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India Is Changing Some Cities’ Names, And Muslims Fear Their Heritage Is Being Erased

"A generation ago, long before Modi (and the BJP) was in power, right-wing Hindu nationalist leaders in Maharashtra state renamed Bombay as Mumbai — a nod to the city’s patron goddess Mumbadevi. Other cities followed: Madras became Chennai; Calcutta, Kolkata; Bangalore, Bengaluru. All the changes were a rejection of Anglicized names that came into use during British colonial rule. In the most recent wave of name changes, it’s not about erasing colonial monikers. It’s about erasing Muslim ones."

Source: www.npr.org

Indian officials have been altering toponyms to be more Hinducentric; this is a results of growing Hindu nationalism as an important element of modern Indian politics.  In another thematically similar, but regionally distinct example, we can see how place names matter in American cities.  When large corporations (like Google or Amazon) move in to a city,  the corporations might try to rename the neighborhoods and, in a sense, rebrand the place.    

Both examples show that the cultural landscape, including the names on them, are not just a passive reflection of the cultures that have shaped these places; they manifest the power dynamics of competing cultural groups seeking to assert their vision of place and culture to be physically manifested in public spaces. 

 

GeoEd Tags: culture, political, place, toponymsIndia, South Asia, Hinduism, historical.

Scoop.it Tagsculturepolitical, placetoponymsIndia, South Asia, Hinduism, historical.

 

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China’s hidden camps

What’s happened to the vanished Uighurs of Xinjiang?

Source: www.bbc.co.uk

A few years ago, I wrote an article for National Geographic’s education blog about Eastern Turkestan, and the policies of cultural assimilation that the China is using to more fully make this place become Xinjiang.  This BBC interactive (as well as this NY Times article) is the update to understand how extensive the human rights violations are as re-education camps/detention centers have been used in the last few years to hide away political dissidents and those practicing tradition Uyghur (Uighur) customs.  This video from the Economist highlights how the Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities have not been able to participate in China’s recent economic growth as fully because of governmental policies. According to U.S. State Department, the number of people forced into these camps is at least 800,000, but potentially over 2 million.        

GeoEd Tags: Central Asia, culture, China, East Asia.

Scoop.it TagsCentral Asia, culture, China, East Asia.

   

‘Ethnoburbs’: The New Face of Immigrant Cities

"Old settlement patterns have reversed, but old problems of adaptation remain. Immigrants still like to settle where immigrants have already settled (chain migration). Once word of the new ethnoburbs got around, they grew fast. Letters, phone calls, and then emails back to the old country, enticed others. In Richmond, one group held an extended debate with city hall over there being ‘too much’ Chinese writing on business signs. Residents of a condo building complained when the strata council held its meetings only in Mandarin. And just as in other parts of gateway cities, as wealthy Chinese buy properties in ethnoburbs, they have been blamed for driving prices out of local reach."

Source: thetyee.ca

Residents of ethnoburbs often have transnational lives that fit into their countries of origin as well as their new homes.  Ethnoburbs are common in North America as well as Australia and New Zealand. 

Questions to Ponder: What similarities and differences do ethnoburbs have from other ethnic communities?  What similarities and differences do ethnoburbs have with other urban processes such as gentrification?

 

GeoEd TAGS: culture, historical, North America, ethnicity, USA, neighborhood, gentrification, urban, place.

Scoop.it Tagsculture, historicalNorth America, ethnicityUSA, neighborhood, gentrificationurban, place.

Italy’s practically perfect food

"Pound for pound, Parmigiano-Reggiano can compete with almost any food for calcium, amino acids, protein and vitamin A – and is prescribed by doctors to cure ailments."

Source: www.bbc.com

While this article focuses often on the nutritional aspects of Parmigiano-Reggiano, I want people to notice the understated importance of place and the cultural ethos surrounding the production of this product. True, it is an economic industry for the region, but it is also a defining cultural characteristic of the place and a way of life. The place makes the product and the product makes the place. 

 

GeoEd Tags: culture, place, Italy, Europe, food, food production, agriculture.

Scoop.it Tags: culture, place, ItalyEurope, regions, foodfood production, agriculture.

Gender and Mobility in the Middle East

"The adult daughter of Dubai’s ruler tried to escape a life of stultifying restrictions. She was captured at sea, forcibly taken back, and has not been heard from since. For all its megamalls, haute cuisine and dizzying skyscrapers, Dubai can flip at speed from international playground to repressive police state."

