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The Human Mosaic
Political Geography:
A Divided World
What is political geography?
► How do political decisions shape our
► Does the environment influence the political
► What relationships exist between politics and
other aspects of culture?
Borders: from Israel/Palestine to US/Mexico
I) Political Culture Regions
How is political geography revealed in culture regions?
A World of States
A. Independent Countries
today's mosaic of functional culture regions
varying fragmentation on our planet
territoriality: instinctual or learned behavior?
importance of “colonialism”
B. Distribution of National Territory
 Shape and configuration of national territories
 What is an enclave or an exclave?
 What problems can arise from aspects in the distribution some
national territories?
Differences in distribution and shape of national territories
Two independent countries, A and B
C. Boundaries
marchlands, buffer states, and satellite states
natural boundaries
ethnographic boundaries
geometric boundaries
relic boundaries
Are political boundaries weakening? Boundaries in Cyberspace? The
impact of Globalization?
D. Spatial Organization of Territory
unitary vs. federal governments
political subdivisions of federal governments
reservations as semiautonomous enclaves
Berlin Wall before 1989
Brandenburg Gate without a wall since 1989
E. Centrifugal and Centripetal Forces
centripetal forces as unifying forces
the raison d'être for Israel? For India?
centrifugal forces as disruptive forces
can you think of any centrifugal force?
F. Supranational Political Bodies
European Union (EU) with 27 members
- goal of the EU
- the Euro (€)
- the Schengen Accord
Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS)
Arab League
Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)
United Nations (UN)
Supranational organizations in the eastern hemisphere
G.Political Globalization?
Do supranational organizations like the UN represent
movement toward globalization?
Example of British Empire in the 19th century
H. Electoral Geographical Regions
Do religion, ethnicity, and ideology influence voting behavior?
electoral geographical regions of North America:
1) the traditionalistic subculture
2) the moralistic subculture
3) the individualistic subculture
4) the ethnic subculture
I. Functional Electoral Regions
voting precincts as functional culture regions
the practice of gerrymandering
The electoral geography of Europe
USA neither united, nor made up of 50 states?
Based on voting patterns, demographics, and public opinion polls, America is made up of 11 different nations
Yankeedom in the Northeast and industrial Midwest was founded by Puritans and residents there have always been comfortable with a
government that regulates and moderates.
The communities of the Deep South in Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and other states were founded by former West Indian plantation owners
who wanted to recreate the society they were used to: government based on the sacrosanct rights of a few wealthy elite.
Greater Appalachia, extending from West Virginia to northern Texas, was settled by people from Northern Ireland, England and Scotland, who
were openly antagonistic to ruling oligarchies and upper classes and opposed the slave plantation economy, but they also distrust government.
Each region has become more segregated by ideology in recent years as the mobility of American citizens has increased this partisan isolation
as people tend to self-segregate into like-minded communities.
“Gerrymandering” in North Carolina
The 2008 presidential election results.
Purple America: shading a not so sharply divided US?
3-D election results, emphasizing voters per sqm.
II. Political Diffusion
political ideas spread by means of cultural diffusion?
A. Country Building as Diffusion
from a historical core area to the periphery
United States? Russia? France?
B. Diffusion of Independence and Innovations
Colonial Africa
Suffrage of Women
Politics and Migration (e.g. Russia)
What happened with the Intifada?
Russia’s development from a core area.
The diffusion of independence throughout Africa.
The diffusion of suffrage for women throughout the US.
III. Political Ecology
is the relationship between political phenomena and
the environment?
A. Folk Fortresses
survival by natural protection / importance of landform patterns
see U.K. & Egypt
see France
where are separatist sentiments more likely?
logical limits to territorial growth? (manifest destiny)
B. The Heartland Theory
theory based on environmental determinism
Eurasia as base for world conquest?
► "Who
rules East Europe commands the heartland, who rules the
heartland commands the world-island [heartland + rimland], who rules
the world-island commands the world."
Distribution of landforms in France
Heartland vs. Rimland in Eurasia.
C. Heartland versus Rimland Today
What is Russia's situation today?
D. Warfare and Environmental Destruction
"scorched earth" tactics
from the Roman Empire to the Gulf War of 1991
F. Political Ecology Narrowly Defined
from the arrival of Green Parties to acts of ecoterrorism
(Edward Abbey's "Monkey Wrench Gang")
Burning Kuwaiti oil field in 1991
Prominent visitors at Everglades National Park.
Two visions of the landscape: the Sioux and the Black Hills
IV) Politico-Cultural Interaction
How are politics intertwined with other aspects of
A. The Nation State
a nation or nationality as being culturally based
cultural identity as raison d'être for a country
cultural homogeneity as centripetal force
sizable ethnic minorities as centrifugal force
B. The Multinational Country
majority of independent countries
importance of federalism in heterogeneous countries
Nation states, multi-national states and other types.
Languages of the Republic of South Africa.
C. Ethnic Separatism
 found in multinational countries and nation states alike
 development of ethnic-based federalism
 significance of ethnic nationalism is displayed in acts of
simple unrest to that of ethnic cleansing
D. The Cleavage Model
 cleavages as sharp contrasts in voting behavior
 tensions between a national core area and peripheral
districts favor separatist movements (see former USSR)
E. The Sakha Republic
 soon an independent country?
F. Will Serbs recognize an independent Kosovo?
 The story of former “Yugoslavia”
“Yugoslavia” was
formed after WWI
- 1 currency
- 2 alphabets
- 3 religions
- 4 languages
- 5 nationalities
- 6 republics
- 7 neighbors
The multicultural realities of “Yugoslavia”
Ethnic separatism and unrest in the 1990s.
Ethnic separatism and unrest in the 1990s.
Kurdistan: a nation state for 25 million Kurds?
The Republic of Sakha: autonomy vs. independence
Coat of Arms of the Ethnic Republic of Sakha.
G. Political Imprint on Economic Geography
favoring sheep over swine
H. The Corruption Index
does traditionalistic political ideology correlate with
occurrence of corruption?
What other factors might influence varying levels of
I. Islamic Law
from the theocracies of Iran and Saudi Arabia to the
countries of the sub-Saharan zone
Swine vs. sheep in the 1960s. What happened since then?
Islamic Law in Nigerian politics.
Governmental corruption in 99 countries. What explains differences?
Governmental corruption in 99 countries. What explains differences?
V. Political Landscapes
are visible manifestations of political geography?
A. Imprint of the Legal Code
land survey patterns
building restrictions (height, style, etc.)
B. Physical Properties of Boundaries
differences in border landscapes
(compare U.S.-Canada with the Koreas)
territorial limits of urban street gangs
Can you find the US-Mexico border in this picture?
Results of the 1785 Land Ordinance.
Singapore: legal height restrictions or not?
Rio de Janeiro: natural environment provides the “high rises”.
C. The Impress of Central Authority
railroad and highway patterns
destruction of Buddhist statues by the Taliban
National Iconography on the Landscape
from flags and eagles to Mount Rushmore and the Statue
Afghanistan: world’s largest Buddhist structure before and after the Taliban.
Mount Rushmore: sacred vs. the hegemonic landscapes
Cleared swath and border between Sweden and Norway
Great Wall of China: 1500 miles of protection against Mongols etc.
Will these walls ever disappear?