Thursday, September 3, 2009

Why Europe? Notes

Why Europe? Lecture

Bogus Aztec history:
Go until they challenge.

Sublesson: Why didn’t you stop me! Don’t be passive learners! No potted plants!

History is argument!
Historiography (add time periods):

1) Jesus loves white people (MANIFEST destiny)
2) White people are racially superior, smarter, faster stronger
3) White people are evil (PENDULUM of interpretation)
4) Today’s consensus?

Let kids brainstorm.

Jared Diamond: Guns, Germs, Steel

Explicitly non-racist.
Things in the title of book are PROXIMATE causes
Diamond looking for ULTIMATE cause.

Geography as ultimate cause
Aborigines in Europe would have conquered the world.

Diamond’s book a good example of an argument: Evidence, not opinion: Interpretation
Uses many, many techniques to glimpse through the fog o’ history.

Preconditions for civilization: Agriculture.
Farming people ALWAYS conqueror hunters and gatherers.
Europe may not have started agriculture, but could acquire the benefits from Asia and Africa (African-Eurasian landmass)
All together on an E-W axis: Can trade
Australia and Americas isolated – can’t trade with Euraisa/Africa

Farming people ALWAYS conqueror hunters and gatherers. (Repeated)
1) Agriculture gives germs
Evolution of disease from livestock
Advantage: Eurasia and Africa, where domesticatable animals spread: Cows, chickens, sheep, goats, horses, water buffalo, donkey, mule, camel (not so much spread)
Example: North America: No large domesticatable animals
Mass extinction by man: Wooly Mammoth, Ground Sloth, Horses, Camels
Link to Buffaloed reading: Controversy
Native Americans say nuh-uh! (Evidence for man as cause of extinction – fossil, archaelogical, modern analogy) – Link to Krech reading

2) Agriculture gives technology (think back to WH I: Specialization)

3) Agriculture gives population density (Corn just spreading north when Columbus arrived – imagine a dense population with strong organization that could have effectively resisted (though the germs would still have been a problem)

4) Agriculture leads to stronger governments (link to New Monarchs in Europe)

Why Europe and not Asia or Africa? Again, Geography

Too much – no trade of ideas
Subsaharan Africa
Too little: China/Islam
One government organization can gain complete control and suppress knowledge (why do government suppress knowledge?)
Qin Shi Huang Di/Admiral Ho
Islam after Crusades
Goldilocks Europe
Mountain ranges/rivers
No one kingdom can establish HEGEMONY
Pope tries in Europe – what happens? Galileo! Martin Luther & Reformation as examples.
Historical attempts at Hegemony

Americas/Australia more vulnerable than Africa/Asia.


Technological/Germ edge decisive vs. New World. But Europeans take an additional 3 or 4 centuries to extend hegemony over Asia and Africa (Recall Healy and the race for Africa).

Technological gap has grown and industrial revolution allows only a few people to rule vast numbers of less technologically advanced people – British Raj. Maxim gun maxim.

Morality judgments?
Criticism: Removes moral reasoning: European conquest inevitable. Concern that it removes moral high ground of other groups to criticize Eurocentrism
Diamond: Descriptive, not PRESCRIPTIVE.

How blaming Europeans for being uniquely greedy can, oddly, lead to racism against the conquered. Perhaps a better solution: People are people are people (Tueting dance).

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