April 10, 2017

Discussion Session 4.10.2017 – Domains of Everyday Life and Cosmopolitan Localism

Share what you brought to your regional groups and what you discussed as well as what you heard from the other regional groups…

What similar political structures did you find with other geographic areas? Why do you think they might be similar, or different? Is it just a matter of geographic space?

Discussion Leaders: Silvia Mata-Marin, Willow Hong, Mackenzie Cherban and Scott Dombkowski

  1. As my group (NorthWest USA) did not get a chance to present, I’ll first go into some detail regarding our conversation. We focused on California’s history since that was where we all had lived. In many ways, the history of California is like that of the SouthWest, in that it was originally Native American and Mexican land before the US acquired the territory. Junipero Serra, among other Spaniards, founded the first nine missions in California in the late 1700s. Many of these missions are still standing throughout California. Every fourth grader in the state visits the mission closest to them and makes a model mission of their choice.

    Apart from the SouthWest, the NorthWest, and perhaps in California in particular, is unique in that its rich agricultural land became a major source of vitality for the region. While the gold rush in 1849 was a primary motivator for settlers to come out west, increasingly California’s fertile soil became a compelling reason to make the voyage from the East. Of those of us who went to elementary school in California, we recall vividly learning about the Donner Party, the Oregon Trail, and the Gold Rush in general.

    To this day, agriculture is a major part of California’s economy. More recently, however, technology has become a major source of economic activity, particularly in Silicon Valley. This new industry hasn’t diminished the importance of California’s agricultural activity, but rather contributed to California being the 7th largest economy in the world. In this case, the geographic space has had a huge influence on California’s unique economy. California’s similarities with the SouthWest, however, are due in large part to political forces of expansionism.

    Our group talked about the possibility of California becoming independent. However, due to the historical political structures of the state I at least found this to be unlikely. California is increasingly progressive, but with that progressive stance comes support for federal programs that benefit disadvantaged populations. Additionally, California’s state legislature is not very effective on its own. Passing bills has been notoriously difficult, and the state has constantly been fighting its debt. Nevertheless, I hope to see a state in the future in which public transportation becomes more robust and where agricultural practices become more sustainable. Despite the challenges the state has, I believe its economic vitality will continue and help the state improve its systems in ways that will continue in a sustainable trajectory.

    • Delanie, thank you so much for sharing what your group discussed. Thank you all for a great class on Monday, sorry about the overtime, everyone’s findings were so interesting. If you didn’t have time to share or if you had to rush it, please post it here. We look forward to getting to know what you all found interesting from other geographical areas and what resonated and what felt completely different from your own region.

      • My group, the Southwest, was also a bit pressed for time at the end of class and didn’t have time to share much. The four members of our group were from Arizona (2), Texas and California. We discussed the Native American populations that live in the Southwest, and the influence they have on the culture and history. Arizona has many Indian Reservations where several tribes from other areas were forcibly relocated, but historically there are also tribes who chose to call the desert home. Many tribes now have many health and economic issues as a result of being forced into a One World paradigm, which meant changing diets, adapting to free markets, and few natural resources on Reservation land. As a child in school we learned about the Hopi and the Navajo but I’ve forgotten a lot of what I learned – I’d like to change that!

        We talked about the conservative politics common in the Southwest, at least in Texas and Arizona, and how many policies systematically oppress immigrants and non-native English speakers. This area of the United States was ceded from Mexico during the Spanish American War, but we struggle to include Mexican and Central American culture (and people) in our contemporary life.

        Finally, the arid Southwest has many issues around sustainability, not least of which is water. Terry told us about a book called “Bird on Fire” which examines Phoenix as a case study in unsustainable urban development. I’ve got this book saved to read after graduation – I have long been frustrated with my hometown’s blindness to it’s shaky water supply, low density development, and car-centric culture. I can’t wait to read it. The future of Phoenix, Tucson and many urban areas in the state is at risk: peak oil, food transportation, water and reliance on air conditioning come to mind as some wicked problems that must be addressed.

        Writing all of this reminds me why I don’t live in the Southwest anymore. It’s great to visit, but it’s not really a hospitable place, for many reasons.

