Discussion: Political Boundaries

When referring to European nations occupying areas around the world, why do you think the word colonialism is used instead of invasion? Explain and elaborate. Think back to the video The Scramble for Africa that you viewed last week.

I think that we use the word colonize rather than invade because we are on the side of the colonizers - we and our cultural allies (Europe) are the ones going out and "colonizing". If we were a member of a country that had been taken over by a larger country, we would think of it differently, I'm sure. Another aspect is that the colonies are usually far from the mother country, where invading usually happens to a neighboring country and becomes equally a part of the mother country.

As geographers, it's important that you know the locations of places in current events. Even more important, knowing the significance of the location will help you understand more fully the context of the current event. As part of this discussion, I want you to open your atlas and your text and study vigorously the SW and Southern Asian area-- stretching from Iraq over to India. (There are great figures in your text of this area.) Study the topography and cultural mix by researching. What do you notice about the topography of this area? Are the mountains in Afghanistan similar to the Coast Ranges and Cascade Mts we have here in Oregon? Explain the difference.

The land in Iran and Afghanistan are dominated by high mountainous regions. The climate in these areas as well as Pakistan and north-western India is very dry. The vegetation is scrub and sparse grass. I know that I tend to think of all India being a great Jungle because of reading The Jungle Book, but this is simply not true. The jungles of India are only a small percentage of the land cover.

There are very few similarities between the highlands of Southwest Asia and the mountains of Oregon. Oregon's climate is much wetter, due to the moisture brought in from the Pacific Ocean. Southwest Asia is dependent on the monsoons - which do not cover all of India, but only a portion. The soil of Southwest Asia is much newer, and the mountains there are a southwestern extension of the Himalayas. By contrast, the Cascades ARE the main mountain range in the area. There is a high, and dry plains area between the Cascades and the Rocky Mountains to the west, but it comes no where near the aridity and heat that is present in southwest Asia.

Are there any significant, historical mountain passes between Afghanistan and Pakistan? Look for cultural patterns in this huge area and be alert to surprising things that appear in these patterns. This area has been well-traveled for eons by traders, invaders, and tribes. Take a look at the variety of short video clips on YouTube about this area starting with this one: Pakistan/Afghanistan Mountains.

Ever since I watched 'The Man who would be King' (based on a short story by Kipling), I've been interested in the Khyber Pass. This is only one of a couple ways to get into Afghanistan from Pakistan. It has been used for military purposes for centuries, including Alexander the Great up to the United States in our current war on the Afghan-Pakistan border.

I was interested to note that Afghanistan is home to a large number of Suni Muslims - more so than the surrounding countries. I also was intrigued by this map: http://www.joshuaproject.net/profiles/maps/m18125.pdf which shows the density of Sikhs in Southwest Asia. The greatest concentration is in northwest India, but even though there are high numbers on the Indian side of the border, almost no Sikhs live in Pakistan.

Please view this video from TED, Parag Khanna Maps the Future of Countries. What jumped out at you from the video? Did anything surprise you? Summarize your thoughts about it.

"‎History doesn't necessarily repeat itself, but it does ... rhyme."

This is so true! I really liked this presentation, and I agree with his idea that if we concentrate on how these countries are connected, on the curvy lines that cross the borders, then we have a chance at establishing peace between them, rather than fighting over the location of a line. Of course, moving those lines around, especially in Africa, to closer match the people living on the globe will go some way towards being able to work together.

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