Thursday, December 17, 2015

Research Book Post #1

December 17

Book: Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World by Nicholas Ostler

Section: First Twenty Pages (Chapter 1 and half of Chapter 2)

Language, its Spread, and How it Affects Us

          The first chapter of this book, which serves as the introduction of the book and its purpose, describes how language is useful to a community and what purpose it serves. The book starts out by describing how the world's situation in regards to language looks, with between 6000 to 7000 languages present, and how over 1000 of those languages are spoken by less than a dozen people, while several languages like Chinese, English and Spanish dominate having 1.2 billion, 300 million, and 400 million, respectively. It describes how languages are similar to species in the way that they evolve and change over time, the difference being that languages evolve much faster, and languages,
unlike organisms, have a chance at immortality by passing from parents to offspring and being revitalized. The book discusses how languages, unlike species, are the only way to look at populations and define them into communities, as science has shown that all of humanity is one species, thus the study of humanity and other species similar to us has fallen out of usefulness for the most part, language continues to persist as a way of defining communities as it is required for a community to share knowledge and have a common history. Languages are one of the few ways for a group to communicate and identify with each other, and it is very important to maintaining culture and world view. The book describes that it's goal is to track the change of languages and their cultures, and describes how as languages change also shows how a culture changes in its view of the world. The chapter also describes how writing evolved and changed from simple documentation, to a way to record information in a way other than oral tradition. Chapter 2 discusses how languages spread differently, with some spreading through the Farmer's Strategy, passively growing its population and thus its influence, and it then discusses the Hunter's Strategy, which is how languages such as Latin grew, through conquest of passive languages. It also discusses how languages do not grow for any set of reasons, that the situation is different every time, as it addresses the old theory that languages can only grow the military and economical domination. It disproves this through the example of how the Germanic tribes conquered Latin speaking areas after the fall of Rome, but did not change its people's languages.

Monday, December 7, 2015

"Human Geography: Chapter 6", "Where Languages Go to Die", "Where English Words Come From", and "How America's Wars Have Changed the English Language"

Conner Lewis
December 6

"Ebonics is the official language of the undefined black culture, the native tongue to the underrepresented black American." - Steven Willis

Black Americans wanted to be accepted equally into American society and culture, but were continually discriminated against and separated from other Americans for a very long time, so they formed neighborhoods that were racially black in nature and that were largely separated from other parts of the city, then these neighborhoods began to speak their own dialect of English due to being isolated and segregated for so long.

Western Europe is the home of one of the most interesting linguistic mysteries, the Basque language. As far as linguists can tell, the Basque language, spoken by the Basque people of northern Spain and southern France, are people who were present in Europe before the arrival of Indo-European languages, and thus speak a language that is entirely unrelated to all those around them. The language is also considered to have its roots as one that is pre-agrarian, as the Basque people are mostly herders who were separated from the agrarian societies by geographical location. The Basque language is a good example of how much of the information on languages and their origin are speculation based off of good evidence, and that many of the methods used by linguists are not perfect systems for determining facts about languages, as much remains hidden due to a lack of knowledge on language, especially those originating in pre-agrarian society.



Human Geography: Chapter Six
Where Languages Go to Die
Where English Words Come From
How America's Wars Have Changed the English Language 

Essay Question:  What do the articles Human Geography: Chapter Six, Where Languages Go to Die, Where English Words Come From, and How America's Wars Have Changed the English Language have to say about if and how language reflects and changes culture?

     Although it is the most common form of communication used, and probably one of the most important distinctions between humanity and the animal world, few people stop to consider how language truly effects the way we think, act, and see the world around us. Language is something we use everyday, as a means to interact and understand others and ourselves. It is even used by everyone when they don't talk, to visualize and create abstract ideas in their mind, and it is what allows for us as people to interpret and define the world around us through understandable concepts. While some like to see language as a defined tool which should remain the same as it always has, and that the use and development of new words or ideas should be snuffed out, it is impossible to have language without it being a constantly evolving entity. As language is what is used to reflect the ideas in our minds and to define the objects around us, it is obvious that it is going to shift as these factors do. Language will always shift as the mindset of those using it does, because the people who speak the language define how it is used. In Human Geography: Chapter Six, it clearly defines how language evolves and why, as well as the effects this change has on the people who use it. Where Languages Go to Die shows how and why languages can and will be discarded whole cloth if other languages are more useful at the time. Finally, both the articles Where English Words Come From and How America's Wars Have Changed the English Language provide perfect examples for how and where this change in language occurs.
     While to many it may appear an abstract concept, one which cannot be defined through clear laws and ideas, the ways through which language evolves are actually very clear. Human Geography: Chapter 6 attempts to explain these methods and changes by giving clear examples as well as defined rules. As previously stated, language is the very reason that culture exists, as it allows for the development of ideas, ideologies, beliefs, and views on the world around us. Our language defines our culture due to the fact that the language we speak dictates how we see the world around us. An example given in the chapter are the use of some Asian languages which have no tenses or ways of recording events chronologically. This affects the culture greatly as it means that the culture of these people will be more focused on the now and the why of a thing or action, then the when. It means the culture does not value the recording of history as highly as other parts of life, and gives a sense of a "here and now" attitude to the people of the language, as rather than reflect on past events they simply speak in the present. Even if they describe what someone did in the past, without the use of tenses, it still affects their view on the event at hand as it places it in the present along with all other actions. In the same way, this example can be used to show how culture and the people using a language morph it as well. The fact that there exist no tenses in the languages in question reflects that to these people, the discussion of when something happened never seemed important, and thus they developed no concept of tenses and chronology. Another way that language allows for the reflection and changing of culture is through the existence of dialects. Dialects are variants of a standard language, the form of a language accepted as the official form by governments who adhere to it, that fall along regional or ethnic lines. The very existence of dialects is an example of how language reflects culture. An example of this can be seen in the difference in dialects between the South and the North in the United States. The South has a very distinct culture to the rest of America, and their
An example of isogloss' and dialects in the US
dialects reflect this. As their culture and ideals changed over time, their use of the English language changed as well. They morphed it to reflect how they saw the world, such as the development of terms only found in the South (for example "Bless your Heart" is most often used in the South) show the ideals of the South as well. "Bless your heart" is a good example as it allows for the viewing that the South is often much more religious than other parts of America, and while the phrase no longer has to carry a religious meaning, another reflection of how culture can change language, as the South is no longer as religious so thus phrases often take a more secular use as well, when it was first spoken it did carry a religious meaning due to how the people in the South viewed the world more religiously. Language can also be used to change culture, for as phrases such as "Bless your heart" and "Bless you" began to spread from the South, and as they began to be used by people who did not view them so faithfully, the change in this part of the English language's usage also reverberated to the South, where it changed how the word "Bless" was seen. Bless no longer had to be religious, as it had before, but rather could simply be a reflection of good will or amiability. Through the use of dialects, phrases, syntax, and grammar, Human Geography: Chapter Six displays how language can reflect and change culture.    
     The next article, Where Languages go to Die, is an extension on the previous discussion as it addresses how and why languages can be discarded and changed for political and social reasons as a result of the situation a person or group lives in. The example used in the article was the rise and fall of Aramaic as the lingua franca of the Middle East. It describes how the Aramaic peoples rose to rule large swathes of Mesopotamia, before being taken over and exiled by the subsequent Akkadian speaking Assyrians. The exile was the key to their language's success, as it allowed for the Aramaic diaspora to spread across the Middle East. The reason for so many regions shift to using the Aramaic language in day to day commerce was that there were simply Aramaic people everywhere, and as such the language was a valuable tool to learn as it allowed for communication with a greater amount of people, something very important for the merchant and ruling classes. This shift in language,

