In an earlier post, I talked about the United States’ declining influence in the Americas. I think that nothing may symbolize this as much as Nicaragua’s vote this week to grant a Chinese company a 50 year concession to build a canal across this country. The idea of a canal across Nicaragua dates back at least to the early nineteenth century. As David McCullough described in his magnificent book, The Path Between the Seas, Nicaragua was favored because it was closer to the United States, and Lake Nicaragua seemed to make the task of building the canal easier. After the Civil War, U.S. President Grant sent five expeditions to Central America to explore a route for a canal, most of which went do Nicaragua. But since it was the French who began the project -reflecting Europe’s influence in the hemisphere- proximity to the U.S. did not shape their choice, and they began work on the Panamanian isthmus. Although the project was headed by the French hero de Lesseps, the man who had built the Suez canal, his decision to build a sea level canal likely doomed the project from the start.
Permanent link to this article: http://introtoglobalstudies.com/2013/06/nicaraguas-new-canal/
I’ve recently been reading Michael Crummy’s Galore, which tells the story of generations of families (the Sellers and Devines) in a remote village, Paradise Deep, in nineteenth and early twentieth-century Newfoundland. The entire novel is characterized by bleak humor and beautiful language. It’s also not for those who might be scandalized by bawdy scenes. Father Phelan, for example, is a renegade priest who comes to comfort a widow haunted by her dead husband’s ghost, and stays to torture the phantom by making love to his widow. But what most struck me about the work is the extent to which it reflects cultural globalization, because Crummy was clearly inspired by Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Year’s of Solitude. This much would have been clear even without the quote from Garcia Marquez at the book’s start. The entire novel is patterned after the Colombian novelists’ classic book, including the conclusion.
Permanent link to this article: http://introtoglobalstudies.com/2013/06/cultural-globalization-michael-crummys-galore-and-fast-runner/
In the early 1990s, when I was doing fieldwork on the history of military terror in Brazil, an academic told me about his “projetos da gaveta.” I didn’t understand this term, which he explained referred to projects that one starts but neither completes nor abandons, hence the term “projects in the drawer.” I think that most people, and certainly not only academics, have such a project. One of mine was a study of a Brazilian book about a disastrous retreat during the Paraguayan war called A Retirada da Laguna. I started this project perhaps 15 years ago, and now realize that I’m unlikely to ever finish it for publication in an academic journal, especially as I am happily working on the second edition of this textbook. But for anyone curious to learn more about this marvelous book, and the film that it inspired, I’m posting a copy of my paper below:
Permanent link to this article: http://introtoglobalstudies.com/2013/06/the-state-and-brazilian-literature-a-retirada-da-laguna/
This quarter I have been teaching an “Introduction to International Studies” class. One of my goals for the year is to have a final assignment that challenges students to reflect on the course material, and to integrate what they have learned from diverse sources. I’ve chosen a response paper of about five pages in length, which they will write to address the following question:
Permanent link to this article: http://introtoglobalstudies.com/2013/06/class-assignment-response-paper-and-rubric/
In the past, I’ve typically asked students to do a book review in my “Introduction to International Studies”
course. But as students have increasingly moved to using alternative media sources to get their information, I want to make sure that they are thinking critically about these sources. For this reason, I’ve required that my students this quarter write a review (four pages in length) of one international blog. I’ve told the class that the blog review should be a critical look at the blog, which follows the same basic format as a book review. The review asks what the writer is trying to do, and how well do they do it. What are the strengths and weaknesses of the blog? Once that question is answered, then can explore particular questions the blog raises, connections to the class, etc. But the core of this project is a critical evaluation of the blog itself, rather than a summary of its content.
Permanent link to this article: http://introtoglobalstudies.com/2013/05/class-assignment-blog-review-assignment-and-rubric/
Every few months I ask the University of North Carolina Press to send me the statistics for this blog. Amongst the many things that it lets me see is where the blog’s audience is (mainly the U.S., Canada, Great Britain and France), and the total size of the audience (1,347 visitors between February and April 2013). I can also see which posts visitors view the most. Here is a list of the most popular posts to date:
Permanent link to this article: http://introtoglobalstudies.com/2013/05/the-blogs-top-ten-most-popular-posts/
This summer I will be giving a lecture at the University of Trier in Germany about Canada’s Idle No More movement, an ongoing protest movement that was begun by four women in Saskatchewan. Idle No More represents a grass-roots initiative, without a clear hierarchy, which fights for indigenous rights by popular protests, such as flash mobs and circle drumming in public places. The movement is so technically savvy that there supporters have even created an i-phone app, to locate protests near you. While the movement encompasses diverse demands, at the core the protesters are concerned about issues of indigenous sovereignty, treaty rights, and the environment.
Permanent link to this article: http://introtoglobalstudies.com/2013/05/canadas-idle-no-more-movement/
Like many of you, I’ve been carefully following the news about H7N9. A few of my favorite blogs or sites for this are Avian Flu Diary, Virology down under, the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, and the Bird Flu Report. A couple of thoughts about what we know so far. First, it is always difficult to make a vaccine for an H7 virus. For this reason, it’s unlikely that sufficient vaccine could be ready in six months, even in the United States. It is true that some newer vaccine technologies are now proving their potential. But we aren’t in a fundamentally different position than in 2009, when most vaccine became available too late for swine flu.
Permanent link to this article: http://introtoglobalstudies.com/2013/05/h7n1-influenza-and-the-whos-pandemic-influenza-plan/
In the aftermath of Fukushima, it’s clear the nation-states have not been having realistic conversations with their citizens about the risks of nuclear power. Many nations, such as Germany, are now moving away from nuclear power, but one European nation will not be making any changes soon, namely France. Instead, this country continues to place nuclear power at the center of its energy plan. Indeed, the country currently gets 75% of its electricity from nuclear, and has no plans to explore a different path. In this respect, it is almost unique in Europe, where most countries are rapidly investing in renewable energy with great success. Much poorer Portugal is about to get 75% of its electricity from renewable sources. Other European countries have shown that it is possible to have a modern energy sector based primarily on renewable sources. Iceland obtains 100% of its energy from renewable sources, thanks to rich geothermal resources. Austria is over 70% renewable, while Norway has reached 97%, both helped by their hydro resources. Globally, a large number of countries (which range from New Zealand to Canada) get over 60% of their electricity from renewable sources. What this data shows is that the reliance on nuclear power is a choice, not a necessity.
Permanent link to this article: http://introtoglobalstudies.com/2013/04/nuclear-secrecy-and-france/
It’s been hard to watch the financial crisis unfold in Europe, and to hear about how unemployment is affecting younger people though-out the continent. One of the powerful trends that has emerged from the crisis has been an unexpected form of migration, in which Europeans are traveling to developing countries for employment. One of the strongest examples of this has been in Portugal, which has deep historical ties to Africa and Brazil. The Angolan government has been welcoming skilled, young Portuguese immigrants with open arms. But other countries, such as Mozambique, are also seeing large numbers of Portuguese immigrants. As this video report from Al Jazeera makes clear, this is a powerful trend in Europe today. With the bad news out of Portugal this week, as the government scrambles to find new cuts, this trend will probably continue for the near future.
Shawn Smallman, Portland State University
Permanent link to this article: http://introtoglobalstudies.com/2013/04/european-migration-to-africa/