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Articles in Cultural Geography

GeoCurrents Editorial: The Genocide of the Yezidis Begins, and the United States is Complicit

By Martin W. Lewis | August 7, 2014 |

(Note: GeoCurrents is still technically on summer vacation, allowing me time to catch up with other obligations that I have neglected. My recent essays on eco-modernism, written for the Breakthrough Institute, can be found here and here. I am interrupting this GeoCurrents hiatus, however, to address a highly disturbing and significant development. This post also violates the GeoCurrents policy on …

GeoCurrents Summer Vacation

By Martin W. Lewis | June 10, 2014 | 3 Comments

Dear Readers,
I am sorry to say that GeoCurrents will be taking its annual summer vacation for the next five or six weeks. During this time, several guest posts may be run, but I will not be contributing any posts myself. For the next two weeks, my attention will be focused on grading papers and examinations and on finishing the book manuscript …

Religion, Caste, and Electoral Geography in the Indian State of Kerala

By Martin W. Lewis | May 29, 2014 |

As mentioned in a previous GeoCurrents post, India’s southwestern state of Kerala, noted for its high levels of social development, exhibited markedly different patterns in the 2014 election from most other parts of the country. In Kerala, parties on the far left did quite well, as did the center-left Indian National Congress, whereas the center-right BJP performed quite poorly, as …

A New Political Bifurcation of India?

By Martin W. Lewis | May 21, 2014 | 7 Comments

As mentioned in the previous GeoCurrents post, the 2014 Indian election reveals a intriguing division across the country, one separating the greater southeast, where regional parties generally prevailed, from the rest of the country, where the BJP generally triumphed. There are, of course, a number of exceptions to this pattern, such as Punjab and much of the far northeast. It …

Wikipedia, the Difficulties of Mapping World Religions, and a Most Bizarre Map

By Martin W. Lewis | May 6, 2014 | 29 Comments

In teaching the global geography of religion this term, I have again been disappointed by the quality of relevant maps that are readily available on-line. Making a map of this sort is admittedly a challenge. Many areas contain multiple faiths, and a few religions—Mahayana Buddhism, Taoism, Shinto—even allow their own adherents to follow other religions simultaneously. Degrees of religiosity and …

Mapping Religion in the Unfortunate Atlas of Islamic Republic of Pakistan

By Martin W. Lewis | May 3, 2014 | 24 Comments

Mapping world religions is a challenging project, as will be discussed in a forthcoming GeoCurrents post. Although I have been disappointed by most global religion maps, nothing compares to the maps found, yet again, in the Atlas of Islamic Republic of Pakistan (2012, Rawalpindi, Survey of Pakistan Press). These depictions are so amusingly odd and awful that they merit extended …

India and Indonesia: Pronounced Differences in Electoral Geography

By Martin W. Lewis | April 18, 2014 | One Comment

As India and Indonesia, the world’s largest and third largest democracies respectively, carry out their complex 2014 national elections, it is worthwhile to compare their political and electoral developments since independence. Although the two countries have much in common, they have taken a markedly different direction in political ideology and electoral geography. In India today, two major and several minor …

And the Winners are … Norway and Slovenia: Sochi Medals, Per Capita

By Martin W. Lewis | February 25, 2014 | 2 Comments

I must admit to being off-put by the nationalism that is prevalent at all Olympic games, as I would rather see athletes competing against each other, not countries locked in competition. But regardless of my personal feelings, the Olympics form a showcase for national pride, and countries do compete with each other at a variety of levels. Reports on the …

The Sochi Olympics and the Circassians: A Media Failure?

By Martin W. Lewis | February 7, 2014 | 33 Comments

When lecturing on the Caucasus last fall, I asked my Stanford students if any of them had ever heard of the Circassians. Out of a class of roughly 100 students, two raised their hands. I then told that class that the Circassians had once been an extremely well known if often misunderstood ethnic group, and I predicted that by February …

Seek and Thou Shall Fiend: French Satirical Maps

By Claire Negiar | February 1, 2014 | 5 Comments

As any tourist who has traveled to France knows, the French are master critics. But they tend to spare nobody in the line of fire—not even their own compatriots. In the series entitled “La carte de France vue par ses habitants,” the French website CartesFrances.fr offers a variety of satirical mappings of the divisions of France as seen by inhabitants of some of its main geopolitical and cultural hubs: Paris, Marseilles, Toulouse, Brittany, and Normandy.

Tim Draper’s Proposed “Six Californias”

By Martin W. Lewis | January 8, 2014 | 22 Comments

As was noted last October on GeoCurrents, efforts to split U.S. states have been gaining increased attention. Geographer Andrew Shears has made an intriguing map that shows a number of “failed state partition proposals through US history,” posted here. Note that few of the 50 states have never been so challenged. A single map of this type, however, cannot capture …

The Vexatious History of Indo-European Studies, Part III

By Martin W. Lewis | December 17, 2013 | 23 Comments

(Note to readers: This is the third of at least five posts derived from a draft chapter of our forthcoming book on the Indo-European controversy. This particular chapter examines the intellectual history of Indo-European studies, focusing on the most contentious ideas and ideologically motivated arguments. Its ultimate aim is to help explain why the Anatolian theory of Indo-European origins, which …

The Vexatious History of Indo-European Studies, Part II

By Martin W. Lewis | December 13, 2013 | 4 Comments

(Note to readers: this is the second portion of a chapter of our forthcoming book on the Indo-European controversy; more will follow. This chapter outlines the main ideological ramifications of the debates concerning Indo-European origins and dispersion.  It is not an account of the development of Indo-European linguistics. It is rather concerned with the use, and especially the misuse, of …

The Vexatious History of Indo-European Studies, Part I

By Martin W. Lewis | December 11, 2013 | 14 Comments

(Dear Readers,
As mentioned previously, I am now working on our forthcoming book on the Indo-European controversy.  I have now finished the chapter on the history of the debates, which I will post here at GeoCurrents, in pieces, over the next two week.  Bibliographic references are not included, although they may be added later. Comments and criticisms are of course welcome.)
Debates …

Robin Wright’s Audacious Remapping of the Middle East

By Martin W. Lewis | October 1, 2013 | 37 Comments

I was taken aback this past Sunday (September 29) by Robin Wright’s colorful map of a politically re-divided Middle East in the New York Times, which illustrated her article “Imagining a Remapped Middle East.” The map, entitled “How 5 Could Become 14,” shows a hypothetical future division of Libya, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia into 14 potential new countries …

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