Columbian Exchange


The changes brought about by European and African settlement of the Americas, called the Columbian exchange are:

1. an historical fact; diseases, plants, animals, cultures were fused.

2. an ongoing event whenever isolated peoples meet "outside" world.

The Caribbean basin was the point of entry for Spanish suppression, colonization, and transformation of the America's with a lasting impact on the region's domestic animals, agrarian, mining and governing techniques. Both its indigenous and imported wealth made the Antilles a contested terrain among Western European powers for control of the islands. And until 1830s populations were greater in Latin America, than in Britain's thirteen colonies. Here too Bartholomew de Las Casas tells us, lies a cruel history involving the importation of African slaves, the twin origins of a lasting American dilemma where class differences fed ethnic discrimination and race prejudice. From these experiences the desire for emancipation, and questions of identity commingle only to emerge in a vibrant and new mixture of cultural traditions that Derek Walcott called "Fragments of Epic Memory."

book" . . . the Columbian Exchange has created markets for Europe without which she would have been and would now be a very different and much poorer region of the earth, and poverty a palpably heavier burden on the connubial propensities of young adults."

p. 218