Hello My Wonderful Worlders,
My name is Jeremy, and I am the new My Wonderful World
intern here at National Geographic this summer. I thought that posting a blog
entry would be a perfect way to introduce myself and give a little background
about what brings me here to Washington, D.C.
my arrival in this sauna of a city, I was busy finishing up my third year of
study at the University of California, Berkeley.
I am majoring in Human/Cultural Geography, a discipline that traces its roots
to the great Berkeley
professor and geographer Carl Sauer. It was Sauer who revolutionized the way
scholars began to consider how geography, in terms of physical landscapes,
could be conceptualized in relation to social and cultural processes.
underneath that broad heading, I am most interested in art and its relations to
forms of social identification and empowerment. Now, you may be wondering what
art has to do with geography (check out this previous
blog post to see one perspective on how geography and art are connected),
but I propose that understanding the ways in which art can and does impact
communities and cultures around the world relies critically on both a
geographical and historical perspective.
Art can display the
power of the elite and maintain the status quo, or it can empower the masses.
It can inspire critique, excite, or incite. It can be subtle or bold, provocative
or decorative. We have to remember that the same
image has the potential to make a variety of impacts precisely because no two
places have the same exact geographical resources or historical experiences.
have oil. Some have trees. Some have both.
have been colonizers. Some have been colonized. Some have been both.
geographical perspective allows us to join seemingly isolated factors, such as
environmental, social, economic, and scientific processes, together to see how
a tool such as art can produce a myriad results across diverse landscapes. In
one location, individuals may interpret a given image as an empowering way
to unify community members around race, ethnicity or gender, while in another
they may see it as nothing more than a beautiful (or not) work of art.
for example Clarion Alley, located in the heart of San Francisco’s Mission District. Since 1992,
this alleyway has been a site for local artists to speak to, for, and with the
surrounding community. It has provided a positive and progressive way for
groups to organize and form new cohesive identities. As the space developed
over the years, it also became extremely popular among tourists and people
outside of the Mission.
Beyond its ability to empower, the site is renowned for its beautiful colors
and images. Becoming a tourist attraction is just one of the ways in which art,
in this context, has brought about indirect and possibly unintended impacts to
You may or may not have thought of the connections between
geography and art before…but I want to show that if art can be related to
geography, so can many other things! My point in bringing all this up is to say that I am a big believer in
the importance of geography, and am therefore super excited to join the My
Wonderful World tea. I’d love to hear
from you and welcome your thoughts and comments, be it concerning our campaign
specifically or geography in general. Dialogue is the key here people. Let’s
that I think about it, let’s take that last part a step further. I challenge
you to find something, anything that seemingly has nothing to do with geography,
and tell me how you can think about it in a new way using a geographical
perspective. Try and think outside the box, push the envelope, go crazy! I get
tired of hearing myself talk. I want to hear YOUR voice.