Cultural Geography

By Ginny Mercier


Claim: In the globalized world, where people choose to live influences their individual culture, belief system, access to resources, rights, freedoms, and degree of power which can lead to conflict or cooperation within social groups.
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One of the most important pieces of the claim is understanding why people choose to live where they do. For example, people who live in the United States have different obstacles to face and resources at hand than those who live in China. In the United States, people have access to natural resources that are provided to them by the country and many opportunities to do things that they want to do. People also choose to live in the United States because of its variety of culture, landscape, climate, and its progression in globalization. In China, people have to find ways to gain the resources they need, and don't have as many academic opportunities as Americans, but they do have an incredible sense of community and pride in their country. People choose to live in China because it is where their family lives or because of its jobs in the big cities. Both countries are vastly different, but each has its own physical and social features that intrigue people to express themselves within that country.

The second part of the claim is about conflict and cooperation within societies as people share their culture and beliefs. In the real world, when people don't agree with the government, they cause conflict to achieve the solution they wish to have. In Columbia, the farmers wanted to own more land and gain new rights, so they made an argument to the government. When the government didn't adhere to their request, the farmers started to rebel. This is an example of how conflict can be caused by difference of beliefs, but it can also relate to power. As the farmers rebelled, the government had the power to send police forces against them. On the flip side, if the government had actually agreed with the farmers and shared their beliefs, they could have made negotiations and cooperated. It is human nature to create conflict, but the decision to cooperate depends on whether a person can look at something from multiple perspectives or if they only see things the way they believe them to be.

Another part of the claim is that conflict and cooperation can be made over natural resources. Some recent and major conflicts throughout the world have been caused by sand. In class, we learned about sand trafficking and how countries around the world take their use of sand for granted, while others have to steal it. In the United States along the Florida coastline, the amount of sand is diminishing. To keep the people who come to the beach satisfied, that state uses dredges to pull sand from offshore and pour it onto the beach. In this case, it is not a conflict between two countries, but almost a cooperation between the people at the beach and the machines used to carry the sand. Another example of conflict over sand occurred in the home of an Indian farmer. The farmer was protesting against a local gang who had been stealing the most valuable resource at the time: sand. The gang when to the farmer's home and killed him for his protests against them. After word of the murder spread across the continent, other countries began shutting off their exports of sand to other countries. This conflict over sand is not nearly over, and will need an immense about of cooperation to be resolved.

The final piece of the claim that plays a huge role in societies every where is the degree of power that people uphold and the rights and freedoms that citizens of different countries are given. Someone who rose to power and limited others rights and freedoms was Joseph Stalin. He was the dictator of the USSR which he changed into an industrial nation with extreme military power. Although these changes made the country more successful, many people died during his time in power and Stalin ruled by terror. His rise to power was done by winning control of the Communist party. His great amount of power made him dictator, and allowed him to limit rights and freedoms of those who did not exceed his power. When citizens did not cooperate with what Stalin ordered, he executed them. This is an example of how people are willing to stand up for their rights and freedoms, and how people with higher power can deny them. Stalin took away peoples' right to privacy by sending out police forces to spy on and eliminate anyone who opposed him. From the citizens' perspective, Stalin was not a good leader and treated them unfairly. On the other hand, it can be viewed that Stalin had goals he wanted to reach, and the people who opposed him were not going to be allowed to stand in his way. Multiple perspectives ties directly into power, rights, and freedoms, which is a core part of what Cultural Geography is all about.

I can predict that this claim will apply to societies around the world for as long as they exist. People will continue to migrate, share their cultures, and fight for what they believe in. Power shifts will determine peoples' limitations of rights and freedoms. Globalization will change the world and allow it to become smaller, which can cause both conflict and cooperation. To conclude, as the earth gets older, and people gain more knowledge, the Cultural Geography class and understanding of the overarching claim will become incredibly important.


The overarching claim for the Cultural Geography class can be applied to almost every aspect of my life. As I grow up as a citizen of a town, a country, and the world, I have to make decisions and learn how to express myself. This class alone has taught me how to look at multiple perspectives, and to stand up for things I believe in as long as I can support it. I can relate to the claim in certain ways at different periods in my life, but overall, the claim relates to myself and all other people because we are human.

The first example of how the claim relates to my life is why I live where I do. Right now, I live in Auburn because that is where my family is from. We all live on a big piece of property that my grandfather bought fifty years ago. I am close with my family and have access to the land all around me because it belongs to all of us. We also choose to live in New Hampshire because of its four seasons, varying physical features, and because there is no sales tax. We live in this country because we are given certain rights and freedoms and have a say in our government. If these places did not provide us with what we need, and even want, we would choose to migrate somewhere new.

I have also experienced conflicts of beliefs on personal, local, national, and international levels throughout my life. Personally, I have had to stand up for what I believe in in classes or with other people I know. I am willing to do these things because I have the freedom to share my opinion, and I search for cooperation. Locally, there have been many disputes in my town about who should be head of the school board because of all the conflicts occurring in our school system. Nationally, there are two parties that hold their own beliefs and have followers that support their candidates. Internationally, conflicts occur between countries, between leaders and citizens, and even between two average people over things like religion, politics, culture, resources, and more. I believe these conflicts are a road toward cooperation, but it can't always be solved.

Conflict and cooperation over natural resources is hugely involved in my every day life. At home, we argue over who gets the longest or warmest shower because water is a resource we must not take advantage of. Right now, we fight over who gets the air conditioners in their bedroom. Even though an air conditioner isn't a natural resource, the cold air is something that all of us desire and will argue over. The solution is usually made by my parents who have the power to make decisions for us. Locally, people are upset that only certain roads are being repaired when their road isn't one of them. The pavement and workers are resources that need to be obtained, and the lack of them causes conflict. This local problem can be tied to the national/international problem of the import and export of resources. In the United States, we get a lot of resources like clothes, products, cars, and foods from other countries. Without their cooperation, we would have to use only what we could make on our own. I think natural resources will be the focal point of disputes for as long as humans are alive.

Lastly, my life revolves around a system of power, rights, and freedoms. I have people who have power over me, and I even have some power over other people. In the unit four summative, I transferred my power throughout my life, which peaked as a newborn, was at its lowest point in elementary school, and has continued to rise since that low point. These shifts in power have happened in my life because of what I am able control with my rights and freedoms. Locally, I have seen town officials change, and as they do, the things that happen in our school and at town events change with each person's point of view. Nationally, I have witnessed presidential elections, that when I am older, I can vote for and live freely under their rule. Internationally countries shift in power constantly. I am lucky to live in one of the world's most powerful countries, that wants to spread its freedoms and rights with citizens of other countries whose leaders do not provide that lifestyle for them. The United States uses its military power to defeat unfair leaders and gain rights for other citizens. Overall, this sense of shifting power can limit or gain rights and freedoms for people who have less power than others.

In the end, I can relate the entire Cultural Geography course to my life, and have learned how important it is to look at it from a personal view as well as relating it to the real world. Analyzing this claim has led me to new conclusions and makes me want to discover more.


"The Deadly Global War for Sand." Conde Nast Digital, 19 May 2015. Web.10 June 2015.

"Joseph Stalin." History. A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 10 June 2015.