Top top 10 Most Read Stories from 2021

Here are our most popular stories from last year. These include a map challenge, our mascot Tiksu, professional success, love, reflections of studying at the University of Tartu and tips for coping with new environments. Enjoy!

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Disease, ecology, and an indigenous way forward toward sustainability

On fieldwork, searching for stories woven around the fabric of human connections with nature, I went to the remote jungle villages of West Khasi Hills in the winter-spring of 2020. There, during sleep, special people with the gift dream of their transformation into either a tiger or a snake. Interviews with such gifted women, young girls, and men lead me into the story realm of the dream-narrative. Sangkhini, the snake people, have intimate connections with water. During the tropical jungle rains of the Indian monsoon, the tasks of the snakes begin. In human society, they help humans to escape death by drowning during flash floods, where in the dream-state their snake form manifests as a bridge that helps people cross rivers.

On fieldwork in West Khasi Hills interviewing sangkhini people.
Image credit: private collection
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The best (Christmas) gift: 450 ml of blood or a working kidney

Image credit: Pixabay

During the festive season, people tend to be more in a charitable mood. After all, the Christmas programmes of television channels are largely built around charity fundraisers that appeal to viewers’ emotions and empathy towards those who have been dealt a heavy blow in life. For some reason, it is often only before Christmas that we remember to help people next to us. In fact, there are very simple ways in which more or less all of us can be more giving towards people in need at all times of the year, without even opening our wallets.

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Time for challenge: 30 maps in 30 days

#30DayMapChallenge takes place for the third time already in November. It was initiated by Topi Tjukanov in 2019 in Twitter and the idea is to create (and publish) maps based on different themes on each day of the month using the hashtag #30DayMapChallenge.

From Estonia, Positium, Estonian Land Board and Evelyn Uuemaa published all the 30 maps in this year’s challenge. All in all, there were more than 1200 mappers in 2021 and more than 9000 maps were created for the challenge.

In previous years, several staff members of the Department of Geography have participated in the challenge but this year also many master’s students from our MSc programmes (Geography, Geoinformatics for Urbanised Society and GEM) joined the challenge. Below you can find a selection of maps by our students and staff members.

* Clicking on a map opens a larger view.

Categories for the map challenge
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Binge-watching curse: just one more episode, please!

Photo by from Pexels

Compulsive viewing or binge-watching has done considerable damage over the last ten years. Various studies continue to be published on the topic, but here it is approached from the perspective of sleep health. 💤

Binge-watching is watching movies and TV series night after night without being able to stop. While in the past, people went to bed to sleep or enjoy sexual activities, now couples lie in bed, holding hands for hours on end, and lose control to binge-watch their favourite series.

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Equality and equity: What’s in it for me?

The conversation and debate around equality and equity is growing around the world and this is generating a variety of reactions.

Today, those of us who are trying to learn how to communicate and raise awareness about the importance of this topic seem to have more solid evidence from authors, researchers, and practitioners of different fields on the damages caused by growing and perpetuating inequalities across societies.

For people like me, who are actively involved in this topic, this gives us the impression that we’re gaining momentum and that we’re considerably better equipped than the previous generations to spread the good word of fairness and overcome the structural issues that cause injustices around the world like never before. At the end of the day, who in their right mind could oppose to the idea of a fairer world with no discrimination and where no one would have to bear the consequences of not having access to education, health services, job opportunities, and, ultimately, a dignified life?

Image credit: Freepik

However, these concepts are more complex than they sound, and the debate around them requires in-depth analysis and the consideration of many elements. In addition, a growing debate on equality and equity also means that just as more people agree on their benefits and try to disseminate them, other people are also expressing their concerns, with different levels of resistance.

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One truly adventurous and inspirational walk

Anna, a student at the University of Tartu, posing with a sculpture of Juri Lotman.
Image credit: private collection

My name is Ana Marić and I am a first year MA student of semiotics at the University of Tartu.

I participated and won some valuable prizes in the autumn orienteering walk dedicated to Juri Lotman, which was organized by the Department of Semiotics and the University of Tartu.

My quest to find all 20 checkpoints which were scattered throughout the city was quite an adventure, actually.

First of all, the map wasn’t that clear, so I had to guess and improvise the potential places in the city where those checkpoints could have been; with some help from Lady Luck, my improvisation turned out to be successful.

Some checkpoints were quite easy to find, like the ones around the University Main Building and the city center, but some were almost impossible to find and I almost gave up. However, my mind kept telling me: You have a goal; don’t be a crybaby, just work very hard and you will accomplish.

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