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geographical determinism


He thereby challenged Hamitic theories of race that held that the sons of Ham son of Noah were cursed with black skin. Ibn Khaldun believed that the physical environment influenced non-physical factors in addition to skin color. He argued that soil, climate, and food determined whether people were nomadic or sedentary , and what customs and ceremonies they held. His writings may have influenced the later writings of Montesquieu during the 18th century through the traveller Jean Chardin , who travelled to Persia and described theories resembling those of Ibn Khaldun.

Environmental determinism has been widely criticized as a tool to legitimize colonialism , racism , and imperialism in Africa , North America , South America , and Asia. Many writers, including Thomas Jefferson , supported and legitimized African colonization by arguing that tropical climates made peoples uncivilized. Jefferson argued that tropical climates encouraged laziness, relaxed attitudes, promiscuity and generally degenerative societies, while the frequent variability in the weather of the middle and northern latitudes led to stronger work ethics and civilized societies.

Defects of character supposedly generated by tropical climates were believed to be inheritable under the Lamarckian theory of inheritance of acquired characteristics , a discredited precursor to the Darwinian theory of natural selection. Lamarckianism suggested that those physiological changes may be passed directly to offspring, without the need for offspring to develop the trait in the same manner.

Acclimatization societies directly supported colonial enterprises and enjoyed their benefits. The writings of Lamarck provided theoretical backing for the acclimatization doctrines. Ellen Churchill Semple , a prominent environmental determinism scholar, applied her theories in a case study which focused on the Philippines , where she mapped civilization and wildness onto the topography of the islands.

Scholars thereby imposed racial stereotypes on whole societies. The role of environmental determinism in rationalizing and legitimizing racism , ethnocentrism and economic inequality has consequently drawn strong criticism. Many modern scientists have also critiqued classical environmental determinism as unscientific. Carl Sauer criticized the premature generalizations resulting from bias in environmentalism in He argued that to define geography as the study of environmental influences is to assume in advance that such influences do operate, and that science cannot be based upon or committed to preconceptions.

David Landes similarly condemns of what he terms the unscientific moral geography of Ellsworth Huntington. He argues that Huntington undermined geography as a science by attributing all human activity to physical influences so that he might classify civilizations hierarchically — favoring those civilizations he considered best.

Environmental determinism was revived in the late-twentieth century as neo-environmental determinism. The new term coined by the social scientist and critic Andrew Sluyter. Neo-environmental determinism examines how the physical environment predisposes societies and states towards particular trajectories of economic and political development. It explores how geographic and ecological forces influence state-building , economic development , and institutions. It also addresses fears surrounding the effects of modern climate change.

Neo-environmental determinism scholars debate how much the physical environment shapes economic and political institutions. Economic historians Stanley Engerman and Kenneth Sokoloff argue that factor endowments greatly affected "institutional" development in the Americas, by which they mean the tendency to more free democratic, free market or unfree dictatorial, economically restrictive regimes.

Robinson underscore that the geographic factors most influenced institutional development during early state formation and colonialism.

They argue that geographic differences cannot explain economic growth disparities after A. Economists Jeffrey Sachs and John Luke Gallup have examined the direct impacts of geographic and climatic factors on economic development, especially the role of geography on the cost of trade and access to markets, the disease environment, and agricultural productivity.

The contemporary global warming crisis has also impacted environmental determinism scholarship. Jared Diamond draws similarities between the changing climate conditions that brought down the Easter Island civilization and global warming in his book Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed.

A scientist at the Lamont—Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University , writes that societal collapse due to climate change is possible today. In the Pulitzer Prize winning Guns, Germs, and Steel , author Jared Diamond points to geography as the answer to why certain states were able to grow and develop faster and stronger than others. His theory cited the natural environment and raw materials a civilization was blessed with as factors for success, instead of popular century old claims of racial and cultural superiority.

Diamond says that these natural endowments began with the dawn of man, and favored Eurasian civilizations due to their location along similar latitudes, suitable farming climate, and early animal domestication.

Diamond argues that early states located along the same latitude lines were uniquely suited to take advantage of similar climates, making it easier for crops, livestock, and farming techniques to spread. Crops such as wheat and barley were simple to grow and easy to harvest, and regions suitable for their cultivation saw high population densities and the growth of early cities.

The ability to domesticate herd animals, which had no natural fear of humans, high birth rates, and an innate hierarchy, gave some civilizations the advantages of free labor, fertilizers, and war animals. The east-west orientation of Eurasia allowed for knowledge capital to spread quickly, and writing systems to keep track of advanced farming techniques gave people the ability to store and build upon a knowledge base across generations. Craftsmanship flourished as a surplus of food from farming allowed some groups the freedom to explore and create, which lead to the development of metallurgy and advances in technology.

While the advantageous geography helped to develop early societies, the close proximity in which humans and their animals lived led to the spread of disease across Eurasia.

Over several centuries, rampant disease decimated populations, but ultimately led to disease resistant communities. Diamond suggests that these chains of causation led to European and Asian civilizations holding a dominant place in the world today. Diamond uses the Spanish conquistadors' conquering of the Americas as a case study for his theory. He argues that the Europeans took advantage of their environment to build large and complex states complete with advanced technology and weapons.

