Mistrust Threatens Delicate Balance at a Sacred Site in Jerusalem

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.

Source: www.nytimes.com

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.

India’s Potty Problem

Which statement is true? 

A. 60% of all households without toilets in the world are in India.
B. India’s Muslims are less affected by the sanitation problem than Hindus.
C. India’s lack of toilets is worse than China’s.
D. Lack of toilets in India puts women at especially high risk.

Source: www.theglobalist.com

This is the ultimate trick question because unfortunately, ALL of these statements are true.  India is a country of tremendous economic growth, but also filled with squalor; there are more cellphones than toilets in India.  The lack of adequate sanitation and toilets is serious enough that that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made building toilets a national priority.  Comics are using their platform to bring this issue of uneven development to light.    

Tagsdevelopment, poverty, India.

Here’s what 9,000 years of breeding has done to corn, peaches, and other crops

Corn, watermelon, and peaches were unrecognizable 8,000 years ago.

Source: www.vox.com

I think the term ‘artificial’ in the image might be misleading and it depends on your definition of the word.  Humans have been selectively breed plants and animals for as long as we’ve been able to domestic them; that is a ‘natural’ part of our cultural ecology and has lead to great varieties of crops that are much more suitable for human consumption than what was naturally available.  Long before climate change, humans have been actively shaping their environment and the ecological inputs in the systems with the technology that their disposal.  This is a good resource to teach about the 1st agricultural revolution.     

Tags: food, agriculture, consumption, unit 5 agriculture.

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.

Source: www.youtube.com

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.