What’s wrong with this map? What’s right? What’s just? Who decides? Who benefits?
Maps are important ways to perpetuate a Big Lie. Here is Africa from a fresh perspective.
Alkebu-lan is Arabic for “Land of the Blacks.” The map above uses familiar color and shading schemes to name the distinct cultures and people. Human geography.
Zoom in and experience the fractal quality of intense diversity:
The unlabelled land mass at the bottom is the uninhabited realm of lands depopulated by an extinction level event such as Black Death: an alternate history suggested by Frank Jacobs elucidated here:
A few interesting land areas stand out: places Empire Expanders call Sinai, Levant, Sicily and Spain. Their unexpected presence gives pause.
Please look at this planet from the Other’s perspective, remembering that you too are the “Other.” Call me Ishmael.
The equator is the dashed line. To my eye that great lake in Alkebu-lan looks like a chick’s eye. What a strikingly different way to look at this enormous continent. The solar system doesn’t have a top and bottom, so I can just imagine visitors from another star system mapping the southernmost continent as the top of the third planet out.
The Latin for the interior sea is Mediterranean: the sea at the middle of Earth. It’s natural but unfortunate to look at the world from where you name “us.” It could be New York or the Middle Kingdom (China) or Middle Earth.
America must not remain the center for geopolitical advantage studies.
The land of the fulsome and the home of the nice.
Imperialism is brutal exploitation of a land and its people: gain without pain for the well armed and the already comfortable.
Here are the paths the genomes took.
Simply stated, a map projection is a compromise achieved by forcing a sphere in three dimensions onto a two-dimensional surface. Only a globe presents accuracy to scale on behalf of the earth orb, but you can only see one side of the globe at one time. And it doesn’t fit well in your pocket.
When you have looked at the same combination of continents 100,000 times or so, it gradually takes on the ring of “truth.”
Consider the azimuthal equidistant projection for establishing a center point anywhere. It’s the polar opposite (figuratively and literally) of the mercator projection. Mercator places the North Pole at infinity. Azimuthal places Santa’s Workshop at the center of the world.
Expect maps to push agendas hard. In 1978 the Palestinian-American scholar Edward Said produced the book Orientalism,in 1978. It explains the way an occupation force imposes its perspective on the occupied: imposition of language and Eurocentric concept of unchangeable truth.
We must find new lands from which we can easily obtain raw materials and at the same time exploit the cheap slave labor that is available from the natives of the colonies. The colonies would also provide a dumping ground for the surplus goods produced in our factories.
The British imperial overlords used a straight-edge to define borders for the people they exploited before leaving former colonials to sort it all out. Once they left they didn’t look back. What’s past is passed. Let’s just say ‘we’re history.’
Consider the absurd British decision to create an East and a West Pakistan in the South Asia theater of interest and profit. It’s folly most insane. Lord Balfour had as much insight as the architects of East and West Pakistan when he crafted a 67-word statement in 1917. Nakba is one result. Truth is one casualty.
I mention alternate histories. Here is one such at DeviantArt.Net, a resource for speculative art.
Thanks for reading.
2016 marks the 12th anniversary for International Israeli-Apartheid Week.
Cincinnati is joining at this pivotal moment for realization of the deferred dream in the ancient land of Palestine. Your guide for this week: The Cincinnati Palestine Solidarity Coalition.
Appropriately enough it started in South Africa where the word Apartheid finds its origin. A literal translation from the Afrikaans is “Aparthood.”
That term turned into a rallying cry that awoke the planet. Unfortunately for the Native Peoples South Africa possesses natural beauty, rare resources and the indomitable spirit that deep roots bring a culture: easy low-fruit harvest for the voraciously hungry inheritors of southernmost Africa.
The parallels between the Palestinians and the Blacks under imperial rule are quite clear. Whereas the White settlers immediately took command in Africa, the representatives of an ethnocracy took command in the British Imperial presence in what the British named a Mandate for Palestine.
Guess who controlled that Mandate? Just as the Blacks were held in their place by the White colonialists, the Palestinians had the land pulled out from under them when the British left. A miracle of rare craft grafted to the roots. The people who left with their house keys in hand did not simply decide to leave this lovely land.
Unfortunately it was beautiful, as splendidly Mediterranean in climate as Southern California.
The British had just given up their Raj puppets in India one year earlier in 1947. You can recognize the charismatic leaders of these three exploited mandates for India, South Africa and now Palestine. One small hint: Mahmoud Abbas is not a charismatic leader but an enormously convenient Puppet for Israel. Arafat’s leadership? Cut short in 2004.
The Iran deal fell short for Netanyahu.
Teleprompter logic did the thinking for AIPAC: the Annual Conference for 2016. Mandate for Washington D.C.
Netanyahu’s academic garb for Israeli security studies are as thin as any emperor dare wear.