        • Theora, thank you for your response. I’m interested in the conservative politics in the Southwest, why do you think this happens? If the US is founded based on an immigrant culture, why the political world tend to exclude them like what Trump is doing right now?

      • Thanks for summarizing the CA history lesson Delanie!

        As Delanie described, we did spend a lot of time discussing how CA has historically been a bastion of progressive politics and began to speculate as to how that may continue to evolve in the future. One could imagine a future where CA continues to separate culturally from the heartland and given the size of CA’s economy, it is at least theoretically possible for the state to operate independently. This is not likely, given the reasons stated in Delanie’s post, but interesting to consider and not something we heard as much from from other groups. The group’s from East & South Asia touched on patterns of independence and cohesion, but different than CA those divisions seems to be based on historical ethnic, racial, or religious groups that were bundled together or apart during times of nation building, whereas in CA this cultural “division” from the heartland seems like an emergent property.

        Our group also discussed how CA’s intense landscape and propensity for natural disasters (mountains, coast lines, fires, earthquakes, droughts, floods) has had an impact on the state and the mentality of its inhabitants. We discussed whether these factors potentially make residents of CA more aware of their connection to the natural world and how that might shape the state’s progressivism.

        • To follow up on the comments of my teammates, Lauren and Delanie, we also discussed how Californian elementary and middle school education help to foster a sense of place. Delanie mentioned how students study California history and visit the mission that’s closest to their school in the 4th grade. Many schools in the Bay Area also place an emphasis on outdoor education. I participated in several programs that allowed us explore local beach and forest ecosystems through camping and other outdoor activities. For those of us that participated in these programs, we built a better understanding of and a stronger connection to the local environment.

  2. Our group (Northeast US) focused on the political structures and changes over a very wide span of time–beginning roughly 10,000 years ago. In exploring the Northeast in this manner, it’s clear to see how geography has heavily influenced the history of the region. The Northeast was originally heavily forested and a glacial erosion of the area lead to the development of hilly/mountainous regions. This meant two things for prehistoric settlers in this region– high yield agricultural practices couldn’t develop and communities would rarely grow to large villages. Relatively small, independent communities, practicing hunter gather subsistence with some small scale agricultural practices, was the norm.

    The way geography shaped early communities in Northeast America played a key role in the early interactions with and subjugation by European colonists. I noticed some similarities between our analysis and most of the other groups, largely because imperialism played a role in virtually everyone’s timeline. In other groups, colonial efforts by the Spanish, British, and Japanese had a major impact on regions’ sociopolitical history.

    This is an interesting similarity to explore, particularly because if reflects a human desire to grow beyond their own communities, either for resources or superiority. I think you could make the argument that a compulsion to grow has lead to many of the wicked problems worldwide; as we have developed more complex global economic systems, international capitalist endeavors have replaced colonization as our means of subjugating other cultures.

    • Vic, you had an amazing historical knowledge and brought a lot to this exercise for us. I found some of the early history fascinating, specifically mentioning how the climate, topography (and thus agricultural practices and abilities) kept populations relatively small.

      I added in a little about my hometown (Pgh!) and how our development rose through the steel industry and the affects that this has on our city today. A lot of policies have been and still are put in place to move us beyond the our industrial past. To reclaim the rivers, both from an accessibility point of view and an environmental point of view. But many of the ‘blue collar’ mentalities that defined the men and women who worked in the mills, are still found within Pgh’s resident population. An interesting question to ask moving forward is what will become of this ‘blue collar’ mentality as our jobs have transitioned away from manufacturing. Will this mentality remain or with the health and tech direction that this city is going on, or will the attitudes of Pittsburghers shift more toward national trends?

      We also talked about the future of the Northeast US. Because it contains our financial center (New York) and our governmental center (Washington, DC) and other major metropolises, our fate is tied to that of the US. Questions arose of whether other countries (such as China) would one day over take the US, and while we weren’t speaking on a global level, we concluded that the Northeast US would play a major part in the future of the US in general.

      From some of the other presentations, notably what Ashlesha said about India, I found myself asking,” why did all so many small tribes continually fight?” and I think Vic sums that up pretty well with “…if reflects a human desire to grow beyond their own communities, either for resources or superiority.” I think there’s something to be said for that human desire. I think it’s at play within many of the struggles we talk about as transition designers and is a large contributor to why the world is in its current state. How do we work past our innate tenancies and encourage others to do so?

