Discussion: Ethnicities

Question: How can you confuse geographers?
Answer: Put them in a round room and tell them to sit in the corner.
Another question: How many geographers does it take to change a light bulb?
Answer: Only one who can hold the bulb while the Earth turns around him or her.
These two jokes were not initially written about geographers but instead about ethnic groups.

Why are ethnic "jokes" frequently interchangeable among various ethnicities? Where do we learn to stereotype? Why do we stereotype people based on their ethnicity?

Most of the jokes I've heard have less to do with making fun of something unique about the ethnicity in question, but just general ideas such as intelligence. You can hear the same jokes about blonds, women, people in the poor town nearby, people in the state north of your own (of all the states I've lived in, it's always the state to the north that is the rival, which seems arbitrary).

We learn to stereotype most from our parents and family members, then next from our peers and other adults in our lives (including the media). We base our stereotypes on ethnicity because we perceive them as different than ourselves. Human psychological make-up encourages us to differentiate between 'us' and 'them'. This was originally a group survival thing, but can get in the way of peaceful relations if we let it.

Briefly research and summarize an ethnic conflict that is not mentioned in the text. Describe the area of the Earth where it is occurring. Why is the conflict happening? What impact has the conflict had on the landscape and the people who live there?

Thailand (in southeast Asia), with a 95% Buddhist population is home to a number of Muslims and ethnic Malaysians in the southern three provinces. A portion of these are fighting for independence or possibly alignment with Malaysia. Since 2004, 5,000 people have been killed in this struggle. The conflict started because the members of these southern provinces were under-represented in politics and the economy. They felt as though they were second-class citizens, and demanded recognition. Many citizens would be happy with equal representation, but those who are fighting have higher goals.

The effect that this war is having on the people is immense. The southern Thai Buddhist towns are living in terror that a bomb will go off, that they will be shot as they walk home from the temple, that their village will be wiped out. but, just as the Malays want equality and justice, the Buddhists want to live on their own land.


Choose any three figures in this chapter and briefly explain what surprised you about the information it contained. Be specific in your explanation.

3. 7.1.4 : Distribution of American Indians

I was surprised that Indian population wasn't higher is more areas of the United States. If they counted people who are only part Indian, I think the map would be a lot different. I thought there were a lot more Indians in the southern section of New Mexico or even parts of Texas.

7.3.1 : Expansion of African American Population in Baltimore, 1960, 1980, 2000

I was interested to see how the population of African Americans expanded from a central location and expanded outward. I think it is a good example of how people like to live near others who they perceive as being similar to themselves in some way. If African Americans were migrating to Baltimore, but it was a 100% African American town, they would be more likely to settle near new jobs or in a neighborhood with others in the same socioeconomic class as themselves. In Baltimore's case, it seems that many settled near others of the same race and ethnicity.

7.7.2 : Major Tribes in Iraq

I was really shocked by how many tribes there are in Iraq! No wonder they are having difficulties! I'm also interested at how mixed they are in their territory, especially in the central areas near the Euphrates. I wonder how the tribes boundaries cross the border into the neighboring countries.

Look at the map of Africa on page 163. With that page in front of you, view the 10-minute YouTube video, The Scramble for Africa. This video gives an historical look at colonialism's impact on Africa, predominately in Uganda. It may help you understand why there is so much conflict in areas of the world that were colonized. I also want you to remember this video when we move into next week's chapter on Political Geography. After you've watched this short video, what did you learn that surprised you?

I've never really studied the colonization of Africa, so there was a lot of new information there. What surprised me most was the huge portions that Great Britain and France took control of. Such arrogance to split up a continent in such a way.

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