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Articles in Linguistic Geography

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 …

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 …

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 …

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. …

Michael Izady’s Amazingly Detailed Map of Ethnicity in Syria (and the Syrian Armenians)

By Martin W. Lewis | October 26, 2014 | 6 Comments

Most maps that show the distribution of ethnic groups within particular countries are relatively simple, depicting a few discrete populations within large, contiguous blocks of territory. The distinguishing characteristics of such groups are rarely specified. A good example of such a useful yet overly simplified map is the Washington Post’s portrayal of Syria posted here. This map reduces the complex …

My Error on Ukraine’s Political Divisions

By Martin W. Lewis | October 15, 2014 | 13 Comments

Several months ago, I posted an article and a map on GeoCurrents in which I divided Ukraine into a “nationalist” region and a “Russian-oriented” region. In retrospect, it seems that most of the area that I had designated as “Russian-Oriented Ukraine” does not actually fit that category. Despite the fact that a few pro-Russian demonstrations have occurred in a number …

GeoCurrents Summer Vacation

By Martin W. Lewis | June 10, 2014 | 3 Comments

Dear Readers,
I am sorry to say that GeoCurrents will be taking its annual summer vacation for the next five or six weeks. During this time, several guest posts may be run, but I will not be contributing any posts myself. For the next two weeks, my attention will be focused on grading papers and examinations and on finishing the book manuscript …

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 …

The Vexatious History of Indo-European Studies, Part III

By Martin W. Lewis | December 17, 2013 | 23 Comments

(Note to readers: This is the third of at least five posts derived from a draft chapter of our forthcoming book on the Indo-European controversy. This particular chapter examines the intellectual history of Indo-European studies, focusing on the most contentious ideas and ideologically motivated arguments. Its ultimate aim is to help explain why the Anatolian theory of Indo-European origins, which …

The Vexatious History of Indo-European Studies, Part II

By Martin W. Lewis | December 13, 2013 | 7 Comments

(Note to readers: this is the second portion of a chapter of our forthcoming book on the Indo-European controversy; more will follow. This chapter outlines the main ideological ramifications of the debates concerning Indo-European origins and dispersion.  It is not an account of the development of Indo-European linguistics. It is rather concerned with the use, and especially the misuse, of …

The Vexatious History of Indo-European Studies, Part I

By Martin W. Lewis | December 11, 2013 | 14 Comments

(Dear Readers,
As mentioned previously, I am now working on our forthcoming book on the Indo-European controversy.  I have now finished the chapter on the history of the debates, which I will post here at GeoCurrents, in pieces, over the next two week.  Bibliographic references are not included, although they may be added later. Comments and criticisms are of course welcome.)
Debates …

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 …

Discrepancies in Mapping Persian/Farsi in Iran

By Martin W. Lewis | July 1, 2013 | 36 Comments

GeoCurrents is deeply concerned with language mapping, as we find maps of language distribution to be highly useful and, if done properly, aesthetically appealing. But we also tend to be critical of linguistic cartography, as the spatial patterning of language is often too complex to be easily captured in maps. Dialect continua, zones of pervasive bilingualism, overlapping lingua francas, areas …

Xinjiang, China: Ethnicity and Economic Development

By Martin W. Lewis | April 22, 2013 | 7 Comments

An impressive map of China’s per capita GDP by prefecture, reposted here, appeared in late 2012 on the website Skyscraper City, posted by user “Chrissib” Cicerone.  According to the map, the two poorest parts of China are in southern Gansu province, an area demographically dominated by Han Chinese, and in southwestern Xinjiang, an area demographically dominated by Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking, …

Politics and Ethnicity in Ecuador and Bolivia: Twins or Opposites?

By Martin W. Lewis | March 26, 2013 | 2 Comments

On the surface, Ecuador and Bolivia exhibit close political similarities. Both countries are led by popular presidents who pursue leftist agendas, taking on multinational corporations, enacting land redistribution, and opposing U.S. interests. In Ecuador, incumbent president Rafael Correa just won an overwhelming victory, besting second-place finisher Guillermo Lasso by a 34 percent margin. In the most recent Bolivian general election …

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