence from the global media and no support from the international community.


We cannot lay the blame on an entire society/religion based on the actions of a few, but it would be disingenuous to pretend there were no problems. As Raheel Raza says, “culture is no excuse for abuse.” The linked videos are one Muslim woman’s critique on some cultural aspects within some Muslim societies. This is not to say that these problems are only in the Muslim world, nor does it means that the all Muslims live in or want to create oppressive societies--far from it. There is great, rich diversity of thought, opinions, and interpretations among Muslims.


TagsgenderIslam, TED.

No comment yet.
Scooped by Seth Dixon!

Xinjiang Seethes Under Chinese Crackdown

Xinjiang Seethes Under Chinese Crackdown | Geography Education |

"The Chinese government has introduced unprecedented measures aimed at shaping the behavior and beliefs of China’s 10 million Uighurs."

Seth Dixon's insight:

This NY Times article is a good update on the situation of Xianjiang.  I wish this was available when I wrote this article (with links for more teaching resources) for the National Geographic Education Blog on the always simmering tensions in the China's westernmost province.  


TagsCentral Asia, culturepoliticalconflictgovernance,ChinaEast AsiareligionIslamlandscape.

No comment yet.
Scooped by Seth Dixon!

The Myth of the Caliphate

The Myth of the Caliphate | Geography Education |

Myth Article #1: Western pundits and nostalgic Muslim thinkers alike have built up a narrative of the caliphate as an enduring institution, central to Islam and Islamic thought between the seventh and twentieth centuries. In fact, the caliphate is a political or religious idea whose relevance has waxed and waned according to circumstances.

Myth Article #2: ISIS may use terrorism as a tactic, but it is not a terrorist organization. Rather, it is a pseudo-state led by a conventional army. So the counterterrorism strategies that were useful against al Qaeda won’t work in the fight against ISIS.

Myth Video #1: This video points to the reasons that recruits are attracted to extremism (not just poverty and ignorance).

Tags: politicalgovernance, religion, Islam, historical, terrorism, geopolitics, ISIS.

Luis Cesar Nunes's curator insight, November 26, 2015 5:12 AM


Benjamin Jackson's curator insight, November 30, 2015 2:32 PM

The idea of the Caliphate seems to be more of what all the groups which called themselves Caliphates seem to be pursuing. It seems to me that the fact of the matter is less important than the idea, as what happened one hundred years ago is far less important than what is believed to have happened. That ISIS is a state can be argued, but the fact that they are fighting a conventional war is indisputable. Yes, the tactics we use must be shifted, but this means that support from aircraft or by indirect means are even more viable than they were during the Second Gulf War.



Scooped by Seth Dixon!

How religion(s) spread across the world

How religion(s) spread across the world | Geography Education |
VIDEO: 5,000 years of religious history in two minutes.
Seth Dixon's insight:

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?   

Tags: religiondiffusion, culture, ChristianityIslamBuddhismHinduismJudaism,
unit 3 culture.

Alexis Michelle's curator insight, April 4, 2016 10:11 AM

Short, sweet and to the point--this video is a great way to show the historical geographies of major world religions. Each of these religions have been "born" somewhere and have grown to different countries. Everyone has a religion well most of everyone and I believe it is very important to know the history of the religion that you are or fit into.

Tags: religion, diffusion, culture, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism,
unit 3 culture.

Blake Bass's curator insight, April 7, 2017 10:05 AM
This article is very excellent at explaining where religions are and why they are there,this article relates to human geography and what we are learning because it explains the most practiced religions and where they are.
Taylor Doonan's curator insight, May 3, 2018 12:23 PM
The five major religions all growing throughout the world, rather quickly, with the exception of Judaism. Hinduism spread when it was established but quickly stopped spreading and does not span much of the world. Buddhism followed a similar path of Hinduism spreading but not going much beyond the continent of Asia, Buddhism is the largest religion in Asia and is also seen as a lifestyle and not just a religion. 
Scooped by Seth Dixon!

World's largest hotel coming to Mecca

World's largest hotel coming to Mecca | Geography Education |
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.
Seth Dixon's insight:

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.


Tagstourism, Islam, Saudi Arabiaculture, religion, Middle East.

