As we continue to tally the votes for Place of the Year 2013, Joshua Hagen, co-author of Borders: A Very Short Introduction, shares some background information on the history of Syria. After you’ve read the reasons surrounding why Syria made the shortlist, cast your vote for what you think the place of the year should be. We’ll announce the winner on Monday, 2 December 2013.
By Patricia Seed
Miniature icebergs that would fit in the palm of my hand float along the water’s edge, but the air is cold enough to resist the impulse to crouch down and remove my gloves to pick them up. Looking up across the glass-like surface, I spot hundreds of similar chunks like pieces of frozen vanilla popsicle that have fallen just out of reach.
In honor of Oxford’s 20th edition of the acclaimed Atlas of the World, we put together a longlist of 20 places around the globe for our yearly Place of the Year competition. The votes have been tallied, the geography committee has provided their essential input, and the shortlist nominees have been decided upon.
The 2013 Oxford Place of the Year (POTY) process is now in full swing. The longlist poll closes this Thursday, so be sure to get your votes in! (Scroll to the bottom of this page to vote.) The POTY shortlist will be announced on Monday, 4 November 2013.
At the end of each year at Oxford University Press, we look back at places around the globe (and beyond) that have been at the center of historic news and events. In conjunction with the publication of the 20th edition of Oxford Atlas of the World we launched Place of the Year (POTY) 2013 last week. In honor of 20 editions of the Atlas, we put together a longlist of 20 nominees that made an impact heard around the world this year. If you haven’t voted, there’s still time (vote below).
Here at OUP, at the end of each year, we look back at the places around the globe (and beyond) which have been at the center of historic events. In conjunction with the publication of the Oxford Atlas of the World, 20th Edition, today we launch the Place Of The Year (POTY) 2013.
Next week we launch our annual Place of the Year Contest (POTY), where we reflect back on the world’s hits and misses. Our panel of geography experts are hard at work compiling a list of places that have made an impact felt around the world in 2013. One place will be chosen as the winner. While they compile the most newsworthy locales, we wanted to reflect back on past years’ winners.
The relentless heat of the sun waned quickly as it slipped below the horizon. All around, ochre, crimson and scarlet rock glowed, the brief burning embers of a dying day. Clouds of red dust rose from the unseen depths of the dry canyon–Mars? I wish! We were hiking in the Grand Canyon, on vacation in that part of our world so like its red sister. It was 5 August 2012. And what was a space lawyer to do while on vacation in the Grand Canyon that day? Why, attend the Grand Canyon NASA Curiosity event, of course!
By Alice Northover
With our announcement of Place of the Year 2012 and NASA’s announcement at the American Geophysical Union on December 3rd, and a week full of posts about Mars, what better way to wrap things up than by pulling together information from across Oxford’s resources to provide some background on the Red planet.
By Marilyn Deegan
The new discoveries of the Mars rover Curiosity have greatly excited the world in the last few weeks, and speculation was rife about whether some evidence of life has been found. (In actuality, Curiosity discovered complex chemistry, including organic compounds, in a Martian soil analysis.) Why the excitement?
By David Seed
Although there had been interest in Mars earlier, towards the end of the nineteenth century there was a sudden surge of novels describing travel to the Red Planet. One of the earliest was Percy Greg’s Across the Zodiac (1880) which set the pattern for early Mars fiction by framing its story as a manuscript found in a battered metal container. Greg obviously assumed that his readers would find the story incredible and sets up the discovery of the ‘record’, as he calls it, by a traveler to the USA to distance himself from the extraordinary events within the novel.
By Kyle Gann
By long tradition, sweet Venus and mystical Neptune are the planets astrologically connected with music. The relevance of Mars, “the bringer of war” as one famous composition has it, would seem to be pretty oblique. Mars in the horoscope has to do with action, ego, how we separate ourselves off from the world; it is “the fighting principle for the Sun,” in the words of famous astrologer Liz Greene.
By Richard Holden
The planet Mars might initially seem an odd choice for Place of the Year. It has hardly any atmosphere and is more or less geologically inactive, meaning that it has remained essentially unchanged for millions of years. 2012 isn’t much different from one million BC as far as Mars is concerned. However, here on Earth, 2012 has been a notable year for the Red Planet.
By David Rothery
So Mars is ‘Place of the Year’! It has the biggest volcano in the Solar System — Olympus Mons — amazing dust storms, and the grandest canyon of all — Valles Marineris. Mind you, the surface area of Mars is almost the same as the total area of dry land on Earth, so to declare Mars as a whole to be ‘place of the year’ seems a little vague, given that previous winners (on Earth) have been islands or single countries.
Since its inception in 2007, Oxford University Press’s Place of Year has provided reflections on how geography informs our lives and reflects them back to us. Adam Gopnik recently described geography as a history of places: “the history of terrains and territories, a history where plains and rivers and harbors shape the social place that sits above them or around them.” An Atlas of the World expert committee made up of authors, editors, and geography enthusiasts from around the press has made several different considerations for their choices over the years.
It’s a city! It’s a state! It’s a country! No — it’s a planet! Breaking with tradition, Oxford University Press has selected Mars as the Place of the Year 2012. Mars, visible to the naked eye, has fascinated and intrigued for centuries but only in the past 50 years has space exploration allowed scientists to better understand the Red Planet. On 6 August 2012, NASA’s Curiosity Rover landed on Mars’ Gale Crater; by transmitting its findings back to Earth, Curiosity has made Mars a little a less alien.