however, did not come without an added effect on both the language and the cultures that used it. The article discusses this in an indirect manner, by discussing who spoke Aramaic. Jesus of Nazareth, or Jesus Christ, spoke Aramaic, which affected his culture and his perception of the world. Aramaic is in the same language family as Hebrew, which is why the two share very similar concepts in terms on the view of God and his relation to the world. Had Jesus been born to a language such as that spoken by the PiraƱa people, which has no concept of God or divinity at all, or that of another of the many languages with no concept of God, his outlook on the world and how he approached it would have been very different. By accepting Aramaic, other cultures were at the same time gaining concepts such as monotheism and other aspects that were previously rather distinct to the Hebrew and Aramaic cultures and languages. For this reason it can be seen that language can also affect a culture due to political and social reasons, as new ideas are introduced due to interactions between different languages and cultures.

     The final two readings, Where English Words Come From and How America's Wars Have Changed the English Language,  also gave modern examples of how English is still evolving to this day, despite the amounts of records on English and many people's efforts to stop it, and through this change there is a reflection of America's change in culture.  In Where English Words Come From, it can be seen that English culture has changed its language as it was introduced to new ideas from other places. As the culture started to need a way to identify the new aspects of the world it was discovering it began to morph its language to address this new world as well. When the English first discovered the orange, they took the name from the French, who had taken it from Dravidians, and used it to name the knew fruit. Then it can be seen that culture can affect language even more, as orange began to be used to describe things that were previously called red-yellow. As the culture began to need more ways of clearing identifying culture, they simply morphed a word's meaning to reflect the needed change. The next best example used is the word disaster, which literally means "bad star" in Latin. This is due to the Roman belief that should a disaster occur, it was because or at least could be seen in how there were bad stars and signs in the heavens. This is an
Civil War Slang
example of how language changes culture as well as the reverse, because while this term was developed in to reflect Roman beliefs at the time, it also reinforced these beliefs by showing how all bad things occurred due to poor astronomical signs. The second article,  
How America's Wars Have Changed the English Language, is again an article which describes several examples of how language both reflects and changes culture. The article describes how in the Vietnam War lots of slang came out of the war that was used to describe death in a nonchalant way, and how it also reflected how defeated the soldiers felt during the war. Language was changed so that the soldiers could accurately depict how accustomed to death they had become, as well as how they were forced to cope with the situation they were in by attempting to refer to death as more casual than it normally is seen. This language in turn allowed for a shift in culture, as when this language was brought back to the States it then changed American culture by aiding in undervaluing how awful death it. Modern day military slang such as "Homeland", used to refer to the US, is a development of the patriotism that many troops experienced in recent years, as it was slang made to give a sense of greatness to the place that the soldiers saw as something worth dying for. They changed the language to allow for an easy way to refer to the US with great amounts of passion and zeal. Through all this, it can be seen that language changes and reflects culture.

     All of these articles display how culture is both changed and reflected through the use of language. It can be used to show differences between regional ideals, as well as display shifts in them through the use of dialects. It can show how a culture expands and how its ideals spread between groups through the adoption of concepts common to another language, and finally it can be used to see how words and concepts can change their meaning as the culture around them changes along with it. All of this is important because it proves that shifts in language should be accepted and even encouraged, as it allows for the world at large to see a culture for what it is and what it thinks by what it can say.

Extra Credit:

Here is a video of how losing one's language can affect them on a personal level, and how language is tied to memory and identity.

This is a map of the world with the languages spoken there:

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Language Videos

Video #1 (How language evolved):

Video #2 (The language of lying):

Video #3 (Texting and language)(Can skip to 5:00):

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

"The Big Heart" and "Human Geography: Chapter Five"

Conner Lewis
November 15

Video: Mellody Hobson: Color blind or color brave?

