18 thoughts on “Honors World Regional Geography 2017 – Blog #9

  1. Throughout the Twenty-first century, it has become increasingly more and more difficult to control the movement of people; that does not mean, that it is not done. At the present, we have more methods of travel than ever before, which has caused states to become more and more creative, more and more sophisticated, and more and more technical in their efforts to control the movement of populations. The days of moats, walls, and natural barriers have quickly been defeated by planes, roads, boats. And while a certain world leader would like you to believe that building a wall is still a practical and useful method of limiting people’s movement, that just is not the case.
    One of the most common strategies employed to control the movement of humans has been guarded national borders, mainly through the use of checkpoints, fences, and border patrols. And while this strategy has been much more successful, it is still not enough. Many countries utilize passports or other government issues travel documents, to track, allow, and disallow international travel. Through the use of these documents, countries can now input a person’s information into a database in order to determine whether or not to allow the person to leave, or enter another country. This process can be especially limiting because it creates at least two checkpoints that a person must pass through. First, they must be allowed to leave the country they currently reside in, and then they must be permitted to enter the country that they are wishing to travel to.
    However, while these processes are very thorough and quite complex, they still deal mostly with legal travel, and do little to limit and control any illegitimate travel. Much of this work is currently being left to the military, and other governmental agencies specifically tasked with intelligence and travel. For example, in the United States, these responsibilities have been left up to the armed forces, the Central Intelligence Agency, and Customs and Border Protection. These agencies are designed to work in conjunction with each other to identify people and places that could be potentially problematic, and ultimately through the use of law enforcement deny those people entrance into the country. This process tends to be the most effective form of limiting movement around the globe, because of its reliance on intelligence to be proactive in identifying potential problems. But, this system is not without its flaws. This system only works if all parties work together and exchange information. If communication between agencies stops, or if diplomatic relations between countries falter, the entire system will struggle to properly identify and prohibit unwanted immigration.
    All of these systems work best when working in conjunction with each other, by creating the largest and most comprehensive checkpoints on human travel. And while it is still extremely difficult to completely stop, or completely control human travel, systems have been created that have created the most control nations have ever had over who is allowed to enter and exit the country.

  2. Ever since humans could walk, we have been migrating anywhere that could sustain life on this earth. 2 million years ago, when homo erectus began migrating out of Africa, the only boundary they faced was virtually the ocean. It didn’t take long for them to reach most of the old world, as far as southeast Asia. This migration continued throughout all early human species, including the modern human species, homosapiens. The reasoning behind most early migration was for resources like animals to hunt and wild produce to live off of. The climate also could have been a major factor in migration with flooding and droughts lasting more than a thousand years in Africa. Humans have never stopped migrating since, and don’t plan on stopping any time soon.
    As humans evolved and an outline of modern society emerged, tribes and cultural groups began to form and set themselves apart from one another by means of language, religion, and rituals. This led to competition for hunting grounds and resources, which then led to the first battles fought between mankind. For example, the Neanderthals were competition to modern homosapiens for territory in modern Europe. This set some boundaries in migration because territories could be hostile and dangerous to enter. These may have been the earliest borders known to mankind.
    In more recent times, migration has been based upon exploration, conquering new lands, and finding new opportunity. However, as migration has grown, so have boundaries set by other humans. Modern borders and border security are very strict or very lax depending on what region of the world you are in. For example, the border between North and South Korea is a heavily guarded and sensitive area due to years of conflict while the border between the USA and Canada is very permeable, with the proper papers. Boundaries like these have left a permanent mark on human immigration that affects our everyday lives. Currently, debates on the United State’s immigration policy are on the rise with Syrian refugees and Mexican immigrants all trying to make their way to the USA. President Donald Trump has made some controversial decisions about immigration such as his Muslim travel ban and his more recent addition of the countries of Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen. Another common topic of debate surrounding immigration policy has been the construction of a wall dividing Mexico and the States advertised by President Trump. These are all examples of how we control the movement of people in the 21st century, and how politics and culture have created boundaries that are the center of debates all over the world today.
    On another note, the movement of people in the 21st century has been greatly impacted positively by the invention of planes, trains, and modern transportation. While in the 1800’s, a trip from Independence, MO to California would take around 6 months to complete, carrying a great risk of death for many, today the same trip will last only a few hours and is substantially safer than the latter. These inventions allow the immigration of humans to evolve from its primitive roots to a modern pathway to anywhere in the world, only depending on the boundaries humans have made for themselves along the way.

