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Articles in Cultural Geography

Poland’s Stark Electoral Divide

By Martin W. Lewis | July 15, 2015 | 14 Comments

Some observers were surprised by the triumph of conservative candidate Andrzej Duda over incumbent Bronisław Komorowski in Poland’s May 2015 presidential election. Duda’s margin of victory, however, was thin: 51.5 percent of the vote against Komorowski’s 48.5 percent. As is typical of Polish elections, the results were geographically patterned in a stark manner. Duda, like most conservative candidates, won almost …

Troubled Socotra – the “World’s Most Alien Place” – Seeks Autonomy

By Martin W. Lewis | July 12, 2015 | 5 Comments

Yemen’s Socotra Archipelago, dominated by the main island of the same name, is best known for its unique flora, with almost 700 species found nowhere else. Some of its plants have gained fame for their unusual forms, such as the dragon blood tree and the cucumber tree. Socotra’s millions of years of isolation, its complex geology, and its harsh climate …

Yemen’s Beleaguered Al Mahrah Seeks Autonomy

By Martin W. Lewis | July 8, 2015 |

Yemen’s Al Mahrah Governorate has much in common with Oman’s adjacent Dhofar Governorate. The two areas share the seasonally humid landscape of the south-central Arabian coastal uplands, and both have large non-Arabic-speaking communities, which instead speak languages in the Modern South Arabian group. Both Al Mahrah and Dhofar also maintain a strong sense of distinctiveness from the rest of Yemen …

Dhofar: Religion, Rebellion, and Reconstruction

By Martin W. Lewis | July 7, 2015 | 4 Comments

As mentioned in the previous post, Oman’s Dhofar region is highly distinctive in terms of both language and climate. It is also differentiated from the rest of Oman in regard to religion. Most Omanis follow Ibadi Islam, a branch that is said to predate the Sunni/Shia split, whereas most Dhofaris are Sunni Muslims. Dhofar also has a distinctive political history, …

Dhofar: The Other Arabia

By Martin W. Lewis | July 6, 2015 | One Comment

The Arabian Peninsula is a relatively coherent region, tied together by a number of common features. In terms of physical geography, it is noted for its harsh desert landscapes. Even the highlands of Yemen, which receive enough precipitation for rain-fed agriculture, are relatively dry, covered with vegetation that could hardly be described as lush. In terms of cultural geography, the …

Forgotten Modern Kingdoms of the Arabian Peninsula, Part 1

By Martin W. Lewis | July 5, 2015 | 6 Comments

Stanford University’s history department recently took its old collection of instructional maps out of storage to hang on permanent display in the hallways. This was an inspired decision, as some of these maps are gems and even the more ordinary ones have some interesting and unusual features.
A 1923 map of Asia by Denoyer Geppert Co. of Chicago, for example, is …

Turkey’s Leftwing Peoples’ Democratic Party and the Kurdish Question

By Martin W. Lewis | June 26, 2015 | One Comment

The new, leftwing Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) did relatively well in the 2015 Turkish election, taking 13 percent of the vote nationwide and sending 80 representatives to the Turkish Parliament. As noted in the previous post, the HDP’s main area of support is the Kurdish-speaking southeast, where it was the clear majority party. Its overwhelming victory in such provinces as …

Recent Works by Martin W. Lewis

By Martin W. Lewis | June 19, 2015 | 3 Comments

Although GeoCurrents focuses mainly on contemporary issues, long-time readers know that I also have a strong interest in the deeper reaches of human history, and that I have been involved in intellectual controversies related to the origin and spread of the Indo-European language family. The fruits of my work on historical linguistics are now available in a frightfully expensive book …

Nigeria Slides

By Martin W. Lewis | June 11, 2015 | One Comment

Dear Readers,
My final lecture on the history and geography of current global events focused on Nigeria; the slides from this lecture are available at the link below.
Next week I will resume regular GeoCurrents posts. The first of these will look at issues related to Nigeria’s recent election, reflecting some of these lecture slides. Subsequently, I hope to examine Turkey’s recent …

Iran Lecture Slides

By Martin W. Lewis | June 4, 2015 | 10 Comments

My second-to-last lecture on the history and geography of current global events has now been delivered, and the slides are available here at the link. As is noted on the first slide, the lecture was titled, Iran: Nuclear Negotiations, Geopolitical Ambitions, Cultural Complexities, and Historical Legacies.    
Next week I will speak on Nigeria; after that I hope to resume regular posting on GeoCurrents. 
In the …

Narendra Modi and the Rise of India

By Martin W. Lewis | May 27, 2015 | 16 Comments
Narendra Modi and the Rise of India

Yet again, teaching duties are preventing me from making regular GeoCurrents posts. All that I can do this week is post my slides from last evening’s lecture on Narendra Modi and the Rise of India.
Part of this lecture focused on the relationship between India and China. I find it quite significant that some Chinese media sources are using a map of India …

Ukraine Lecture Slides

By Martin W. Lewis | April 22, 2015 | 3 Comments

Dear Readers,
Unfortunately, regular posting continues to be delayed due to other obligations. I do, however, hope to write a brief post on some of those “other obligations” later this week. Mostly, however, I have simply been busy preparing slides for my weekly lectures this term on the history and geography of current global events. This week’s lecture focused on Ukraine. …

Yemen Lecture Slides

By Martin W. Lewis | April 9, 2015 | 3 Comments

As mentioned in a previous post, I have devoted most of the past week to preparing a lengthy lecture on Yemen for my course on the history and geography of current global events. I had planned to develop several blog posts on the issues, focusing on such matters as the position of Hadhramaut, an important and fascinating region in eastern …

NPR’s Incomplete Story on “Trimmigants” in the California Marijuana Industry

By Martin W. Lewis | December 17, 2014 | 6 Comments

On December 4, 2014, National Public Radio (NPR) ran an interesting story on a severely underreported matter: international seasonal labor migration to the “Golden Triangle” of marijuana cultivation in northwestern California. This report—“With Harvest Season, ‘Trimmigrants’ Flock To California’s Pot Capital”*—captured many of the more intriguing and important aspects of the phenomenon. But it also missed some significant things and …

The Uncertain Role of Religion in Indonesia’s 2014 Presidential Election

By Martin W. Lewis | December 10, 2014 | 7 Comments

The on-line maps that I have found of Indonesia’s 2014 presidential election are not very helpful. That of the Wikipedia is particularly poor. To begin with, it merely shows which candidate received a majority of votes in each province, with no information provided on the margin of victory. But the returns actually varied quite significantly across the country, with the …

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