Black women wanted to succeed in the business world at all levels but many companies refuse to hire them due to color blindness and sometimes racism so they asked companies to be color brave and accept other minorities, then two major companies began to have black female CEO's as more and more black women were accepted into the business world.

The Balkans, especially the nations of the former Yugoslav nation, is a perfect example of how one's identity can be closely tied to ethnicity, as many people fought and died to see their identity and ethnicity gain their own nation. It is also an example of how multiple ethnicities can have separate identities and still be ruled by a single state, as well as being an example of how this can be problematic.


Human Geography: Chapter Five
The Big Heart

Essay Question: What do The Big Heart and Human Geography: Chapter Five have to say about how an identity is formed,  and how it can change over time.

         "Be unique, by a [insert product]" is a common line used to sell cars and clothes alike. To many, one's identity is determined by how one acts, looks, and by what their beliefs are, but this is not all there is to identity. Identity is how we and others define someone. It is much more than physical belongings. It is a meshing of the experiences, emotions, connections, and rejections we have throughout our lives, and because of this it is constantly changing. One's identity is also different at every scale across the world stage, with people of different areas viewing others by larger and more broad terms such as nationality or ethnicity. Identity is also how someone associates sexually and in terms of their gender. While some may refute identities' ability to change, and state that people cannot change their identity after a certain age, this is not the case. Human Geography: Chapter Five proves how identity can change by identifying the processes through which identity is formed, some of which are also key roles in changing existing ones too, and by showing how this identity manifests its change in different scales across the globe. The article The Big Heart, by Tony Perrottet, then shows a modern example of how the city of Houston and its residences are changing their identity at every scale right now.
          Though it happens to everyone, identifying how identities form is crucial as it allows for predictions of how the cultural landscape of a region will change and why it has before. According to Human Geography: Chapter Five, identity can form through several different methods, which all can contribute to changing an already existing identity as well. One important way that identities can form is through the process of identifying against another group of people.
By identifying what is considered "Other", and then opposing one's self against that, an individual or group can set the boundaries of what they do and don't do through clear cut distinctions. By identifying the natives of other lands as mystical savages, Europeans during the Age of Exploration were very easily able to define what is European and civilized as well as being able to categorize themselves against everyone else who they believed to be lesser to themselves. This way of forming an identity is very powerful as it instantly creates tension between groups, as it defines one way as wrong and the other as right, leading to conflict over ideals and ideologies. This way of identifying one's self allows for a person's identity to change all the time as the group which they identify against also changes, a good example of which is how Americans opposed their identity to Nazi Germany during WWII, and then towards the Soviet Union during the Cold War. This shift lead to several changes in how Americans identified, as they shifted from the land of the free to the land of the free capitalists, to oppose the Soviet Union's communist economy. Another very powerful tool for defining one's identity, especially at the global level, is nationality. Nationality is a concept that is only 300 years old, yet is already one of the primary methods for someone to identify themselves, especially when traveling abroad. By associating with one's state by stating that one is French, British, Chinese, etc. a person can instantly create an identity for themselves in the eyes of others as by defining where they come from, other people can make assumptions on nearly every part of their identity, true or not. This can be dangerous, as it often leads to stereotypes about identities, as can be seen through the stigma there is towards Mexicans from many Americans, as by defining one's self as Mexican, they receive all of the baggage that the Mexican identity entails. This allows for one's identity to change as the stigma and stereotypes around their nationalities change, as well as allowing them to change their nationality altogether. As the Irish became more and more accepted in America following their large chain migration into the nation, their identities changed in the eyes of themselves and others. They began to see themselves more as Americans, and so did other other Americans begin to see them less as foreigners and more as fellow Americans. Another way that many people's identities are defined is something that is decided for them before they are even born, a person's race.
This is the product of the viewing minor genetic differences as a deciding factor in how someone acts and who that person is. Unfortunately, race is still a strong factor in forming many people's identity. It is important to note that while a person's race is decided by social norms and thus by others, this does not mean that one's race cannot change. A perfect example of this is with Hispanics in the United States, who were previously considered a separate race and were given their own box on the United States census, however as of 2000 Hispanics began to be considered as white, meaning that for all intents and purposes Hispanics changed to white, at least in the eyes of most Americans. This is how race can also aid in changing the identity of a person, even after birth, and even though they cannot do anything to change their appearance itself, unless you are Michael Jackson. The next way through which a person's identity can be decided is through their ethnicity, which is interesting as it is decided for a person by themselves as well as others. Ethnicity is a concept based on the idea that a group of people are connected and even related in a certain place overtime. For nation state's, this is closely tied to nationalism. The reason that ethnicity is decided for a person by themselves and others is due to the fact that a group of people choose if they are an ethnicity or if they and another group are, and then this is reinforced as these groups of people are continuously identified by others as associated with that ethnicity. An example of an ethnicity is that of the French in France. One's ethnicity can change as the ethnicity experiences change to who it applies. For example, it used to be that the ethnicity of American applied to only Anglo-Americans from Great Britain, but over time it came to include Americans of German, Irish, Swedish, and other European origin. The last two very important ways through which a person forms their identity is through their sexual orientation and gender. Gender in terms of identity is used to refer to how a person views themselves as either male, female, or neither. This can change as a person changes their own gender through either medical procedures or just through how they see themselves and present themselves to the world. Sexuality determines someone's identity through who or what they are attracted to sexually. This cannot truly change as it is not a choice, but it can change socially as the perceptions and names for different sexual orientations shift based on the culture at the time. Through all of these methods a person's identity is both formed as well as changed over the course of their entire life.
          Almost all of these vectors for change can be seen occurring in Houston right now in the modern day. For a very long time, Houston has been seen as a very white, Republican, conservative, and sometimes down right xenophobic city built off of the oil industry which boomed there for the longest time. This identity was actually true for a while, as many white Americans worked in factories and oil refineries across Houston, however in recent years this perception could not be farther from the truth as Houston, and more importantly the people of Houston, has changed its identity from that of a primarily white city to that of one of the most diverse cities in the nation. Studies by the Kinder Institute of Urban Research have found that the most equitable location for
America's for major racial and ethnic groups (Asian, Hispanic, and white and black people who are not Hispanic) was not New York or Los Angeles, but rather Houston. This is the result of a change in identity which has occurred across Houston. Over the past couple decades, more and more people of all backgrounds have moved to Houston, changing its diversity and identity as a whole. One way this change is occurring is that as there is more and more racial diversity in Houston, as more Asians, Hispanics, and African American people move to Houston in search of jobs. This diversity causes the whole outlook on how races are treated as well as how they are seen to change. It is very hard to create "us vs them" situations when there are so many groups that make up so much of the population. This causes many people's view of the identity of Houston to change from that of a white dominated city to that of a racially diverse and accepting one rivaling New York and Los Angeles. Another way the change in identity is occurring is through the addition of more and more ethnic groups to Houston. This is occurring as several different Hispanic and Asian ethnicities move into Houston and transform parts of Houston into areas for Vietnamese, Chinese, Cuban, Mexican and other ethnicities to stay. This also changes the identity of Houston as it is again becoming a more diverse and accepting place, with several different forms of Asian and Hispanic restaurants appearing from several different ethnicities. All of this is changing Houston as its people begin to define themselves against others differently, for as the diversity increases the people of Houston stop defining themselves against Asians, Hispanics, and African Americans as they are consisted of all these forms of people. They rather begin to define themselves against other places, and not against the races and ethnicities that have moved in, such as defining themselves against the North and other parts of the United States. This change affects the identity of Texas as a whole, as it is seen on a regional level as less white dominated, and more accepting.
         This example, along with the explanation of the underlying processes which cause it, are a clear cut example of how identity is not a rigid and defining aspect of a person and place, but rather a fluid definition which is defined by many different factors at any given time. Identity is not just defined through what a person wears, but how they act, as well as by their nationality, race, ethnicity, religion, gender, and sexuality, all of which are subject to change at different times and for different reasons. This distinction of identity as a fluid definition is important, as it allows for us to look at how we define others and whether that definition is correct, or if, like Houston, the identity has changed. It tells us as a world to always challenge our views on a person and place, as it may be that a person truly has changed.

