Political Geography

Discipline: Comparative Politics
Instructor: Emmett
Credits: 3
Day: A
Start: 1050
End: 1205
Field Class: Day 2 - Wednesday, 25 February | Myanmar (Burma) Download Syllabus

Political geography explores the interrelationship between geographical characteristics and political phenomenon. Topics to be discussed include the politics of maps, human attachment to territory, the formation of territory into states, the evolving nature of states, and the interactions of states at an international level (geopolitics). Case studies from Asia and Africa will frequently be used and will consider such topics as the Law of the Sea and how it relates to disputed islands in Asia, international organizations like ASEAN, and colonialism in Africa and the creation of superimposed boundaries and multi-nation states. We will also explore the status of minority groups in most of the countries we will visit.

Field Class

Country: Myanmar (Burma)
Day: 2 - Wednesday, 25 February

In a day trip to Yangon we will learn about and reinforce various principles of political geography through our visit to several museums. In the Drug Elimination Museum we will learn about national and international efforts to stem the drug trade coming from the Golden Triangle and we will discuss how the drug trade has helped fund the separatist movement of the Shan people. In the Bogyoke Aung San Museum, which is housed in the home of the founding father of modern day Burma, we will learn about colonialism, nationalism and the beginning years of an independent Burma. Finally in the National Museum of Myanmar we will focus on the issues of centripetal and centrifugal forces of modern day states by looking for examples of what holds the country together (religion, iconography, politics) and what is pulling it apart (the many nations/peoples/ethnicities of Myanmar). Driving/walking by the old parliament building will be a good reminder of forward capitals. Academic Objectives:

  1. By looking at how Myanmar represents itself through its museums we will begin to better understand this unique and once isolated country.
  2. We will also notice how pervasive principles of political geography (theories of states, nationalism, colonialism, separatist movements, and geopolitics (foreign involvement in Burma) are in Myanmar (and by comparison in other countries we will visit).