This essay assignment is designed to put geography in action. Geography is a highly applied science that has great relevance to the events and activities that surround us daily. This assignment is to be written from the perspective of a geographer. Throughout this essay you must have explicit discussion of and use of geographic analysis- terms and approaches such as: spatial analysis, spatial distribution, spatial variation, spatial diffusion, where and why, human environment interaction, pattern, process, etc. It is vital that you explore this topic within a geographic framework. It must be absolutely clear that this is an essay written for a geography course. You should explicitly discuss the geographic perspective and use spatial analysis to explore this topic. The teacher is most interested in the ability to demonstrate the understanding of geography (themes, concepts, and approach), and the ability to apply that geographic understanding to this assignment: North Africa/Southwest Asia: “The Middle East”: Perception vs. Reality.
Most Americans have negative perceptions of the people and place in North Africa/ Southwest Asia (commonly known as the Middle East). For some, even simple hearing the term “Arab” evokes these negative perceptions. These misperceptions are typically based on selective information. Most often the Middle East is discussed in terms of terrorism and war. This one-dimensional view of the Middle East not only stereotypes people and perpetuates misconceptions- it also fails to recognize the historical contributions and great cultural diversity that exist in this ancient world region.
This assignment ask you to view the people and places of the Middle East from a geographer’s perspective. Instead of discussing the Middle East in terms of war and religious fanaticism, address the diversity and complexity of the people and the places in the Middle East.
Some suggested topics include: every day life, music, art, religions, language, food, literature, economic activity. Are war and violence the only dimension to the people and places of this land? Are all people and places the same? Is the entire region a desert? Are all arabs Muslim? What about beaches, dance clubs, and wine production in Lebanon? Celebrating Christmas in the church of Syria? Shopping in some of the world’s finest malls in Dubai? Production of work famous coffee in Yemen? Discuss the spatial variation of the cultural geography in this region.