Extra Credit:

Extra Article and Mormonism and Homosexuality:
"To bar a gay man or woman from communal acceptance and access to religious practice is hopelessly misguided." - Observer News

Homosexual Mormons wanted to have homosexual marriage and practice their faith but recently the Mormon Church has banned married homosexual members as well as their children from going to Mormon churches so the homosexual Mormons were forbidden from practicing their faith, then they decided to march on Mormon churches protesting the rule prohibiting married homosexuals from practicing the Mormon faith.

Extra Credit Video:

This is a perfect video showing how someone's identity can be both religious and homosexual despite perceived conflicts. It shows how someone can have a multi-faceted identity and how each part can interact with the other, for example the man in the video is both very religious, Mormon, as well as homosexual, meaning that he will not be able to marry another man and must live a celibate life.

Yugoslavia Activity

Group: Conner Lewis, Sean Costello, Hayden Kayyem
November 16, 2015
Ethnicity played a critical role in igniting the Yugoslav conflict (1991 - 1999). There were a lot of ethnicities that inhabited Yugoslavia, such as Serbians, Croatians, Bosnians, Slovenians, Macedonians, Italians, Hungarians, Albanians, Turks, and Roma. To make matters worse, many of these ethnicities were fiercely nationalist. As these ethnicities lived in close proximity under one government, there was bound to be conflict to due the misrepresentation of most groups. Previously, before the introduction of communism, the Yugoslav government was a relatively fair union between Slovenes, Serbs, and Croats, however after the introduction of Communism the Serbs took over the government and military entirely. This caused other ethnic groups to be misrepresented in the government and they were often oppressed by the Orthodox Serbian government as they lost their place in the nation’s government.. This caused the Croats and Slovenes to create their own military and both declared independence over the course of a year. This conflict is a result of these different ethnicities.
A map of the ethnic divisions in Yugoslavia

The second major cause of this conflict was the lack of religious unity between ethnicities and the entrenchment of religion. Serbia was Eastern Orthodox along with Montenegro and Macedonia, while Bosnia and Kosovo were Muslim, and Croatia and Slovenia were Roman Catholic. The religious unity within these autonomous regions were very high as well, from eighty to ninety percent of the inhabitants of these regions were the main religion, with the exception of Bosnia-Herzegovina. These divides only exacerbated already existing tensions as the Serbs attempted to ethnically cleanse Yugoslavia to preserve their identity, justifying it through their false religions among other things. Another factor contributing to the conflict was the lack of unity within Bosnia & Herzegovina, which had over 40 political parties and no predominant nationality. Its population was 40% Muslim, 33% Serbian and 19% Croat. This split in control caused friction as the Muslim population felt that they were not being represented as the Orthodox Serbs still held most of the public offices in the Bosnian branch of the Yugoslav government. As the conflict began, both the Croat and Serbian armies moved to take parts of Bosnia, which caused the Muslims to band together to defend their faith and land.
Even in the midst of the Cold War, the
actions of WWII were not forgotten.

