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Articles in Cultural Geography

Coke vs. Pepsi; Venezuela vs. Zulia

By Martin W. Lewis | February 5, 2010 | One Comment

Although Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez has been able to secure relatively high levels of electoral support, his campaigns have faltered in the northwest. In the Andean highland zone, closely linked to neighboring Colombia, the states of Táchira and Mérida both voted “no” on Chavez’s constitutional referendum in 2009. Anti-Chavez sentiments also run strong in the

Circassia and the 2014 Winter Olympics

By Martin W. Lewis | February 4, 2010 | One Comment

Yesterday’s post referred to the Ossetians as a people of “profound world-historical significance,” a phrase that fits their neighbors, the Circassians, even better. That members of the so-called White race are called “Caucasians” stems largely from the widespread nineteenth-century European notion that the Circassians, natives of the northwestern Caucasus, somehow represented the ideal human form

Caucasus Emirate: A Self-Proclaimed Virtual State Entity

By Martin W. Lewis | February 3, 2010 | One Comment

In the global hierarchy of polities, a “self-proclaimed virtual state entity” occupies a lowly position, being little more than a dream. But such dreams must be taken seriously if they are accompanied by violent actions intended to make them come true, as is the case in regard to the Caucasus Emirate. This Islamist “virtual state

Renewed Violence in the Niger Delta

By Martin W. Lewis | February 2, 2010 |

Few of Africa’s many insurgent groups receive much notice in the global media. One way they can get attention is to attack the infrastructure of oil production. Thus the Movement for The Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) found itself in headlines on January 30, 2010, after breaking its truce with the Nigerian government and

The Geography of the Bolivian Election

By Martin W. Lewis | January 29, 2010 |

Latin American electoral politics have been trending to the left in recent years. Although Chile just confounded that tendency by voting in a center-right president, Bolivia overwhelmingly reelected its socialist president, Evo Morales, in December 2009. Morales, the champion of Bolivia’s indigenous majority, received 64 percent of the national vote, while his main challenger, Manfred

Sakha: World Capital of Cold

By Martin W. Lewis | January 27, 2010 |

The attention of the global media usually remains focused on a limited portion of the earth’s surface. Wealthy countries and regions are covered in depth, as are places considered threatening to the developed world, but most parts of the earth are more often ignored. Consider, for example, Sakha (Yakutia), a vast internal Russian republic

The Heterodox Zone

By Martin W. Lewis | January 26, 2010 | One Comment

Yesterday’s post included a map of religious communities in northern Iraq, based on a larger map by Mehrdad Izady, generated as part of Columbia University’s Gulf 2000 project. As Izady’s maps show, northern Iraq is part of a larger region of striking religious diversity, highlighted on the map above. This area has no established

Ethnic Issues in Iraq’s New Census

By Martin W. Lewis | January 25, 2010 |

The government of Iraq recently announced that it is preparing to conduct its first census since 1987. Merely holding a census is controversial, especially in the ethnically mixed areas of northern Iraq. The main issue concerns the eventual size — and share of governmental revenues — of the Kurdish Autonomous Region. The Kurds lay claim

Declining Violence In Northeastern India

By Martin W. Lewis | January 21, 2010 |

On January 19, 2010, a grenade attack near the Manipur Police Chief’s residence in northeastern India critically injured three people. No one has yet claimed responsibility, and it would be risky to venture a guess, since for sheer diversity of insurgent groups it is hard to beat northeastern India. This remote and little-known area is

Violence In Nuristan, Formerly Kafiristan

By Martin W. Lewis | January 18, 2010 |

The province of Nuristan in eastern Afghanistan has recently emerged as one of the most insecure regions of the world. On January 13, 2010, a fourth delegation sent to negotiate the return of kidnapped Greek social worker Athanasios Lerounis returned home empty-handed. In October 2009, the United States abandoned its four key outposts in the

Kalmykia: The Republic of Chess

By Martin W. Lewis | January 16, 2010 | One Comment

Certain parts of the world are so closely associated with a specific issue or activity that other matters tend to fade from view, at least as far as the international media are concerned. Consider, for example, Kalmykia, a Russian internal republic located northwest of the Caspian Sea. Larger in area than the Republic of Ireland

Anti-Immigrant Violence and Organized Crime in Italy

By Martin W. Lewis | January 12, 2010 | One Comment

On January 10, 2009, the front page of the New York Times carried an article entitled “Race Riots Grip Italian Town and Mafia Is Suspect.” In two days of violence, 53 people were injured, including 18 members of the police, 14 local residents, and 21 immigrants. Most of the immigrants involved in the riots were

Burma Takes on the United Wa State Army

By Martin W. Lewis | January 11, 2010 |

As recently mentioned in this blog, James C. Scott’s new book The Art of Not Being Governed is essential reading on the history of state-level sovereignty. As Scott brilliantly shows, pre-colonial states in Southeast Asia, and much of the rest of the world, actually governed relatively small areas. Our conventional

Where is Zomia?

By Martin W. Lewis | January 8, 2010 | One Comment

Conventional geographical units of any kind often lead the imagination along set pathways. Originality of thought can therefore be be enhanced by the creation of novel regionalization schemes. One of the more intriguing new regions to be proposed in recent years is Zomia, a term coined by historian Willem van Schendel in 2002, and expanded

Belize Vs. Guatemala

By Martin W. Lewis | |

A major controversy engulfed the small Central American country of Belize in early January 2010 after its foreign minister, Wilifred Erlington, described the border between his country and Guatemala as “artificial.” Enraged Belizean nationalists denounced Erlington as a “sell-out,” while opposition leaders demanded his resignation.

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