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July 2001 Issue
The Geographical Review
July 2001, Vol. 91 (3), pp. 586-596
MORMON COLONIAS OF CHIHUAHUA
JOHN B. WRIGHT
From my teacher, the geographer Barney Nietschmann, I learned a great deal about islands. Isolation, the preciousness of fresh water, the power of "national" identity, how innovations amend an initial cultural impress*each of these was a theme Barney stressed. Just as biogeographers recognize actual and habitat islands, cultural geographers study island peoples*or, just as readily, turn their attention toward ethnic enclaves that lie far from the sea. The Hassidic Jews of New York City's Lower East Side and the Czech farmers of East Texas both arrived with their own geographical thought, which stamped its imprint on the land and created recognizable and distinct places. Such insular landscapes often arise from diffusion* the formation of "colonies" with a striking resemblance to an original homeland* followed by vicariance and change arising from the challenges and opportunities of contact with encircling cultures. Stasis and shift. Continuity and disequilibrium. As geographers we go into the field and ask, "Where?" "How?" and "Why?"