Another reason for the conflict was the rivalries which had been created in previous years. Anti-Semitism was strong in Croatia and Slovakia during the 1930s and 1940s and the Nazis were welcome there. Croats sided with the Germans against the Serbs during the war. This left a deep divide between the two ethnicities, and with the destruction of equality between the three groups in the Yugoslavian government, many Croats and Slovenes feared they would be punished for their ancestors actions, and many Serbs believed that they should for siding with the fascists who had caused so much harm to them. This fear of being harmed for their ethnicities actions, however, was also felt by the Serbs. In Croatia, local Serbs believed that fascist Croats would repeat Second World War atrocities. This led Serbs in Croatia to desire freedom from Croatia, and to be safe under their own nation. As the Serbs began to take control of Yugoslavia, the Serbs in Croatia feared they would suffer the wrath of the Croats first should a conflict occur. This lead many Serbs to long for the creation of a greater Serbia, one which would include the enclaves of Serbs living in Herzegovina, Bosnia, and Croatia. This was just another part of the reason which drove the Serbian army to attempt to take much of the lands that were historically Croat and Bosnian, as they were driven by the idea that all Serbs must be united under a single nation, no matter where they lived in the region. In addition to this, the Yugoslavian army, ideally supposed to be composed of an equal union of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes was dominated by Serbia. This greatly detracted from the other non-Serbian autonomous regions’ ability to organize defense forces and protect against Serbian advancements and encroachments.
Many refugees found themselves leaving war zones and entering another

Another major reason why the Croats and Serbs could not agree upon being governed in a certain style is that as the Serbs continued to favor the communist system, partly because it clearly favored their regime,  the Croats prefered a free market capitalist system akin to that found in the west. Part of this desire for change was driven by the fact that there were 600,000 war refugees in Yugoslavia, putting a massive strain on the Yugoslavian infrastructure and economy. The strain is partly what lead many Croats to desire a different economy, one which they believed would aid their economy in dealing with the refugees as well as the people. This caused a lot of strain as it was in the Serbs best interest to keep the current economic and political structure, despite how much it was struggling. These war refugees also experienced a lot of tension as they were seen as a part of the problem in Yugoslavia at the time, leading to more conflict. These refugees were seen as part of the major economic crisis which was occurring in Yugoslavia, which was one of the few major economic factors which contributed to the conflict. In 1990, the annual inflation rate in Yugoslavia was 2600%. Unemployment was in excess of 20%, the national debt was in excess of $23 billion, internal debt was over $14 billion and personal income had fallen by over 20% over the preceding ten years. This lead many groups of people to grow desperate, and was part of the reason that the Croats and Slovenes desired change so much, as they saw this economic crisis as an example of how communism had failed as a whole, and believed that a new government and economy could help solve this problem. It was also an example of how the Serbs had failed to the Croats, driving their desire for independence even farther than before. These were the major contributing factors to the Yugoslavian civil war, and as can be seen are for the most part ethnic and nationalist in nature.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

"The Pressure to Modernize and Globalize", "The Rise and Fall of Pop Culture", and "Chapter Two: Population"

Conner Lewis
October 13

"United by faith, family ties and a desire to succeed, members of this seldom-seen community continue that assimilation today." - Mountain Xpress

Many Eastern Europeans wanted to religious freedom in their countries but many of their government's would not allow it, so they moved to the United States, specifically Asheville, then they created an Eastern European subculture which is now having a lasting impact on the cultural landscape of Asheville.

In the south western provinces of Canada, primarily Alberta and Saskatchewan, there is one local culture which has managed to survive and thrive against the advances of popular culture. This culture is that of the Hutterites, an Anabaptist group which withstands popular culture by existing in rural and isolated communities, as well as using their more fundamentalist religious views to keep the old culture in place.



Human Geography: Chapter Four

The Pressure to Modernize and Globalize

The Rise and Fall of Pop Culture

Essay Question:  What do The Pressure to Modernize and Globalize, Human Geography: Chapter Four, and The Rise and Fall of Pop Culture have to say about how modern popular culture changes an existing community and why?

