I have Things about which I would like to Blog.
Unfortunately, I’m exhausted so I apologize in advance if this post is a little disjointed.
But first … MAPS!
Isn’t it pretty? I for one am very proud of my new-found technological prowess.
Yes, this is a point-by-point map of my Indian journey thus far. Looking at it this way, it’s pretty amazing. Googlemaps tells me that if I were to go straight from all of these places, it would take me 3 days and 4 hours. But knowing Indian time, it would actually take me more like 5 days.
Maps are certainly amazing things. They tell you so much about a place, without even telling you that much. It would be really extra cool if this map were topographical, with notes about vegetation and wildlife. Perhaps when I’m more tech-savvy (give me a couple months and a better internet connection). But this map gives you only a glimpse at the possible cultural differences between the places I’ve been. Obviously, mountain culture is going to develop very differently from desert culture. But how?
Culture develops so much from our environment. I’ve found in India that I am very aware of the environment – ecosystems, temperature, water, etc. I’m less aware of the environment while living in the Twin Cities, but the city has its own form of ecosystem (think: transit system culture, Big Box stores vs. the corner shop, many different cultures living together, and the random wildlife that can live in urban conditions). Something I’ve been thinking about lately is how culture evolves – how values that different cultures develop are directly related to their environment.
Mountain temples where people worship source water. Jungle villages where people believe the livelihood-sustaining trees were given to their ancestors by the gods. Desert culture that evolved around water preservation – and thus the existence and dependence on different kinds of camel.
How did the environment, the perception of a wilderness ripe for the taking, shape and evolve dominant American culture to this day?
Ok, now we’re getting political.
But think about it.
Culture is shaped by land: humans gradually adapt to the challenges faced by their environments. History is shaped by land: who has control of it, who doesn’t, and how both are using it. Development is shaped by land: what resources people can use to further propel themselves into modernity – or how much they would have to pay to ship resources from across the world, not to mention the historical and cultural trends of land use.
Land / (Culture + History + Development) = Socio-Economic Processes?
If so, then:
( Land / (Culture + History + Development) ) ^ Oppression = Social Injustice?
These are working hypotheses that I’m sure would make an actual mathematician cringe. Also: I am aware that question marks are not mathematical symbols, but felt that my usually rudimentary understanding of the science of numbers begged there to be question marks.
What other variables have I left out of my equations?
My research makes me think of these things constantly. My research on land rights, displacement, oppression, social/environmental justice, coupled with my own experience as an Outsider in an Unfriendly City has been a particularly difficult partnership to navigate.