Alfred W. Crosby, Ecological Imperialism—The Biological Expansion of Europe, 900-1900, CUP/Canto, 1993. Distributed by Foundation Books, 2/17 Ansari Road, Daryaganj, New Delhi 110 002. pp. 368.
The success of European imperialism is generally attributed to their superior technology and organizational ability. Alfred Crosby in his highly interpretative work argues that this success has a biological, an ecological component and this is more than a matter of military conquest. He combines the disciplines of history, ecology, geography, anthropology and medicine to arrive at revealing conclusions which delve deeply in to the intricacies of European expansion.
The period of study is 900-1900 AD and the author primarily focusses on European expansion during this period. While most of the native populations are confined to their original homes Europeans are distributed all over the World. He calls the regions outside Europe wherein the people of European descent dominate as Neo Europes. Geographically Neo Europes to a large extent or at least two-thirds lie in the temperate zones, north and constitute North America, Southern South America, Australia and New Zealand. These are important centres of food production and accounted for more than 30 per cent of agricultural exports in 1982. The migration of Europeans and colonization of Neo Europes in the post Columbus era ca*i be attributed to many factors—population explosion, national rivalries, persecution of minorities, and evolved technology for long distance migration. Th'is colonization has to be explained in terms of biogeographical factors rather than in terms of superior military technology and organization.
The roots of European domination lay in the historical process qf Neolothic revolution. It is only after the man (Homo Sapiens) appeared 40,000 years ago that he migrated from Old World (Europe, Asia and Africa) to the New World (that is Neo Europes) where neither humans nor hominids nor apes of any kind had ever existed and which were dominated by flora and fauna whose from that of Old world and also unadapted to human life. Some 10,000 years ago, the large ice caps melted isolating these populations in their new homelands (Americas and Australia) until Europeans sailed to these lands in the post Columbus era. Neolothic revolution spread at a faster pace in Old world and it involved domestication of large number of plants and animals for intensive agriculture. Compared to this New
Social Scientist, Vol. 25, Nos. 5-6, May-June 19.97