Since 2010, the United Nations celebrates World Statistics Day every five years on October 20. The last World Statistics Day’s theme was Better Data, Better Lives, which emphasized “the critical role of high-quality official statistical information in analysis and informed policy decision-making in support of sustainable development.” Below we have gathered some links to global statistical resources that could be useful to patrons.
United Nations: The United Nations Statistics Division makes available global data related to development, the economy, the environment, population, and more. Its publications include the Statistical Yearbook, the World Statistics Pocketbook, and the Monthly Bulletin of Statistics.
UNESCO: The UNESCO Institute of Statistics has a dedicated website for its Data for the Sustainable Development Goals, which covers education and literacy; science, technology, and innovation; culture; and communication and information.
WHO: The World Health Organization’s Global Health Observatory has a variety of health statistics on all countries that are members of the organization. It also has data visualizations about several statistical topics.
World Bank: The World Bank provides data that can be searched by country or by indicators like agriculture and rural development, aid effectiveness, climate change, economy and growth, education, energy and mining, environment, external debt, financial sector, gender, health, infrastructure, poverty, private sector, public sector, science and technology, social development, social protection and labor, trade, and urban development.
Eurostat: The European Union’s statistical office positions itself as “your key to European statistics” and makes news, data, and publications available on its website.
U.S. Census Bureau: The United States Census Bureau has compiled a good list of international statistical agencies (in alphabetical order by country) as well as other statistical resources related to censuses, survey activities, and global health resources.
Do you enjoy seeing the world? Exploring your country? Maybe just visiting the next town over? No matter if you prefer traveling on or off the beaten path, you have reason to celebrate…
Just this past year, over 1.2 billion travelers made their way across international borders in search of adventure, with that number expected to grow by more than 600 million over the next three years. (Rifai, Official Messages on World Tourism Day, 2017) It’s no surprise, then, that we find tourism sitting pretty as the world’s 3rd-largest industry (Rifai, 2017), nor that big of a stretch to guess that you, or someone you know, thoroughly enjoys traveling.
But what does it mean to travel?
I’ve been lucky enough to study abroad in both Cuernavaca and Barcelona; to explore with my family a swath of Western Europe (Ireland, England, France, Switzerland, Germany, and Italy); to present at a conference in Finland; and even to spend nearly a year living and working on my own in Buenos Aires. Each trip I took was motivated by a unique mix of goals and desires, and I’ve no doubt that the same goes for anyone else who has found themselves on a journey abroad:
Sometimes we travel to study, to immerse ourselves in a fascinating culture and language.
Other times we travel to learn about ourselves, find our limits and step outside our comfort zones.
Maybe we travel for the adventure, the thrill of encountering the unfamiliar and reveling in its newness.
Sometimes we travel to escape, to get away from it all and relax for a while.
All too often, however, travelers focus solely on what they will get from a trip abroad, forgetting that they, too, have an impact on the places they visit—travel and tourism is not a one-way street, after all. With this in mind, and in celebration of #WTD2017, the United Nations World Tourism Organization has released a variety of resources to help travelers be sure that their impact is a positive one. Click on the pictures below to check them out:
Ultimately, if we can remember to TRAVEL, ENJOY, and RESPECT, we can be sure that we are having a positive impact on the economy, environment, and, most importantly, the people of the places our travels take us.
Monuments around the globe, lit blue on October 24, 2015
Since the early twentieth century, “heritage” has consistently emerged as a cultural specific response to international politics, and as a practice of memory. Heritage studies scholar Rodney Harrison, in Understanding the Politics of Heritage, describes heritage as an idea that emerges from the recognition of a potential or real threat to an object. When defined by its vulnerability, heritage necessitates protection measures. Because the condition of vulnerability is implied in the enacting of protective measures (whether actually needed or not), heritage is characterized as being rather weak. However, this stance is being contested today, as architectural heritage is gaining a more active role in fighting terror and conflict.
On October 24, 2015 more than 200 monuments, buildings, museums, bridges and other landmarks in nearly 60 countries were lit up with blue light to promote the United Nations’ message of peace, development, and human rights for all. Also as a means to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations, the Turn the World UN Blue campaign represents a symbolic commitment to unite global citizens, promoting a sense of peace in the world. The long list of participating landmarks that went blue that day is an example of peoples throughout the world joining hands to fight conflict.
