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Articles in Southeast Asia

The Lost World of the Sago Eaters

By Martin W. Lewis | November 4, 2015 | 2 Comments

The previous GeoCurrents post mentioned the Manusela people of the Indonesian island of Seram, who evidently incorporate elements of Hinduism, animism, and Christianity in their religious beliefs and practices. The Manusuela rely on the sago palm for their dietary staple, as do many other peoples of eastern Indonesia and the lowlands of Papua New Guinea. (I am referring here to …

Intriguing Patterns in Scolbert08’s Map of Religion in Insular Southeast Asia

By Martin W. Lewis | November 1, 2015 | 4 Comments

Scolbert08 does an excellent job of mapping the religious complexity of Insular Southeast Asia and Papua New Guinea. I have therefore posted a detail of his or her map of world religion that focuses on this region, both with and without my own annotations. Many interesting and important spatial patterns of religious affiliation are revealed on the map.
Scolbert08’s map does …

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 …

Slides on Conflicts in the East Asian Seas

By Martin W. Lewis | May 13, 2015 | 3 Comments

Dear Readers,
Regular GeoCurrents posts continue to be delayed, due to a combination of illness and teaching obligations. Today’s post merely links to a set of slides that I used for my lecture last night on territorial conflicts in the East Asian Seas. I made several original maps (on Google and Google Earth base maps), which are posted here directly.
Next week’s …

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

By Martin W. Lewis | December 10, 2014 | 6 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 …

Sexualized Dangdut Performances in Indonesia and Resulting Controversies

By Martin W. Lewis | December 9, 2014 | 5 Comments

As the most recent GeoCurrents post explained, heavy-metal music has been of some political importance in Indonesia, with the country’s new president, Joko Widodo, being a major fan. Although cultural tension between “metalheads” and conservative Muslim organization is an on-going issue, overt clashes have been relatively rare and restrained. Religious groups in Indonesia have, however succeeded in shutting down musical …

Indonesia’s 2014 Presidential Election and the Geography of Heavy Metal Music

By Martin W. Lewis | December 4, 2014 | 19 Comments

When lecturing in my course on the History and Geography of Current Global Events, I always begin by showing an enigmatic map or other image and asking if anyone can make sense of it. This week the topic was Indonesia, focusing on the country’s 2014 presidential election (which is admittedly rather old news). I began the class with the image …

A New Political Bifurcation of India?

By Martin W. Lewis | May 21, 2014 | 7 Comments

As mentioned in the previous GeoCurrents post, the 2014 Indian election reveals a intriguing division across the country, one separating the greater southeast, where regional parties generally prevailed, from the rest of the country, where the BJP generally triumphed. There are, of course, a number of exceptions to this pattern, such as Punjab and much of the far northeast. It …

Regional Patterns in India’s 2014 General Election

By Martin W. Lewis | May 19, 2014 | 7 Comments

The overriding story of India’s 2014 general election is of course the massive triumph of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its leader Narendra Modi, along with the corresponding defeat of the Indian National Congress (INC). The BJP gained 166 seats in the Lok Sabha (Indian parliament) for a total of 282, while the INC lost 162 for a total …

Mapping Nighttime Light and Economic Development in Burma

By Martin W. Lewis | May 12, 2014 | 2 Comments

After posting the excellent Wikipedia map of per capita GDP in Thailand in the previous GeoCurrents article, I decided to look for similar information on Burma (Myanmar). I was not surprised to discover that such information is lacking, as the Burmese government publishes little economic data. I did, however, come across a 2012 article from The Economist that highlights a …

Thailand’s Political Crisis and the Economic Rise of its Eastern Seaboard

By Martin W. Lewis | May 8, 2014 | Comments Off on Thailand’s Political Crisis and the Economic Rise of its Eastern Seaboard

News that a Thai court had just ousted Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra came to my attention yesterday just as was beginning to prepare a lecture on the politics, culture, and economy of Thailand. I immediately began to assemble a series of maps showing the geographical contours of Shinawatra’s powerbase. According to the conventional story, the populist (former) prime minister, like …

India and Indonesia: Pronounced Differences in Electoral Geography

By Martin W. Lewis | April 18, 2014 | One Comment

As India and Indonesia, the world’s largest and third largest democracies respectively, carry out their complex 2014 national elections, it is worthwhile to compare their political and electoral developments since independence. Although the two countries have much in common, they have taken a markedly different direction in political ideology and electoral geography. In India today, two major and several minor …

Controversies over Ethnicity, Affirmative Action, and Economic Development in Malaysia

By Martin W. Lewis | September 20, 2013 | 2 Comments

Few issues are more controversial in Malaysia than the country’s National Development Policy, particularly its extensive “affirmative action” provisions that provide economic and social advantages for the majority (61%) indigenous population (“Bumiputeras”) at the expense of the Chinese and Indian communities. Dating back to the early 1970s, this policy has resulted in significant economic gains for the Malay community, but …

The Philippines’ Uneven Economic Boom

By Martin W. Lewis | September 6, 2013 | 16 Comments

For decades, the Philippines has been noted for its economic failures. Fifty years ago, it was ahead of South Korea on most economic indicators, and its relatively high levels of education and public health seemingly indicated a bright future. Misrule, corruption, and missed opportunities, however, took a heavy toll, as did a persistently high birthrate, leading many observers to dub …

North Kalimantan: Indonesia’s Newest Province and Southeast Asian Geopolitical Tensions

By Martin W. Lewis | July 31, 2013 | Comments Off on North Kalimantan: Indonesia’s Newest Province and Southeast Asian Geopolitical Tensions

Indonesia and Malaysia have a long history of mutual distrust, despite—or perhaps because of—their similar historical and cultural backgrounds. Indonesia objected so strongly to the creation of an independent Malaysian state out of several British colonies in the early 1960s that it instigated a four-year undeclared war, the so-called Indonesian–Malaysian Confrontation (1962–1966). But with the fall of the Sukarno government …

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