  3. Our society is constantly growing and developing, and the fluctuation of populations and cultures has been immensely important in the development of technologies, religions, and governments. In our world, the force that influences the world is literally, moving people. However, we see such a large cultural divide among the world, as countries vary in terms of their government structure, technological advancement, and central religious beliefs. This would imply that some sort of regulation and control of the movement of people is present. Throughout history several methods have been implemented to regulate the common commute of man from one area to another, however one method has dictated it all. The idea of borders has been what influences the development of countries and their attributes. Rather than mainly focus on how they regulate people, I want to expand on why countries do it and look through a unique perspective on the whole idea of borders. Arguments for a borderless society have been raised against laws and methods that keep people out of countries however this is impractical and undesirable for countries who want to maintain their identity. With technology advancing it has been a constant race to maintain some sort of order on the movement of people. National borders have become the most essential tool in instigating this purpose. The idea of immigration has become more and more of a priority for countries with time. The need for regulation and sustainability of one’s country truly relies on how it keeps record of its human population and its movement. For example, with countries that are less developed and display a lack of technological abundance, there is a direct relationship to their brute strength in terms of keeping their borders secure. There are several reasons why a country might want to maintain a strict containment of its country compared to the outside world. One might be their economy, encouraging an economy dictated by their citizens, propelling them onto the global market. Another might be to prevent diplomatic issues, since many wars in history were motivated by border disputes and the only way to avoid such disputes is to have clear, and obvious borders. Where there are borders there is power, and most countries want to lie in a state of power and influence. Borders ensure this. Borders are to distinct countries what fences are to neighbors: means of demarcating that something on one side is different from what lies on the other side. Borders amplify the innate human desire to own and protect property and physical space, which is impossible to unless it is seen and understood. As much as some would wish borders would go away, they simply won’t because of the heart of human condition for power, control, and security. As a result, we see the growth of travel laws, passports, and tall fences. We understand these processes mainly in the context of our own country, the United States, which has remained a strong point of influence and power on the international scale. The United States has developed several agencies that work in conjunction with one another to identify people that present themselves as hazards, whether it be to the common wellbeing of the people, the economy, or the governments interest. Illegitimate travel is mainly controlled by these processes dictated by the CIA, CBP, and many others. Government issued documents like passports allow for easy access to records of people’s origins and reason for travel. All this information that is taken in when you decide to travel to another country is to analyze your intentions, and how your intentions could influence the country’s wellbeing. In my research it was quite eye opening to take this approach to why countries and their governments dictate travel, and ultimately it is to preserve themselves, with whatever methods they choose.


  4. Governments today view people in terms of the countries they reside in. The region from which a person originates bears much weight on their treatment and opportunities around the world. Borders serve as doors, operating differently around the world; some are let in and some are pushed out. There was a time before these borders were established and guarded, a time before people identified as Iraqi or Saudi. People soon realized that by making a people stay in a single spot, establishing residence in one location, would mean profit for those in control. Instead of roaming like nomads, people soon settled, building houses, families, and societies, establishing towns and communities. There was little movement outside of a persons home, say in the days of the settlers, because trips away often included dangerous paths, deadly predators, and an unknown destination. Society has evolved and increased their modes of transportation, accessibility to transport, and the systems by which we measure movements.
    Today, people move like never before, for reasons that range from tourism to refugees, displaced by war and danger in their country. Refugees are not only flooding into Lebanon and Jordan but countries farther away like Pakistan and Kenya. This is only possible because of more advanced and efficient ways to travel both land and sea. With the conflict in Syria, transportation is a major benefit for refugees who need an escape from the escalating violence in their countries. More benefits to transportation include access to archaeological sites, ability to confront leaders and foreign conflicts head on, and enhanced/factual knowledge of other cultures and environments around the world. Without transportation, sites like Samarra and Ur would not have been excavated till much later and their contents would not reside in any foreign museums.
    Though transportation has opened a world of possibilities it has also brought devastation to many civilizations. When Europeans arrived in the Americas they brought with them a variety of diseases to which indigenous peoples had no immunity. Their arrival was devastating to these communities, wiping out entire families and towns of people. The 21st century movement of people mirrors this issue in particular. Like SARS reaching Canada, diseases like Zika or the Swine Flu have been deadly in the United States. Though people are not dying in such great number from illnesses such as this, the ease of traveling across the world in a matter of hours gives disease the ability to infiltrate societies in which it has never been exposed.
    We protect again situations like these my monitoring borders and denying access to people who pose a threat to our country. People who enter the country with an active, deadly virus, are quarantined and treated before being allowed to interact with the public. Though with illness this may be a solid plan, there has been an increased amount of racism and fright towards Arabs. In this time of doors and boundaries, we must remember that we put them in their place, and only we have the power to break them down, for the good of mankind.