Mark Hathaway's curator insight, October 22, 2015 7:37 AM

The location of the hotel makes a lot of sense. Mecca is an obvious tourist destination. Muslims from all over the world, make the sacred pilgrimage to the holy city. Those same people, are in need of accommodations once they arrive in the city. The economic potential of such a hotel is outstanding. It was also interesting to learn that Las Vegas currently has four of the five largest hotels in the world. Even with the building of this hotel, I do not see Las Vegas being displaced as the worlds premier tourist destination.

Benjamin Jackson's curator insight, December 13, 2015 7:14 PM

this is hardly surprising, with how many people go to Mecca in a year. Mecca is probably the largest single destination for religious tourism in the world, and it is the only city on earth where there are religious obligations to enter the city .

Katie Kershaw's curator insight, March 30, 2018 11:36 AM
Although Mecca usually isn’t what comes to mind when I think about a place that gets a lot of tourists, the plans for building this hotel prove that it is.  Since millions of Muslims make the pilgrimage to Mecca each year, it makes sense that they need such a large hotel to accommodate all of those people.  This is telling of the infrastructure that in 2015 in Mecca— that it wasn’t sufficient enough to keep up with the influx of tourists.  The fact that this hotel is supposed to have 10,000 rooms shows just how many people travel to Saudi Arabia every year.  It also challenges the notion that many Americans have that travel is for pleasure, because in this case people are traveling in order to complete a holy pilgrimage.  Another American thought that it challenges is that the Middle East is unsafe for travel.  Millions of people would not flock to Mecca if the travel was actually that unsafe.  The example of this hotel also shows how as the Christian world becomes more secular, the Muslim world continues to participate in religion.
Scooped by Seth Dixon!

Sunnis and Shiites

Sunnis and Shiites | Geography Education |
Clarissa Ward breaks down the history of differences between opposing sects of Islam
Seth Dixon's insight:

The geography of the Sunni-Shiite division is incredibly important for a good understanding of world regional geography as well as modern geopolitics. This 5 minute video (as well as this NPR podcast) examine 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.  

Tags: MiddleEast, Islamreligionhistorical, culture.

Caterin Victor's curator insight, April 14, 2015 10:51 AM

Since Obama turmoil with his absurd Arab Spring, Sunni Shite are killing one the other like crazy Islamist

Norka McAlister's curator insight, April 15, 2015 10:07 PM

There is a very complicated history between two major religions in the Middle East. History shows how this religion was divided by Mohamed’s death. It turned into a totally new religion and now rivals in the Middle East. I have to mention that one of my co-workers is from Syria and his definition about Sunnis and Shiites are not open minded. The history behind the Muslims religions demonstrate that the more power they have the more places they will dominate. Furthermore, human rights are violated regardless of religious denomination. For some people, Sunnis are considered as terrorist and compared to extremist groups such as Al Qaeda and ISIS. These people who do not want to implement any kind of technology in their countries are holding on to the past with their religion. However, the Shiites experience more freedom even though they still follow strict religious rules. Even the US is confused about these Middle Eastern religions as countries that used to be governed by Sunnis now are run by Shiites. The US needs to remain neutral regarding these religious changes.

Scooped by Seth Dixon!

Teaching Cultural Empathy: Stereotypes, World Views and Cultural Difference

Teaching Cultural Empathy: Stereotypes, World Views and Cultural Difference | Geography Education |

"I am torn about how to teach these two ideas about cultures and societies all around the world:

  1. People and cultures are different all over the world.
  2. People and cultures are the same all over the world.

These points may seem like a contradiction, but when put into proper context they teach important truths about culture."

Seth Dixon's insight:

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.

Tags: National Geographic, religion, culture, Islam, globalization, popular culture, unit 3 culture.

Avery Liardon's curator insight, March 23, 2015 9:48 PM

Unit 3:

Shines insight on stereotypes that are commonly used throughout the world. Reading this article really made me think about stereotypes that are so commonly used they are considered acceptable. It's a ridiculous idea to think that all people under a culture act and behave the same way. 

Emily Coats's curator insight, March 24, 2015 12:06 PM


This article is written to compare and contrast various ways to teach young school children about global cultures. On one hand, we can relate all cultures to each other, due to their common goals and views. For example, all families around the world aim to do what's best for each other, love and cherish one another, and try their hardest to succeed economically. On the other hand, cultures are extremely different around the world, with different music, clothing, and underlying views on life. We can continue to say that popular culture has diffused so greatly, with advanced technologies and means of transportation, so it has influenced and homogenized our landscape quite a bit. Folk culture is obviously still a powerful force, but popular culture does have some effects around the world. I believe that children need to understand the importance of maintaining diversity thy preserving folk culture but they also need to acknowledge the pros and cons of the global diffusion of popular culture and how it connects us at a global scale. 