    • I am from Boston, MA, and my group (Francis, Ashley, and Olivia) also discussed the Northeast. Vic and Jesse covered a lot about the Northeast. But let me tell you about the characteristics of the New England colonies: Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New Hampshire.

      Massachusetts, specifically, was founded by Puritans and Separatists. I think geographical space does influence the political structure of the region. The New England Colonies were very mercantilistic via farming, shipbuilding, fishing (cod), grain mills, trading, etc. It was originally settled for money (e.g. in Jamestown), but also grew to accommodate religious freedom. They were actually very religious. The second settled colony, Plymouth, was in Massachusetts.

      The Separatists wrote the Mayflower Compact (which was the first contract ever written in the New England colonies). There was also a town hall where people all came together to vote. The Fundamental Orders or Connecticut was the first constitution that gave people the right to vote.

      • It was great to hear Vic talk about the geographic history of the NE and I really liked reading the write-up discussing settlement patterns across the area. What I enjoyed about our discussion was hearing about the different communities and cultural backgrounds of the NE. New York, Boston and (of course) Pittsburgh were all represented. It was nice to learn about the legacy of industries which shaped the various cities, imbuing the place with a certain character, an identity as unique as the region which it developed out of.

        I have lived in NY most of my life in both rural and urban settings. I enjoy all the state has to offer, you can ski/hike the Adirondack’s and surf at Long Beach. I enjoy learning about the history of the area and the significance it has had in shaping the US. America is a young country and the NE is it’s oldest child.

        It was also nice talking about the interconnections the region has. We discussed the Erie Canal as an attempt at linking the midwest to the east coast. How this effort enabled industries to emerge in Detroit, Pittsburgh & St. Louis. I have not spent much time in the New England area, Denise mentioned a redline painted on the streets of Boston which weaves through all the city’s American Revolution landmarks. She say’s it’s for tourists, but I see it as a really interesting way of connecting with the place-based history of an area. I can’t wait to walk it!

    • Vicky, thank you for your reflections here as well as in class. Your group took a unique and in-depth approach to the Northeast region, which nicely complemented the other Northeast group. While traveling around the room, it was interesting to see how each region addressed the question.

      In addition to the Northeast regions, it was interesting to see how the East Asian groups approached the same region. Both groups addressed the problem similarly, comparing countries in the region as well as outside influences (such as Japan and the United States).

  3. Michelina Campanella April 14, 2017 at 5:44 pm Reply

    First, I think it’s really interesting that most people identify with where they have either lived or spent the most time. I may have misinterpreted this assignment, but I chose the Mediterranean as the place that I most ‘identify’ with based on lifestyle and the most resonant experience I’ve had so far in my life.

    I studied abroad in Italy in my undergraduate program, and although I only spent a limited amount of time there, I felt that the agiturismo communities in Tuscany represented the lifestyle that I want to live moreso than the places that I’ve called ‘home’.

    To me, the farming villages that are open to tourism live the closest thing to cosmopolitial locialsim I’ve experienced. The village of Titignano where my class stayed was a mix between a small stone village and a lush winery. If you have a chance, take a look at the piazza, celebration hall, pool carved into the mountainside, and surrounding vineyard and wild fields. http://www.titignano.com/it/index.html

    The family that ran the village was fiercely proud of their region and almost everything they served at the extensive (4 hour long) dinners each day was grown and produced there. The focus of our activities each day were heavenly; an expansive breakfast, lounging by the pool, classes outside in the grass, and the each evening there was either a wedding or some kind of celebration that everyone is the village was welcome to join. The weddings were magical and people had traveled from many different countries to celebrate there.

    The days I spent there changed my perspective on what it means to be a steward of the earth and to thrive in a local, yet globally connected community. I wanted to build my life to replicate that. In the course, we discussed globalization of the food system and what a travesty it would be to lose places like this because of it.

    Meric, Gideon and I (Europe) were only able to briefly discuss our experiences. Meric spoke of his travels throughout Europe and the electric mix of people from different countries he met while couch surfing thanks to open boarders. Gideon talked with us about the strength of the local political networks in London, and how those were often in opposition to national politics.