    Lecture Notes

  5. Controlling the movement of people is a relatively new construct, considering modern humans have lived on earth for around 200,000 years and only within the past few hundred of those years have there been attempts to control the movement of people. The 21st century, however, is a unique time in that never before has there been greater attempts to constrict, control, and monitor the movement of people.

    I have a professor who considers herself a global citizen. When someone in class asked where she was from and this was the response she gave, they were thrown off. But where are you from? They wanted to ask again. In this day and age, we categorize ourselves by where we are citizens, who we pay taxes to, where we were born. Governments see us the same way. They have an obsessive need to categorize us through our citizenship and monitor our movements.

    One of the biggest questions over the course of Brexit was not anything to do with the economic fallout, but what was going to happen to people living in the U.K that were formally citizens of another E.U member. For, members of the E.U agree to an open border policy, allowing for citizens to travel and live more easily among the E.U members. When the U.K pulled out of the E.U there was a question of what people living in the U.K because of this policy would do, because ultimately we are defined by our citizenship. There can not really be a ‘global citizen’ because the countries of the world need to monitor and control the movement of people.

    Possibly the most obvious way in which the movement of people is controlled in the 21st century are immigration laws. Some more popular than others, but the idea stands that every country in the world wants to control who comes and goes from their borders. With the rise of far-right ideologies and intense nationalism, we have seen a rise in harsh, if not cruel, immigration policies. The need to control and rein in the movement of people in the 21st century has taken a pretty drastic turn, evident for example in the refugee crises. Countries do not want to, and even refuse to help. How do you control the movement of refugees fleeing their country? Simple, you refuse to let them in. Countries can not necessarily control the actual movement of people, people will flee if forced to, but they can shut down borders. They can make it so that immigrants and refugees cannot find work. There are many policies states enact to ensure that people can not feasible come into their country. Of course, governments are not perfect at controlling the movement of people. If forced to flee, people will flee and find someplace they can survive. But like we see in Syria, those left still there are there often because they know they have nowhere to really go. There is nowhere that they could both get in and find work.

    On a lighter note, there are plenty of ways in which governments allow their citizens to move around. The 21st century is an era of globalization and globalization inevitably means an increasing connectivity between governments and peoples. There is a lot of movement (of course granted by the government) to other countries to work, study, or vacation. But of course, the movement is all very controlled. There are work visas you must apply for, passports you must obtain, etc. etc. None of these things are really a bad thing, but we have increasingly seen that the control over the movement of people in the 21st century has not been for safety, or for regulation but because of xenophobia, nationalism, and isolationist attitudes.

