Ecological Imperialism: The Biological Expansion of Europe Essay

Ecological Imperialism: The Biological Expansion of Europe Essay

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Ecological Imperialism: The Biological Expansion of Europe, 900-1900, by ecological historian Alfred W. Crosby explores how “portmanteau biota”, helped Europeans to eradicate whole societies in the Neo-Europes (xv, 89). Crosby believes that temperate zones, climates similar to that of Europe, allowed European biota to thrive, which allowed for European expansion. Crosby discusses the Norse invasions and the Crusades as examples of how Europeans were not able to expand. Crosby claims that climate was crucial to European expansion because it allowed portmanteau biota to thrive. The strength in Crosby’s argument is that he introduces ecology as a crucial factor in European expansion. However, he forgets that without technology, ecological factors would have had a limited role in European expansion to the Neo-Europes.
Alfred W. Crosby is a Professor Emeritus at the University of Texas at Austin where he still teaches history, geography, and American studies. Crosby received his degree from Harvard University in 1952 and then went on to serve in the U.S. Army until 1955. Crosby was involved in the Civil Rights movement, and taught black studies. His research interests include victimized, economically exploited, or enslaved people. He also wrote on commonly ignored topics like disease and its role in society, imperialism, capitalism, intellectual and technological history. Crosby has written many books to include The Columbian Exchange: Biological and Cultural Consequences of 1492 (1972); America’s Forgotten Pandemic (1989); The Measure of Reality: Quantification and Western Society, 1250-1600 (1997); Throwing Fire: Projectile Technology Through History (2002); and Children of the Sun: A History of Humanity’s Unappeasable Appetite...


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Ecological Imperialism provides new insight into the ecological expansion of Europe. The introductory nature of the topic requires more in-depth research. This book is for students, historians, teachers, and public who want an introduction into ecological history or early American history. However, the reader needs to be reminded that without technology, medical science and military power would have been impossible. Without technology, countries are left behind politically, socially, and economically. Crosby explains well that ecology played a minor role in the expansion of Europe into the Neo-Europes. However, it seems that technology played a bigger role in European expansion than any other factor. Penicillin is not a cure for bacterial infections until people had discovered its use and the only way the Europeans were able to get to the Neo-Europes is by ship.

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