As the year comes to a close, Oxford’s Place of the Year campaign gives us the opportunity to reflect on the world events of 2017. The slideshow below features our longlist of nominees, all of which have made a major political, economic, or scientific influence over the past year. Take at the list below and let us know who you think should be recognized as Oxford’s Place of the Year 2017.
Puerto Rico’s Commonwealth status was proclaimed on 25 July 1952. The brainchild of Luis Muñoz Marín and the Popular Democratic Party, Commonwealth was originally supposed to be a transitory, intermediate status between full independence and annexation as a state of the American union. Currently, most of the Island’s electorate does not currently support the creation of a sovereign state in Puerto Rico. Rather, Puerto Rican voters have reiterated an overwhelming preference for US citizenship and permanent union with the United States. This year we saw the horrific devastation of the island following Hurricane Maria, as well as the slow response of the US government to that catastrophe.
Image credit: “San Juan from above” by ethorson. CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
The ice caps are melting. Within a few years the North Pole will likely be ice-free for the first time in 10,000 years, causing what some call the “Arctic death spiral.” What can we do to try to save the world? There is a massive list, of course, but most important of all is the need to find a way to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This is the only thing that we can really do to save the world, so we had better do it while we still have the technical capacity and the civilization to sustain it. It is the most important problem that the world faces. The imminent nature of this global crisis earns it a place on our list of nominees.
Image credit: “Polar bear hg” by Hannes Grobe. CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
Catalonia is a pluralistic and multicultural society. Catalans, as a group, strive to achieve and to maintain an ethnolinguistic identity by preserving their economic, historic, cultural, and demolinguistic (speakers of Catalan) status. As of 2010, the people of Catalonia have been petitioning Spain every year for a referendum on state autonomy. After many difficulties and obstacles, this consultative referendum was held in Catalonia without the agreement of the Spanish Government on 1 October 2017. The forceful actions taken by the Spanish government during the whole day was brutal: the state police that the Spanish government moved from Madrid and other points of Spain to Catalonia raided polling places and confronted crowds of voters. Despite the outrageous aggression on this day, the vote for independence won by a landslide.
Image credit: “RJ-Barcelona2” by Russell James Smith. CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
The Rakhine state, Myanmar
In what the UN has labeled as “textbook ethnic cleansing” the Rohingya population of Myanmar is quickly dwindling. More than 580,000 refugees have arrived in Bangladesh since 25 August, when Myanmar security forces began a scorched-earth campaign against Rohingya villages. They have been the victims of mass slaughter as well as other human rights violations. Nearly 60% of those refugees to Bangladesh have been children and, according to UNICEF, without financial aid they won’t be able to help them find safety. Many around the world are calling on the UN Security Council to impose sanctions and embargos on Myanmar until the violence stops.
Image credit: “Emergency food, drinking water and shelter to help people displaced in Rakhine State, western Burma” by UK Department for International Development. CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
Russia’s constant appearance in the news this year, from the investigations on Russia’s interference in the 2016 US elections to the Kremlin’s interventions in Ukraine and Syria, easily earns it a place on the list of POTY nominees. And if this year is any indicator, the news cycle will be focused on Russia for years to come.
Image credit: “Moscow Kremlin” by Quistnix. CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
The moon is 400 times smaller than the sun, but it’s also 400 times closer to earth, which means that remarkably, the two bodies appear to us as exactly the same size. For 14 days a month, the orbiting moon is on the ‘sunny’ side of the spinning earth, and the sunlight casts a shadow. Almost all the time, that shadow is projected way off into space; but on very particular occasions, the shadow falls onto the earth – a solar eclipse! This year on 21 August, the US mainland experienced its first total solar eclipse in nearly 40 years, thus placing The Sun on our Place of the Year longlist.
Image credit: “Eclipse667” by Javichu el jefe. CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
It was a divisive election in the United States which has led to many incidents across the country in reaction. It was a strange sight to see the sea of polo shirts and tiki torches while people chanted racist slogans. Even stranger still was hearing the president remark there are bad people “on both sides” at a press conference. While incidents have happened all over the country, the violence in Charlottesville, VA this past August seemed to be a microcosm of all the feelings after the 2016 election.
Image credit: “4264 Robert Edward Lee” by BSABarnowl. CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
Can’t you just hear Robin Leach? What was once just a resort in Florida is now a matter of national security. It was first built by cereal-company heiress and socialite Marjorie Merriweather Post in 1927. Donald Trump purchased it in 1985. In the past year, President Trump has been criticized for his frequent visits to his “Southern White House”, which with the added costs of increased Coast Guard patrol and other security measures, has called to question whether Trump has been inappropriately profiting from his time in public office.
Image credit: “MaralagoLoC” by Jack Boucher. Provided by Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, FL-195-5. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.
North Korea seems to dominate the news, leaving many worried for the future. Between their human rights violations and terrifying nuclear arms attainment race, it feels necessary to keep a constant eye on them. Will international relations with North Korea evolve in 2018? Only time will tell.
Image credit: “North Korean village Kijong-dong” by Don Sutherland, U.S. Air Force. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.
Featured image credit: “depth-of-field-headpins-map” by Pexels. CC0 via Pixabay.