    The conclusions we came to were that the progression from localization to globalization tends to cluster together politics, industry, and technology, and that it doesn’t have to be a linear process, but rather an iterative one that returns some things to the local scale when they worked better there (like politics).

    Hopefully the future of these regions remains as similar to the way it is now, localized yet globally connected (especially places like Titignano), and can hopefully influence other places to slow down and build traditions instead of constantly changing.

    • Thanks for the post, Michelina. One thing you brought up that I find very interesting is when you say “I think it’s really interesting that most people identify with where they have either lived or spent the most time. I may have misinterpreted this assignment, but I chose the Mediterranean as the place that I most ‘identify’ with based on lifestyle and the most resonant experience I’ve had so far in my life.” It’s interesting to think about why people identify with where they have spent the most time, I personally feel like the person I am today is very much informed by my hometown and the opportunities that were made available because I grew up there.

      I think if you asked me this question during high school, I would not have said my hometown. I had to leave and spend significant time in other places to fully appreciate where I grew up. This seems to be a fairly common experience and it would be interesting to understand why it is experienced by some and not all.

    • As Michelina said, we mostly approach “Europe” through our personal experiences with Europe. Since Turkey has a mediterranean sea coast and I really enjoy my times in our summer house, which is in Anamur, Turkey (https://goo.gl/maps/8QZFLgbWS6Q2). That’s why I selected “Mediterranean” as the region that I associate myself but in our assignment, we have assigned the whole Europe, which has been a very diverse region with full of history. Because of the time limit, we have limited our in-class assignment with our experiences.

      As an exchange student in Kassel, Germany, I had the opportunity to work in a different culture than mine as well as experience other cultures for relatively short amount of time by doing an interrail (Europe-wide rail pass) and couch surfing during Christmas 2012. One of the highlights of this trip was certainly the genuine home-neighborhood experiences, which I and my two friends have had. We have stayed in a fellow couch surfer’s 1-room place. It was a renovated room from an ancient “fake” church on top of a mountain in Compiobbi, a suburb of Florence. During our three days in Florence, we had many good times with our host’s neighbors, who invited us to a family dinner in our first day etc. Everything was possible with the existing politic structure of Europe, European Union.

      During our in-class exercise, as Michelina said, we came to a conclusion that Europe started from small local communities as cities and then formed bigger communities as countries during the WWI and WWII. Then for the past almost 25 years, they were living as one big community, European Union but this community is somehow again returning where it started as we see the dissolution of EU.

  4. Terry, Theora, Tammy, and I spoke about the issues affecting the American southwest. As Tammy is from southern California, Terry & Theora from Arizona, and I from Texas, we had fairly dissimilar experiences politically as well as geographically.

    Much of what we spoke about was more climatic and geographic. Arizona and California are coming under increasingly sever droughts, and the climate will continue to shift and cause massive water shortages. Yet the social desire for green lawns and sprawling golf courses continue, and we anticipated a collision with drought that will make such luxuries economically unreadable and socially scorned.

    This reminded me about our previous weeks’ conversation about ~relationship to place~. In many ways we are astronauts in our locales. A bare human, devoid of any of tool or artifact of intelligence, in a Pittsburgh December, would die of hypothermia in a matter of hours. However, our down-filled “space suits” and insulated “colony” buildings allow us to reside in locations literally inhospitable if not for our technology. This space is plausibly only because we have literally separated ourselves from it. The same thing holds true for extremely arid places.

    This cultural attachment to place leads New Orleanians and Venetians to pour resources into quite literally sinking “ships”.

    As our climate continues to shift, previously inhospitable niches will become available and lifeforms will fill such niches, upsetting the “balance” of what was. Similarly, previously hospitable places will shift into inhospitability (for us and others), niches simultaneously opening themselves to plausible hospitality for other lifeforms.

    What attachment do we have to a place? If you want to live in a future Pheonix, AZ, where the temperature never goes below 45ºC, you can, in a closed-system where water does not have a chance of escaping into the atmosphere.