  6. The most primitive way in which we control the movement of people is by building a wall/border. Throughout history, these have been some of the most simple-minded propositions, yet we continue the discussion today largely in regards to the border between the U.S. and Mexico. Despite the obvious discrepancies in the wall, presidents such as Donald Trump have the audacity to push this as the ultimate end-all to illegal immigration and even request that the Mexican government pay for it.
    Hence, an information based system revolving around the issuance of passports, visas, and green cards is much more realistic. The process for obtaining these documents (in terms of Latin Americans) is typically so discouraging that it perpetuates illegal immigration. Policies such as DACA allow immigrants who came here without the ability to make a rational choice the opportunity to generate income for themselves and survive. Conservative lawmakers removing DACA is a push towards limiting these people’s success by creating yet another obstacle, and an attempt to control their movement and migration to our country. But the reality is- the pervading “immigrant ethos” to surpass the previous generation’s success will prevail, causing them to remain in the US and take jobs under the table. These regulations in a sense don’t really limit movement, but contribute to illegal activity and the exploitation of immigrants.
    The Treaty of Maastricht in 1992 guarantees the freedom of movement across the European Union. Many refugees by boat, not by land, but still seek refuge in places across the European Union. Countries that turn them away don’t stop the problem, they just pass it off to another country, perpetuating long term displacement.
    Pre-arrival and pre-travel screening is becoming more popular as the refugee crisis continues. The United States and the European Union have passed the Passenger Name Record Agreement (PNR) which compiles passenger data from commercial airlines and combines it with other data collected by various law enforcement agencies. This data mining mechanism requires international cooperation, and poses many controversial drawbacks. As cyberwarfare grows more and more rampant- who can access and manipulate this data? Is it even collected thoroughly in the first place? Data mining has grown extremely controversial since Edward Snowden leaked information about the NSA in 2013. Yet it becomes politically acceptable when politicians capitalize upon fear and promote agendas that limit civil liberties. Following the San Bernardino shooting, a travel measure took effect on the same day as Trump’s travel ban. This measure collects social media information from traveling immigrants- even those who have already been naturalized and green-card holders. Efforts like this have been predicted by TV shows like Black Mirror, specifically in the episode “Nosedive”, where the main character’s travel capabilities are limited based on her social media rating.
    Data mining, in my opinion, makes room for racial profiling, privacy violations, and limits free speech, among other things. However, I do think that an information based mechanism as opposed to a border or a wall, in theory, is a much better proposition.
    Ultimately, I think the United States could save its money on building a wall or paying for border security if we were to participate in efforts (infrastructural projects, diplomatic relations, etc) that prevent displacement in the first place.

  7. The earliest human migrations resulted in the creation of the societies and cultures that we know today. People moved freely across the globe, acting as hunter gatherers and following their sources of food until they started to settle down, develop farming techniques, and domesticate animals. As humans began to settle, we began to create different societies and ruling structures that provided stability for those living within them, even though there was often conflict between rivaling societies. Conflicting societies in the ancient era translated into nations strengthening border control and increased immigration laws in the modern era. In the twenty-first century there has been a dramatic rise in attempts to contain, control, and prevent the migration of humans.

    In an attempt to contain the free migration of humans, national borders were created. These borders signify the passage out of one country and into the next, but the levels of surveillance along these borders varies from region to region. As of late, the United States appears to have one peaceful border and one border resulting in political conflict. The border between the United States and Canada is fairly relaxed and easy to cross with proper documentation. Alternatively, with the recent surge in anti-immigrant sentiment, the Mexico-United States border is heavily guarded. However, the border between Mexico and the United States is over 2,000 miles long, which makes it nearly impossible for the entirety of it to be continuously monitored. The policies proposed by our current president to contain Mexican and Islamic immigration have been questionable. The creation of a Muslim ban as well as an expressed desire to build a wall along the Mexican border are both attempts to control the movement of people into the United States by President Trump that have resulted in intense debate between the democrats and republicans and furthered the political divide within the country.

    Despite attempts to contain migration, forms of transportation have dramatically increased within the past century. Because of airplanes, trains, cars, and public buses, it is possible to turn what used to be a month long boat journey across the Atlantic into an eight hour flight or a two hour walk to school into a fifteen minute drive. Even though there are certain levels of identification that are necessary to partake in some forms of transportation, such as passports for international flights or drivers licenses for cars, traveling has never been easier. Living in the era of globalization has made it easier than ever to travel wherever you want to in the world, regardless of those who attempt to restrict and control human movement. Even though humans travel faster and further than they ever could before, information is capable of traveling even faster. News of an earthquake in Japan or a terrorist attack in Europe moves across the entirety of the globe within a matter of seconds. This allows for humans to connect with other humans on the complete opposite side of the world, and form connections that would have otherwise been impossible to create.

