|Caribbean Transformation; Ecology and Cultural displacement in European Imperial History||
Germs, Seeds and Animals
3 The Biological Metamorphosis of the Americas
"The Tainos and Spaniards who met in the Greater Antilles were products of physical and, more significantly, cultural evolutions that had been diverging for a very long time. The Tainos reached out to touch the Spaniards to 'ascertain if they were flesh and bones like themselves.' For the Spaniards, the Tainos were the most exotic people they had ever met, with 'their hair not tightly curled like the Africans' but straight and coarse like horse hair' Columbus wrote."
"They did have a few trinkets of gold."
"History makes it clear that it was the Europeans who had the edge."
Greater Antilles, were the necessary base from which Spanish could "successfully invade the Americas from Europe."
Columbus returned to Española and the Antilles in 1493.
"European crops did not thrive in the tropical Antilles.
...but their livestock did well."
especially "horses, cattle and swine."
"The masters of America's first haciendas did not begin with bulls too weak to mount cows that were too frail to carry calves to full term, but with healthy beasts selected from the avant-garde herds of the Antilles."
...the smallpox virus, also incubated in the Antilles."
It arrived not long before or after Christmas, 1518."
"Bartolomé de as Casas recorded that smallpox left no more than one thousand alive on Española 'of that immensity of people that was on this island and which we have seen'."
"Within thirty years of Columbus's landfall in the West Indies those islands contained all that the conquistadors needed for the successful invasion of the mainland.
"their successes were as much due to their biological allies as to their abilities ....teams that included more than humans."
"invaders: pigs, cattle horses, and pathogens."
swine, "In the Antilles they rooted the Tainos' manioc tubers and sweet potatoes out of the ground, stole their guavas and pineapples, gobbled lizards, baby birds--everything went down their maws."
Much of the meat in the first European colonists's diet. . . was American green turtle, or venison, or other game, but after that it was usually pork--free to the hunter."
"The cows were soon dropping calves two and three times per year . . . When the Europeans set them loose in the grasslands of northern Mexico, the cattle propagated into scores upon scores of millions."
"The impact of the animals the Europeans brought with them to the Americas transformed whole ecosystems."
"The world's leading infections were the by-products of the rise of agricultural and pastoral peoples."
Native agriculture sustained extremely dense populations.
European agriculture was labor intensive
"...so our people, also will be gradually supplanted and exterminated by the Europeans."
Maori person, quoted in Crosby, p. 41.
Arawak woman in a dug-out canoe, Guyana.
Antilles, word of possibly tin origin associated with the western islands well off the coast of Africa, spoken of by ancient mariners, and attributed to Genovese and Portuguese map makers.
Crosby vs Diamond debate on Why the Dominance of Europe:
"Columbus and his contemporaries had no inkling that 200 million years ago the continents of the earth were parts of one immense world continent in which physical continuity minimized the development of biological diversity."
"in so many ways New Spain --Nova Hispania-- was new , a combination, crossing and concoction of entities that had never before existed on the same continent."
Crosby, p. 49.
"Columbus wrote of the West Indies that the trees were "as different from ours as the day from night, and so the fruits, the herbage." He was so surprised by the differences of the plants, and animals too, that he even claimed the rocks were different."
Crosby, p. 50.
European hegemony or dominance depended on
"History has the cruel reality of a nightmare and the grandeur of humans consists in their making beautiful lasting works out of the real substance of that nightmare. . . it consists in transforming the nightmare into vision, in freeing ourselves from the shapeless horror of reality --if only for an instant-- by means of creation."
Octavio Paz, 1950
"you have seen nothing yet."
Miguel de Cervantes
"The important thing is to not stop questioning, curiosity has its own reason for existing."
problem solving index.
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