China is Old (P.S. and diverse)

July 2nd, 2010

When we start talking about China next week, I will stress the theme that in order to start to make sense of China, you need to understand the importance of three things: it’s big, it’s old, and it’s changing.

NPR broadcast an interesting story today underlining the point that China is indeed old. The report describes a 13th century merchant vessel, raised from the ocean floor and now housed in a museum in southern China. It’s worth reading.

P.S. I have just come across another article that is related to some of the issues we will discuss regarding China. It deals with China’s ethnic minorities, and in particular the case of Xinjiang. There is a question on the exam – which I hope you with think about even if you don’t choose to answer it – about whether China is an empire rather than a country. This question refers not to China’s international ambitions as much as to its control over ethnic minorities, such as those in Xizang (we know it is Tibet.)

India and China on BBC

June 24th, 2010

In class yesterday, I mentioned the interesting story I heard on the BBC about the varied development paths of  India and China. You can find it here.

Interesting talk on USAID and its work

April 12th, 2010

Marcella Michaud, Regional Advisor for Central Asia and the Caucasus in the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance, and
Robyn Kerr, Disaster Operations Specialist for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, both in the U.S. Agency for International Development,
will give a talk on the agency and its role in development initiatives, humanitarian response, disaster risk reduction, working with internally displaced persons in natural disasters and conflicts zones.

April 13, 2010
112 Annex A
5 pm

Some recent news from China

March 22nd, 2010

As we begin discussing China in class, it’s important for you to keep up with recent news from the country. As usual, there’s no shortage of such news.  Some examples:

Migrant Restrictions in China Stir Outcry (CNN, March 12, 2o1o.)

Air Pollution Hits Record High in Hong Kong (New York Times, March 22, 2010. Also see this BBC report, and the related report Health Alert over China sandstorm, from Al Jazeera)

Chinese Official’s Threat Sets Off a Media Furor (NYT, March 21)

Chinese commerce minister: U.S. has the most to lose in a trade war (Washington Post, March 22)

Google Stops Censoring Results, Making Black by China Likely (Business Week, March 22)

The worldwide war on baby girls (The Economist, March 4, 2010.)

Version 3 of the exam now available!

February 17th, 2010

I have added a new question to the Geog 307 exam, and you can download a pdf copy of the exam here.

The update also includes a change in the location of the .kmz file which you will need for Question 4. If you have trouble downloading this file, let me know and I will e-mail it directly to you (I found that if I try to retrieve the file using the Safari browser on my Mac, I get a screen of gobbledygook. If I use Firefox, it works fine.)

Southeast Asia: Required reading/viewing/listening

February 15th, 2010

National Public Radio today began broadcasting what seems to be a very good series perfectly timed to go with our discussions of Southeast Asia. Please visit the NPR website, read or listen to the five short segments that will be posted during this week, and take a look at the video segments that go with them. Be ready to discuss them in class.

Research Paper Topics

February 15th, 2010

As I receive and read the research paper proposals, I will post the authors and their topics here. Please come back for updates.

Chelsea Cayer, Tanya Katyal, Christina Elder. Kashmir: India vs Pakistan

Zwe Maung, Brianna Mears, and Mohammad Mesbahi: The Struggles of the Uyghurs in the Province of Xinjiang

Collin Hess, Tim Goodloe, Michelle Woody, Greg Weeks. Japan’s Population Decrease.

Nico Anderson and Kyle Dexheimer. Pakistan.

Scott Matthiessen, Tony Rodriguez and Calvin Clessas: Yemen: a Failed State.

E-mail glitches, collapsing buildings, and canceled classes

February 10th, 2010

Yesterday morning (Tuesday February 9) I sent out an e-mail to everyone in the class to let you know that we wouldn’t be meeting. Evidently the message fell victim to the vagaries of the UMW e-mail system, and some of you didn’t receive it (A message I sent to another class yesterday took about eight hours to arrive.) I apologize to those of you who trudged out in the snow and ice to a class that didn’t happen.

I sent out another e-mail to everyone this morning, but in case it too didn’t make it, I am posting it her

To: All students in Geog 307

I wrote to you yesterday promising an assignment in lieu of class, and I apologize for not delivering sooner. The assignment I am going to ask of you is simply that you make sure that you have done ALL of the reading and video viewing listed on the Course Calendar for tomorrow’s class (which is really Tuesday’s class, postponed) and that you come to class ready to talk about it  I really would like to have a discussion tomorrow rather than delivering a sermon!

This has been a week of disruption and upheaval, especially for the Geography Department. Our temporary accommodation in Annex B (while Monroe Hall is being renovated) turns out to have been somewhat more temporary than we had thought. The roof started caving in yesterday, and we were banished from the building, computers were hastily taken to a safe location, and wooden beams were rushed into the building to prop up the roof. At this stage, we are not sure how long repairs will take and when we will be able to move back. For the moment, though, Geography faculty are refugees. This is a long-winded way of telling you that, although I fully intend to hold office hours tomorrow, I am not sure exactly where my office will be. If you have any questions, either send me an e-mail or see me after class. I will keep you posted on any future developments.

See you tomorrow (I hope!)


Donald Rallis
February 10, 2010

Reading about Cambodia

February 3rd, 2010

I mentioned in class yesterday that I would like you familiarize yourself with the country of Cambodia before we discuss the country in class in a few weeks from now. Specifically, I would like you to read and be ready to talk about a book about some aspect of Cambodia’s geography, history, culture, or politics. Here are some suggestions (most of them deal with aspects of genocide under the Khmer Rouge, 1975 – 79.) This list is not exhaustive, so if you come across any other book like to read instead, please let me know.

Him, Charithy. 2000. When Broken Glass Floats: Growing Up Under the Khmer Rouge. New York: W. W. Norton and Company.

Ung, Luong. 2000. First they Killed My Father: A daughter of Cambodia remembers. New York: Harper Collins.

(You can find a review and excerpts from both of the above in the New York Times.)

Yathay, Pin. 1987. Stay Alive, My Son. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press.

Pran, Dith. Children of Cambodia’s Killins Fields: Memoirs by Survivors. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Dunlop, Nic. 2006. The Lost Executioner: A Story of the Khmer Rouge.  (Review in Spike Magazine.)

Short, Philip. 2004. Pol Pot: Anatomy of a Nightmare. New York: Harper Collins.

Coates, Karen J. 2005. Cambodia Now: Life in the wake of the War. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland and Company, Inc.

For more suggestion, see this listing on Andy Brouwer’s website.

News from Malaysia

February 3rd, 2010

As we discuss Malaysia in class, I recommend that you read something about two stories currently or recently in the news from that country. The first is the dispute over the use of the word ‘Allah‘ by Christians in Malaysia, and the second deals with the sodomy trial of a leading opposition politician (See the coverage of this on the websites of BBC News, the Christian Science Monitor, as well as the Malaysian newspaper the New Straits Times.)  Both issues are controversial, and both highlight cultural and political divides within Malaysia.