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South Africa is the world’s most unequal nation

“Despite 25 years of democracy, South Africa remains the most economically unequal country in the world, according to the World Bank. If anything, South Africa is even more divided now than it was in 1994 as the legacy of apartheid endures. Previously disadvantaged South Africans hold fewer assets, have fewer skills, earn lower wages, and are still more likely to be unemployed, a 2018 World Bank report on poverty and inequality in South Africa found.”

Source: edition.cnn.com

This CNN article takes a shocked tone, but that removes South Africa from it’s historical and geographic context even if the outcome is unfortunate (as a bonus for educators, the article has a GINI reference in its analysis with the data charts).  Time’s cover story is more detailed and nuanced.  In the late 1980s, the apartheid system was becoming untenable; the injustices and discontent make the apartheid government unable to govern.  Both the government and activists recognized that change was necessary and compromises were needed to allow South Africa to move from the apartheid system of racial separation to nonracial democracy without falling apart.

The post-apartheid government guaranteed that while political power would be transferred, economic power would still stay ensconced in the hands of the land-owning elites, since there was to be no massive land redistribution. Neighboring Zimbabwe had disastrous land redistribution attempts and everyone wants to avoid economic chaos.  Land reform will be be a key issue in tomorrow’s election (see this BBC article for more election issues).     

GeoEd Tags: South Africa, Africa, race, ethnicity, political, economic.

Scoop.it Tags: South Africa, Africarace, ethnicitypolitical, economic

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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.

 

Will the Supreme Court End Gerrymandering?

"Justices will be reviewing the case of North Carolina, where Republicans drew a map to maximize their power in the House. Plaintiffs challenging the map say it’s unconstitutional. A companion case centers on Maryland’s 6th Congressional District, which Democrats admit they redrew in 2011 to make it harder for the Republican incumbent there to win re-election. The two cases hold the potential to set the course of American politics for generations."

Source: www.nytimes.com

Questions to Ponder: Do you trust the politicians that are in charge of your state to create better districts than a computer-generated set of districts that are optimized for compactness?  What are some of the potential limitations of compact districts?  Would an independent committee/bipartisan group do a better job?

GeoEd Tags: gerrymandering, political, mapping, cartography, unit 4 political.

Tags: gerrymandering, politicalmapping, cartography, unit 4 political.

Kazakhstan renames capital of Astana to Nur-Sultan

"Astana has been renamed as Nur-Sultan, as a tribute to former leader Nursultan Nazarbayev, who recently resigned. Astana replaced Almaty as the capital in 1997 and boomed from a minor provincial steppe town into a futuristic city. The name Astana literally means ‘capital’ in Kazakh and there has long been speculation it could, at some point, be renamed after the leader who shaped it."

Source: www.aljazeera.com

St. Petersburg was the classic example of a forward capital that was renamed after the visionary leader responsible for that change.  The world now has another example of this phenomenon. 

 

GeoEd Tags: political, Central Asia, Kazakhstan.

Scoop.it Tags: political, Central Asia, Kazakhstan.

Trump: Time to recognise Golan Heights as Israeli territory

“Israel has occupied the strategic plateau since capturing it from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war. There are more than 30 Jewish settlements on the heights, with an estimated 20,000 settlers.

There are some 20,000 Syrians in the area, most of them members of the Druze sect.”

Source: www.bbc.com

I had my class all ready to go, and then this happened. The Golan Heights is a small chunk of land, 3 times larger than Rhode Island, is far more important geopolitically than its size would indicate. This land is Israeli controlled, but internationally still considered a part of Syria, much like Russia controls Crimea, but it is still internationally recognized as a part of Ukraine.   Not surprisingly, Syria has condemned these statements from the President of the United States as have many members of the international community

GeoEd Tags: Syria, Israel, political, MiddleEast, geopolitics.

Scoop.it TagsSyria, Israel, political, Middle East, geopolitics.

U.S. Counties Vary by Their Degree of Partisan Prejudice

A guide to the most—and least—politically open-minded counties in America

Source: www.theatlantic.com

I would like to start off by saying that I’ve lived in Red America and Blue America, and I love the people and places of both.  This is a fascinating set of maps because it isn’t just about where are the Republicans and Democrats–we’ve all seen those maps.  More important to to me is attempting to discern where people can still see their neighbors as neighbors, even if they strongly disagree politically.  "In general, the most politically intolerant Americans, according to the analysis, tend to be whiter, more highly educated, older, more urban, and more partisan themselves."

 

 

GeoEd TAGS: electoral,  political, mapping.

Scoop.it Tags: electoral, political, mapping.

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.

Kosovo-Serbia land swap could end conflict – or restart war

“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.”

Source: bigthink.com

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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