          To many living in America the affects of modern popular culture are so ingrained in everyday life that it is nearly unnoticeable, and how it has changed our way of living has been forgotten by many. Its affects on most communities in America and around the world, however, should not go unnoticed. Through the assimilation and destruction of local and folk cultures, and the attempt to homogenize the ever globalizing world, popular culture has caused rifts between genders, religions, ages and communities. Many still cling to the belief that popular culture is what brings large communities together, and that it is simply the product of cooperation and assimilation between cultures. This is not the case, however, as can be seen through its affects on a individuals and on a community as a whole. Human Geography: Chapter Four shows the methods by which popular culture spreads, as well as how it assimilates local cultures into the norm. The Pressure to Modernize and Globalize shows how the adoption of popular culture over local culture can tear apart communities as well as harm individuals on a personal and psychological level. Finally, the article The Rise and Fall of Pop Culture shows how modern pop culture can divide communities, and no longer serves the purpose by which many believe it does and should.
          While it is not new, the way by which popular culture spreads and absorbs new communities, ideas, and traits is one that is very important to understand in order to aid in both why popular culture spreads, and what its affects on the places it spreads to are. According to Human Geography: Chapter Four, popular culture spreads through several different methods, the main of which being cultural appropriation. Cultural appropriation is when one culture absorbs a trait from another and use them for their own benefit. This occurs very often in popular culture, when unique traits from local cultures are absorbed by the larger culture and become a part of the homogenized whole. While it may seem like this is a good thing, as it gives the larger group the ability to connect with the smaller local culture through this adopted aspect, in reality it harms the local culture as it degrades their sense of uniqueness and community. If this appropriation continues long enough, the local culture may lose its identity all together, as all of the cultures traits are adopted into the larger pop culture. This can be seen partially in the culture of inner city minorities through traits such as hip hop. commodification in this capitalist society. Commodification is when an object without any previous economic value begins to be bought, sold, and traded in the world market. While its effects are often disregarded by those who are a member of pop culture, it can actually be very harmful to a local culture's sense of identity. As traits of a culture begin to be commodified, and sometimes even the culture itself, that culture begins to become more and more stereotyped. This causes for the authenticity of a culture to come into question, and all of this can harm a culture's identity as a whole. This is due to the fact that as the traits of a culture are appropriated and commodified, they cause the local culture to be degraded as the community begins to see itself as a part of the popular culture rather than a tight knit group. The time-space compression that has occurred due to advances in modern communication technology have only exasperated this problem, as now ideas can be discovered, appropriated, and commodified in a matter of days through companies such as MTV. This causes local cultures to be assimilated and absorbed at a faster rate than ever before, and causes the people involved in a local culture to lose much of the psychological aid which all people truly require. Hip hop began as a way for the minorities to express their dissatisfaction with their lives and their situation, but quickly became absorbed into popular culture. After being absorbed, much of the unifying aspects that hip hop once held for the urban minorities were lost, as now there are many hip hop artists from many different backgrounds. Another reason why cultural appropriation is harmful is that it inevitably causes
          The Pressure to Modernize and Globalize perfectly shows how the absorption of a local culture and the adoption of popular culture through globalization and modernization can destroy both a community and a person's sense of self. This is part in due to what local culture does for a group, as well as what popular culture in its current states simply fails to do. Local culture provides a lot for a person psychologically. It gives a person a sense of self when addressing both into and out of their culture. When looking in, it allows a person to be themselves with the people they know as they are an instrument in defining their own local culture. When looking outward it gives a person the ability to identify and associate with a group of people with which they belong. It gives them a protective circle through which they can look out and both observe and endure the world. In popular culture this cannot be found. What is now called popular culture is so large, and so homogenized, that both of the aspects previously stated are lost. As popular culture aims to homogenize, no person can truly be very different, be truly unique, as to do so would be classified as strange and wrong. Unlike local culture,
no one person can define and change popular culture as they can in local cultures. While people like celebrities are often cited as the sources of popular culture, in this globalized world popular culture is simply too gargantuan to be defined by even that influential a group of individuals. In reality it is the purveyors of cool, the large multimedia corporations such as MTV that truly define what popular culture is and should be. This is what causes such a loss of self for people in popular culture, just as it can cause a sense of placelessness to a location, it can cause a sense of selflessness to a person due to the fact that in popular culture people should appear as the same as all their peers. Popular culture also does not satisfy the needs of a person when looking at the world as a whole. To many, this is exactly what they believe popular culture exists for. To make everyone the same so that they can connect with everyone around them. However, modern popular culture has spread to such a size that rather than feeling connected to those around you, a person simply feels disconnected in a sea of homogenized others. Rather than deeply connecting with a small group, people are becoming artificially connected to a large group of indistinguishable others who are defined by popular culture. This lack of a home base can cause stress and anxiety as a person feels alone in the world. This can be seen in what has occurred to the Ladakhi people, who as they began to lose their local culture, they have began to lose their sense of community as they no longer share the intimate bond with their peers that they once had. Without their sense of uniqueness and kinship, many find themselves more alone than ever as they attempt to fit in to the encroaching popular culture. This loss of kinship is also what leads to much of the intolerance found among groups previously coexisting very peacefully. As the Muslim and Buddhist Ladakhi people began to lose the Ladakhi parts of their identity, they began to rely more and more on other bonds which could tie them to a small group. For many, this was religion. This is why religion often finds itself coming to the forefront of internal strife so much, as people attempt to create a new identity through their shared faith, and this intensity as well as the loss of bonds with people of other faiths breeds contempt and intolerance. It is obviously not the entire reason but it does contribute. While popular culture should bring more people together, it does the opposite, and drives us apart.
          The article, The Rise and Fall of Pop Culture, shows exactly why popular culture no longer performs the function for which it was created. Rather than uniting many groups together under a single umbrella, it simply fractures each person from the world even more. This is directly due to the effects which globalization and the internet have had on popular culture. The internet allows for popular culture to grow very rapidly in every direction, from TV to music to games. This is due to the fact that it not only allows for the world to record all previously created forms of art and culture, but then also allows for the rapid communication and collaboration on the creation of new popular culture. Memes are a perfect example of this, as a meme can be found, created, spread, and
popularized in a matter of days or even hours. This has caused popular culture's size to explode, as more shows, movies, games, pictures, and ideas are made and spread than ever before. This explosion in size is the reason that modern popular culture no longer serves its purpose as a blender of peoples, as before one could understand and keep up with all popular culture had to offer, and thus be considered "culturally literate", allowing for them to freely converse with people of any class on the subjects of popular culture. This size explosion has made the understanding and absorbing of all popular culture impossible, and thus the concept of "complete cultural literacy" can no longer apply, as it simply is too gargantuan a task for one to truly perform. Due to this, the development of niches occurs. This development is the main issue that can be found in popular culture today. As niches form to satisfy an audience desiring particular forms of popular culture, there is a fracture in the unity of the popular culture itself. This is why a teenager from the Bronx would find it very difficult to have an offhand discussion with an elderly man from Buffalo, as instead of absorbing the same materials and being able to converse on it, these two people now absorb very different material developed for only their niche. This is why popular culture no longer succeeds in its goal to unite people, as it attempts to homogenize people through shared knowledge and taste, while creating art and material for only specific groups, which then divides them from the rest.
          All of this information leads to the same conclusion, the spread of popular culture no longer unites but rather divides a population more and more. When it spreads, it undermines the identity of a community, when it is adopted it undermines the identity of an individual, and now it again divides people along niches. What can be done about this is a very different question entirely, as the existence and use of the internet means that popular culture will continue to spread and grow, but what can be said is that our culture needs to find a way to provide for a person psychologically, because as of this moment popular culture does no good.

