Nov 22

Dangerous Spirits on sale in Canada

Dangerous Spirits, forthcoming from Heritage House.

Dangerous Spirits, forthcoming from Heritage House.

I’m happy to announce that Dangerous Spirits is now available for sale in Canada. The American launch is set for April 2015, so if you are in the States (or Britain) you will have to wait a little longer. I spent eight years working on this book, which studies narratives told in Algonquian culture about an evil spirit, the windigo. The book traces these narratives through time, from the rich traditions of Algonquian peoples to its modern incarnation in novels, films, and boardgames. How is it that a being from northern Algonquian tradition can be found in movies set in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains, and board games created in Britain? I also look at how different outside groups understood the windigo through time, based on the records of Jesuits, explorers, fur traders, missionaries, and murder trials.

I want to thank Sara Loreno, who worked to create the maps for me (and thanks to David Banis who worked with her), Anne Lindsay who tracked down countless archival materials, Robert Brightman, who answered endless linguistic and cultural questions, and Heritage House, which did an outstanding job editing this book. Grace Dillon, a Professor of Indigenous Nations Studies at Portland State (and great colleague) wrote a preface that is both insightful and funny. Read the rest of this entry »

Permanent link to this article: http://introtoglobalstudies.com/2014/11/dangerous-spirits-on-sale-in-canada/

Nov 19

Ancient Migrations: the evidence of Oceania

Moai at Rano Raraku by Aurbina at Wikipedia Commons

Moai at Rano Raraku by Aurbina at Wikipedia Commons

In earlier post I talked about the fact that some places that appear remote -such as the Arctic- have long experienced globalization. Norse traders left their signs in the Canadian High Arctic centuries before Columbus, while an Inuit artist carved a small wooden statue  of a European visitor with a cross on its chest, and European style clothing. But a Chinese coin in the Yukon, and a Viking outpost in Newfoundland, Canada, are not the only relic of these ancient cross-oceanic movements of people and goods.

Perhaps no location on earth is as remote as Easter Island, an island located over 2000 miles to the west of South America in the Pacific. But there has long been evidence that before European discovery in 1722, the islanders had already made contact with the Americas, given that they cultivated sweet potatoes, a crop from the Americas. But now we have more direct evidence, in the genetics of the Rapa Nui, the indigenous peoples of Easter Island. A recent study has found that genes from the native peoples of the Americas entered the Rapa Nui population between 19 and 23 generations ago. In a sense this is unsurprising, because the Polynesians were such incredible travelers that they had settled remote islands throughout vast areas of the Pacific. If they could reach New Zealand -and the sub-Antarctic islands to its south, including the Antipodes- why not South America? If you are curious about learning more about these people -and their amazing navigation skills- please see Tom Koppel’s work, Mystery Islands: Discovering the Ancient Pacific. While people know about the strange statues of Easter Island, they may not be familiar with Nan Madol and other wonders. Read the rest of this entry »

Permanent link to this article: http://introtoglobalstudies.com/2014/11/ancient-migration-and-the-pacific/

Nov 11

New Map of MERS

European Centre for Disease and Infection Control map of MERS, November 2014

European Centre for Disease and Infection Control map of MERS, November 2014

I’ve discussed MERS before in this blog, but this virus has faded from public attention as Ebola has become a major health crisis in West Africa. This recent map by the European Centre for Disease and Infection Control, however, makes clear why MERS remains a global health challenge.

Shawn Smallman, Portland State University

Permanent link to this article: http://introtoglobalstudies.com/2014/11/new-map-of-mers/

Nov 07

Video Review: The Galápagos Affair: Satan Came to Eden

"San Cristobal Island And Kicker Rock/leon Dormido, Galapagos" by xura at freedigitalphotos.net

“San Cristobal Island And Kicker Rock/leon Dormido, Galapagos” by xura at freedigitalphotos.net

People are fascinated by islands, as world’s apart from the ordinary, where people can escape from others, or imagine a different world. This attraction has long drawn people to some of the most unlikely islands imaginable, including Floreana island in the Galápagos. Although small, off major shipping lanes, and plagued by periodic drought, Floreana island appeared attractive to those Germans in the 1930s who were looking for an escape from their society. Dan Geller and Dayna Goldfine’s video uses letters, home movies, and oral history to recreate the story of three groups of Germans that came to populate the island. Read the rest of this entry »

Permanent link to this article: http://introtoglobalstudies.com/2014/11/video-review-the-galapagos-affair-satan-came-to-eden/

Oct 30

Donnie Eichar’s Dead Mountain: A book review

"Snow Blizzard" by Evgeni Dinev at freedigitalphotos.net

“Snow Blizzard” by Evgeni Dinev at freedigitalphotos.net

Every Halloween, I look at books on international folklore, but this year I’ll review a book on one of the strangest mysteries in Russian history, the Dyatlov pass incident. On the night of February 2, 1959 a large group of hikers disappeared in the northern Ural mountains. They were experienced campers in winter conditions, and when they did not return, people were not initially worried. After eight days, however, an expedition was organized to find this group, all of whom were university students at the Ural Polytechnic institute. After a great deal of effort, their tent was found on the side of Dead Mountain (Halatchahl mountain). Everything inside the tent was in order -there was even food set out waiting to be eaten, although the stove had not yet been set up- but the nine students were not there. The tent itself had been damaged, and there was a cut in the back, which would later lead to speculation that perhaps someone had tried to cut their way into it. Investigators later determined that the tent had been cut from the inside, probably because people were rushing to get out. The searchers were able to follow a trail of footprints that led away from the tent, and soon came upon the bodies of two of the students, who were only partly dressed. Three other bodies were then found nearby, also in a state of partial undress. It was not until May that the remaining bodies were found, at the bottom of a ravine. Read the rest of this entry »

