Geography 1000: 2018-19, Assignment 1

Geographies of Indulgence, Desire, & Addiction (GIDA)

INSTRUCTIONS: Take a second to think about some of the things that you use in your daily life and also those things you use only rarely or on special occasions. Chances are that many of these originate from different parts of the world, whether we are talking about the primary resources that go into making commodities or their production. The purpose of this assignment is to get you to think geographically about the world by focusing on the production or extraction of certain types of agricultural, animal, and mineral commodities that we can think of as commodities of “indulgence, desire, and addiction” following your textbook (or “GIDA” for short). This assignment will help you learn more about these commodities, how and where they move, and build from here to think about geographic flows and processes of globalization more broadly. Roughly we can think of geographic flows as the movements of goods (along with people, money, and ideas) around the world along with the paths of these movements.

The commodities we will be focusing on are:

  • cocoa coffee
  • diamonds
  • elephant ivory
  • rhinoceros horn
  • tea

The Essay:

You will be writing an essay in which you answer the following question: What does the commodity tell us about geographic flows, networks, and/or pathways? [Note that ‘flows,’ ‘networks,’ and ‘pathways’ are all getting at the same thing in this context, so you do not need to focus on all 3 of them.]

To answer this, draw from the course textbook, additional readings on moodle, course lectures/videos, and your own reflections.

Begin with an introduction that provides a thesis statement (your argument) and some background on the commodity you are writing about, including the desire to have it (although maybe not your desire per se).

To help you answer the main question, consider the following:

  1. What is the desire that motivates people to have this commodity? [This can help shed light on how, where, and why it flows around the world.]
  2. What is the history of the commodity, either its long-ago history, more recent history, or both?
  3. How does its extraction or production contribute to the place of origin, financially or otherwise? [The more precise numbers the better; but because some of these commodities are illegal, you may only be able to find ]
  4. How has the extraction/production, transportation, and/or use of this commodity reshaped different livelihoods or places… or more broadly reshaped world regions?
  5. What might be controversial about the commodity’s extraction, movement, or consumption?

Please note that you should not aim to answer all 5 questions. In fact, doing so would likely result in a paper that is not sufficiently well-defined.

Each student will submit her or his own original assignment with its own original argument/thesis.

The Map:

To spatially visualize the flows through which your commodity travels—and to show how it hooks up different parts of the world—you will produce a map.

For rhino horn and elephant ivory, show where the commodity primarily originates (the top 2 or 3 source countries) and where it ends up (the 2 or 3 countries where the commodities are primarily consumed).

Unlike rhino horn and ivory, the other commodities (cocoa, coffee, diamonds, and tea) have large markets here in Canada. For these, you will show the commodity’s main countries of origin (aim for 4-5) and its destination here in Canada.

The map need not be complicated – in fact, the best maps are often quite simple. At a minimum, your map must include a title (that reflects the map’s purpose and gives a timeframe, e.g., 2017-18), the flows, and where you found your data. It must also clearly convey the information at hand. Most maps will also require a legend (which describes the symbols, colours, or shading used), but sometimes this isn’t necessary if the relevant information is clear from the title. For more on what you might include, see:

You are welcome to submit one map per group, but make sure everyone’s name is on it.

 GUIDELINES & SOURCES: Your essay must be written in proper sentences and paragraphs, typed, edited, proofread, and grammatically correct. Your essay must be concise, approximately 800 words in length (the equivalent of approximately three double-spaced pages in twelve point type). Print the word count at the top of your assignment, along with your name, student number, TA’s name, time of tutorial, and date of submission. Do not use a separate cover sheet.

Sources should include our course textbook, additional readings on moodle, and course lectures/videos. You should cite a minimum of 5 sources, at least 4 of which must be written sources (i.e. not lectures). Please do not draw on outside sources unless you clear this with your TA. All sources must be correctly cited using APA style both within the body of your paper and your works cited list. For information on citations, see

Begin by investigating whether your textbook has anything to say about your commodity by searching for it in the index. Then read the “Geographies of Indulgence, Desire, and Addiction” passages scattered throughout the book and review the GIDA lecture. This will help you begin framing your argument (see the syllabus for page numbers). Then consult the list of additional readings on moodle. Note that you do not need to read all of these sources in great detail, but you must at least skim all of them and then closely read the ones that are most relevant to your particular argument.


Geographies of Indulgence (1)