    • Like Gray said, our group discussed the differences between our three places, though they are all southwest. I think what was most interesting was that social desire for a continued facade of lush landscapes, even when the drought became more and more apparently dire. We had also brought up New Mexico, which is between Arizona and Texas and where Gray and Terry had spent time in, as an almost cartoon-like place at this point. Relating back to mindset and posture, it is fascinating (and frightening) how powerful mindset and posture can be. With southern California, for instance, the drought was a conversation talking point and my family and our neighbors stopped watering our lawns (though the city hall and many parks remained pristine and green), and after a season of a few rainstorms, the topic has all but disappeared — because it’s no longer within the immediate pull of most of the community’s finite worry, the politics and community concern that surrounded it dissolved as well.

  5. Monica and I spoke about the American Midwest. Though these cities are not necessarily representative of the entire region, we spoke about those which we are most familiar: Detroit, Madison, and Chicago.

    We spoke about industrialization of these cities and the Chicago Fire of 1871. Monica mentioned the history of labor rights in Wisconsin; Chicago has a similar history of supporting the working class with Jane Addams and the Hull House (which you can still visit today). We also spoke about the history of industry and car manufacturing in Detroit, its collapse, and its recent turn towards revitalization.

    I grew up in Chicago, and I most admire its reputation as “The City of Big Shoulders” (see Carl Sandberg’s poem: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poems/detail/12840). When I was growing up, it had very blue-collar, hard-working values, with a history of gangsters. (Its large immigration population (past and present) may have also contributed to its reputation for valuing hard work.) Even though I grew up in a suburb of Chicago, I remember it having that same quality: people being tough, no-nonsense, with a bit of a gruff edge. But now I see Chicago becoming more a city that favors well-heeled elites. Though it did have a history of corruption under Mayor Daley, the city (in my opinion) has suffered under Mayor Rahm Emanuel, with notoriously high crime rates and ever-rising taxes. I still visit often, and there is a noticeable increase in the number of homeless people and beggars on the streets.

    Though the political makeup of the Midwest is varied, Chicago is very blue and has an interesting political history. Famous gangster Al Capone was from Chicago, the DNC Riots of 1968 happened there, and Barack Obama was greatly influenced by his community organizing work in the South Side and first gained political influence as Senator of Illinois. I think Chicagoans definitely have a sense of pride that Obama opened and closed his presidency with speeches in Chicago. Obama’s presence in Chicago is fitting considering how politically active Chicagoans are (see large protests pre- and post-Trump-election).

    What I most remember learning about in grade school is the importance of the Great Lakes and how they had a huge influence in the development of the Midwest. We also learned about the Midwest being the “heartland” and “breadbasket” of America, which I imagine contributed to the hardiness of Midwesterners.

    What struck me most about the class discussion was how conflict / conquest / colonialism was brought up in nearly every part of the world. Vic made a good point of mentioning indigenous tribes of the American Northeast; hearing that made me wish I knew more about the history of natives of the Midwest and their influence in the region. It’s startling how we tend to forget about *that* conquest, and that other peoples lived here before their land was stolen and the people nearly eliminated.

    Though it wasn’t stated explicitly, it’s interesting to note how artificial borders have been so influential in shaping the trajectory of different countries (North vs South Korea being the most stark example). America is so vast, and the regions in some cases do have their own culture, so I wonder how the regions’ trajectories may have changed if they were distinct countries as opposed to states / regions within one country. For example, California clearly has a very strong, progressive political culture, so if it were to secede, it would be interesting to see where it will end up relative to the rest of the country.

  6. Ashlesha, Chirag and I represented the south asian part of the world, specifically the Indian sub-continent. We really dug deep into the history of India right from early civilization days to the current scenario first. This timeline gave us a good idea about the technological advancements that stemmed out from the history. To illustrate the idea in detail, we talked about the different regions in India being ruled by the native kings and that the communities then were being very self-sustaining. With the advent of Islamic and British invasion, import of new arms and weapons and ideas for mining the resources in India began. That’s when the industrial development really initiated in India. After years of colonization, the freedom struggle against the British united the country as a whole. The fragmented societies within India came together to fight for a common cause and as a measure of revolt, boycotted all the products and technologies brought by the British government and adopted the “Swadeshi” (using items made in one’s own country) practice. After independence, the political scenario of India changed from being a hierarchical to being more open and democratic.

