Columbian Exchange, Swarming and Dialogue

Columbian Exchange, Swarming and Dialogue - Traditionally...

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Traditionally historians have treated the events discussed here as the “discovery of the new world” by Europeans, implying passivity on the part of America’s native peoples. The older view implicitly has seen the flow of culture as one was, east to west, and has assumed that the main story is the European conquest. More recently historians have emphasized that the confrontation was nothing less than a collision of biospheres, a bringing together of plants and animals from two formerly isolated worlds with enormous and entirely unforeseen consequences. Such an event could occur only once in the history of our planet. Although the participants were but dimly aware of the great drama in which they played roles, the documents they left provide evidence for environmental historians such as Alfred Crosby of the University of Texas, William Cronon of Yale University, and Richard White of the University of Utah to reshape our understanding of its consequences. Colonization as a "Swarming" ALFRED CROSBY Alfred W. Crosby, "Ecological Imperialism: The Overseas Migration of Western Europeans as a Biological Phenomenon," The Texas Quarterly, 21(1978), 103-117 . Reprinted with permission of Alfred W. Crosby. None of the major genetic groupings of humankind is as oddly distributed about the world as European, especially western European, whites. Almost all the peoples we call Mongoloids live in the single contiguous landmass of Asia. Black Africans are divided between three continents―their homeland and North and South America―but most of them are concentrated in their original latitudes, the tropics, facing each other across one ocean. European whites were all recently concentrated in Europe, but in the last few centuries have burst out, as energetically as if from a burning building, and have created vast settlements of their kind in the South Temperate Zone and North Temperate Zone (excepting Asia, a continent already thoroughly and irreversibly tenanted). In Canada and the United States together they amount to nearly 90 percent of the population; in Argentina and Uruguay together to over 95 percent; in Australia to 98 percent; and in New Zealand to 90 percent. The only nations in the Temperate Zones outside of Asia which do not have enormous majorities of European whites are Chile, with a population of two-thirds mixed Spanish and Indian stock, and South Africa, where blacks outnumber whites six to one. How odd that these two, so many thousands of miles from Europe, should be exceptions in not being predominantly pure European. Europeans have conquered Canada, the United States, Argentina, Uruguay, Australia, and New Zealand not just militarily and economically and technologically―as they did India, Nigeria, Mexico, Peru, and other tropical lands, whose native people have long since expelled or interbred with and even absorbed the invaders. In the Temperate Zone lands listed above Europeans conquered and triumphed demographically. These, for the sake of convenience, we
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This note was uploaded on 09/29/2011 for the course HISTORY 101 taught by Professor Hives during the Fall '07 term at Temple.

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Columbian Exchange, Swarming and Dialogue - Traditionally...

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