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Articles in Historical Geography

Chavacano: A Spanish-Based Creole Language of the Philippines

By Martin W. Lewis | January 29, 2016 | 12 Comments

Chavacano is interesting from both linguistic and historical-geographical perspectives. To begin with, it is widely considered to be one of the world’s oldest creole tongues, with a history dating back some 400 years.

Maritime Linkages in the Linguistic Geography of the Philippines

By Martin W. Lewis | January 25, 2016 | 2 Comments

The best example of seas connecting opposing shores is probably the Philippines, a quintessentially archipelagic country composed of more than 7,000 islands.

But are There Any Jobs in Geography?

By Martin W. Lewis | September 14, 2015 |

(Note to readers: Last week I promised a GeoCurrents post on secession movements and proposals for the partitioning internationally recognized sovereign states. That post is still forthcoming, but it is taking considerably more time than I had anticipated. At present, I hope to post it by the middle of this week. In the meantime, I have written something a little …

Echoes of Biafra: Geographical Patterns in Nigeria’s 2015 Election

By Martin W. Lewis | June 15, 2015 |

(Note to Readers: GeoCurrents is now on its summer schedule, which should entail 3 posts per week.)
Nigeria’s 2015 election has been widely regarded as marking a milestone in the country’s democratic transition. For the first time, an incumbent president lost a bid for reelection. Goodluck Jonathan, the outgoing leader, conceded defeat readily, graciously passing power to his challenger Muhammadu Buhari, …

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 …

The Californian Insular Myth: Follow the Blue Seashells (Adapted from the work of Annick Foucrier)

By Martin W. Lewis | June 21, 2014 | One Comment

(Note:  GeoCurrrents is concerned with all things connected to mapping, including the history of cartography. One particularly interesting and rather mysterious feature of world mapping in the early modern period was the persistent depiction of California as an island. This portrayal is so distinctive is that it has captured the attention of many historians, geographers, and map aficionados. In 2012, …

Saint Martin/Sint Maarten: An Island Divided

By Claire Negiar | April 7, 2014 | 9 Comments

(Note: Today’s post is by Claire Negiar, a Stanford senior, soon to graduate. Claire will be writing a few posts over the coming weeks, many of them focused on France and French dependencies.)
Saint Martin. Sint Maarten. A crossroad between North and South, split between France and the Netherlands, Saint Martin has known a different fate in the aftermath of decolonization …

Ukrainian Regionalism and the Federal Option

By Martin W. Lewis | April 4, 2014 | 41 Comments

Like many other pundits, David Frum fears that Vladimir Putin is plotting to transform Ukraine into a weak federation and then transform some of its federal units into de facto Russian dependencies. As he argues in a recent Atlantic article:

In the weeks since Russian forces seized Crimea, Vladimir Putin’s plan for mainland Ukraine has become increasingly clear: partition. Putin’s ambassadors …

Questions for Readers Regarding Biblical Ethnography

By Martin W. Lewis | November 14, 2013 | 42 Comments

As mentioned in an earlier post, I am now devoting most of my attention to the book on Indo-European origins that Asya Pereltsvaig and I are writing. I am currently working on a chapter that recounts the intellectual history of the Indo-European concept, which is a fascinating and complex topic. Right now, I am perplexed in regard to an issue …

Explaining the Rapid Rise of the Xenophobic Right in Contemporary Europe

By James Mayfield | July 22, 2013 | 258 Comments
Copyright James Mayfield

The last three decades have witnessed a remarkable rise in xenophobic, deeply conservative, and even extreme right-wing parties across much of Europe. Whereas thirty years ago most xenophobic parties failed to even pass the 5% minimum voter threshold that is typically required to enter government, they now constitute as much as ~28% of the parliament in countries like Austria, and arguably have reached the ~70% level in Hungary. Hoping to understand these surprising changes in the European political climate, this post will briefly analyze the characteristics of the xenophobic right as of 2013, underscore the diversity of xenophobic parties, and try to explain some of the patterns encountered when the far-right takes hold, as well as their exceptions.

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 …

Australia’s Empty Countryside—and the Melbourne/Sydney Rivalry

By Martin W. Lewis | December 10, 2012 | 14 Comments

Australia is well known for its low population density. With roughly 23 million people living in 2.9 million sq mi (7.7 million sq km) of land, it ranks sixth from bottom in this regard, following Mongolia, Namibia, Iceland, Suriname, and Mauritania. Australia is also known for its high degree of urbanization, although its 89.2 percent official urbanization figure places only …

Ideological Agendas and Indo-European Origins: Master Race, Bloodthirsty Kurgans, or Proto-Hippies?

By Martin W. Lewis | November 6, 2012 | 83 Comments

This final contribution to the Indo-European series turns once again to the potential ideological agendas lurking behind theories of IE origin and expansion. As was noted previously, no other issue in human prehistory has been so ideologically fraught; the original IE speakers have been recruited to serve a variety of fantasies, ranging in temper from naively benign to unimaginably vile. For …

The Different Modes of Language Spread

By Martin W. Lewis | October 30, 2012 |

In this second-to-last post on Indo-European origins and expansion, we turn once again to language diffusion, a cornerstone of the model employed by Bouckaert et al. A previous post asked whether languages actually spread by diffusion, arguing that the much more rapid process of advection is often more important. As was then pointed out, physical geographical factors, such as impassible …

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