  8. Since the beginning of time, humans, whether it be a people group or a family, have migrated to new areas. In the beginning, humans would follow their food, but in modern times humans are migrated internationally for multiple reasons. Sometimes people are forced out of their areas, due to persecution or an unstable economic situation. But just because people have the intentions to pack up all their things and move to a different country, does not mean they will be able to. Most countries have made it hard for people to leave or for people to enter.

    Research is predicting that in the 21st century more people will be trying to immigrate, which will cause major problems. In some cities, there are hundreds of different cultures and people groups. Globalization is continuing to rise, along with the migration rates. Lots of states are currently politically and economically unstable, which makes people want to leave and head out for a more stable country. There is also more human mobility than ever before. Today we have more access to resources that allow us to move better than ever before. Another reason people are moving is to gain fundamental human rights. Why live in a country that gives their people no rights, when you could cross the border and gain more rights? For example, families in Syria are packing up their belongings and trying to cross the border into other countries, because they are unsafe in their own country. Immigration has become a huge topic over the last few years. One thing drawing the attention was Trump’s proposed wall idea to keep immigrants out. In the news, we often hear about the Syrian refugee crisis and how few countries are letting them across the border. Countries all over the world are adopting policies to try and keep immigrants out.

    Because migration is at an all time high, one way countries have tried to control migration is border control. One aspect of this is border agencies. These agencies are responsible for processing any person or good that crosses the border. They have multiple check points and are in charge of regulating the immigration of people and goods. These agencies detect smuggled migrants or people crossing the border illegally, ultimately are in charge of dismantling border crime and trafficking. Because the borders are regulated, it is difficult to just migrate to any country you desire.
    Another way countries have tried to control people entering their country is through visas, asylums, and citizenship. Countries do no grant just anyone the right to live and work in their country. The application process takes time and money. Gaining visas and citizenship in come countries is harder than others or some countries grant illegal immigrants rights. In Brazil, the constitution grants rights and duties to illegal immigrants living in their country. But somewhere like China, one needs to have a visa to simply enter the country. Countries establish these regulations and visa processes to be able to regulate who is migrating in and to make it harder for anyone to just sneak across the border. Immigration laws play a major role in restricting movement across borders.


  9. The movement of people in the 21st century is a massive topic that shapes the way our world works. One issue that is continually brought up is the idea of national sovereignty over borders. Following World War 2, the European Union was formed in order to unite Europe and make sure another massive war in Europe never happens again. One of the ways they sought to unite Europe was to allow the free movement of peoples between EU countries. Now, if you are traveling from Portugal to France, you do not need a passport and you will not be stopped at the border. The modern controversy over this has come from the recent influx of migrants from the Middle East and Africa. Once these migrants make their way into an EU country, they are able to move around as they please within EU countries. Many of these migrants are economic migrants from Africa, who come to Europe because of the economic opportunity and not because they are refugees. While some countries like Germany and Sweden have welcomed these migrants, others (like Poland and Hungary) are pushing to close off their borders from unrestricted movement within their country. Their case has been fueled by the recent terror attacks in places like France, the United Kingdom, and Germany. The argument boils down to whether countries in the EU have sovereignty over their own borders, or if they must comply with EU legislation. This rift is an ongoing process, and both sides have not reached a conclusion at the moment.

    In less than 150 years, our society has completely revolutionized how people move. We have gone from moving on foot and on horseback, to sending men to the moon and being able to circle the globe in a day. The consequence of this revolution has been the increased carbon footprint of humans. One of the best ways to combat this issue is by introducing more efficient means of public transportation. This is especially true in China and the United States- the countries who drive the most cars. Government officials have been trying to figure out how to implement efficient public transportation to cities that have been designed around cars. Countries like Japan and Switzerland ought to be examples to world on how to run efficient public transportation. Alternate fuel sources are also a potential solution to this problem. Sweden and Norway have made plans to phase out the use of fossil fuels in cars. Elon Musk has announced plans for a hyper-loop train that will take people from New York to Los Angeles in a matter of minutes. He has also made plans for electric cars with batteries that are able to charge instantly. All of these measures are aimed at reducing the carbon footprint caused by the increased mobility of humans in the 21st century.



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