Extra Credit:

An interesting video on how the internet changes and evolves culture, and how cultures can form separate of the real world on the internet, and can act as a small subculture. It also touches on how influential the internet has been on pooling information and fueling social change and advancement.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Political Refugee, Rose and Eli's Story, Chapter 3 Migration

Conner Lewis
Ap Human Geography

Forced political migration from Lebanon to escape religious and ethnic strife taking place across the country.

The story is from Rose and Eli Deeb, the great grandparents of Hayden Kayyem, who were Lebanese and now live in the United States after a long and difficult journey.

Where she was born
  • Lebanon
Situation before moving
  • somewhat wealthy
  • not much hope
  • actually had a nice life in Lebanon
    • Eli didn’t have to work
    • Rose had people working for her
Decision to move
  • never knew when a war would take place in Lebanon
  • America = place of hope and opportunity
    • land of beauty
    • the promised land
  • did it for their children
The Trip
  • left Lebanon in 1928
    • came to New York
    • didn’t have right documentation
    • had to go back to Lebanon
    • back on the ship, where rose got sick
  • heard that migrating from Cuba would help them get into the united states
    • migrated to Cuba and stayed for 2-3
      • where my great aunt was born
    • stayed until they realized they were not going to get in
  • ship back to Lebanon

  • 5-6 years later
    • my great great grandmother, who lived in Kentucky, helped them with their paperwork
      • went to Lebanon to aid their efforts to get to the united states
    • with her help, they managed to arrive in the united states
  • took 12 days to arrive

Situation here
  • after arrival: they moved to Kentucky, where my great great grandmother lived and owned a shop
  • Rose had to learn to be independent
  • 10 years in Kentucky:
    • never liked it
    • with 5 children, it was hard in the city
  • Eli visited his cousin in California
    • fell absolutely in love with it
      • reminded him of Lebanon
    • bought a house
    • came back to Kentucky and moved his family to California
      • this showed his family the light that the united states had to offer
Integration afterwards
  • Rose and Eli had to go to school to get their citizenship papers (along with their kids)
    • during this time, FDR was president
      • their teacher raved about what a great president he was
      • ever since then, the Deeb family has been democrats

*still every time my grandmother wants to go to Lebanon, there is some crisis occurring there.

Essential Details List:
1. Lebanon was in political strife due to certain ethnic and religious groups being in conflict with the government.

2. Cubans could still move to the United States freely, and it was considered common.

3. Lebanon and other Middle Eastern nations were ruled by European powers at the time, ones which mistreated the local populace.

4. The United States had a very difficult immigration process, requiring papers most people did not have access to.

5. There had already been a revolt, the Great Syrian Revolt, and many Lebanese did not want to go through another one.

List of Terms:
Kinship Links
Internal Migration
Image List:

[Open with child in middle east]
Picture of Lebanon
Picture of child

[Nice Childhood]
Picture of nice family

Picture of nice house
[Good situation and family]
Picture of marriage

Picture of family
Picture of nice house

[Didn’t have to work]
Picture of servants
[Show trouble brewing, unrest]
Show riots
Show concerned faces
[Show riots etc]
Show worse riots
Have the parents have a concerned conversation
[Idyllic photos of United States/Freedom]
Then have the parents talk about the U.S.

Show pictures of flags, etc.

[Looking at children, did it for them]
Show parents looking fondly at children
[Show long journey on boat, not comfortable]
Show boat
Show miserable family
[Show up at Ellis Island]
Show Ellis Island
Show happy faces

[Customs officers look disapprovingly]
Show officers looking disapprovingly
Show officers telling them they have to return
Show sad faces
[Forced back on awful ship]
Show ship again

[Rose gets sick]
Show sick woman
[Look at Cuba as choice]
Show them back at their house
Have the parents looking sad
Have the parents converse about Cuba
Have them go to Cuba,_Cuba.jpg

Have them look happy
Show a newborn
Show a 2-3 years later sign
Have them look sad

[Go but dont want to]

[Child was born]

[Chose to leave after no hope of getting in 2-3 years]
Have the parents talk about going back

[In Lebanon for a long time]
Show the boat back to Lebanon
Show a 5-6 years later sign

[Show Kentucky Relative]
Show state of Kentucky

Show old woman

Show airplane

Show Lebanon

[Meet at Lebanon]
Show family meeting the old woman

Show the old woman doing paperwork

[Finally arrive in New York]
Show them in New York

Really happy faces

[New life as not wealthy]
Show them in a smaller house

[Adapt to new area]
Show them looking around

Show a picture of Kentucky
Show a picture of Kentucky landscape

Have them picturing Lebanon in a thought bubble

Have them look concerned

[Help in Kentucky Shop]
Show a Kentucky store with the parents in it

[Don’t like Kentucky 10 years]
Show 10 years later sign

[5 children, hard life]
Show them struggling and looking overwhelmed with five kids

[Travelled to California]
Show the dad taking a plane

Caption it saying traveling to California
Show California

[Loved it]
Show happy man

[Like Lebanon]

[Showed the light and hope of US]
Show an airplane with a caption that says the family moving to California
Show happy family

[Got citizenship]
Show the family in a class and caption it something like getting their citizenship

Show the family happy

[Children integrated into school and world]


Leaving Lebanon: The Journey that took a Generation


Lebanon - 1900’s

The Ottoman Empire had just lost much of the Middle East to European powers after the end of WWI.

These European Powers, however, were not nearly as capable at managing the diverse cultures and religions of the area.

In Lebanon and Syria, France took control and began to replace local leaders with French Officials in an effort to “teach the populous how to run a government”.