Danielle Smith's curator insight, April 12, 2015 12:21 AM

I think Teaching Cultural Empathy: Stereotypes, World Views and Cultural Difference is a helpful article for teachers to read. This article considers ideas I constantly come back to, whilst collecting resources and ideas for teaching students about cultural diversity and identity. How do I teach students, that ‘people and cultures are different all over the world’ (Dixon, 2015, April 2), but also the same?

Dixon suggests that we need to teach that people and cultures worldwide are the SAME and DIFFERENT simultaneously.  In this way, students can appreciate the rich diversity of cultures and societies, whilst at the same time learning values of humanity and empathy, which unite us all.


I believe by recognising and appreciating the rich cultures of students in the classroom, we can explore and learn about cultural diversity in an honest, rich and non-stereotypical way and allow students to feel valued at the same time. In addition, as students know each other, this helps them relate to ‘people from other places, who speak other languages’ and follow different religions to their own (Dixon, 2015, April 2). Furthermore, this should help increase intercultural understanding in the classroom by developing a ‘socially cohesive’ environment that ‘respects, and appreciates cultural, social and religious diversity’ (MYCEETA, p. 7).



Dixon, S. (2015, April 2). Teaching cultural empathy: Stereotypes, world views and cultural difference. National Geographic. Retrieved April 7, 2015, http:


Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training, and Youth Affairs. (2008, December). Melbourne declaration on educational goals for young Australians. Melbourne: Author. 

Scooped by Seth Dixon!

Incredible images capture dazzling symmetry of Iran's mosques

Incredible images capture dazzling symmetry of Iran's mosques | Geography Education |

"Self-taught Iranian photographer gains rare access to shoot religious buildings as they've never been seen.  It's a side of Iran the rest of the world doesn't normally get to see -- the kaleidoscopically brilliant interiors of the country's intricately designed mosques.With beautiful mosaics and stained glass framed by powerful architecture, the buildings are astounding."

Tagsreligion, culture, IslamIran, Middle East.

Molly McComb's curator insight, March 21, 2015 4:25 PM

Showing the sacred spaces of Islam and how they are designed around the world. 

Lena Minassian's curator insight, March 22, 2015 3:47 PM

This was one of my favorite articles. We usually are very used to seeing negative sides to the Middle East and this gave it a different spin. This shows breathtaking pictures of the Mosques in Iran. This architecture isn't like anything I've seen with all of the symmetry and colors. These photos were taken by a student and were not easily taken. You have to have an eye to capture moments like this and pictures like this are not always appreciated. the detail that went into creating and designing these mosques are really special and I would love to actually see something like this in person. 

Jared Medeiros's curator insight, March 29, 2015 4:03 PM

Amazing photos of these mosques.  The detail and color in some of these mosques are extraordinary.  This kind of brilliance in color is something that is unexpected in this part of the world where everything seems to be so bland and alike in color or style.  Its surprising that the mosques don't let professional take pictures with certain equipment inside but let tourists take photos.  I would understand if the light from a camera could cause damage to the art, but these are the people who will be able to share these beautiful pictures with the rest of the world and show that there is more to Iran than what the outside may think.

Scooped by Seth Dixon!

The Great Mosque of Djenné

The Great Mosque of Djenné, Mali, is a magnet for tourists, but it is increasingly difficult for locals to live a normal life around it.
Seth Dixon's insight:

This New York Times short video is an intriguing glimpse into some of the cultural pressures behind having the designation of being an official world heritage site.  The great mosque combined with the traditional mud-brick feel to the whole city draws in tourists and is a source of communal pride, but many homeowners want to modernize and feel locked into traditional architecture by outside organizations that want them to preserve an 'authentic' cultural legacy.

Tags: Islam, tourism, place, religion, culture, historical, community, Mali, Africa.

Edgar Manasseh Jr.'s curator insight, January 22, 2015 6:41 PM


Benjamin Jackson's curator insight, December 13, 2015 5:50 PM

it is horrifying that a government could force people to live in abject poverty and that the only source of income in this area is a tourist trap that needs to be rebuilt every few years in its entirety.

