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Articles in Regionalism

A Conservative Core and a Reformist Periphery in Iran’s 21st Century Elections?

By Martin W. Lewis | July 8, 2013 | 9 Comments

An earlier GeoCurrents post on the 2013 Iranian presidential election highlighted a slight tendency for conservative candidates, such as Saeed Jalili, to do better in the core, Farsi-speaking regions of the country, and for reformers to gather more votes in peripheral areas, especially in the Azeri-speaking northwest and the Balochi-speaking southeast. Intriguingly, earlier elections in this century show the same …

Regional and Ethnic Patterns in the 2013 Iranian Presidential Election

By Martin W. Lewis | June 28, 2013 | 2 Comments

The recent Iranian presidential election revealed some interesting geographical patterns. The election itself seems to have been reasonably free, although it was undermined by the previous disqualification of reformist candidates. Hassan Rouhani, widely viewed as the most moderate and pragmatic of the six candidates, won election handily. As can be seen in the Wikipedia map posted here, Rouhani took a …

The Core/Periphery Pattern in Egyptian Electoral Geography

By Martin W. Lewis | March 3, 2013 |

Egypt’s troubled and insecure transition to democratic rule has exposed some intriguing political geographical patterns. Yet at first glance, maps of recent elections do not seem particularly revealing. Consider, for example, the December 2012 Constitutional Referendum, a measure favorable to the ruling Muslim Brotherhood that critics claim restricted basic freedoms and democratic governance. The referendum passed with almost 64 percent …

Intense Regionalism in the South Korean Presidential Election of 2012

By Martin W. Lewis | February 19, 2013 | 20 Comments

 South Korea is usually considered to be one of the world’s most homogenous countries. Regional differences in dialect are relatively minor, with only that of Jeju island being distinctive enough to merit designation as a separate language by linguistic splitters. A pronounced sense of Korean nationalism, moreover, is found across the country. But despite these commonalities, South Korea is still …

Changes in U.S. Electoral Geography from 2000 to 2012: A Renewed North/South Divide?

By Martin W. Lewis | November 19, 2012 | One Comment

As noted in a previous post, the presidential contest of 2000 seems to have been a watershed event in U.S. electoral geography. Up until that point, successful Democratic candidates enjoyed considerable support in many predominantly rural counties dominated by Whites, particularly in the Upper South (see the map of the 1996 election). In order for the Democrats to have carried …

Catalan Secession Looming?

By Martin W. Lewis | September 25, 2012 |

Fear are mounting that Spain will face a new secession crisis after the government of Catalonia called for a snap election on November 25, which is widely seen as a referendum on enhanced autonomy if not outright independence. The move came shortly after the Madrid government rejected Catalonia’s demand for greater autonomy on taxation issues. Desire for political separation is growing in the region, as evidenced by massive (600,000+) pro-independence demonstrations in Barcelona earlier this month.

Continuing Tension in Namibia’s Caprivi Strip

By Martin W. Lewis | April 23, 2012 | 5 Comments

Namibia is generally regarded as one of the most successful states of sub-Saharan Africa, with a stable, relatively democratic government, a high degree of press freedom, and a political-economic system that successfully translates wealth in natural resources (diamonds particularly) into broad-based gains in human wellbeing. Just this month, for example, Namibia announced that that it will be able to bring electricity to all rural schools in the country within five years, which would be a significant accomplishment in such a large, sparsely settled country.

Mapping Language and Politics in Latvia

By Martin W. Lewis | April 12, 2012 | 4 Comments

A comment from a GeoCurrents reader last week mentioned the linguistic situation in Latvia, where almost 40 percent of the population speaks Russian rather than Latvian as a first language. As it so happens, Latvia recently held a referendum on whether to elevate Russian to the status of a second official language. The election attracted a large turnout, more than …

Regionalizing California

By Martin W. Lewis | February 16, 2012 | 6 Comments

With thirty-eight million people spread over an area of 163,696 square miles (423,970 km2) and an economy that would rank between the eighth and eleventh largest in the world if it were an independent country, California makes an unwieldy state. Its different regions are so distinctive culturally, economically, and politically that numerous attempts have been made to divide California into two or more …

Ivory Coast: Divided and Reunited

By Martin W. Lewis | May 10, 2011 |
Map of the main political/ethnic blocks in Ivory Coast

According to most reports, Ivory Coast is slowly returning to normal. On May 6, 2011, Alassane Ouattara was sworn into office by Constitutional Council President Paul Yao N’Dre, a close associate of deposed leader Laurent Gbagbo. N’Dre, not surprisingly, called for national reconciliation. Although he was heckled at times, the event generally proceeded smoothly. A

Electoral Politics and Religious Strife in Nigeria

By Martin W. Lewis | May 5, 2011 |
Map of Nigeria's 2011 Presidential Election

For the past week, GeoCurrents has demonstrated that the conflict in Ivory Coast cannot be reduced to a simple north/south, Muslim/Christian split. This kind of broad cleavage is more apparent in Nigeria, as shown by its recent election. But even in Nigeria, the contrast between a Muslim north and a Christian south is not as

Ethnic Dimensions of the Conflict in Ivory Coast

By Martin W. Lewis | April 28, 2011 | 3 Comments
Map of Ethnic Groups in Ivory Coast

Careful map analysis reveals that the conflict in Ivory Coast cannot be reduced to a split between the Muslim north and Christian south, as is routinely suggested in the press. But it is structured around ethnic differences that have religious aspects. Today’s post seeks to demonstrate the struggle’s cultural parameters by comparing maps of electoral

Disparate Interpretations—and Misinterpretations—of the Conflict in Ivory Coast

By Martin W. Lewis | April 25, 2011 | 5 Comments
Map of the Division of Ivory Coast in 2007

Understandings of the recent conflict in Ivory Coast (officially, Republic of Côte d’Ivoire) vary significantly among different sectors of the news media. Mainstream sources in the United States often mention the Ivorian Civil War of 2002-07 that effectively divided the country in two (see map), but they focus primarily on the presidential election of 2010

Siberia Is More Russian than European Russia

By Martin W. Lewis | January 24, 2011 | 4 Comments

Just as a state-based vision of the world exaggerates the distinctiveness of small countries, so it masks difference within large countries. When macro-countries like Russia, China, or the United States are mapped as singular units, vast disparities between their constituent areas vanish from view. The public view of massive Russia is especially

The Mughal Empire and Fears of a New Mughalstan

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

Much of the Ayodhya dispute turns on issues of historical memory and interpretation. Of particular importance is the Mughal dynasty, which gained power in northern India in the early 1500s and subsequently spread over most of the subcontinent before contracting sharply in the 1700s. Different parties see the Mughal legacy in strikingly different terms, as

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