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Articles in Geopolitics

Mapping Early Modern Japan as a Multi-State System

By Martin W. Lewis | January 3, 2016 | 2 Comments

As numerous GeoCurrents posts have noted, the basic world political map is a misleading document, as it implies that the geopolitical order is much simpler than it actually is. The deceptive simplicity of the standard view is doubly problematic when applied to earlier times, when sovereignty was generally even more slippery than it is at present, and when clearly demarcated …

Mapping ISIS at the Institute For the Study of War

By Martin W. Lewis | December 18, 2015 | 4 Comments

(Note: This post is by Evan Lewis, not Martin Lewis.)
ISIS has proven to be as difficult to conceptualize as it has been to counteract. It has defied easy classifications and has been misunderstood and underestimated repeatedly by most of its opponents, often with disastrous consequences. In the effort to understand ISIS, its tactics, strategies, goals, and weak points, no one …

“Misled by the Map”—video lecture

By Martin W. Lewis | December 16, 2015 | 11 Comments

 
Dear Readers,
One of the main concerns of GeoCurrents is the thesis that the basic political map of the world, focused as it is on mutually recognized sovereign states, is a misleading document. This map purports to depict the existing global political configuration but does not actually do so. Instead, it essentially shows the world as it should be, according, that …

Superb Maps from the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) and the Kurdish Issue

By Martin W. Lewis | December 4, 2015 | 4 Comments

I have been generally quite impressed with the mapping of the current war in Iraq and Syria. This is a complicated and rapidly changing conflict, and I find it highly convenient that major newspapers, magazines, websites, think tanks, and the indispensible Wikipedia provide comprehensive and often-updated cartographic coverage. The best maps that I have found come from the Institute for …

Additional Oddities of Kiribati’s Line Islands

By Martin W. Lewis | November 27, 2015 | One Comment

Before moving on from the current series of posts on Kiribati, it is worth exploring a few additional aspects of this intriguing country.
The first of these points may be somewhat trivial but is still worth mentioning: The recent Gilbertese colonization of the Line Islands undermines the stock idea that Polynesia can be delimited within a vast triangle, with apexes situated in …

The Anomaly of Banaba Island: Part of Kiribati, But Administered from Fiji

By Martin W. Lewis | November 24, 2015 | One Comment

 
For some time I have been making a list of “geopolitical anomalies,” loosely defined as existing arrangements that defy the standard model of sovereign states exercising completely control over unambiguous, clearly delimited territorial realms. Until recently, however, one of the world’s more interesting geopolitical anomalies had escaped my attention: that of Banaba Island (also called Ocean Island) in the Pacific …

The Political Regions of Europe and the Fallacy of Environmental Determinism

By Martin W. Lewis | November 8, 2015 | 28 Comments

GeoCurrents reader Rafael Ferrero-Aprato recently brought to my attention an interesting map of political divisions in Europe made by the Dutch electoral geographer Josse de Voogd and reproduced by The Economist in 2014. Josse de Voogd notes the difficulties and limitations in making a map of this sort: “Some countries [are covered] in much greater detail than others and there …

Third Africa-India Forum Summit: Meeting of the Lions

By Martin W. Lewis | October 30, 2015 |

Although I will continue writing on Scolbert08’s map of world religion next week, I can’t resist taking a brief detour to consider the Third Africa-India Forum Summit, which is coming to an end today in New Delhi. Regarded as India’s largest diplomatic endeavor in its history, the summit was attended by 40 leaders of African states. I am particularly struck …

Valencia and the Països Catalans Controversy

By Martin W. Lewis | October 13, 2015 | 7 Comments

Five days before the recent regional elections in Catalonia, the Archbishop of Valencia, Antonio Cañizares, gained attention and generated controversy by urging Catholics to “pray for Spain and her unity” while also arguing that “Spain is bleeding out” and that “there is no moral justification for secession.” It is not surprising that such sentiments would be voiced by the Archbishop …

Val d’Aran: The Catalonian Exception

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

As the previous post noted, the rural areas of Catalonia generally supported pro-independence political parties in the 2015 regional election, whereas most urban areas did not. There are, however, several exceptions to his generalization. The most striking one is the comarca (“county”) of Val d’Aran, located in the extreme northwestern portion of Catalonia. With a population of 9,993 scattered over …

The Rural/Urban Divide in Catalonia’s 2015 Election

By Martin W. Lewis | October 7, 2015 | 16 Comments

According to most media sources, the Catalan independence movement scored a major victory in the September 28 regional election, taking 72 out of 135 seats in Catalonia’s parliament (Parlament de Catalunya). More careful reporting, however, noted that the results were actually mixed. In terms of the popular vote, candidates advocating independence gained the support of less than half of the …

GeoCurrents Editorial: Recognition for Iraqi Kurdistan and Somaliland

By Martin W. Lewis | September 16, 2015 | 13 Comments

(Note: GeoCurrents is a non-partisan blog devoted to providing geographical information, particularly in reference to current global events. On rare occasions, however, opinion pieces are posted on the site. This is one of those occasions. As I regard this issue as extremely important, this post will remain at the top of the GeoCurrents page for at least the next week.)
Now …

Kurdistan and Balochistan: Is National Self-Determination a Left/Right Issue?

By Martin W. Lewis | September 9, 2015 | 9 Comments

I have been wondering for some time how the issue of self-determination for so-called stateless nations fits into the standard, one-dimensional political spectrum. Historically, those on the left have been more favorably disposed to “national liberation struggles” than those on the right, who have more often advocated stability and the maintenance of the geopolitical status quo. By the same token, …

The Quixotic Campaign to Split New York State

By Martin W. Lewis | August 31, 2015 | 6 Comments

A new drive to divide the state of New York, separating the “Upstate” region from metropolitan New York City, is gaining visibility both within the state and nationally. On Sunday, August 30 a secession rally organized by more than a dozen groups was held in the town of Bainbridge (population 3,300) in New York’s Southern Tier, the movement’s core area. …

The Ahl-e Haqq Minority Faith Fights for Its Homeland in Northern Iraq

By Martin W. Lewis | August 29, 2015 |

Earlier this week, Kurdish Peshmerga forces launched an offensive against ISIS in the Daquq district of Iraq, some 40 kilometers south of Kirkuk. Aided by airstrikes from US-led coalition warplanes, Kurdish forces took over a number of villages. As reported in the news service Rudaw:

Hismadin said Kurdish reinforcements streamed in once the Peshmerga’s heavy fighting began. He added that members …

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