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University of Toronto Mississauga Department of Geography Fall 2018

GGR 329H5F: Environment and the Roots of Globalization


 Instructor: Pierre Desrochers


 Lectures: Monday 7-9 PM


 Phone: (905) 828-5206

 Office: Davis Building, room 3273


 Lecture room: CC 2150






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 non-Europeans?

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 fragmentation?

Q32. What are James Blaut and John McNeill' main criticisms of Diamond's GG&S thesis?

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 economic development)?

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).


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