Tag Archive | middle-east

Where Were the Women?


This protest/Friday prayer was super cool and fairly well-attended, but I think it could have been twice as big; this girl in the foreground was one of the only females present. Considering the dynamic role Palestinian women have played in other protest movements, this seems like a missed opportunity.

Sneak Peeks of Walking Walls (The Book!)

I’ve been working on the Walking Walls book for a little more than a month now, on the weekends, and I think it’s far enough along to release a little more information. The whole thing will likely come in around 100 pages. There are five chapters:

Introduction – to the project and conflicts

Key Concepts – walls as a site of security vs. conflict, walls in geographic space or not, and walls as symptoms of a greater ill

My Experience – outlined by revealing moments in Abu Dis, Palestine, middle of nowhere, North Cyprus, and Shankill/Falls, Belfast

Others’ Experience – short description and a quote from various individuals, opposite their portrait

Resistance – outlining peaceful opposition movements by highlighting Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity, Occupy Buffer Zone, and Peace Players International.

No, I don’t have an anticipated release date, I don’t know how it will be published (ideas and solicitations welcome!), and I likely don’t know much more than I’ve outlined here. Nonetheless, I’ve found it to be a very enjoyable process so far, and feel good about what I’ve done. In that spirit, I’d like to share two mockup pages and would really appreciate any feedback on design, writing, layout, anything. The first page is from the introduction:


The second is an excerpt from “My Experience,” probably the section that feels most vulnerable and scary:


Again, any comments or ideas are very welcome.

Division, Mapped

How do maps address divided space and occupied territories?

This map was produced by B’Tselem and shows where the separation barrier has been built, has been approved to be built, and where the green line is. Yes, these are three different places. Naturally, the most complicated part of the map is the area around Jerusalem, where lines snake and weave. It’s just as messy on the ground.

I got this map from a lady in a booth right after the passing through the Lidra Street checkpoint to enter North Cyprus. This cartographer solved an awkward problem by simply omitting all detail in the Republic of Cyprus. Here there be dragons.

This is an official tourist map courtesy of the Republic of Cyprus and a Carleton alum who marked it up for me with helpful notes. The area to the north of the Buffer Zone contains some sketches of streets (I wonder if they’re accurate?) but otherwise notes resignedly, “Area under Turkish occupation since 1974.” I wonder if this phenomenon can be partly attributed to the two sides competing for tourist attention? (Maybe they won’t visit if they don’t know what’s over there..) Every map has an argument.

Unsurprisingly, my maps of Belfast never marked the Peace Walls. The Walls do not denote any sort of change in rules for the powers that be, only for the people that live there, so the Walls are not added to maps. Furthermore, it would be an unsightly blemish to wares in the Belfast Tourist Center, where I acquired this booklet. So, it was up to me to look up the locations I needed to visit, and mark them on my guidebook, sometimes with an R or L for Republican or Loyalist, so I could remember which side was which when I visited. My entire collection of maps is marked up with these lines and notes.

I wonder how someone living in these neighborhoods would map their city or world? Sounds like another project…

Language is a Border

Last fall, I posted an article on how you can see the Iron Curtain on a map of Facebook friendships. I just stumbled over a map of Tweets by language, so it’s high time for another analysis of borders using social media.

Here’s a link to the original on Flickr.

Curiosities cartographer Frank Jacobs wrote a short blog post on this map last fall in which he made a few major points.

I. French tweets from Quebec are clustered and not as numerous as one might expect.

II. America is dominated by English, with pockets of other languages while the US/Mexico border is highly visible.

III. Europe is weird: Switzerland is German and French, Catalonia makes an appearance, and Austria has a sizable chunk of Italian.

These are all well and good, so I’d like to make a few points of my own, related to my recent travels in the Middle East, Cyprus, and Ireland/Northern Ireland.

This should look familiar, but just for orientation: red is Turkish, yellow is Greek, green is Hebrew, and Purple is Arabic. The freakiest thing about this map is the clearness with which it shows the Cyprus partition. The shape of the colors corresponds perfectly with the waves of the Buffer Zone, and there is little to no penetration by either side, even though its possible (for most) to cross. Language is one of the biggest factors in the ‘walls in the head’ and this map better explains the division than any political map could.

Let’s move to the east and examine Southwest Asia. The purple shape to the north of Israel is Lebanon, and I believe the straightish, multicolored line running south and east of the green clusters represents tourists at Dead Sea resorts. Now for the interesting bit: you can just make out the kidney bean shape of the West Bank in the middle of the green. It’s faint, but slightly darker with purple smatterings and one more prominent dot (Ramallah?). Israel/Palestine is an example of another language border exacerbating a political divide.

Language is a real border. It can cripple your movement and communication just as effectively as walls and barbed wire; it definitely hampered me during my travels. But I think it’s also surmountable with a little study, respect, and patience. Sometimes, just a few words and willing ears are needed to make a connection, and don’t forget that smiles and laughter are universal.


These walls were all intended as solutions.

“Israeli Security Fence”

Bethlehem, Palestinian Territories

“United Nations Buffer Zone”

Nicosia/Lefkosa, Cyprus

“Peace Wall”

Cupar Way, Belfast, Northern Ireland

“Anti-Fascist Protection Wall”

Berlin, Germany