The Theme Of Movement In Crosby's Ecological Imperialism And Brooks Vermeer's Hat

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Movement is a guiding force in history that dictates and governs the present. It is important to study movement to understand how and what happened to humans to get be at this very point in time. When exploring world history one learns about how and why people, biota, goods, and territories moved. The importance of movement can be shown in Crosby’s Ecological Imperialism, the book examines the violent movements of the Europeans to the Neo European and the biological factors that made it possible. The importance can also be shown in Brooks Vermeer’s Hat examining trade routes and Europe’s growing ties with the rest of the world, through paintings used as “doors” to the past. On the surface these books seem substantially different, but unlying the theme of movement. Crosby and Brooks both indicate the importance of the movement of people, accidental movement, and movement of ideas. The perpetual movement of these factors helps us to understand the modern world. In both books, the movement of people remains a predominant theme, without people moving, no other movements would be set forth. This deems people as the dominant force of change and movement throughout World History.

Crosby called the migration of many people the Civilian Wave made up of almost all Europeans, they made the journey since prior invaders gave them the resources and knowledge to. Between 1820 to 1930 over fifty million Europeans crossed, the conditions in Europe made a perfect storm for movement of people. Peasants had the need to relocate because of Europe’s increasing population, as a result farmland depleted. Due to similar geographical climates Europeans agriculture, plants, and animals thriving in the Neo Europes, it made the perfect place for Europeans to call home. People moved because in the pursuit to escape from hunger in nineteenth-century Europe. The settlers had hope of a new life and came to the Neo Europes for wealth and trade goods. The influx of Europeans making the voyage across the seas it made the regions more and more alike to Europe. The United States received two thirds of the fifty million, the consequences of this changed the United States forever. This influx gave the farmers to cultivate the north-central frontier and provided the labor needed for its upcoming Industrial Revolution. The impact of the migration meant that Europe had more room to flourish, it gave Europe new source of natural resources, and new found prosperity to increase population. Between the Neo Europes and Europes the white population increased astronomically resulting in Caucasian being the dominant race, very prominent whenever one goes in the Neo Europes.

As well, in the seventh chapter Brooks uses the African boy in The Card players as the door to exploring the world of servitude and movement that entrapped him. Brooks sheds light on the placement of the boy in the painting, he is acting as a symbol of wealth to the Europeans. Europeans enjoyed showing off their possessions, signaling their wealth and social status. The African boy shows how Europeans brutally forced native populations to leave their homes, and be integrated into a life of servitude. The boy found himself caught in the enormous trade network that treated moving humans as easy as goods or materials. Africans had been deported to Europe since the fifteenth century, but since the seventeenth century the flow of African increased exponentially. Europeans turned to African slaves as a cheaper, more plentiful labor source helping North America develop into a power house. Slavery allowed labor to be done at very low costs, resulting in maximum profit for the Europeans businesses. This movement of people, completely changed the course of history and acted as the gateway to the racism and prejudice that continue today.

On many occasions Europeans failed to calculate all aspects of the process of colonization and exploration, often times Europeans would bring along diseases, weeds, and weapons that would backfire and benefit them. In Vermeer’s Hat Champlain brutally murdered the Mohawks, due to the invention of the Arquebus. Even though the arquebus was awkward and cumbersome, it managed to redraw the map of Europe. However, the world of firearms had a way of accidentally slipping from the Europeans when they got into metalworking cultures. Resulting in the South America conquest by the Spanish, the Japanese invasion of Korea in 1592. And Champlians dominance over the Mohawks and other tribes. Champlain remained careful to not trade firearms with the Native Americans to ensure his dominance, but other European traders failed to be as careful. The Dutch would sell Arquebuses to anyone to obtain fur pelts. They soon realized their grave mistake because they had put firearms in the hands of their enemy starting to take away their upper hand in battle. Resulting in a law that Europeans who sold to natives would be executed.

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The accidental trading set forward a movement of weaponry all around the globe. This accidental movement went the opposite way for Europeans, leading to their own inventions in the hands of their enemies. Consequently, Crosby focuses on a more accidental biological movement, specifically the introduction of disease. When Europeans first came to the Neo Europes they carried with them deadly diseases that they had already built antibodies for. The Indigenes of America and Australia remained isolated, they had no reason to make or attempt a voyage across the ocean. Indigenes possessed no experience with the Old World diseases, rendering them completely susceptible, almost immediately after the intrusion of Europeans. Smallpox quickly became the most fatal disease, it can be transmitted through breath. Smallpox first came to Espanola and wiped out nearly half of the population, then spread with Cortes and crew, killing a 240 000 of the Aztecs, and so on. This deemed Smallpox just as important of part of European colonization as gunpowder. The elders and youth were most vulnerable, the killing of elders took away tradition and knowledge of tribes and with the death of children it killed of the future of the race and culture. This led to whole populations wiped out faster than any warfare at the time could have manifested, this resulted in Europeans being able to colonize even faster with little trouble.

Europeans had the need to expand to find new trading routes and partners to feed increased capitalism in Europe. Since Europeans wanted to expand they had to create new ideas to be able to colonize at the level they did. Crosby dedicates a chapter to the importance of the unsolved problem of sea travel: the uncontrollable wind. No sailor understood the way the winds blew over the major oceans creating an impossible voyage. Until the Portuguese were motivated by the area of the Canary Islands to learn about the waters and become true marinheiros. Prior to the marinheiros European sailors when faced with headwinds, sailors would give up or put down their sails. The Europeans who sailed the Mediterranean Atlantic came up with a new idea, to go “around the wind”. Being able to use this technique created a pattern of voyages by Columbus, Da Gama, and Magellan, were no longer considered suicide missions. The Portuguese perfected this technique and named it Volta da mar. This allowed Europeans to move slave, spices, silks, animals, and weaponry like never before. The mastering of the winds was the gateway to Europeans ability to colonize the areas. On the other hand Brooks concentrates on the movement throughout the globe of a common idea of humanity. The world no longer viewed as a series of isolated locations, but instead, a unit that seemed connected as one. States no longer fell under the domains of monarchs, instead, public entities for interests of the citizens.

Globalization also shifted the relations between Great Britain and China, the English East Indies Company created a demand for opium in China, thus connecting Asia to Europe. The Dutch East India Company can be used as an example of the movement of ideas and trade good in the seventeenth century. The Dutch East India Company had flexibility and strength to become dominant in trade with Asia. The Dutch East India Company emerged as the first public company to issue negotiable shares using trade, exploration, and colonization. As seen in Vermeer’s Hat, the Dutch East India Company roof is cleverly integrated in “The View of Delft”, Brooks highlights the prominence of The Dutch East India Company in The Dutch Republic, and that it employed most of the people in Delft. The Dutch East India Company used globalization to be a prominent factor all around the world, with new trade routes the world became connected like never before. Their trade with Asia made the Dutch Republic the world’s key commercial industry, connecting Europe with Asia and establishing the movement of trade goods.

Ultimately using the books Ecological Imperialism and Vermeer’s Hat, demonstrates the importance of movement that guided the world to the present day. History is a series of movements that constantly leads onto new developing movements. Brooks and Crosby both have a common recurring theme of movement and the importance and impact throughout history. Through biological movement and trade goods moving, it reconstructed a new world and continues to do so. Both books explain how people moved, biota and the accidental movement, and ideas moved. Ecological Imperialism and Vermeer’s Hat intertwine these common themes to demonstrate overall how movement changes and perpetuates humanity.

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