Adam Deneault's curator insight, December 14, 2015 6:22 PM

This major tourist attraction site is very interesting, a mosque made of just mud. Everything is mud besides the mosque, business and individual homes. So unfortunately for the citizens, this is not a great place to live. Since this place is historic, outside sources such as the UN do not really want to help the people out because they want the city of Djenne to be preserved as a historic site and they want everything to be as if it was ages ago, they will not even allow interior redesign. It seems though as if the only money they will ever receive is pretty much tourist money,  They do want to modernize, but in a way that keeps the history visible. they have failed to modernize in other sectors, such as garbage disposal. their garage is destroying their water which is running through their streets and making the water quality bad, which in turn, makes the mud quality bad for building.

Scooped by Seth Dixon!

What Westerners can learn from the Hajj

What Westerners can learn from the Hajj | Geography Education |

"Though it may come as a surprise to outsiders, the journey to Mecca is a manifestation of globally moderate Islam."

The Mecca region of Saudi Arabia has recently been in the midst of Hajj season. The Hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca, is strongly encouraged of all Muslims who have the means to undertake it. Importantly, by bringing together 2 million to 3 million people from across the globe, the Hajj pilgrimage is a manifestation of the diversity and moderate nature of global Islam. This image of the Muslim world as cosmopolitan and reasonable stands in stark contrast to the militant Islamist fundamentalism we more regularly hear about in media coverage — with the Islamic State and Boko Haram being the most recent manifestation of this.

TagsIslam, Saudi Arabiaculture, religion, Middle East.

Molly McComb's curator insight, March 21, 2015 4:22 PM

Shows the impact of the Hajj on the Muslim people as Muslims around the world travel if they are able to see this holy place. 

Molly McComb's curator insight, May 27, 2015 11:03 AM

Showing how Muslims are affected by the Hajj as they eperience the holy travel. This time of year, people from all around the world travel to see the city and take place in religious customs that have been around for centuries. 

Martin Kemp's curator insight, December 17, 2015 2:00 PM

this is very important for people to understand, muslims are not the problem, they are not evil they are not extreme they are not terrorists. islamic groups are those things. but the fact of the matter is that the extrmeists are a problem and a ruining the perception for all muslims. the only way to fix this is for other muslims to be the ones to stop these groups, until they do so they will always be associated this way, no matter how many articles come out to the contrary and no matter how much they try to distance themselves from these groups

Scooped by Seth Dixon!

Hijab: Veiled in Controversy

Hijab: Veiled in Controversy | Geography Education |
Hijab is an Islamic concept of modesty and privacy, most notably expressed in women’s clothing that covers most of the body.
Seth Dixon's insight:

What is the geography of the hijab?  Covering one's head pre-dates Islam in the Middle East but many associate this practice strictly with Islam and only for women. Read this article (with teaching tips and supplemental resources) for more context on this cultural and religious practice.  


Tags: Islam, perspective, religion, culture, National Geographic.

Taylor Doonan's curator insight, March 23, 2018 12:42 PM
This article is about Hijabs and it talks about the religious aspect of Hijabs versus the cultural aspect. It states that the hijab is a sign of modesty, which is not a strictly Muslim ideology, but is addressed in many religions. It also talks about how the hijab is not directly mentioned in the Quran. It states that the hijab is almost as much a cultural symbol instead of a religious one and talks about countries with laws about hijabs and how women should dress. 
Nicole Canova's curator insight, March 24, 2018 9:19 PM
Hijab is the expression of a concept of modesty.  It is not specific to one religion, nor is it specific to one region.  This expression of modesty is encouraged, but not clearly defined, in Islam's holy texts; rather, it is informed by personal or cultural notions of what it means to be modest.  Hijab's association with extreme or radical Islam has led to heated debates in Western nations about whether or not it is acceptable for people to express hijab, with many people citing "national/public security" as a reason to ban certain coverings.
David Stiger's curator insight, October 31, 2018 11:29 AM
The geography of the hijab is important for Westerners to understand. Only two countries, Iran and Saudi Arabia, require women to dress by the strict standards of hijab. The vast majority of Middle Eastern, North African, and Muslim countries around the world do not have a legal dress code for women. Some laws and cultural traditions encourage women to dress modestly. Other countries like Tunisia, Turkey, and Syria (all predominantly Muslim) had laws to restrict women from wearing the hijab in order to be more secular and modern. Many other countries, like Pakistan and Jordan, do not have any laws on the book concerning if women should or should not wear a hijab. These countries understand that it is a personal choice regarding privacy, reputation, and personal faith. Like many religious precepts, the concept of hijab is open to interpretation. As a result, a Westerner can safely assume that having a large Muslim population, or a significant number of Muslims operating in a government, will not lead to a takeover of Sharia law or oppressive fundamentalist codes of behavior. Instead of being afraid of the unknown and making assumptions about entire societies, Westerners should find out more and be exposed to how diverse and broad differing cultures and societies can be. 
Scooped by Seth Dixon!

