Archive for December, 2008

Mumbai attacks are “not India’s 911”

Posted in Political Geography on December 13, 2008 by geography101

For those of you who wrote your final exam essay on Mumbai, or have a general interest in the city, I thought I’d post this lucid account of the attacks from one of India’s greatest contemporary writers, Arundhati Roy. She alerts us to the dangers in allowing for decontextualized readings of these attacks. In a recent article in the Guardian, she writes:

We’ve forfeited the rights to our own tragedies. As the carnage in Mumbai raged on, day after horrible day, our 24-hour news channels informed us that we were watching “India’s 9/11”. Like actors in a Bollywood rip-off of an old Hollywood film, we’re expected to play our parts and say our lines, even though we know it’s all been said and done before.

As tension in the region builds, US Senator John McCain has warned Pakistan that if it didn’t act fast to arrest the “Bad Guys” he had personal information that India would launch air strikes on “terrorist camps” in Pakistan and that Washington could do nothing because Mumbai was India’s 9/11.

But November isn’t September, 2008 isn’t 2001, Pakistan isn’t Afghanistan and India isn’t America. So perhaps we should reclaim our tragedy and pick through the debris with our own brains and our own broken hearts so that we can arrive at our own conclusions.

Read the full essay here


Urban elite accuse Indian government of failing to protect citizens’ right to life

Posted in Geography and Globalization, Political Geography, Uncategorized on December 7, 2008 by geography101

Today’s New York Times ran a story of an ‘extraordinary’ lawsuit being filed against the Indian government on behalf of the country’s elite.  In the wake of the Mumbai attacks, investment bankers, corporate lawyers and their ilk charge that the state has ‘lagged in its constitutional duty’ to protect citizens’ right to life.  India’s elite, who inhabit a world far removed from the insecurity and precariousness that defines everyday life for the nation’s urban poor, have been ‘politicized’:

Since the attacks, which killed 163 people, plus nine gunmen, there has been an outpouring of anger from unlikely quarters. On Wednesday, tens of thousands of urban, English-speaking, tank-top-wearing citizens stormed the Gateway of India, a famed waterfront monument, venting anger at their elected leaders. There were similar protests in the capital, New Delhi, and the southern technology hubs, Bangalore and Hyderabad. All were organized spontaneously, with word spread through text messages and Facebook pages.

An Indian actor, writing in The Hindustan Times in Mumbai, exposes the paradox confronting Indians today: “we overlook for now your neglect of the city. Its floods, its traffic, its filth, its pollution. Just deliver to us a world-standard antiterrorism plan.” Read the full article from the Hindustan Times here. The link to the New York Times piece is here.

A story of globalization…in a box

Posted in Geography and Globalization on December 5, 2008 by geography101

The BBC box. A GPS device tracks its movement around the globe in real time

Its been a while since we’ve discussed ‘globalization’ as a concept in and of itself, but Nate Millington sent in this link that is hard to ignore given its relevance to much that we’ve covered this term. In mid-September the BBC embarked on a year long project to track the journey of a container as it travels around the globe, from port to port, carrying the goods and services that sustain the network of international trade that we now call ‘globalization’. Follow the container’s journey journey around the world here

Contested Nationalism: Basque Country and the politics of statelessness

Posted in Political Geography on December 2, 2008 by geography101


Nikki Hilsenhoff, a student of 101, probed theories of states and nations through the case of Basque Country, an area that borders France and Spain, and home to the Basque population. She writes:

basque-map2The Basque community crosses over the political boarder dividing France and Spain.The Basque population is approximately 3 million; 92% of which are within Spanish borders. With their distinct ethnic identity and language, members of the Basque Community have fought for independence and autonomy. While the Basques in Spain are offered more freedom, in terms of language and education than in France, neither France nor Spain has ever granted political independence.

As a stateless nation the Basque have been struggling, often violently, for sovereignty for years. This example illustrates how nations, and nationalism can exist without exclusively being associated with a state, or an independent political unit with officially recognized geographic boundaries.