    As a result of this exercise, we were able to draw parallels between history and technological developments and how a change in one affected the other. It was interesting to learn about the different histories of the regions and I felt that the how a country evolved its infrastructure was dictated a lot by the political scenario and not necessarily the geographical locations.

    • Ashlesha Pradeep Dhotey April 16, 2017 at 1:33 pm Reply

      Like Nehal said our group of three represented the South Asian part of the world, Indian sub-continent. We started off by discussing India’s history and really mapped out the main events that shaped the politics in India on a timeline. This helped us flesh out the historical events and their co-relation to the societal and political changes that probably shaped the country across the timeline. It was really interesting for me to view this timeline as I had never really analyzed “politics in India” in such detail. We talked about the initial kingdoms in India being self-sufficient and having tradeoffs for goods that were insufficiently produced. This really reminded me of the discussions we had in class about “ideal globalization.” Then we talk about the independence era in India and the post-Independence period where politics really came into being parties and leaders and was acknowledged across the country. We talked about democracy and how it’s still the backbone of the political condition in India. I think all the groups really dug deep and presented a good picture of the politics of each of the areas. It was interesting to see the overlaps and similarities across the room.

    • Nehal thank you for your response. I liked your example of the Swadeshi movement that happened in India, it sounds like a practice that closely related to the idea of cosmopolitan localism. I’m curious about the degree and range of this movement, and whether it varies across different geographic regions or not.

  7. Nehal, Ashlesha and I had a lot to talk about considering how colorful India’s political history has been. We started talking about how the land was being ruled by Indian kings until the Mughal kings came. For a long period, the hierarchy was very clear – The king, followed by his ministers and then common man. It is important to note that India had a very strong caste system too.
    The British came in and everything changed. Little by little, they took over the whole country and India was now being ruled by the Queen in England.
    And then post independence, the people at the forefront of the freedom fight took over as the leaders of the country. From that point onwards, personally, I would say India has been on a political decline to a stage now where the country seems like its moving backwards with respect to some of its policies. And the corruption.
    What was surprising to me is how similar some of this is with the other Asian countries. Often, we end up thinking that certain things only happen in the places we live in, but that is not true.

  8. Manya and I discussed South Asian region, Singapore in particular. Although I don’t identify with that region of the world, I was interested in knowing more. It was interesting to find out that Singapore is the smallest nations among its neighbors geographically but it drives almost all crucial trade and resources in the south Asian region. Singapore doesn’t have too many natural resources as compared to its neighbors but the fact that it was a nation that opened its policies to foreign collaboration, it attained the stature of a developed state. It was interesting to hear that most of the foreign policies were made under Mr. Lee Kuan Yew’s administration. Singapore gained independence in 1965, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew was Singapore’s president from 1959 to 1990. Such a long tenure is indicative of how effective his policies were in bringing new opportunities to the citizens as well as taking care of them. Today Singapore is a huge commercial capital in the South Asian region, many people from neighboring countries migrate to Singapore in search of opportunities. Due to this phenomena, Singapore’s population has increased manifold and the current government is actively working on policies to regulate this surge.

    It was very interesting to listen about Singapore and compare it with India’s history. Where Singapore was guided by a single leader for over three decades, India’s politics has seen ups and downs periodically with two leading parties clashing with each other in a pursuit to outdo each other. I could sense some factors which led to the almost contrasting development in both countries although both were independent at almost the same time in history.

  9. Our group compared the political structures of Korea and China beck in history, and we found some similarities. One thing we noticed is that Korea tried to shift from imperialism to democracy more radically than China, and that did not work very well. China is still banning some information channel from other parts of the world, and that have some problems too. The information age allows the boundary of domains to be more transparent and fluid than ever, and people have generated needs in obtaining knowledge from other domains. While it is understandable why the government has such measures, there might be a better way to achieve similar result than simply blocking the channel.

