University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown
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Spring - Summer 2009

THE BORDERLESS DILEMMA OF CONTEMPORARY MARITIME PIRACY: ITS GEOGRAPHY AND TRENDS

Francis A. Galgano
Department of Geography and the Environment
Villanova University

Abstract

Maritime piracy is a growing problem in selected places, and is inadvertently enabled by international law because it is a crime that occurs in international space. Although piracy is defined by the law of nations, it is remarkably ill defined in many national laws. Furthermore, maritime boundaries are often contested, thus making international cooperation difficult. International response to piracy has been limited because of the nature of modern maritime commerce: piracy is costly to shipping companies, but not any individual state. Nonetheless, the cost of maritime piracy is not inconsequential and is estimated to approach $1 billion per year. This paper examines maritime piracy from a geographic perspective and investigates how maritime boundary issues merge with weak governance, economic globalization, and maritime geography to foster the surge in contemporary piracy. The data indicate that the number of piracy attacks have increased since 1992 by a factor of three, and have accelerated during the past two years. Furthermore, a remarkable 86 percent of all attacks during the last five years occurred in just eight places.


ENVIRONMENTAL DETERMINISM AND BOUNDARY DELINEATION AT THE PARIS PEACE CONFERENCE AS REVEALED IN THE IDEAS OF LEON DOMINIAN

George W. White
Department of Geography
South Dakota State University

Abstract

During the Paris Peace Conference following World War I in 1919, new and expanded nation-states emerged on Europe’s political map. Geographers played a prominent role in determining the locations of these countries’ new boundaries, which seemed to correlate to linguistic boundaries. However, a closer examination of the underlying thoughts of the time reveals that the language issue was a complex one, circumscribed within the broader idea of environmental determinism. Many of the environmentally deterministic ideas were expressed by Leon Dominian, a geographer who contributed information for the decisions made at the Paris Peace Conference.


THE CANADA-UNITED STATES BORDERLANDS: DRAWING THE LINE, WORKING ACROSS IT, AND RE-INVENTING THE BORDER

Victor Konrad
Department of Geography and Environmental Studies
Carleton University

Heather N. Nicol
Department of Geography
Trent University

Abstract

The once quiet and uneventful border between Canada and the United States has emerged after 9/11 as one of the more interesting borders in the world as Americans and Canadians re-invent the border and the borderlands between themselves. Most of the emphasis by researchers in geography and other disciplines has been focused on understanding the rapidly evolving contemporary border, but this essay calls for attention to how the border was formed and worked in the past, why it functioned quietly, and what made it prevail. A brief synthesis of the border story serves to draw attention to themes of border invisibility, common ground, prosperity space, borderlands templates, and institutionalization, as well as more established conceptualizations of asymmetry, border scaling, and permeability, and place these into the context of emerging border theory.


PESO ACCEPTANCE PATTERNS IN EL PASO

Thomas M. Fullerton, Jr. and Angel L. Molina, Jr.
Department of Economics and Finance
University of Texas at El Paso

Michael J. Pisani
Department of Management
Central Michigan University

Abstract

This paper examines the acceptance of peso payments, or currency substitution reverse dollarization, by U.S. retail firms near the international border with Mexico. Survey data are drawn from a stratified random sample of 586 retailers located in El Paso, Texas, situated across the border from Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico. Approximately 13 percent of the participant firms accept Mexican pesos in exchange for goods and services. Empirical results indicate that factors such as a firm’s percentage of Spanish speaking employees and distance to the nearest international bridge significantly influence the decision to accept or reject Mexican pesos.


PENNSYLVANIA COUNTY BORDERS: PLAIN AND FANCY

John A. Enman
Department of Geography and Geosciences
Bloomsburg University

Abstract

This paper accounts for the roles played by straight-line geographic coordinates, streams, and uplands in creating the borders of the current sixty-seven Pennsylvania counties. In 1798, the eastern and southern parts of Pennsylvania had twenty counties but the west, north, and central areas were comprised of three gigantic but sparsely populated counties: Allegheny, Lycoming, and Luzerne. During the Jefferson presidency, that territory was divided into eighteen counties with meridians and parallels as principle bounds comparable to those in later formed western states involved in the United States Public Land Survey System (USPLS). In the older developed Commonwealth areas borders were derived through metes and bounds from waterways (creeks to major rivers) and uplands, such as the lofty and lengthy Blue and Tuscarora mountains. The choice of boundaries apparently was governed by attempts to maintain these more populated areas as politically and culturally unified as possible.   


MODELING THE INFLUENCE OF THE MODIFIABLE AREAL UNIT PROBLEM (MAUP) ON POVERTY IN PENNSYLVANIA

Peter Hayward
Department of Geography
SUNY College at Oneonta

Jason Parent
Department of Natural Resources and the Environment
University of Connecticut

Abstract

The modifiable areal unit problem (MAUP) is the idea that the interpretation of a geographical phenomenon within a map depends on the scale and partitioning of the areal units that are imposed on the map. These are known as the scale and zoning effects. The MAUP can be linked to poverty in Pennsylvania because poverty rates are often reported using census-based areal units. The purpose of this research is to investigate and model the influence of the MAUP on the interpretation of poverty in Pennsylvania. Several scale- and zoning-specific models of poverty in Pennsylvania are outlined and, through these, it is shown that the MAUP has serious implications on the spatial and statistical representations of poverty in the state. 


NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK: THE PROCESS OF NEIGHBORHOOD “STUDENTIFICATION” AND PERCEPTIONS OF CHANGE

James Cunningham, Vanessa Ciarleglio, Lindsay Lambert, Heather Soulard and Christopher Cusack
Department of Geography
Keene State College

Abstract

Neighborhood change has received substantive attention in the fields of urban geography and planning. However, these studies have largely focused on the effects of social changes associated with race and ethnicity. This study attempts to fill this void by detailing a case study of change as a result of an influx of college-age residents into a neighborhood. Specifically, the well-defined neighborhood of Southeast Keene, New Hampshire, which has experienced a significant increase in the number of young adult residents, serves as the focus of analysis.  Drawing on secondary research, this study provides context in order to understand the concepts of “town and gown” relationships. Primary research, collected via a door-to-door survey, reveals differences among student and non-student residents regarding perceptions of neighborhood change as well as the quality of housing. This study concludes with an outlook on the future of Southeast Keene and provides recommendations designed to assuage further neighborhood deterioration. 


QUANTITATIVE AND QUALITATIVE ANALYSIS OF WEATHER PARAMETERS OF THE FAGARAS MOUNTAINS

Octavian Cocos
Geography Department
University of Bucharest

Alina Cocos
Dante Alighieri High School

Abstract

Climatic conditions of the Fagaras Mountains depend primarily on their geographical position and altitude. Besides, the climate shows some specific features introduced by the massiveness and orientation of the main ridge that blocks both the wet and cold air masses coming from the Atlantic and the northern seas, keeping them for long on its southern slope, and the Mediterranean and tropical ones, which are forced to linger on its southern front. This is the reason why in addition to the vertical zonation of weather parameters peculiarities linked to orientation occur. Thus, one may separate a northern slope topoclimate – dynamic, agitated, cold and wet – and a southern slope one – milder, calmer and clearer.