By Brian M. Fagan

In Europe it used to be referred to as the Age of Discovery. To the remainder of the realm, it usually intended slavery, epidemic disorder, cultural genocide, and wholesale social and financial alterations. What occurred within the interval while Europe first got here involved with the remainder of the realm? during this re-creation of Brian Fagan's conflict of Cultures, the best-selling writer deals a sequence of interesting circumstances at the impression of cultural touch, together with cultures comparable to these of the Huron fur investors, South African Khoi Khoi, Tahitians, eastern, and Aztecs. each one case offers an outline of the pre-European tradition, the temporary affects of ecu touch, and long term adjustments as a result of the conflict of 2 cultures. Fagan additionally explores the various advances within the common literature in this interval similar to the 'people with out history,' global structures research, and the talk over Captain cook dinner. excellent for classes in cultural anthropology, international historical past, historic archaeology, ethnic stories, or quarter stories, in addition to for the final reader.

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By the same token, the perspectives of non-Westerners changed just as radically over the centuries. At first, voyaging Europeans searched for paradise on earth, the last domain of a once universal Golden Age. At first, paradise was a remote and ancient dream, then it was located on earth, a mythical golden kingdom sometimes associated with Ethiopia, later with the Indies and the lands to the west. Ironically, the first Portuguese explorations brought Westerners in touch with the actual realities of some of the least complex of fifteenth-century human societies.

Nineteenth-century Europeans believed, as had their predecessors, that Western civilization was the pinnacle of human achievement, a signpost of inevitable progress for the future. But their belief was now couched in far less tolerant terms. The non-Westerner became an even more inferior being in European eyes, often considered as having the intelligence of a ten-year-old child. From there it was a short step to the ardently racist doctrines of late nineteenth-century imperial Europe. Colonist and settler took refuge in doctrines of racial superiority to justify the annexation of tribal territories, or prime farming land, usually on specious arguments that the acreage was not used properly by its indigenous owners.

European contact was simply another historical event that triggered cultural change, just as earlier innovations, such as, for instance, the Australian Aborigines' boomerang, sparked adjustments in hunting methods and society as a whole. Ethnography provides a wealth of background information on the non Western societies of the past five centuries, but we must never forget that each observation, each study, is but a snapshot of a brief moment in time. As Eric Wolf pointed out, relatively few anthropologists have a well-honed historical perspective, which contributed, and sometimes still contributes, to the impression that non-Western societies did not change dramatically over time.

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