Term Paper: Accordingly

Pages: 5 (1265 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Drama - World  ·  Buy This Paper

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[. . .] He then argues that the European conquest and exploitation of the Americas resulted from the fact that Europeans were geographically closer to the Americas than were African and Asian maritime-oriented civilizations, and that the conquest itself was facilitated by the great epidemics of Eastern Hemisphere diseases which decimated the populations and destroyed the civilizations of the "New World."

Blaut, a geographer by profession, makes his point through a telling graphic titled "maps of the world before and after 1500 AD." It contains dots representing "dated place-name mentions" in Brenner's articles. No region outside of Europe is ever mentioned before 1500 AD. After 1500 AD, references occur more frequently but tend only to reflect what Blaut regards as "Brenner's view that capitalism began to diffuse outward to the rest of the world after its birth in northwestern Europe."

Given the more enlightened racial framework of today, Eurocentric historians today support their views with "hard" evidence drawn from agronomy, climatology, demographics, etc. rather than openly racialist claims. Few today would argue that the Europeans were genetically endowed with gifts for invention or rationality, or chosen by god. Rather, fortuitous historical circumstances moved them to the head of the class. It is exactly these pretensions to hard, scientific evidence that Blaut succeeds in demolishing. Barely disguising his contempt, he answers one false claim after another. When 4 Eric J. Jones asserts that Europeans were solely destined to become capitalists after the Middle Ages, Blaut cites Tome Pires, the 17th century Portuguese chronicler, who described Indian merchants thusly: "They are men who understand merchandise; they are... properly steeped in the sound and harmony of it." He adds, "[T]hose of our people who want to be clerks and factors ought to go there and learn, because the business of trade is a science." Among these Eurocentric historians farming practices loom a larger than any other supposedly objective criterion underpinning the rise of the West. The West is the world of the spirited, inventive yeoman farmer, while the repressive East employed unproductive farming techniques. Benefiting from his early training and fieldwork in agronomy, Blaut presents an alternative interpretation. For example, while Michael Mann considers soil fertility in Europe to be the key to its rise, Blaut points out that until the arrival of the potato from South America, a vast swath of land across Europe remained unproductive because of excess rainfall, conditions beneficial only to potato growth. Meanwhile, crop rotation -- supposedly unique to the West -- was found in the rest of the world. But, the question of "Eurocentrism" remains a vexing problem for academia. In the broadest sense, Eurocentrism can be understood as the implicit view that societies and cultures of European origin constitute the "natural" norm for assessing what goes on in the rest of the world.

Within this vast area of debate, one particular subtopic has been an object of intense scrutiny among scholars: the real-or-alleged centrality of Europe in preparing the explosion of economic development, science and technology, the Enlightenment and the expansion of the role of the individual-as well as intensified exploitation and colonial conquest-that heralded the modem world.

All these things, taken together, are commonly taken to be synonymous with 5 capitalism. Capitalism is the main driving point Blaut argues throughout the book. Eurocentric assumptions have permeated the theorization of the origins of modernity as thoroughly as they have dominated conventional "modernization" theory.

The role of each of these eight historians in generating colonialist understandings of history is not only proven to be extinct, but the fallacious assumptions at the roots of their arguments are revealed. Working toward an alternative understanding of the origins of modernity, this clearly written book provides invaluable insights to the rules of colonialism, commerce and the culture of the history of Europe.

Works Cited

Blaut,… [END OF PREVIEW]

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"Accordingly."  Essaytown.com.  December 12, 2002.  Accessed May 21, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/accordingly-only/6401067.