  10. I had some problems with the activity this week. At first I chose East Asia as my region because out of all the identities I have, my core is still Chinese. However, I am also a Canadian citizen who has lived in the US for a decade, longer than I have lived in Canada. For my entire live, I have not lived in any single “place” for more than 5 years. So my sense of attachment and my knowledge of all the places I’ve lived in are really limited. Therefore, when I landed in a group with two other Koreans, Bori and Eunjung, I was lost as to how to contribute. Luckily, Willow quickly joined our group so the two of us managed to piece something together. It became a comparison of modern history between China and Korea, starting from the 1900s until now.

  11. Last time, I talked with Eunjeong, Lisa, and Willow about the geo-political history of Korea and China.
    Interestingly, although the two conturies have many culture in common, the political structure has been quite different from each other.
    However, it was clear that each contury has affected the other’s political structure a lot. For example, invasion of Japan result the collapse of dynasties of the two contries and North Korea decided to follow communism by the effect of the China’ choice.

    I think the geographical proximity definately matters in terms of politics. However, if looking deeper into the examples, these were all happened in relation to the overall global dynamic of the time. So I’d say that the geography is not the only factor of one contury’s political structure.

    • I agree with Bori that geography is not the only factor of one’s political structure. And I think geographical proximity mainly result in the cultural similarities, for example, the Confucianism influenced China, Korean, Japan deeply. However, each country chose new ways to develop their structure due to some political reasons. Like North and South Korea, former Eastern Germany and Western Germany, there are totally different political environments on the two sides of the border. 500 years ago, a country could only learn from adjacent countries, but nowadays, the world becomes flat, geography is no longer the only factor that affects the choice of political system.

  12. Jeffery, Leah and I talked about East Asia region and I mainly focused on South Korea. We first talked about how each of our continents got ruled by a Japanese government, then wrote down following event in China,Taiwan and Korea. It was interesting to see how each country helped each other during the wartime or economic growth. I mainly focused on political events up until the current stage. I think the main difference in between each country is that since Korea is the only divided country in the nation, lots of wicked problems have been tangled in between North and South. For example, setting up missile system called Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) in South Korea region to prevent the attack from North Korea involve not only the East Asia region but also America and Russia. We haven’t had much time to talk about what would be future, but I guess the tension between these countries would continue for a while.

  13. Manya Krishnaswamy April 16, 2017 at 2:38 pm Reply

    Vikas and I talked about Southeast Asia (SEA), in particular, Singapore. We looked at how factors such as politics, the economy and technology has changed over the course of history as well as how things might unfold in the future.

    Singapore is a relatively young country, just over 50 years old. But within this short span of time, it has seen a rapid transformation from a rain-forest covered landscape to a the concrete jungle it is today. Given it’s prime position at the heart of trade routes between India, China and other parts of Asia, the nation-state got its start as a thriving port, attracting immigrants from across Asia. While the maritime and port industry still plays a big role in the economy, over the years the country has focused on developing its service sectors (particularly finance) and more recently, technology. Given its small footprint and limited natural resources, Singapore had to find other resources to capitalize on.

    The lack of resources also mean that it relies heavily on other countries in SEA, Asia and the world. Walk into a grocery store and you’ll find strawberries from Korea, oranges from Florida and Avocados from New Zealand. For water, Singapore relies heavily on Malaysia as its primary source of water. However, it is trying to increase its water dependence through the development of NEWater, a special water treatment process that allows wastewater to be made potable.

    Much of this rapid development can be attributed to the efforts of its “founding father”, Lee Kwan Yew. He has embraced policies that open up Singapore’s economy to the world and set up low-cost housing for citizens (unlike most other countries, 80% of the country’s population lives in public housing) amongst other things.

    However, with such development, Singapore has exchanged some its rich culture and heritage for global values, akin to countries in the West. Having said that, I think we’re starting to see a revival and celebration of things that are “uniquely Singapore”. Going forward, I would love to see how this little dot on the map can strike a balance between its rich culture and thriving economy. With a constant influx of expats (that’s only increasing), I’d love to see more integration between the old and new to call Singapore. And finally, I’d love to see a greater emphasis on sourcing locally rather globally. In this context, I define local as South East Asia.

  14. In this week, Jeffery, Rossa and I discussed the modern history of East Asian. Hundreds of years ago, the mainland of China, Taiwan, and Korea shared the same culture and similar political structures. However, the World War II changed everything. After founding nations independently, the three areas started their own paths of building up their particular political structures.

