Sunday, October 9, 2016

Are you a citizen of the world?

Behind the desk in my classroom is one of Richard Allaway's display posters, with quotes linked to geography. There are several sets of them, and they are recommended for your classroom.
They can be downloaded from here.
It's the one opposite, featuring Socrates.

In a recent speech at the Conservative Party Conference, Theresa May said

"...if you believe you are a citizen of the world, you are a citizen of nowhere. You don't understand what citizenship means."



Theresa May studied Geography at one of the world's great universities (rated number 1 in the world in fact at the moment) and one would expect that she might have come across the idea of scale, and that it is possible to have a connection with a place in numerous ways simultaneously, and that all places are essentially transitory and in constant motion in any case, whether that be by cultural shift, or the slow crawl of the tectonic plates on which they sit. We are all citizens of lots of places. The person who perhaps explained this best was the late Doreen Massey, who has featured many times before on Living Geography.
There is a useful piece on the Royal Geographical Society website which references Doreen's work on Kilburn 

Read this document too (PDF download)

Dr. Mary Gilmartin says this is:

‘a pretty ordinary place’, that is so connected to Ireland and India and Pakistan through colonialism and migration that it is ‘impossible even to begin thinking about Kilburn High Road without bringing into play half the world’ (Massey 1991). The same, Massey claims, is true for any place you can think of. If places are connected in this way, so too are people, which gives a new sense of possibility to the concept of a global citizen. 
Writing in 1885, geographer Petr Kropotkin expressed his version of global citizenship: ‘we are all brethren, whatever our nationality’.

Of course Doreen's work on Kilburn came after Theresa May graduated...


The Washington Post has a pertinent article here.
And this David Shariatmadari piece in The Guardian earlier in the week connected this notion of citizenship with the Brexit vote, which will remove one element of all UK residents 'citizenship' and also means that when I go to Toulouse over half term I'll be forking out rather more for my cold French lager...

I don't understand a lot, but I understand what geography means...

Why not discuss this idea, and the words of Theresa May with students who are exploring citizenship, or global governance or similar themes in the new 'A' level perhaps?

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