Global Civilization


Take home final exam
2 to 3 paragraphs or bullets for each section.
Total of 4-5 double spaced, type-written pages. You can tackle each question individually, or combine them all into one

essay. You must demonstrate a) that you have engaged the material (including the films), and b) that you have been

attentive to and engaged in class discussions.

1) Guns, Germs and Steel, by Jared Diamond.
Diamond’s argument might be boiled down to his answer to “Yali’s question.” Yali asked “why do you white men have so much

cargo (or material goods) and we New Guineans have so little?” It was not race or intelligence or ingenuity or culture

that made the difference, argues Diamond. The answer was geography. “If your people had enjoyed the same geographic

advantages of my people,” says Diamond to Yali, “your people would have been the ones to invent helicopters…”

Please answer the following:
a) How does Diamond construct his case?
b) Do you find it convincing and why or why not?
c) What are the implications for our understanding of why some countries in the world today are rich and some are poor?

2) The Origins of the Modern World: A Global and Ecological Narrative from the Fifteenth to the 21st Century, by Robert

Marks picks up on Diamond’s emphasis on the importance of environmental and geographical circumstances in the shaping of

a given society’s prospects. But he develops things further through a discussion of several themes: the enduring strength

(through to the middle of the 1700s) of a Asian network of commerce and political power centered on China and India; the

emergence of a New World economy in the Americas in the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries; the far reaching effects of the

Industrial Revolution, including the transition out of a “biological old regime” of energy production and into one based

on fossil fuels; and last, the connections between the development of some societies and the lack of development in


Please answer the following:

a) How was the emergence of a “New World Economy” in the Americas connected to the presence of a thriving network of

commercial and imperial power in Asia?
b) Marks argues that the Industrial Revolution was as important and far reaching in its effects as the agricultural

revolution which occurred 5,000 to 8,000 years ago. Why is this the case? Be sure to include a discussion of a shift in

the ecological basis of the economic production.
c) Summarize Marks’ argument in chapter 5 about how the industrialization of England in 18th century led to the

de-industrialization of India in the same period, and then describe your reaction to these findings. For example, is a

similar process of industrialization in one place leading to de-industrialization in another at work in the world today?

3) A History of the World in Six Glasses, by Tom Standage.
All the drinks that Standage looks at have truly global histories; his book allow us discuss and imagine the ways these

everyday beverages connect us with others across time and space, others who have enjoyed these drinks or been involved

with the work of bringing them to our tables. With this in mind,
Please answer the following:
a) Describe how rum (and with it sugar production) was entangled in the creation of a new world economy in the Americas

and the Caribbean, one that thrived on slavery and was the transformed by revolution?

b) Now that you know about the world history of coffee, and something about the current circumstances of its worldwide

production, imagine and retell the story of your morning cup.

4) Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System, by Raj Patel.
Here the basic themes of A History of the World in 6 Drinks are put in the perspective of the emergence of corporate

driven, global system of food production and consumption. In the chapters we read (Intro, 1, 2, 3, 6, 7 and 9) Patel

describes the struggles of farmers the world over, the influence of companies like Monsanto, the exponential growth of

soy farming and production in Brazil, and the way in which we here in wealthier countries are told we have endless

choices when it comes to food when in actuality our choices are quite limited.

Please answer the following:
a) Explain how our choices about food are connected to a wider, global system of food production and consumption, one

that includes rural workers from India to Brazil, and the global corporations that seem to have so much control over what

is available for us to eat.

b) On page 294, Patel quotes a South African organizer who has argued that the solution to our food problems is not

cheaper and cheaper food, but the eradication of poverty. Read the quote, re-tell in your own words the argument it

makes, and describe your reaction. Does it make sense? Why?


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