Next imagined existential threat to Israel? BDS.
I am blessed to live among my fellow curious creatures on this orb, trotting about this world alongside ants with societies much like ours, to dolphins who exceed our intelligence and do not declare war.
Shakespeare may now be paraphrased, “let slip the dolphins of war.” The Defense Dept. discovered they could train gentle seagoing mammals for military missions. These shine a warm light upon an institution that needs better PR perhaps. Eisenhower in January 1961 recognized the dark side of the MIC.
I think our enormapendous “Defense” budget is too large by many orders of magnitude. Just saying.
Yes it really is cool to be a citizen of our singular planet and I’m grateful for every soul reading these words with eyes or ears developed in the Cambrian Explosion.
Todays visitors are from Australia, Philippines and United States. Another day when visitors from over the many seas outnumber those in the country of my present geography.
Here is the local geography. Cincinnati rests on a fluvioglacial terrace, i.e. the latest glacier passing by crunched a flat space. A great geologic arch extended from central Ohio to central Kentucky. Take a 360-degree look from a hill overlooking our downtown and you see accordant summits: all the hills surrounding the central city are at the same elevation above sea level. By the way, that link for accordant summits shows you why this blog has no click-bait: the choice for me: to be ad-free!
Recently I discovered a fellow traveler on WordPress who has morphed the music and theme of Woody Guthrie’s “Deportees” with lyrics that blend the Palestinian spirit of the indomitable with a tragically deferred dream, Junior Chills for Palestine. The Palestinian people have not allowed humiliation by colonizers to wipe away their joy.
Damien of Junior Chills is a fellow denizen of Earth. He lives, writes and performs in the city of Belfast, Northern Ireland, identified by map makers as the United Kingdom and borders what the world globe tells us is the Republic of Ireland. Two of the three monotheist faiths share a common isle that unites and separates, but they work hard at achieving peace. Belfast used to make the headlines here every day.
Junior Chills tugs at values I try to express and organize in my mind. Music combined with what it is to be Palestinian today. Those same Palestinians were around when Woody Guthrie was hard traveling, Palestinian refugees are still living in diaspora.The American Empire is unquenchable in its appetite for domination, a thirst handily hidden under the ugly name American Exceptionalism. Be fruitful, multiply and conquer.
So much do we learn from music and photography where images share humanity. People who live in those places defined by Empire. The British Empire thought themselves bestower of blessings upon the colonized.
Why is the Mercator Projection still the default standard for maps? It’s only practical use is as a navigation aid for mariners crossing oceans. Long ago. Centuries before GPS. Greenland has about the same square kilometers as Mexico. Peel an orange and you’ll recognize how well that crap map deceives the viewer. The Mercator method takes a sphere and infinitely stretches it along a tall cylinder: every line of longitude must parallel every other line of longitude.This places the North Pole at infinity and the South Pole at infinity. The only accurately described line is the equator. It may be poetically keen to imagine Santa’s Workshop as infinitely large, but it doesn’t help us relate to our fellow citizens with their geographic relationships.
When Maps Lie by Andrew Wiseman: Tips from a geographer on how to avoid being fooled.
It’s the method of Procrustes to force things until they fit. Empires have too much on their minds to allow people to live their lives without an overlord deciding where you belong, where you don’t belong and how to enclose different peoples in the same country. The reason: just let the natives fight it out, they matters of empire to attend.
John Cleese has an answer to a question “Why does English food suck?” “I don’t know. We had an empire to run.” So they brought back somewhat more edible fare from the colonies.
A Crucified Cuba — Still Lives!
Martha Stephens’ eyewitness report from the real Cuba.
Successful revolutions are the everlasting bane of the colonizer. Control the narrative and image becomes reality. This kind of reality: Freedom is Slavery.
Did you know that Colonialism ethnically cleansed the First Peoples of Cuba? Land was found sticking up from the sea circa 1492. Did the Spanish make plans for a thanksgiving dinner or did they brutally subjugate and enslave the locals? Empires prefer the latter. They may miss pockets of resistance during clean up operations but it’s not from want of trying. Native Peoples either become victims of genocide or they are gathered and placed in camps like Gaza, more geographically appropriate: Guantanamo.
Caption for the cartoon and the bulleted text below are at Boundless.com:
- The end of the 1800s was known as the ‘Age of Imperialism,’ a time when the United States and other major world powers rapidly expanded their territorial possessions.
- American Imperialism is partly based on American exceptionalism, the idea that the United States is different from other countries because of its specific world mission to spread liberty and democracy.
- One of the most notable instances of American Imperialism was the Annexation of Hawaii in 1898, in which the United States gained the control and possession of all ports, buildings, harbors, military equipment, and public property that had belonged to the Government of the Hawaiian Islands.