In the wake of war and hate, heritage has brought people together and given them hope for peace. It has been well publicized that the 1,500-year-old Bamiyan Buddhas suffered great destruction at the hands of the Taliban in 2001. The sandstone Buddhas, towering over 170 feet in the Bamiyan valley of the Hindukush Mountain range of Afghanistan, came to represent the complex inter-relations of religion, economics, and politics. Witness to a landscape that sustains centuries of passers-by in the forms of monks, merchants, and armies, the Buddhas embodied the coming together of a world culture, and their destruction caused a collective international outrage. The Buddhas are part of the UNESCO World Heritage List as the Cultural Landscape and Archaeological Remains of the Bamiyan Valley. This makes the site not just a representation of a certain religion or nation, but the heritage of a collective, and thus an inspiration for the world to come together to take on the responsibility of fighting irrational destruction meted out in the name of religion and/or politics.
One of the two Bamiyan Buddhas recreated as 3D light projection [Credit: AFP]
More recently, a Chinese couple, Zhang Xinyu and Liang Hong, gifted the technology of projecting 3-D laser illumination to the Afghan people. On June 7, 2015 they projected images of the Buddhas, filling up the voids left behind after the destruction. The Buddhas came back to assume their towering status in the Hindukush Mountains, bringing people together in their shared associations, even if for just one day. This gesture serves three purposes: it allows heritage to take active role in combating terrorism, it sustains living memories of local and global communities, and it also subtly reminds people of the horrors of hatred. Llewelyn Morgan’s book The Buddhas of Bamiyan excavates the layers of meaning that these vanished wonders hold for a fractured Afghanistan. Also on this theme, poet and environmental activist Gary Snyder wrote the poem “After Bamiyan,” collected in the book Dangers on Peaks, in which he responds to the experience of global conflict and personal pain by reminding readers of the values of continuity, art, and compassion.
Even more recently, in August 2015, the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, blew up a Roman temple in the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra, another World Heritage Site. The international response to this incidence was stronger. The chief of UNESCO, the UN’s cultural agency, described Islamic State’s destruction as a “war crime.” Certain groups voiced their concern for a change in international law that would empower protections of cultural property. Current laws, for example that of the United Nations’ 1954 Hague Convention, (“Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict”) are helpless when non-state groups decide to destroy monuments. Therefore, a call for reforming the laws to at least allow for the prevention future destruction is now at hand. The Hague Convention of 1954 prohibits using monuments and sites for military purposes and harming or misappropriating cultural property in any way. This was articulated after World War II, when representatives from the European countries realized the urgency of reconstructing historical knowledge and retrieving objects of cultural memory lost or destroyed during the war. Buildings are considered the most vulnerable objects to be destroyed, symbolizing the rampant obliteration of cultural memory because of war.
An ongoing project of bringing 3d cameras to sites in conflict zones highlights the possibility that vast scale community efforts can become a form of resistance against heritage destruction. The Institute for Digital Archaeology has devised an inexpensive 3-D digital camera to extensively document conflict-affected monuments with the help of local communities. The institute aims to distribute 5,000 cameras by December 2015 and has partnered with UNESCO to do so. These 3-D images could be used to build replicas of destroyed monuments, perhaps using 3-D printers. The documentation could also be used as evidence for investigations against plundering and destruction.
In 2014, George Clooney released his movie The Monuments Men. The movie is loosely based on Robert M. Edsel’s book The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History. The film narrates real events from projects undertaken by the Monuments Men Foundation, which was established in 1943 to help protect cultural property in war-affected areas during and after World War II. The group was comprised of about 400 service members who worked with military forces to safeguard historic and cultural monuments from war damage. When the war ended, they worked on finding works of art stolen by the Nazis and returning them to their respective owners. The movie persistently raised an unsettling question: Is a human life worth more than art? What is made clear is that the destruction of art and artifacts represents an attack on history, identity and civilization. This film addresses the intricacies of that question in a more nuanced manner, arguing that art represents the human spirit—just as valuable as human life if not more—in times of war.
