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The Insular American
|| 5/3/2005 || 3:08 pm || Comments Off on The Insular American || ||

I really like last week’s Op-Ed by Derrick Z. Jackson in the Boston Globe about “the Insular American.” Jackson quotes Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka discussing the importance of Geography:

”For me, geography is the summit of human existence. It dictates the culture, it contains the history of how human beings actually recreated existence depending on the environment.” In the United States, he continued, ”geography is ‘What is the capital of California?’ and once they say that, they think they know the world.

”The way we were taught geography, it is what made us so confident in the critical assessment of other nations. We know them, I mean, you don’t know them all the way, but we know them in a way that is fundamental to the relationship of humanity to the natural environment.

”Once people understand that, you understand why Eskimos live in igloos, and you don’t see that as backwards but as an intelligent use of resources. You understand why certain peoples eat horrible looking grubs and you recognize them as superior to hamburgers. Curiosity precedes critical thinking. If you’re not curious, you can’t think.”

Soyinka laughs one more time when he says geography was even more important than history. ”History can always be cooked up, written from the winner’s point of view. History is 90 percent fiction. Geography is the material reality from which everything else derives.”

Makes me proud to call myself a geographer, who is dedicated to the advancement of geographic education…



Post Title: The Insular American
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