Projected Religious Population Changes in Sub-Saharan Africa

Projected Religious Population Changes in Sub-Saharan Africa | Geography Education |

"The total population in sub-Saharan Africa is expected to grow at a faster pace than in any other region in the decades ahead, more than doubling from 823 million in 2010 to 1.9 billion in 2050. As a result, the two dominant religions in the region – Christianity and Islam – both are expected to have more than twice as many adherents in 2050 as in 2010."

Seth Dixon's insight:

Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the poorest regions of the world. While the economy is growing, the rate at which poverty is falling is less than the population growth rate.  Nearly all of the population growth in Africa between now and 2050 is expected to occur in Sub-Saharan Africa.  As the population grows, the religious dynamics of Sub-Saharan Africa will change.  The share of residents practicing Christianity, the majority religion of the region, is expected to decline from 2010 to 2050 while the share of Muslims is expected to increase in the same time frame.  The changes in religious demographics is occurring alongside the region’s youth bulge (click here for a population pyramid).  Understanding religious demographics is key to understanding the challenges faced by the African people.   


Question to Ponder: What impact are the region’s two fastest-growing religions having on Sub-Saharan Africa’s overall fertility rate?    


Tagsreligionpopulation, ChristianityIslam, Africa.

Scooped by Seth Dixon!

2015 Saw a Decrease in Global Religious Freedom

2015 Saw a Decrease in Global Religious Freedom | Geography Education |

The global refugee crisis, political strife and economic dislocation all contributed to a worldwide deterioration of religious freedom in 2015 and an increase in societal intolerance, according to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom."

Seth Dixon's insight:

This is one of the sad results of the many global conflicts today and increase in reactionary political movements that scapegoat religious minorities.  The image above is a map/wordle of the 18th article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states: "Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance."  


Tags: religion, ChristianityIslamBuddhismHinduismJudaism, podcastconflict, refugees.

No comment yet.
Scooped by Seth Dixon!

How Do Sunni and Shia Islam Differ?

How Do Sunni and Shia Islam Differ? | Geography Education |
With Saudi Arabia’s execution of a Shiite cleric inflaming tensions in the Middle East, here is a primer on the differences between the two branches of Islam.
Seth Dixon's insight:

Knowing the geography of the Sunni-Shiite division is incredibly important for a good understanding of world regional geography as well as modern geopolitics (see a detailed map of the spatial distribution here). This 5 minute video (as well as this NPR podcast) examine 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 on the differences between the two major branches of Islam.   


TagsMiddleEastIslamreligionhistorical, culture.

brielle blais's curator insight, April 4, 2018 2:23 PM
This article shows how important it is to understand the history of a countries demographics in relation to its politics and culture. Understanding the difference between the Shiite and Sunni helps one understand regional differences as well. It helps one understand the culture and how to navigate through differences found in one country or multiple regions. 
Scooped by Seth Dixon!

Saudi Arabia forms 34-nation Islamic alliance to fight terrorists

Saudi Arabia forms 34-nation Islamic alliance to fight terrorists | Geography Education |
The new counterterrorism coalition includes nations such as Pakistan, Turkey and Egypt as well as war-torn countries with embattled militaries such as Libya and Yemen.
Seth Dixon's insight:

This is too new for me to speculate as to the effectiveness or support that this new alliance will have.  What are the national, regional, and global motives of each of these 34 states?  I think we will all keep an eye on this moving forward  (Articles from CS Monitor, CNN and Al Jazeera).  Not everyone is convinced that this is anything more than public relations.


Tags:  political, terrorismIslam, geopolitics.

Treathyl Fox's curator insight, December 25, 2015 10:45 AM

Does Allah know we (non-Muslims) needs peacemaking friends in the Muslim world?  Just thinkin'.