The Monuments Men. UIUC Call Num: D810.A7 E23 2009
UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) was established in 1945. In the 1950s and 1960s, UNESCO was instrumental in developing a framework for international collaboration in safeguarding the cultural heritage of humanity in the form of international recommendations and conventions, in order to provide a framework of reference for legislators and heritage managers. UNESCO’s Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage 1972 was adopted on the principle that sites of outstanding universal value to all mankind should be protected and passed on to future generations, acting as a source of peace and sustainability. It advocated heritage as a “powerful tool for peace,” which must be protected. The 1972 Convention is a landmark, as it brings the concept of “world heritage” onto the global stage and equates the loss of any specific cultural or natural heritage with the loss of world heritage. With the emergence of the idea of world heritage, there emerged a shared sense of belonging and protection for symbols of identity. In 1978, UNESCO announced its first World Heritage List. Today, that list contains 1031 properties.
UNESCO World Heritage by Karte [Credit: Creative Commons]
To learn more about cultural heritage and current international politics, please visit the exhaustive collection at UIUC Library, which ranges from books, maps, movies, 2D art, and much more.
“The Organic Globalizer: Hip Hop, Political Development, and Movement Culture,” edited by Christopher Malone and George Martinez, Jr., is a compilation of essays that explore the ways in which hip hop culture serves as an “organic globalizer.” In the opening chapter, Malone and Martinez define organic globalizer as a movement which “builds a network of grassroots institutions geared toward social justice and political participation both locally and globally” (Malone and Martinez, Jr., 5). Hip hop developed during the early 1970s “among African Americans and immigrant populations in the urban United States” (Flaherty, 131) and has ever since traveled throughout the world, giving other marginalized communities a voice to raise social awareness and promote change.
The authors explore hip hop as a “means of expression for groups that are historically marginalized and outside of traditional political, institutional access to power” (Flaherty, 131-32) from America’s inner-cities and industrial prison complex to the colonized lands of Palestine, Australia, Africa, and Latin America. From the socio-economic disparities and injustices endured by these transnational communities, the authors propose that “hip hop, rooted in a movement culture, has been an artistic medium used to foster awareness, build and transform social institutions, and/or encourage political activism in local communities that have largely found themselves marginalized” (Malone and Martinez, Jr., 15). Therefore, hip hop unites the struggles of international peoples and serves as a force for political engagement, cultural awareness, and social justice on a global scale.
In May 16, 2001, the United Nations sponsored and recognized hip hop as an international culture through the Hip Hop Declaration of Peace. This declaration lists 18 principles which “seek to maintain the dignity and respect of individuals, cultures, tribes, and peoples of the globe . . . [and to promote hip hop] as a veritable source of conflict resolution” (Malone and Martinez, Jr., 11). To honor the message of “The Organic Globalizer” and the forthcoming Hip Hop Awareness Week, I encourage you to visit the International and Area Studies Library to check out “The Organic Globalizer” and the rest of our collection and resources. And, make sure you watch the following videos by artists I consider organic globalizers: Aisha Fukushima, DAM, and Nomadic Massive.
Vocalist, speaker, RAPtivist, instructor and international artist Aisha Fukushima hails from Seattle, Washington/ Yokohama, Japan. She navigates and explores the intersections between hip hop and social justice through her project RAPtivism, public performances, and speeches. The following video further elaborates on her accomplishments and the work that she has done.
“Hip Hop Lives–Raptivism Around the World: Aisha Fukushima at TEDxSitka”
Da Arabian MC’s (Suhell Nafar, Tamer Nafar, Mahmoud Jreri) are known as the first Palestinian hip hop group from a neighborhood called Lyd/Lod. Their work speaks to the struggles of the Palestinian people living under occupation, challenging ethnic and cultural stereotypes, and raising social awareness. Recently, DAM added a new member to the group, Maysa Daw, and they have worked on a new project through a joint effort with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) which addresses the oppression of patriarchal structures. Here is the group’s new video for their single “Who R You?”:
“#Who_You_R (Official Video)”
Nomadic Massive a Montreal-based hip hop group composed of 8 members: Vox Sambou, Nantali Indongo, Lou Piensa, Waahli, Ali Sepu, Meryem Saci, Rawgged MC, and Butta Beats. This super, multicultural and multilingual group of artists conveys their messages in French, English, Creole, Arabic, and Spanish. They have given workshops and worked with international communities, like Haiti, Cuba, Brazil, etc. The following video speaks about the origins of the group and their work to empower and build sustainable communities through hip hop culture.
“TEDxConcordia – Nomadic Massive”
If you are interested in learning more, the following links will direct you to University of Illinois professors, and their curriculum vitas (CVs), for a list of interdisciplinary presentations and publications on hip hop culture.