Guns, Germs, And Steel - Section 4


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This is a powerpoint presentation to go along with the book Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond. It covers the origins of economic stratification by discussing plant and animal domestication, climate, and geographic advantages.

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Guns, Germs, And Steel - Section 4

  1. 1. Social Stratification Guns, Germs, and Steel: Part 4
  2. 2. Yali’s People <ul><li>Why were New Guineans more “advanced” than Australians when they are on the smaller landmass? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>They were farmers and fishers, not hunter/gatherers – ergo, they get the benefits of those economic systems </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>This is particularly interesting given the narrow gap between New Guinea and Australia (about 10 miles using coastal islands as stepping stones) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Generally, what advantages do larger landmasses give? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Are these true with Australia? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>But New Guinea was not modernized prior to European arrival… Why? </li></ul><ul><li>And why is Australia more advanced than New Guinea today? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What happened to the indigenous culture as a result of this? </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. How China Became Chinese <ul><li>Basically unified politically by 221 BCE </li></ul><ul><li>Why does China seem so monolithic and unified? </li></ul><ul><li>How did this come about? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Farming and writing – the groups that developed it basically out-competed those that did not </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Speedboat to Polynesia <ul><li>Why did Austronesian people, stemming primarily from China, colonize Indonesia and not the other way around? </li></ul><ul><li>Why didn’t Austronesians replace highland New Guineans? </li></ul><ul><li>How can we determine the dates of expansion of Austronesians through Polynesia? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Language and cultural artifacts </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Historical Trajectories Fertile Crescent China England Andes Amazonia Mesoamerica Eastern U.S. Plant domestication 8500 BCE By 7500 BCE 3500 BCE By 3000 BCE 3000 BCE By 3000 BCE 2500 BCE Animal domestication 8000 BCE By 7500 BCE 3500 BCE 3500 BCE ? 500 BCE - Pottery 7000 BCE By 7500 BCE 3500 BCE 3100-1800 BCE 6000 BCE 1500 BCE 2500 BCE Villages 9000 BCE By 7500 BCE 3000 BCE 3100-1800 BCE 6000 BCE 1500 BCE 500 BCE Chiefdoms 5500 BCE 4000 BCE 2500 BCE By 1500 BCE 1 CE 1500 BCE 200 BCE Widespread metal tools 4000 BCE 2000 BCE 2000 BCE 1000 CE - - - States 3700 BCE 2000 BCE 500 CE 1 CE - 300 BCE - Writing 3200 BCE By 1300 BCE 43 CE - - 600 BCE - Widespread iron tools 900 BCE 500 BCE 650 BCE - - - -
  6. 6. Hemispheres Colliding <ul><li>Why did Eurasians conquer the Americas instead of vice versa? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Eurasian agriculture yielded on the average more calories and protein per person-hour of labor than Native American agriculture. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>We chalk this up to what? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Also the proximate factors deriving from the ultimate factors: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Guns, germs, steel (and other technologies, like writing, ship-building, etc.) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Axis and geography results in relatively isolated societies </li></ul></ul><ul><li>What about Greenland and Iceland (and Norse settlements in Newfoundland)? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Why didn’t they succeed initially? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Every New World nation has an Old World language as its primary language – they are the “conquered” or “settled” (from our typology) </li></ul>
  7. 7. How Africa Became Black <ul><li>Most diverse continent – 5 of the 6 major divisions of humanity: blacks, whites, African Pygmies, Khoisan, and Asians (sixth is Australian aborigines) </li></ul>Yes, these distinctions are relatively artificial… African Pygmy and white Khoisan Asian Australian Aboriginal black
  8. 8. Peoples of Africa (~1400 CE) whites blacks Pygmies blacks Khoisan blacks & Indonesians Khoisan and Pygmies originally extended further north, but were engulfed by blacks (Bantu) What advantages led to the spread of blacks (Bantu) into the lands of the Pygmies and Khoisan?
  9. 9. Bantu Expansion (starting 3000 BCE) H
  10. 10. Africans vs. Eurasians <ul><li>Africa has the same mineral resources and a longer history of human settlement </li></ul><ul><li>Why did Eurasians conquer Africa? </li></ul>