Scooped by Seth Dixon!

Hajj stampede: Saudis face growing criticism over deaths

Hajj stampede: Saudis face growing criticism over deaths | Geography Education |
Iran leads growing criticism of Saudi Arabia after the deaths of at least 717 people in a stampede during the Hajj pilgrimage.

Tagstourism, Islam, Saudi Arabiaculture, religion, Middle East.

Greg Hill's curator insight, September 28, 2015 12:17 PM
Islam, Hajj, Mecca
Matthew Richmond's curator insight, October 26, 2015 12:52 PM

Re-scooped from Professor Dixon, this article shows how the rest of Islam is responding to the recent catastrophe in Mecca. The Saudi government has a responsibility to ensure that the Hajj is a safe venture in a Muslim's life. Since the Hajj is one of the most sacred pillars of Islam, I think someone should consider the idea of putting a multi-national police force in place at Mecca to ensure this kind of thing doesn't happen again.

Benjamin Jackson's curator insight, December 13, 2015 7:11 PM

with the massive crush of people who descend on Mecca every year its hard to imagine that this hasn't happened before. Mecca is THE pilgrimage site for Muslims, and holy law dictates that every Muslim should go there in their lifetime.

Scooped by Seth Dixon!

Ramadan in Sweden with no dusk, no dawn

Ramadan in Sweden with no dusk, no dawn | Geography Education |
During summer, the sun never sets in Sweden's northernmost town, posing challenges for Muslims observing the holy month.
Seth Dixon's insight:

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.    

Tags: Islam, perspective, religiondiffusion, culture.

Taylor Doonan's curator insight, March 23, 2018 4:24 PM
This article talks about the difficulty Muslims face during Ramadan when they are outside the middle east, specifically when they are in Sweden north of the arctic circle. This article follows a few different Muslims who have chosen different ways of fasting when sun up and sun down are not a good time table to go by. Some follow the times of their homes in the middle east, while some follow the time of Stockholm, the capitol of Sweden. The article also talked about one person who goes off of Istanbul's time because Turkey is the closest Muslim country to Sweden. Some of these people fear that they will not satisfy their god when fasting like this but others believe they have to do what they have to do. 
Scooped by Seth Dixon!

One Place, Two Names

One Place, Two Names | Geography Education |
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.
Seth Dixon's insight:

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.  

TagsCentral Asia, toponyms, culture, political, conflictgovernance, China, East Asia, religionIslam, landscape.

Martin Kemp's curator insight, December 17, 2015 3:45 PM

it seems that this a a recurring theme with china. disputed lands surround this country inside and out, they claim to own all of it as well. but when the people that live their claim to be independent and choose not to associate themselves with you than it creates and interesting dynamic.

James Piccolino's curator insight, March 24, 2018 9:52 AM
Very interesting. I am curious to know where this will lead to. There is something also unnerving about how most of us are never taught this in public schools even though it is a very big and very important topic. I can not image there being a split eventually over time, though there is no way that this area will stay as they are with the treatment of their government. This is surely a region to keep an eye on.
othni lindor's curator insight, October 20, 2018 4:06 AM
This article talks about how 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." Usually when two groups or more have different names for the same place there is a political or cultural conflict happening in that country. 
Scooped by Seth Dixon!

Quiz on the Differences Between Sunni and Shia Islam

Quiz on the Differences Between Sunni and Shia Islam | Geography Education |
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!
Seth Dixon's insight:

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.  

Tags: MiddleEast, Islamreligionhistorical, culture.

Kristin Mandsager San Bento's curator insight, April 6, 2015 10:19 PM

After taking this class about Political Islam I thought I knew about Sunni and Shiite Islam.  Taking this quiz I definitely mixed up a lot of the information.  It seems like it would be simple to understand the differences and the similarities, but they are so parallel its easy to get the information mixed up.  

