Palestine vs. The Palestinians

(This week’s post will unfortunately be shorter than usual as work is kicking into a higher gear with the approaching end of the semester.) One of the bigger stories of the past week has been the (tentative) reconciliation suddenly achieved between Fatah and Hamas with the prospect of a unity government on the horizon for the first time since the Palestinian elections in 2006.  The announcement was almost immediately overtaken by Israel’s reaction and the United States reaction to the reaction, and at present the media coverage is focussed on the presumed death of the peace process (although how you … Continue reading Palestine vs. The Palestinians

States, Peoples, and Partition

In class two weeks ago, one of my professors confronted us with an intriguing question: how many states should there be? It’s a question I’ve not really considered.  I’ve put lots of thought into how many there are but I never thought seriously about my ideal map of the world.  If you were starting from the current world map, what would be the criteria you could use to break off a piece of state? To deal with the question of how many there should be, we should probably establish how many there currently are.  This is no easy feat – … Continue reading States, Peoples, and Partition

Schrödinger’s Election

April 2014 seems to be election month: presidential elections in Afghanistan and parliamentary elections in Hungary have already taken place, and the staggeringly vast Indian elections are in progress (and will be for the next month).  Yesterday, Guinea-Bissau went to the polls (finally), as did Macedonia.  Finally, on the 30th of April, to everyone’s trepidation, Nouri al-Maliki will probably manage to wring another term as Prime Minister from the Iraqi people.  All of these votes have received or will receive a lot of publicity, but there is another country whose election process this month has been resolutely out of the … Continue reading Schrödinger’s Election

Albania, Bahrain, and Autocratic Popular Geography

The Black Hole of Tirana The Albanian capital of Tirana will never be able to fully purge itself of totalitarian urban planning.  The city centre was designed by the Fascists during the Italian occupation of Albania in the 1930s, and they installed wide streets and open squares, perfect venues for holding military parades.  After the war, during the Communist period, this design was augmented with angular Stalinist constructions (the Palace of Culture and the National Museum) in the centre and high-rise concrete residence blocks in the outskirts.  Enver Hoxha [pronuncation] was a man who understood the propagandist potential of space: … Continue reading Albania, Bahrain, and Autocratic Popular Geography