Archive for the Cultural Geography Category

Heavy Metal in Baghdad: war, migration, culture

Posted in Cultural Geography, Geography and Globalization, Population Geography, Urban Geography on October 30, 2008 by geography101
Feature length film released in 2007

Feature length film released in 2007

Nate Millington alerted us to this film released last year which centres on one of the few (only?) heavy metal bands inBaghdad. Through the story of the band, the film Nate writes, “deals with a lot of issues related to cultural communities and migration, in particular. It ties in really directly to [migration and refugees] and gives a really strange, but ultimately compelling, look at Iraqi migration and the war.” See trailers and read reviews of the film, which premiered at the Toronto and Berlin International Film Fests last year, here.


Octavia E. Butler

Posted in Cultural Geography on October 25, 2008 by geography101

Mark Crosby from our class wanted to share the work of science fiction writer Octavia E. Butler with us. He writes: “I’ve read Parable of the Sower, last year for an english class and the sequel, Parable of the Talents, during the summer.  Through class thus far I have noticed that everything we talk about plays a major role in the book.  The book covers many different types of othering: gender, age, race, class, etc.”

You can visit her website and read about her vast collection of literature and the impact its had here. Below is an excerpt from a speech she delivered at a UN conference on racism where she talks about experiences of othering and place.

“…remembering childhood, remembering the schoolyard, remembering being a perennial out-kid. At school I was always taller than the rest of my class, and because I was an only child I was comfortable with adults, but shy and awkward with other kids. I was quiet, bookish, and in spite of my size, hopeless at sports. In short, I was different. And even in the earliest grades, I got pounded for it. I learned that five- and-six-year-old kids have already figured out how to be intolerant.

“Granted, I speak from my own experience, but it’s a familiar experience to anyone who remembers the schoolyard. Of course, not everyone has been a bully or the victim of bullies, but everyone has seen bullying, and seeing it, has responded to it by joining in or objecting, by laughing or keeping silent, by feeling disgusted or feeling interested….

“Simple peck-order bullying is only the beginning of the kind of hierarchical behavior that can lead to racism, sexism, ethnocentrism, classism, and all the other “isms” that cause so much suffering in the world.

“Several years ago I wrote a novel called Dawn in which extra-solar aliens arrive, look us over, and inform us that we have a pair of characteristics that together constitute a fatal flaw. We are, they admit, intelligent, and that’s fine. But we are also hierarchical, and our hierarchical tendencies are older and all too often, they drive our intelligence-that is, they drive us to use our intelligence to try to dominate one another. More fiction? Maybe….”

Read the full excerpt here

Manufactured Landscapes: Edward Burtynsky and the production of space

Posted in Cultural Geography, Urban Geography on October 10, 2008 by geography101

This short documentary on Edward Burtynsky’s art was sent to us by Mathias Krueckeberg. Burtynsky is a landscape photographer, but not of the usual sort. Stunning images of electronic waste (e-waste) in China, shipyards in Bangladesh, containers in Montreal, urban mines and more reveal the varied social relations embedded in place. In the above clip, he discusses the philosophy and practice of his art. You can also view images of his landscape photos here

An odd way to negotiate territoriality…

Posted in Cultural Geography on October 9, 2008 by geography101
Cambodian couple slice house in half rather than go through lengthy divorce

Cambodian couple slice house in half rather than go through lengthy divorce

Read the full story from the BBC here

“Old Gender Roles With Your Dinner?”: Gender and Space in Restaurants

Posted in Cultural Geography on October 9, 2008 by geography101
According to the NYTs resto critic, women ask about lighting in restaurants far more than men do.

According to the NYTs resto critic, women ask about lighting in restaurants far more than men do.

Frank Bruni, restaurant critic for the New York Times, notes that while that gender equality is a goal we strive for in most public places, most upscale restaurants ‘haven’t reached that point’. He had this to say about gender and space in a recent NYT article: “In my nightly dining adventures, I’ve noticed that the gender split in many restaurants is uneven, and that the restaurants’ attributes usually explain that unevenness. At the Greenwich Village restaurant Elettaria, where the bound linen dinner menu evokes a diary and elements of the décor bring to mind a dollhouse, I spotted more women than men. At the Greenwich Village restaurant Cru, decorated in clubby brown tones and distinguished by a wine list that lets high rollers rack up breathtaking bills, I spotted more men than women.” How are restaurants examples of gendered space? What specific practices and designs make restaurants gendered? Why might gender inequality be more prevalent in upscale restaurants? Read the full article here.

K’Naan: Kicked & Pushed

Posted in Cultural Geography on October 8, 2008 by geography101

The story told by K’naan in Kicked & Pushed speaks to the relationship between place and othering, through the themes of masculinity, race, and age. We can see this relationship if we pay close attention to where things happen in the story.

When K’naan and his crew are on stage performing music they embody the culture of hip hop, of rap; they represent part of a highly mediated, mass marketed image – an image highly consumed and celebrated. On stage, to a sell out crowd, the group receives encores and accolades. Yet,  when he and his crew step off stage and enter the everyday public realm, they embody a feared racialized image of masculinity. Off stage and on the street, they are assaulted and arrested. To the promoter who brought them to Sweden to perform, they no longer embody the commodified culture of hip hop – he’s made his money from them. Rather, in jail, detained for a crime they didn’t commit, the promoter sees only the feared image of the young black man.

US Grants Refugee Status based on Sexual Orientation

Posted in Cultural Geography on October 6, 2008 by geography101
Pape Mbaye of Senegal, now a resident of New York City

Pape Mbaye of Senegal, now a resident of New York City

In a rare ruling, the US government has granted Pape Mbaye of Senegal refugee status based on his sexual orientation. Because he is openly gay, he faced severe discrimination in his home country. For many years Senegalese culture has ‘quietly’ tolerated  homosexuality, especially among the creative class, to which, as an artist, Pape Mbaye belongs. Yet, the NYT reports that

“For the past few years, anti-gay hysteria has been sweeping across swaths of Africa, fueled by sensationalist media reports of open homosexuality among public figures and sustained by deep and abiding taboos that have made even the most hateful speech about gays not just acceptable but almost required. Gay men and women have recently been arrested in Cameroon, Nigeria, Uganda and Ghana, among other countries.

“In most countries there is poverty and instability, and usually homosexuality is used as a way of shifting the attention from the actual problem to this thing that is not really the problem but can distract the public,” said Joel Nana, who is from Cameroon and who works for the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission.

Read the full story here.