This, along with the mistreatment of the Druze and Alawites religious groups, led to large scale riots and protests throughout the 1920’s and on. Then, the French cracked down on old ruling families, stunting their power, leading to a full scale revolution.

The Great Syrian Revolt, as it was called, was lead by leaders of old wealthy families in an effort to drive the french from the Middle East.

While the Revolution was quickly put down, lasting only 4 months, the riots continued long afterward, causing many wealthy christian families to be forced to leave to escape persecution by the angry populous.

Story - Beginning
Rose, a young Lebanese Girl lived in a perfect home. She had a very loving family,

And lived in a very large Mansion.

While living in Lebanon she met Eli, And they were soon married.

They had two kids while living in Lebanon, And were very wealthy compared to those around them, Living with servants, and not needing to work

But Lebanon was experiencing a lot of turmoil. Lebanon was not even a nation, With France still ruling much of the government, while abusing the very large Muslim and Druze Minorities in the region. These Minorities were often in conflict with the French Colonial government in an effort to gain freedom.

Eli and Rose could sense the rising turmoil, and often considered leaving for the sake of the children.

As the Lebanese Riots continued to worsen, there were often rumors of another possible civil war.

This was too much for Rose and Eli, as a wealthy Christian family, as it would put them and their children in great risk. 

Eli - The Riots are Getting Worse.
Rose - Maybe we should migrate to the United States.

They started having conversations about moving, and the place that first came to mind was the United States. Eli Had Kinship Links in the United States, Giving them More of A reason to migrate over.

To Rose and Eli, and many of the Lebanese people, The United States represented a place free of the religious and ethnic turmoil which plagued Lebanon and Syria under the French.

It represented somewhere where they could practice their faith, as well as escape the growing dangers of Lebanon.

And in the end Rose and Eli Decided to Immigrate to The United States for Their Kids.

They were forced to be refugees due to the crisis at home. They had to travel by ship, and the journey was long and uncomfortable, as they had to leave their life of luxury behind.

In 1928 Rose an Eli, and their two kids, left Lebanon for New York.

They, like most immigrants, arrived at Ellis Island for customs to enter the United States.

The Family was happy to have finally arrived in US, and to have escaped the rising tensions in Lebanon.

However their experience with the customs was not what they expected.

They had forgotten many key documents which they had not known to bring or known how to acquire. They Then Were Deported Back to Lebanon.

Customs Officer - You do not have the right documentation and need to go back.

Like many immigrants to the United States, they were turned away and forced to journey all the way back to Lebanon.

And once more, they had to travel across the Atlantic Ocean, a journey made worse as they knew they would be returning to a dangerous country.

To make matters worse, Rose got very sick during the journey, with no present medical care.

Against their will, they had to stay in Lebanon, as riots and unrest got worse and worse.

Rose and Eli were crushed, with no idea of what to do next.

Rose - I still Think We should Move to the United States.

Eli - I’ve Heard it is easier to get in through Cuba.

Then, Rose and Eli heard from some friends that they could get into the United States through Cuba without as many papers.

So they took a gamble and sailed once more, this time for Cuba.

At this Time, Cuba was still on Friendly Terms with the United States, allowing free immigration.

Finally, the family had hope again.

While in Cuba, Milly was born, their third child.


Rose and Eli then had their fourth Child, leading to their desire for a stable life to grow.

However, it had been three years and their papers were still considered to be processing.

So, upon realizing that they were not going to get in, they decided to move back to Lebanon,to live in their old home.

So, even though it was dangerous, they decided to live with family rather than waste their time in Cuba.

Back in Lebanon, they had friends and family, but tensions were still getting worse.


Meanwhile, in Kentucky, Eli’s Mom heard of her son’s trouble, and decided to help. 

She had moved earlier, after Eli had married Rose, to live an easy life in the United States.

She decided to travel out to Lebanon to help her son.

She returned to Lebanon after several years.

And was greeted by Friends and Family which had not heard anything of her.

However, she got right down to business, knowing what papers were needed, having gone through the process.

And so, Rose and Eli finally reached the United States after another grueling trip to Ellis Island.

And now, the larger family could finally live in safety after 15 years.

They lived with Eli’s Mother.

In a home not even a sixth of the size of their old one.

To them, Life in Kentucky was hard.

The culture and people were foreign and strange.

And Rose finally had to learn to be independent of her previous wealth.

Eli even started to have dreams of returning, despite the fact that it had gotten worse.

The entire family had to work in Eli’s mother’s small store, and they barely scraped by.



Even after such a long time, the family never grew to like Kentucky.

So, to see a friend and to experience the rest of the United States Eli travelled to the West Coast

Specifically he went to California.

He instantly fell in love with it, the place reminded him of home.

So he and the rest of the family decided to move, and to become truly independent.

To the rest of the family, California showed them the beauty of the United States they had dreamed of.

So they went through and became true citizens of the United States.

And they started to truly integrate with American culture.

As the children, with one new on born in the US, started to socialize with other children.

And eventually, they all became integrated into American politics as well, becoming firm democrats.

And so the 25 year journey of Rose and Eli’s migration came to a close, beginning their new life away from the dangers of home.


The Great Syrian Revolt, and the riots which followed drove many Lebanese from their home, with many like Rose and Eli heading to the United States.

At the end of WWI, the European powers took land which had been managed effectively for centuries by the Ottomans, and abused its people.

This drove the separated cultures and peoples of the Middle East to united under the goal of driving the Europeans out.

It gave Lebanon an identity separate from the Ottomans or the Europeans, as a separate and united people.

And While Many Christians in Lebanon fought against European rule, the more wealthy families were targeted as supporters of french rule, as they received better treatment by officials.

And in the end, this drove hundreds of refugees to flee their homes in search for a safer life here in the United States.