Source: www.nytimes.com

Both of these particular case studies are incredibly interesting but I want to talk about how this is connected to a larger cultural and political issue: that of female mobility in Persian Gulf countries.  The ability to move freely without familial supervision or approval is something that adults in most countries take for granted, but that is not the case in some countries in the Middle East.  How we experience place is dependent of our mobility—this is why there is no one singular geography or story of any given place, but there are many geographies that help to explain a place.  The story of the ‘vanished princess’ of Dubai and the woman seeking a divorce but trapped by her family cast a different light on the glamorous and glitzy reputation of the United Arab Emirates.    

 

GeoEd Tags: culture, cultural norms, gender, mobility, UAE, MiddleEast, political.

Scoop.it Tagsculture, cultural norms, gender, mobility, UAE, MiddleEast, political.

Why Asia is the center of the world again

"Asians don’t think of themselves as Asian, but as the new Silk Roads re-emerge and propel Asia to the center of the world economy, Asians are rediscovering their greatness and forging a new Asian identity for the 21st century."

Source: www.youtube.com

When discussing global economic growth, it is impossible not to mention Asia. Parag Khanna is the author of the book, The Future is Asian, and in this TED talk he highlights how Asia is growing.  More importantly, he looks at how discrete Asian cultures are becoming more intermixed as the economic infrastructure of Asia becomes increasingly interconnected (a summary article is titled, We are all Asians Now).  His 2009 TED talk, Mapping the Future of Countries, about border conflicts, is an APHG classic.       

 

GeoEd Tags: regions, political, globalization, culture, economic, TED, video.

Scoop.it Tags: regionspolitical, globalization, culture, economic, TED, video.

Macedonia signs NATO accession agreement

This comes after Greece backed a deal to rename its neighbour North Macedonia, ending a long row.

Source: www.bbc.com

Oh, what’s in a name?  National pride, fear of irredentist dreams, border disputes and supranational exclusion…that’s all.  Ever since the collapse of Yugoslavia, Greece has opposed an independent neighbor using the name "Macedonia" when they have an adjacent region of the same name.  This has be a point of contention, in part, over the historic memory of Alexander the Great and Hellenic grandeur which Greece feels have been wrongfully appropriated.  It is also regarding expansionist ambitions of a "greater Macedonia" so Greece has blocked Macedonia’s entry to NATO and the EU.  To appease Greece, lessen international strife, and gain greater access to the global community Macedonia approved this change, but this move has lead to internal strife as many Macedonians feel that this name change is unfair.           

GeoEd Tags: culture, Political, place, toponyms, historical.

Tagsculturepolitical, placetoponyms, historical.

Belize: A Spanish Accent in an English-Speaking Country

"BELIZE has long been a country of immigrants. British timber-cutters imported African slaves in the 18th century, and in the 1840s Mexican Mayans fled a civil war."

Source: www.economist.com

This is an older article (2012), but the pattern mentioned here is all the more relevant.  Belize has a much higher Human Development Index ranking that its Central American neighbors such as Guatemala.  That fact alone makes Belize a likely destination for migrants.  Given that Belize was ‘British Honduras’ during colonial times, English is (still) the official language, but that is changing as increasingly Spanish-speaking immigrants are changing the cultural profile of Belize.      

Language shapes the way we think

“There are about 7,000 languages spoken around the world — and they all have different sounds, vocabularies and structures. But do they shape the way we think? Cognitive scientist Lera Boroditsky shares examples of language — from an Aboriginal community in Australia that uses cardinal directions instead of left and right to the multiple words for blue in Russian — that suggest the answer is a resounding yes. ‘The beauty of linguistic diversity is that it reveals to us just how ingenious and how flexible the human mind is,’ Broditsky says. Human minds have invented not one cognitive universe, but 7,000.”

Source: www.youtube.com

Sense of direction, numerical concepts, gendered traits, even the colors that we perceive with our own eyes…all these are shaped by the language(s) we speak.  If language shapes how an individual shapes their own worldview, a cultural group’s worldview is also powerfully impacted by the language that frames how they think. 

Scoop.it Tags: languagecultureTED, video.
WordPress TAGS: language, culture, TED, video.

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