    One interesting point is that because of the special relationship between China and Taiwan, the localism among these two areas used to be cut off for a while. The two areas could not reach an agreement about the definition of their political status and relation. However, after recovering the connection, although the argument is still unresolved, both China and Taiwan are culturally unified than before.

    Another thing I want to mention is the role of America in the political system in this area. Because of America’s involvement in East Asia affairs, the localism became globalism to some extent.

  15. My group talked about the Northeastern US. After a quick opening discussion, Vic pushed us to think back as far as possible, leveraging her knowledge as an anthropologist to examine the largest human scale of time that we know about. This lens brought a very different color to our discussion, reaching far back suggested that we should also reach forward far in time, perhaps beyond the confines of our nationalistic identities.

    I’m not sure that future casting extremely far into the future yields useful results, but it was a good exercise for stepping outside our normalized, fundamental assumptions in order to identify them and perhaps think differently.

    The northeast is a quintessentially and inescapably American place right now. This is the seat of American Imperial power, where all of our war, internal policy and monetary decisions are made, and the fate of the region is deeply ties to the future of our nation. It’s interesting to consider whether this is a good thing? Are intense nationalistic identities counter productive in terms of sustainability? At what point do we need to move on from counterproductive ideas such as nationalism and capitalism?

  16. Our group, Bori, Willow and Lisa, spoke about essential element of geography and history of East Asia. And it was interesting to hear about lots of differences between China and Korea even though these two are located very closely.

    We began sharing our basic knowledge of each country, looking back at the past-our high school history class. Then we naturally asked each other how is political structure looks like, what is going on currently, and what do you think it will look like in near future.

    In terms of “geography”, we guess North Korea which is located between China and South Korea, plays a huge role, influencing both at the same time. And it impacts a lot the characteristic of each country. Bori said “geography is not the only factor of one country’s political structure”, and I agree with this point that it’s not the ONLY factor, but it plays HUGE role. Once I read about a tale of two countries, Japan and England, talking about these two are sharing lots of common characteristics and colors. It definitely goes back to the history of war, which was victorious country and which was defeated. And this, also has something to do with geographical conditions, thus determines national character.

  17. Our group (east Asia) is composed of people from three countries (Korea, China, Taiwan). While we drew the time line from WWII, we found out that these three countries while highly interconnected with each other but still have many things in conflict (not to mention Japan). Furthermore, US has involved a lot and created significant impact on this region.
    We are trying to imagine the future of east Asia but it is very hard. No doubt that China will become super power in this region so how to deal with it become the question for every nearby countries. In the economic perspective, the future is here. Everything is so interconnected. But in the nationalism perspective, everything is so diverse not to mention within China, there is also many other nationalisms emerging in different region of China. I think only solving this problem could make us step forward from current situation

  18. My group was the Northeastern US. I found that past early American History, I didn’t really know much about the political/economic situation in states to the north. Most of my more modern knowledge was about Pennsylvania and more specifically Pittsburgh. I was really interesting to hear about other states, mostly New York and Massachusetts in our group, and the differences in development.

    I found that the Northeastern US shared a lot with the Midwest U.S., especially in terms of recent economic history. The ‘rust belt’ connects the two regions and different areas are trying to reclaim economic stability in different ways. Many of the northeastern states focus on university systems and tech as a way of building up a new way of economic growth. This would be true of Pittsburgh as well, with the addition of building itself up as a medical hub.

  19. Hajira and I spoke about the Midwest, but we realized that the Midwest, and many of the geographic areas in the discussion were much too large to be considered homogenous. The politics of the Midwest are complicated, because it is at once the entry to the rust belt and industry as well as an agricultural hub. The loss of jobs in the rust belt has been felt throughout the Midwest, and the political leanings of once progressive states have shifted drastically as a result. Cities are blue and rural areas are red, similar to the rest of the country, but the cities are no longer populous enough to pull the states back to blue. I hope the Midwest can learn to harness the value and power of their greatest resource: the great lakes. I think this exercise was interesting because it showed that “place” can be thought of at different levels of scale. We had trouble talking a lot about the midwest because Chicago and Minneapolis and Detroit are worlds away from each other in terms of culture, population, and industry.

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