Sunday, February 17

Shifting borders and shifting sands

You must have seen this picture many times:

As an amateur historian, I am always curious about the boundaries and how history is framed. For example, the first photo establishes a state called as Palestine in 1946 which sort of puzzled me because there was an Ottoman Empire then and not a country known as Palestine. Mind you, there wasnt a state called as Israel either before 1948! If one thinks about Zionism as a driver, then this should go back to centuries and millennium. But as an ideology, you can go back to 1882 when the immigration started. But the immigration went into the Ottoman Empire and not into a state called as Palestine.

On the other hand, you can then draw the Palestinian parallels to the Philistines. You can also legitimately argue that the Roman state unit called as Palaestina created after they defeated the Jews was one of the ancestors of current day Palestine.

Now if I go back a bit further, you can see where the challenge comes from. Look here at how the Roman Empire grew and shrunk over hundreds of years. 

Obviously, the latter part of the presentation talks about the Byzantine empire and how it got taken over by the Ottoman Empire and then the Ottoman Empire then disintegrated into various countries just like the Roman Empire did. Borders shift all the time when seen from a distance. See more here for Ethiopia.

But this was even more interesting, how do you look at the Persian Empire? They also ruled over vast swathes of the Middle East. Did you know, the bastion of Sunni thought, Al Azhar, was actually founded by a Shia empire? Curious, no? Check out the Middle East changes here.

How about the Armenians? See their history here. How about Kosovo? It has had a long history and how there is talk about it seceding from Serbia. And as soon as it does, it will be recognised by the USA and UK. And when it does, a huge spear called as hypocrisy will go through almost every political structure.

If Kosovo can be independent, why cant Palestine be? Or Northern Cyprus? Or Kurdistan in Turkey? Or Eastern Shia in Saudi Arabia? Or Baluchistan in Pakistan? Or Kashmir in India? Or Southern Thailand? Or Darfur from Sudan? The basic principle is the same no?

But over the long view, you can see how boundaries rise and change.

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