Chris Costa's curator insight, October 21, 2015 3:09 PM

"Muslim Extremists!" "Death to militant Islam!" "Muslims are terrorists!" These cries are often heard from conservative factions of the United States, who are a lot more eager to blindly hate than they are to learn about the lives of the same people they want dead. Islam encompasses some 1.3 billion believers, and there are significant deviations in both the faith and its application among such a wide population of believers. Before this exam, I knew about the Sunni majority and the Shia minority currently in conflict in the Middle East, but my understanding of the distinction between the two faiths was vague at best. I also did not recognize that each of the two main branches are then further split into different denominations, much in the same way that Christianity is today within our own country. As different and "other" we try and make the Middle East out to be, they are not that different in their religious practices (and their fanatics ruining the name of the religion for everyone else) than many conservatives would like them to be. I definitely enjoyed taking this exam, particularly within the context of everything I have been learning about with what is happening in Syria. I had no idea Assad was not just a regular Shia, but instead a member of a much smaller, stricter denomination. Learning about this region has definitely been an eye-opening experience for me, in the sense that I know a lot less about the world than I thought I knew.

Gene Gagne's curator insight, November 4, 2015 4:53 PM

I am not very educated on the religion but I do know from my notes in class that religion is what stops Iraq from unifying. That country is made up of three religions Muslims , Sunnis and Shiites.

Scooped by Seth Dixon!

The colourful propaganda of Xinjiang

The colourful propaganda of Xinjiang | Geography 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."

Seth Dixon's insight:

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.  

Tags: political, conflictgovernance, China, East Asia, religion, culture, Islam, landscape.

Kendra King's curator insight, April 3, 2015 7:37 PM

This art seems like a logical extension of the government’s use of power although I personally don’t agree with their abuse of power. In China the government will uses its authority to monitor the personal activities of its citizens as demonstrated by the pictures dictating what people should and shouldn’t wear. When the citizens don’t follow through with China’s rule, violence typically happens. In fact, a fair deal of the paintings showed violence (i.e. the tank running people over). I actually find those depictions more offensive and disturbing than any of the other pictures because the end result is clearly that of dath rather than disapproval. Now, I understand that some places need to be ruled with an iron fist (i.e. Iraq), however I don’t really see how threatening people with more violence solves the issue of extremism. If anything, doesn’t this just give the extremist more of a reason to dislike the government? As such, is the government just creating more resentment that will lead to demonstrations in the future? I say this because eventually when a local population is subject to such horrible treatment, there isn't much else to lose and very little reason no to fight back. 

Tanya Townsend's curator insight, November 16, 2015 9:20 PM

This article has great insight on the way government influences popular belief. We have seen these many times in American society also when government was afraid of communism during the cold war for instance. Often we have prejudgements or beliefs and we are not sure where they even stem from. Pushed Propaganda can be very influential over the mass population, in instilling certain beliefs.

Adam Deneault's curator insight, December 14, 2015 8:45 PM
The point the Chinese are trying to make is that the Muslim people are bad, they do unacceptable things and it needs to be taken care of. They are making it hard for a couple to get married and if they do it is with special permission. They even banned anyone under the age of 18 to enter a mosque. Praying in Xinjiang is highly regulated and comes with strict rules and consequences. In all their propaganda you can see how they represent getting rid of the muslims because they are wearing black. If you ask me, it seems like the government is doing this because they are afraid of being taken over and losing the area, just like we used to use propaganda in the wars.
Scooped by Seth Dixon!

Mistrust Threatens Delicate Balance at a Sacred Site in Jerusalem

Mistrust Threatens Delicate Balance at a Sacred Site in Jerusalem | Geography Education |
A site in the Old City of Jerusalem, known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, has been a flash point since the advent of modern Zionism.
Seth Dixon's insight:

There has been turmoil and violence in Jerusalem this month; at it's core, much of the fighting has been around the political control of sacred spaces that are seen as critical to both groups' cultural and religious identity.  This particular sacred place is intertwined with both Judaism as well as Islam, and understanding the current round of violence demands that we understand some of the historical geography of religion in Jerusalem.  To explore more about sacred sites in general as a spatial concept, visit this link

Tagsreligion, culture, Islam, Israel, Palestine, territoriality, political, Middle East.

Bob Beaven's curator insight, March 19, 2015 3:29 PM

Landmarks can have powerful meanings to different groups of people.  The Dome of the Rock is a sacred site to Muslims across the world.  The Mosque has stood on the location for centuries, and it is said to be built on the site where Mohamed ascended to Heaven.  To Jews, however, this site represents where Solomon's Temple was located.  It was destroyed two times, once by the Babylonians and another time, after being rebuilt by the Roman Empire.  Today, all that remains of this sacred site is the Western Wall.  The Wall is a sacred location to many Jews as it represents their heritage and their nation.  Yet, as the article notes, many Muslims are threatened by the new Jewish interests in the site and they fear that it will be taken by the Israeli government and the Temple will be rebuilt a third time on the Temple Mount.  This shows how much emotion can exist over a piece of land.  The Jewish need to rebuild their temple right on the very spot it once stood, it cannot be built elsewhere, meanwhile some Muslims deny that the Temple ever stood there and there are others who believe that the site should be renamed to "Al Aqsa Mosque or the Noble Sanctuary".  This is one of the great arguments that I believe will never be solved, should the Temple be rebuilt at the expense of the Dome of the Rock?  


