You will be asked 6-8 questions from the following list (more
questions will be added each week). Your answers should rely on both
the mandatory readings and your class notes. You are strongly
encouraged to use bullet point form. The questions will be weighted
differently (in other words, some questions require very brief
answers, while others will require more detailed treatments). Please
write legibly and leave enough space between each answer in your
exam booklet (in other words, try to make the life of your TA easier...)
Q16. Why does H. F. Dobyns argue that the first Europeans who moved
inland into the Americas encountered recently depopulated landscapes?
Why are some scholars critical of the high numbers of then recently
diseased people put forward by Dobyns?
Q17. What are the diverse ways by which microbes spread from one person
to another, and from animals to people (give one illustration for each
way)? Why should a germ evolve the apparently self-defeating strategy of
killing its host?
Q18. What are the main characteristics of infectious diseases that visit
us as epidemics? Why are these characteristics making a disease run in
epidemics? According to Diamond, why did agriculture launch the
evolution of infectious diseases?
Q19. Where was smallpox first reported in what is now Canada? Who likely
introduced smallpox into Huronia? What was William Tomison main
explanation as to the nearly complete immunity of Hudson's Bay Company's
Caucasian employees to smallpox in the 18th century? How did Tomison try
to address smallpox? How many people might have lived in the Georgia
Strait era before the smallpox epidemics of the late 18th and 19th
century? According to Joshua Ostroff, how many natives of modern-day
British Columbia might have died in the wake of the 1862 smallpox
epidemics and what percentage of the BC population might have this
represented at the time? What did the native inhabitants of Etzanoa grow
in their gardens before their city was wiped out by diseases?
Q20. List three of the four basic statistical facts that, according to
Heather Pringle, tell us about the vital statistics of the Chinchorro
people? What use did Charles Kay make of the Lewis and Clark journals?
What was his main conclusion regarding the areas in which wildlife
thrived at the time of the expedition? What is Kay's "keystone species"
theory and what are its implication for the observed number of American
bisons and other species in the second half of the nineteenth century?
According to Robert Nelson, how did the rinderpest epidemics affect
Southeast Africa's ecosystems a century ago? How does it still affect
our current perception of these ecosystems?
Q21. What were the two main ways by which writing was diffused? What is
Diamond's key argument on geography and the alphabet? According to
Diamond, what are the four main factors influencing the acceptance of
new technologies? What is the main argument used by one linguist to
argue that human languages originated in southwestern Africa? What does
Diamond mean when he says that the history of technology was an
autocatalytic process? How does Vaclav Smil distinguish between
invention and innovation? Which inventor died a few days after Steven
Jobs, what contribution did he make and what did it later serve as a
basis for? According to Patrick West, what were the inspiration for the
following elements of the Star Wars mythology: agents of Empire
uniforms, Jedi light sabers, X-Wings in the Death Star?
Q22. How does Diamond distinguish bands, tribes, chiefdoms and states in
terms of membership? According to Diamond's historical analysis, how did
elite groups maintain a lifestyle considerably higher than commoners?
Q23. In Diamond's opinion, how did food production contribute to
specific features of complex societies? According to Diamond, how were
population density and the fate of defeated people related?
Q24. Why does Diamond argue that 40 000 years ago Native Australian
societies enjoyed a big head start over many societies on other
continents? Why does Diamond argue that New Guinea was physically more
suitable to human occupation than Australia? Why was New Guinea highland
agriculture confined at elevations above about 4,000 feet? Why did New
Guinea remain a "stone tool" culture despite the invention of
agriculture? What were the main statistics/characteristics of New
Guinea's population before European contact?
Q25. Give a concise summary of Diamond's reconstruction of the
historical record as to how China became Chinese with regards to the
creation of a unique "Chinese" culture and the impact (or lack of
impact) of geography on these processes.
Q26 Summarize the archeological and linguistic evidence presented by
Diamond to support the inference that the colonization of Taiwan was the
necessary first stage of the Austronesian expansion. What natural factor
could explain the last burst of the Polynesian expansion to more remote
locations such as Easter Island and New Zealand? What food source
suggests pre-European contact between South America and Polynesia?
Q27. According to Diamond, what are the four sets of ultimate factors
that probably tipped the advantage to European invaders of the Americas?
According to Diamond, what is the evidence that tells us that Blacks
(Bantus) originated from Northwest Africa and that they came to dominate
Pygmies and Khoisan fairly recently? What was their main geographical
advantage over these two other groups?
Q28. According to Diamond, why were the first European settlers in
southern Africa dealt a very lucky hand by geography? Why were European
settlers less lucky as they moved north? In his opinion, why were black
Africans less afflicted by malaria than the first white settlers they
encountered? Why were they also less affected by smallpox than other
Q29. According to Diamond, why did Whites ultimately colonize Africa and
not the other way around? According to Diamond, why are isolated
communities less innovative and creative than less isolated communities?
Why are multiple political units in an area generally better for
innovation than a centralized political structure? How did geography
influence political structures in his opinion?
Q30. List and discuss in a few words three reasons why, according to
Diamond, agricultural productivity is on average lower in tropical than
in temperate areas. In Diamond's opinion, what are the four main sets of
environmental differences between continents that shaped the development
of human societies? How does Diamond answer the charge that he might be
guilty of environmental determinism?
Q31. What are the main features that differentiate historical sciences
in the broad sense from nonhistorical sciences? In Diamond's opinion,
how can human historians benefit from the experience of other historical
scientists? What is the motto of the Royal Society and what does it mean?
According to Matt Ridley, who first came up with the notion that Europe
became the wealthiest and most innovative continent because of political
Q32. What are James Blaut and John McNeill' main criticisms of Diamond's
Q33. What are Gene Callahan's main criticisms of Diamond's GG&S thesis?
What is the main point made by Acemoglu and Robinson through the maps of
livestock and grain origins they use? What is their take on Diamond's
view on the importance of agriculture in launching civilization (or
Q34. Draw Jared Diamond's schematic overview of the chains of causation
leading up to proximate historical factors from ultimate historical
factors (or, in other words, the factors underlying the broadest
patterns of history).