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In
both Ecological Imperialism by Alfred
Crosby and Vermeer’s Hat by Timothy
Brook, the concept of movement is a common literary theme. The importance of
movement with regards to world history is discussed throughout both texts
referring to how people, ideas and goods were moved in history. With Ecological Imperialism discussing the
European influence on Neo-Europes regions and Vermeer’s Hat discussing the foundation behind Western Civilization
and origins of commonplace objects, we are able to accurately recognize the
significance of movements for world history.

Ecological Imperialism discusses movement in relation to how Europeans managed to
arrive at and control highly valuable lands. Crosby’s main argument involves
how the consistent “success of European imperialism has a biological, and an
ecological, component”1, believing that Old World diseases, animals and plants
worked successfully to colonize the indigenous nations. First and
foremost, the Europeans decided to settle in Neo-Europes because they had a
climate similar to their own. Crosby says: “They are all completely or at least
two-thirds in the temperate zones, north and south, which is to say that they
have roughly similar climates”.2 By migrating to their geographical
regions, they would be able to farm in areas in which their plants and animals
thrived, which explains the Europeans ability to easily dominate the temperate
zone regions of the New World because of this advantage. When the Europeans
decided to settle within these distant lands, many of their livestock aided in increasing
food exports within the Neo-Europes. Unlike the climate, the indigenous flora
and fauna were very different than the ones the Europeans were migrating with,
which led to the European biota competing with the native ones, and as a result
almost completely wiping out the pre-existing flora and faunas.

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Successfully,
the regions were able to export wheat, soybeans, pork and beef, in which Crosby
states were among the many European products these places had none of “whatsoever
500 years ago”. 3   Because of
this, the Neo-Europes became one of the top food production regions today, in
which would be of direct influence of the Europeans themselves. With that being
said, arriving with new livestock and crops also brought diseases in which the
Neo-Europes had never been exposed to, on both the humans and the livestock. As
explained by Crosby, many organisms took advantage of the conguity with plants
and animals to become pathogens and parasites.4   More
significantly however, the diseases that travelled with the Europeans themselves
resulted in a large epidemic among the indigenous people settled in the
Neo-Europes, who had no real immunity to protect and treat themselves. The
Europeans migrated to the Neo-Europes despite all the “previously mentioned
techniques to halt the spread of their own pathogens”.5 Smallpox,
plaque, and grippe to name a few were some of the diseases the Europeans brought
with them which took out a devastating amount of indigenous people. With such a
large amount of people dying from the diseases, it made it easy for the
Europeans to colonize.

Described by
Crosby as “a crushing disadvantage of the peoples whose ancestral homes were on
the losing side of the seams of Pangaea.” 6, it was through this
spread however that some individuals of the population, which eventually led to
the entire population, slowly grew resistant in some way to diseases such as
smallpox and measles. Ultimately, this movement on its own, with Crosby labelling
it as “the triumphs of the virus of smallpox” 7, had a large impact
on world history due to the fact that it allowed for the indigenous people to
continue to live within their region with the Europeans without high risk of
death. However, the Europeans did have some unintentional successes with conquering
the Neo-Europes. Weeds, which are described by Crosby as “opportunistic plants”
8, played a part in aiding damaged soils and feed for livestock in the Neo-Europes, which
were more accurately described by Crosby as “vital to the spread of European
livestock and therefore Europeans themselves”.9

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