Permanent link to this article: http://introtoglobalstudies.com/2014/10/donnie-eichars-dead-mountain-a-book-review/

Oct 21

Columbia Prediction of Infectious Diseases

Map of outbreaks of the Ebola virus in Africa by strain and confirmed contractions. Created by: Zach Orecchio, University of South Florida Geography Dep.

Map of outbreaks of the Ebola virus in Africa by strain and confirmed contractions.
Created by: Zach Orecchio, University of South Florida Geography Dep, Obtained from Wikipedia, Creative Commons.

One of the major questions that international agencies and governments have been wrestling with is the likely future of the Ebola epidemic in Africa. Perhaps the best website for these predictions is the Columbia Prediction of Infectious Diseases site. Unfortunately, despite the heroic efforts currently being made in West Africa, the curve towards mid-November shows a steady increase. Of course, there are success stories as well, as Nigeria has recently been declared Ebola-free. But this site indicates the scale of the challenge that world currently faces. The website is also useful for tracking yearly influenza epidemics.

At this date, a great deal rides on the outcome of Ebola vaccine trials. The Canadian government yesterday sent 800 vials of experimental vaccine to the WHO, for this organization to distribute as it sees best. The world is also increasing the supplies and manpower provided to West Africa. It is now clear that everyone underestimated the dangers of this outbreak, because Ebola had been controlled before. What has been different has been that this outbreak is taking place in an urban setting.

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Shawn Smallman, Portland State University

Permanent link to this article: http://introtoglobalstudies.com/2014/10/columbia-prediction-of-infectious-diseases/

Oct 20

International Pandemics: An infographic

I was recently asked to share this great infographic, so I am posting it here. Many thanks to the folks at “Nursing School Hub.”

Shawn Smallman, Portland State University

Read the rest of this entry »

Permanent link to this article: http://introtoglobalstudies.com/2014/10/international-pandemics-an-infographic/

Oct 18

Second Edition of the Textbook

After a great deal of work, the second edition of our Introduction to International and Global Studies textbook is available for course adoption this January. Curious to take a look? Click here. Once you are on the website, you can “look inside” within the image of the textbook on the left. Exam/desk copies will also be available from the press this January as well.

Shawn Smallman, Portland State University

Permanent link to this article: http://introtoglobalstudies.com/2014/10/second-edition-of-the-textbook/

Oct 17

International Studies versus Global Studies

NASA image: NASA Identifier: sts040-73-037

NASA image: NASA Identifier: sts040-73-037

I’ve just done a peer review of an outstanding article on the field of International Studies, which again raised the question of the difference between International and Global Studies. Although I’ve touched on this topic before it is worth revisiting this issue, because the differences are significant. International Studies is a field that emerged within the parent discipline of International Relations within Political Science. The field developed because scholars were dissatisfied with the heavy focus on inter-state relations, as well as a stress on quantitative methodology. It’s important to note that the positivist approach that was so powerful in the United States (especially in the fifties and sixties) was never as influential in Canada and Europe. Still, within the United States, the field of International Studies still bears signs of its birth from Political Science. Those scholars who visit the International Studies Association conference for the first time are likely to be struck not only by its sheer size, but also by the dominance of traditional social science methodology. If you read the two major journals in the field -International Studies Review and International Studies Quarterly- they are dominated by International Relations scholarship from classical Political Science. Many articles focus on Realism, Constructivism and Liberalism in IR. Read the rest of this entry »

Permanent link to this article: http://introtoglobalstudies.com/2014/10/international-studies-versus-global-studies/

Oct 15

Sumner and Tribe’s International Development Studies

"View Of Kaeng Krachan Dam,petchaburi Province,thailand" by cbenjasuwan at freedigitalphotos.net

“View Of Kaeng Krachan Dam, Petchaburi Province, Thailand” by cbenjasuwan at freedigitalphotos.net

Andy Sumner and Michael Tribe’s International Development Studies: Theories and Methods in Research and Practice is a brief overview of the field in a textbook format. The author’s intent is to introduce the reader to key ideas and debates in development studies. The study begins by asking what is the meaning of development, and then discusses the history of the term. Subsequent chapters are concerned with large questions, such as “What can we `Know’ in Development Studies?” Because the book has a focus on research and methods, the book includes a chapter on how we should define rigor, and how research should shape practice. The chapters follow a standard format, which includes numbered sub-headings and brief summaries at the end of every chapter. Read the rest of this entry »

Permanent link to this article: http://introtoglobalstudies.com/2014/10/sumner-and-tribes-international-development-studies/

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