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Iran’s Kurdish Population: Anti-Regime in the Northwest; Pro-Regime in the Northeast

By Martin W. Lewis | October 14, 2022 |

The relative conservatism of Iran’s northeastern Kurds is an interesting phenomenon that has received little attention in the English-language literature. I can only wonder whether Iranian scholars, pundits, and political activists have examined it.

Iran’s Striking Decline in Religiosity

By Martin W. Lewis | October 13, 2022 |

The Iranian government is not happy about the revival of interest in Zoroastrianism. According to a recent article in Swarajya magazine, it is “the religion that the Iranian mullahs fear the most.” Iran’s theocratic regime is also worried about Yarsan, a mystical faith with some connection to Zoroastrianism that is followed by up to one million Iranian Kurds.

Could Iran’s Government Fall?

By Martin W. Lewis | October 12, 2022 |

If these findings are accurate, it becomes questionable whether Iran’s nakedly theocratic regime can persist for long. In such circumstances, heightened repression could easily result in increased opposition. Eventually, the dam will break.

Maps and Graphs to Help Explain Italy’s Turn to Rightwing Populism

By Martin W. Lewis | October 7, 2022 |

Rightwing populist parties have gained support over much of Europe over the past decade. Italy, however, is the first western European country to see a rightwing coalition led by a populist party come to power. The success of Giorgia Meloni’s Brother of Italy is partly explicable on the basis of Italy’s extremely low fertility rate in combination with its highly negative attitudes toward immigration…

Economic and Class Factors in the 2022 Italian Election

By Martin W. Lewis | October 6, 2022 |

As the graph posted above shows, the most left-leaning of the major Italian parties, the Greens and Left Alliance, found the bulk of its support in the higher income quintiles. The Democratic Party, the heart of the left coalition, did poorly with lower-income voters.

Left and Right Voting Patterns in Italy’s 2022 Election

By Martin W. Lewis | October 5, 2022 |

The recent Italian election saw a clear victory by the rightwing coalition, which gained an outright majority of parliamentary seats. In terms of popular vote, however, the results were not so clear. The rightwing coalition took only 43.7 percent of the total vote.

Seduced by the Map, Chapter 2 (Part 7, Final)

By Martin W. Lewis | September 29, 2022 |

While colonial dependencies get at least a token nod on the CIA map, military bases are nowhere to be seen. It is tempting to infer that the reason bases do not appear on political maps is, well, political: would one really expect the CIA to draw attention to American military footholds around the globe? While that may well be part of the story, their omission has an inherent cartographic logic as well (borne out by its recurrence on similar maps made in other countries).

Seduced by the Map, Chapter 2 (Part 6)

By Martin W. Lewis | September 28, 2022 |

We now come to the most important acknowledged gap between the world model (based on theoretically equivalent national units) and the world map: the remaining colonial and post-colonial dependencies. Most of these territories are so small that they are a challenge to depict when mapping at the global scale.

Seduced by the Map, Chapter 2 (Part 5)

By Martin W. Lewis | September 23, 2022 |

As this inventory reveals, getting a handle on all the subtleties of the international system is a maddening pursuit. The closer we look, the more irregularities we find. Riddled with contested boundaries and competing claims—and alive with moving borders, shared sovereignties, exclaves and enclaves, ghost states and para-countries—the political patchwork we actually inhabit is a precarious and jerry-rigged affair.

Seduced by the Map, Chapter 2 (Part 4)

By Martin W. Lewis | September 21, 2022 |

Nesting territories, like temporally fluctuating Pheasant Island, are a good example of geo-anachronisms: survivals of a pre-modern order that was built on radically different premises from the modern norm of clean-cut, stable borders. Geo-anachronism has other telltale expressions as well, especially in Europe.

Seduced by the Map, Chapter 2 (Part 3)

By Martin W. Lewis | September 20, 2022 |

Thus far we have looked at cases where the official U.S. government map has persisted in showcasing lapsed, divided, or phantom nation-states. Another way that is misleads is by not representing a class of functional states: those whose existence is officially denied by the international community.

Seduced by the Map, Chapter 2 (Part 2)

By Martin W. Lewis | September 14, 2022 |

Consider the strange case of Belgium. Starting in 2010, the Belgian legislature went for more than a year and a half without being able to form a government, and it failed to do so for an even longer period following a governmental collapse in 2018. While such hiatuses would usually be taken as an alarming indicator of a faltering state, these ones barely raised an eyebrow in the international community…

Seduced by the Map, Chapter 2 (Part 1)

By Martin W. Lewis | September 13, 2022 |

Consider Somalia and Yemen. In the terms of political scientist Robert Jackson, both today are “quasi-states”[4]that have lost control over most of their putative territory. While it is theoretically possible for Somalia or Yemen to experience a renaissance in the coming years, that scenario seems unlikely.

Seduced by the Map, Introduction (Part 4)

By Martin W. Lewis | September 9, 2022 |

Insightful though Khanna’s cartography may be, rumors of the death of the state are greatly exaggerated. Despite the undeniable rise of global networks, I see no evidence that territorially bounded polities are going away. As has always been the case, spatially dispersed non-hierarchically structured networks intersect with hierarchically structured and spatially bounded power.

Seduced by the Map Introduction (Part 3)

By Martin W. Lewis | September 8, 2022 |

Despite its poor fit with the facts, the idea that the international system of equal and sovereign states emerged full-blown in 1648 looms large in the diplomatic and scholarly imaginations, informing entire schools of analysis. Like the world model that it underlies, it is seductively simple, making the sovereign state appear to be far more solid than it actually is.