1959: heads rolled at “Concerned Citizens for Answering the Question Who Lost Cuba” when Fidel and Che pushed back against occupation. Empires do not like being embarrassed by nightmarish headlines: “Inhabitants of a 1,000 mile-long island expel American Empire.”
A large faction in the British Mandate for Palestine expelled 700,000 Palestinians in 1948, all but pockets of resistance remained. Possession is 9 points of the law, so the remaining Palestinians obtained citizenship by default. But of those 3/4 of a million refugees? The Universal Declaration of Human Rights has a reply: they retain the right to return. Syrian refugees retain that right.
When the British Empire imploded, their imperial “Mandate for Palestine” disappeared.
Dr. Laurence G. Wolf, no small voice for humanity, was my mentor from 1965 to 1969 at the University of Cincinnati: formative years. I last talked to him in a service of two local Unitarian churches a summer or two ago. Wolf introduced me to the geography of the Middle East.
Lisa Chieco brought up Thailand the other day. It’s the only South-East Asian country not colonized by the British or the French. The British left their tongue in India. Indian literature suffers profoundly from imposition of English over many generations.
Foreign policy wisdom does not spring from imperial ambition. Lisa and I were among many of you who may have read this far. We earned a collective memory of the day before the disaster of 2003. A catastrophe (Nakba) for Iraq.
Saddam did not gas his own people, he gassed the Kurds. Lines were not drawn in the sand, they were drawn with a straight-edge, but not at random. They used the strategy divide and conquer, i.e. let the Sunnis and Shias fight each other and we save bullets and we save time. Kurdistan is already inhabited by the Kurds but modern-day boundaries place them among foreign peoples in Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria.
+972 is an independent, blog-based web magazine. Today (22 Nov. 2015) it reports that Israelis are removing Arabic language from signs in Israel.
It’s consistent with other measures taken to effect ethnic purity in the Levant. Traditional hasbara students are educated in a set of arguments that proclaims Palestinians unpersons. I have read handbook-quality materials that seek to “explain” that the first Palestinians came into being on a single day in the 1967 war. It is easier to control a people when that people does not exist.
Arabic does not have a “P” sound in its alphabet, Romance alphabets do; for example, Paris in Arabic language is ‘Baris.’ It would not be phonetically logical to expect to hear the word ‘Palestine’ spoken in Arabic. It makes sense to acknowledge that the English equivalent Philistine begins with an “F” sound. Filistine.
Image from Palestinian Arabic
There are efforts to force (or phorce) the history of the Palestinians into a more convenient geography that better serves their argument by employing the logical fallacy of affirming the consequent. It’s a method that has been effective ever since Homo sapiens lived in a land without a people.
The British Empire efficiently ran their worldwide enterprise by employing a divide and conquer strategy. Sometimes overlooked was their ability to impose the imperial language upon the occupied. The Palestinian scholar Edward Said, in his seminal work Orientalism published in 1978 described the dynamic. From his birth he found himself split between cultures, with a juxtaposition of the English name Edward and the common Arabic surname Said. This caused some difficulty in the multicultural multi faith city of Jerusalem. In thought he would begin a sentence in English and end it in Arabic, or vice versa.
The same British Empire used a puppet mechanism for control of The Raj in India. It’s not always wonderful to live in a culture that writes in the language of the conqueror. English has become the principal medium of the written word in Indian literature: English is an unfortunate medium that replaces Hindi, a tongue with deep roots.
Under the British Mandate many worked fiercely to have Hebrew included along with English on public signs, as a signal for their cultural and ethnic identity. The irony of witnessing removal of Arabic on signs is not lost on this author.
I first read Bertrand Russell’s essay collection Why I am not a Christian In the early 70’s. One essay that affected me in particular, and that still intrigues me is Russell’s “Nice People.”
Skeptics Guide to the Universe Forum excerpt:
— Quote from: “Mike Foster” —I’ve been reading Why I Am Not A Christian, And Other Essays by Bertrand Russell. In it, he launches a fairly sarcastic – even scathing – attack on ‘nice people’ in a c1931 essay called . . .’Nice People’! He talks about people who think they are nice as often indirectly selfish, unappreciative, aloof, deceptive and inclined to exercise power indirectly through gossip etc.
It’s been a few years since this essay was published, but I am quite humbled at its timeliness. A great touchstone indeed.
“Nice People” rather reminds me of Jonathan Swift’s bombastic apologist in Gulliver’s Travels. Swift’s finely pompous character is merrily describing the land of his birth. His pride at its prowess is figuratively exceptional: sufficient to pop his vest buttons, had he been wearing a vest. Let’s imagine they are gold buttons to polish the metaphor. So he extols the virtue of his beloved British Empire at considerable length. Russell waits, as did Swift, until the very end of his writing before telling us the salient distinguishing feature of these very nicely described Nice People. Unfortunately they have nasty minds.
Nice people may also be found among those affecting membership in “The Silent Majority.”