Molly McComb's curator insight, March 21, 2015 4:03 PM

Sacred sites in Jerusalem are having difficulties due to the differences in culture from the surrounding countries. 

Raychel Johnson's curator insight, March 22, 2015 12:19 AM

Summary: This article is simply over the Israel-Palestine conflict, and how it has evolved since its beginning. This mostly talks about how Palestine believes that if Israel gains control of Jerusalem, they will get rid of Dome of the Rock, an important place of worship for the Islams. 


Insight: I think this article accurately represents concepts of political power and territoriality well due to the fact that these two territories are having a very long dispute about this one piece of land. I think there is definitely a solution that should be relatively simple, but with the amount of meaning this location has to both places, and with the continues terrorism occurring, I don't know if a simple solution would work. 

Scooped by Seth Dixon!

Kuwaiti cartoonist battles opponents on how to portray Islam to the world

Kuwaiti cartoonist battles opponents on how to portray Islam to the world | Geography Education |

"Naif al-Mutawa, creator of comic book series THE 99, spoke with Al-Monitor about the recent death threat by the Islamic State and how US President Barack Obama's enemies became his."

Seven years after the Kuwaiti psychologist and entrepreneur first launched his comic book series based on the 99 attributes of Allah, he's facing a sudden onslaught of death threats, fatwas and lawsuits (his comic books were highlighted in this TED talk on cultural change in the Islamic World). His US distributor, meanwhile, continues to sit on a TV deal, in part because of pressure from conservative bloggers who object to any positive description of Islam.

Bob Beaven's curator insight, March 19, 2015 2:56 PM

It is very difficult to be trapped between two cultures, as this article shows.  Mutawa tried to create a positive image for Islam by creating a group of comic superheros entitled the "ninety nine".  However, this not only backfired in the Middle East but also in the United States of America.  Radical Muslims, including the IS, are upset by his actions and the Islamic State even called for his head on twitter.  In the US, on the other hand, conservatives believe that his comic, and the subsequent cartoon that was to be developed from it, were going to create a sense of radicalism in children.  The conservatives in the US even went as far to say that it would encourage them to become suicide bombers.  Yet, before all these outbursts started about Mutawa's project, the Saudi's believed it was alright, and Obama praised it.  This just shows how intolerance to an idea can come from more than one direction.  In a sense, this shows that race and culture are very controversial, and it also shows that understandings of the same thing can vary upon the region one lives in.   


Jared Medeiros's curator insight, March 29, 2015 4:23 PM

This could have been a great way for Muslim customs to be taught to a whole new demographic of people all over the world.  People are very uneducated all across the globe when it comes to religions outside of their own.  Anytime you can show a side of your culture to a large audience to change a negative perception it should be taken advantage of.

Chris Costa's curator insight, October 21, 2015 2:55 PM

I love this. In a world where there are so many negative stereotypes being portrayed in the media, it's refreshing to see someone leading the fight of presenting the truth in a way that's easily consumable for mass media. I find it disgusting that conservative groups have actively fought against the production of these comics because they do not want their young children "exposed to militant Islam." Seriously? You feel threatened by a religion indoctrinating your children because they are so young, because you don't want it replacing the religion you're indoctrinating your children with at such a young age? I find it sickening that people actively want to perpetuate incorrect stereotypes to fit their own agenda, as they are actively aware of their ignorance and EMBRACING it! It's unbelievable. I can only imagine how frustrated Naif must feel- to Westerners, he's a religious extremist, and to the Middle East he's presented as a Zionist. He's attempting to keep the middle ground in one of the most polarizing issues of the 21st century, and I wish him all the luck in the world. What he's doing is necessary for reconciliation and eventual progress, but he is certainly being punished for it in the short-term. I'll have to give his comic a look, and hopefully his show is still on Netflix as well.