  11. 11. Some Interesting Side Notes <ul><li>“ Until the proliferation of water mills after about 900 CE, Europe west of or north of the Alps contributed nothing of significance to Old World technology or civilization; it was instead a recipient of developments from the eastern Mediterranean, Fertile Crescent, and China.” (p. 411) </li></ul><ul><li>Why did the Fertile Crescent and China lose their enormous leads in development to Europe? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Fertile Crescent – climate </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>China – possibly centralization </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Are “great men” really not that important? (p. 420) </li></ul>
  12. 12. Some Interesting Side Notes <ul><li>“ The histories of the Fertile Crescent and China also hold a salutary lesson for the modern world: circumstances change, and past primacy is no guarantee of future primacy. One might even wonder whether the geographical reasoning employed throughout this book has at last become wholly irrelevant in the modern world, now that ideas diffuse everywhere instantly on the Internet and cargo is routinely airfreighted overnight between continents. It might seem that entirely new rules apply to competition between the world’s peoples, and that as a result new powers are emerging – such as Taiwan, Korea, Malaysia, and especially Japan.” (p. 417) </li></ul>
  13. 13. Some Interesting Side Notes <ul><li>“ Hence I briefly considered it in the book’s epilogue. I suggested that the underlying reason behind Europe’s overtaking China was something deeper than the proximate factors suggested by most historians (e.g., China’s Confucianism vs. Europe’s Judeo-Christian tradition, the rise of western science, the rise of European mercantilism and captialism, Britain’s deforestation coupled with its coal deposits, etc.).” (p. 430) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Why is this of particular interest to Sociologists? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Weber’s theory of capitalism and ultimately European dominance… </li></ul></ul></ul>
  14. 14. Some Interesting Side Notes <ul><li>Why isn’t “culture” necessarily a good explanation for differences in development? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>You can always ask the next question in the regression… Why the difference in cultures? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>What does competition do for beer production? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Does competition do this in other areas of production? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ If your goal is innovation and competitive ability, you don’t want either excessive unity or excessive fragmentation. Instead, you want your country, industry, industrial belt, or company to be broken up into groups that compete with one another while maintaining relatively free communication.” (p. 438) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Is this true? </li></ul></ul></ul>
  15. 15. The Future of Human History as a Science <ul><li>“… physicists and chemists can formulate universal deterministic laws at the macroscopic level, but biologists and historians can formulate only statistical trends.” (p. 423) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Why? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Human history is hard to describe as a science. Why? </li></ul>
  16. 16. Questions <ul><li>Diamond says that hunter-gathering will probably be extinct in the next few decades. What will it take for the few groups left to stop hunting and start farming completely? Will it happen after they run out of game, or after they come to the realization that agricultural life is easier? </li></ul><ul><li>If corn has almost zero nutritional value then why is it used in so many different foods and why did people work so hard to make it look the way it does today? </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li> corn on the cob </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li> 1 cup of flour </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li> 1 slice of bread </li></ul></ul></ul>
  17. 17. Questions <ul><li>What were some reasons as to why the Chinese were so unified? </li></ul><ul><li>If our past ancestors didn’t domesticate animals would there be as many epidemics in the past? </li></ul><ul><li>Do you think that if the Europeans didn’t have the nastiest germs they would have been able to defeat the Native Americans? </li></ul><ul><li>How did AIDS get into Africa and turn into the epidemic it is today? </li></ul><ul><li>Is technology infinite? Will it ever stop? </li></ul>
  18. 18. Questions <ul><li>Once specialization allows a class that lives off of the labor of others (“upper classes”), generally speaking, does luck alone determine which members of society make it into this class? Is it a “meritocracy” for the first generation, and subsequent generations are included or excluded from this class based on the luck of their ancestry? Or does it work another way? In other words, what accounts for the particular members of society that become the ones to specialize as priests, administrators, etc.? </li></ul><ul><li>If technology begets more technology, or catalyzes itself, as Diamond contends, then does necessity still enter a symbiotic relationship with “auto-catalyzing” technology? Therefore, while it wouldn’t be right to contend that “necessity is the mother of invention,” would it be right to say that it still played a role once technological innovation began spreading? </li></ul>