Archive for December 4th, 2010

December 4, 2010

Scramble for Africa

The Scramble for Africa, also known as the Race for Africa or African fever, was a process of invasion, attack, occupation, and annexation of African territory by European powers during the New Imperialism period, between 1881 and World War I in 1914. As a result of the heightened tension between European states in the last quarter of the 19th century, the partitioning of Africa may be seen as a way for the Europeans to eliminate the threat of a Europe-wide war over Africa.

Popular European ideas in the 19th century also aided the partitioning of Africa. The eugenics movement and racism helped to foster European expansionist policy. The last 20 years of the nineteenth century saw transition from ‘informal imperialism’ of control through military influence and economic dominance to that of direct rule. Many African polities, states and rulers (such as the Ashanti, the Abyssinians, the Moroccans and the Dervishes) sought to resist this wave of European aggression.

December 4, 2010

Guns, Germs, and Steel

guns germs steel

Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies’ is a 1997 book by Jared Diamond, professor of geography and physiology at UCLA. The book’s title is a reference to the means by which European nations conquered populations of other areas and maintained their dominance, despite often being vastly outnumbered – superior weapons provided immediate military superiority (guns); Eurasian diseases weakened and reduced local populations, making it easier to maintain control over them (germs) and centralized government promoted nationalism and powerful military organizations (steel).

The book attempts to explain why Eurasian civilizations (including North Africa) have survived and conquered others, while attempting to refute the belief that Eurasian hegemony is due to genetic superiority. Diamond argues that the gaps in power and technology between human societies originate in environmental differences, which are amplified by various positive feedback loops. When cultural or genetic differences have favored Eurasians (for example Chinese centralized government, or improved disease resistance among Eurasians), these advantages were only created due to the influence of geography and were not inherent in the Eurasian genomes.