The Incans and other native groups were not as blessed, suffering from a north—south orientation that prevented the flow of goods and knowledge across the continent. The Americas also lacked the animals, metals, and complex writing systems of Eurasia which prevented them from achieving the military or biological protections needed to fight off the European threat. In his book States and Power in Africa , political scientist Jeffrey Herbst argues that environmental conditions help explain why, in contrast to other parts of the world such as Europe, many pre-colonial societies in Africa did not develop into dense, settled, hierarchical societies with strong state control that competed with neighboring states for people and territory.

Herbst argues that the European state-building experience was highly idiosyncratic because it occurred under systemic geographic pressures that favored wars of conquest — namely, passable terrain , land scarcity , and high-population densities.

European states consequently developed strong institutions and capital-periphery linkages. By contrast, geographic and climatic factors in pre-colonial Africa made establishing absolute control over particular pieces of land prohibitively costly. Some early African empires, like the Ashanti Empire , successfully projected power over large distances by building roads.

The largest pre-colonial polities arose in the Sudanian Savanna belt of West Africa because the horses and camels could transport armies over the terrain. In other areas, no centralized political organizations existed above the village level. African states did not develop more responsive institutions under colonial rule or post-independence.

Colonial powers had little incentive to develop state institutions to protect their colonies against invasion, having divided up Africa at the Berlin Conference. The colonizers instead focused on exploting natural resources and exploitation colonialism.

Marcella Alsan argues the prevalence of the tsetse fly hampered early state formation in Africa. African communities were prevented from stockpiling agricultural surplus, working the land, or eating meat. Because the disease environment hindered the formation of farming communities, early African societies resembled small hunter-gatherer groups and not centralized states.

The relative availability of livestock animals enabled European societies to form centralized institutions, develop advanced technologies, and create an agricultural network. Livestock also diminished the comparative advantage of owning slaves. African societies relied on the use of rival tribesman as slave labor where the fly was prevalent, which impeded long-term societal cooperation.

Alsan argues that her findings support the view of Kenneth Sokoloff and Stanley Engerman that factor endowments shape state institutions. Contradicting the link between the Inca state and dried potato is that other crops such as maize can also be preserved with only sun.

Numerous scholars have argued that geographic and environmental factors affect the types of political regime that societies develop, and shape paths towards democracy versus dictatorship. Robinson have achieved notoriety for demonstrating that diseases and terrain have helped shape tendencies towards democracy versus dictatorship, and through these economic growth and development.

An Empirical Investigation , [39] the authors show that the colonial disease environment shaped the tendency for Europeans to settle the territory or not, and whether they developed systems of agriculture and labor markets that were free and egalitarian versus exploitative and unequal. These choices of political and economic institutions, they argue, shaped tendencies to democracy or dictatorship over the following centuries. In order to understand the impact and creation of institutions during early state formation, economic historians Stanley Engerman and Kenneth Sokoloff examined the economic development of the Americas during colonization.

These endowments included the climate, soil profitability, crop potential, and even native population density. Institutions formed to take advantage of these factor endowments.

Those that were most successful developed an ability to change and adapt to new circumstances over time. For example, the development of economic institutions, such as plantations , was caused by the need for a large property and labor force to harvest sugar and tobacco, while smallholder farms thrived in areas where scale economies were absent.

Though initially profitable, plantation colonies also suffered from large dependent populations over time as slaves and natives were given few rights, limiting the population available to drive future economic progress and technological development. Factor endowments also influenced political institutions. This is demonstrated by the plantation owning elite using their power to secure long lasting government institutions and pass legislation that lead to the persistence of inequality society.

Engerman and Sokoloff found smallholder economies to be more equitable since they discouraged an elite class from forming, and distributed political power democratically to most land-owning males. These differences in political institutions were also highly influential in the development of schools, as more equitable societies demanded an educated population to make political decisions. Over time these institutional advantages had exponential effects, as colonies with educated and free populations were better suited to take advantage of technological change during the industrial revolution, granting country wide participation into the booming free-market economy.

Engerman and Sokoloff conclude that while institutions heavily influenced the success of each colony, no individual type of institution is the source of economic and state growth.

Other variables such as factor endowments, technologies, and the creation of property rights are just as crucial in societal development. To encourage state success an institution must be adaptable and suited to find the most economical source of growth.

The authors also argue that while not the only means for success, institutional development has long lasting-economic and social effects on the state. Other prominent scholars contest the extent to which factor endowments determine economic and political institutions. American economists William Easterly and Ross Levine argue that economic development does not solely depend on geographic endowments—like temperate climates, disease-resistant climates, or soil favorable to cash crops.

They stress that there is no evidence that geographic endowments influence country incomes other than through institutions. Other states like Canada with fewer endowments are more stable and have higher per capita incomes. Easterly and Levine further observe that studies of how the environment directly influences land and labor were tarred by racist theories of underdevelopment, but that does not mean that such theories can be automatically discredited. The Rise of the Tourist South in the Americas.

Humans get equal billing with nature; Fiege writes with a keen sense of environmental history as a story of hybridity rather than simply one of human destruction of a passive natural world or, conversely, of environmental determinism.

Moreover, Nikiforuk often seems to be forwarding a kind of environmental determinism , where available energy sources determine the course of political and economic development. The Energy of Slaves. According to Covey, there are three main social paradigms: The habit of being proactive.

From the perspective of the environmental determinism theory, we can argue that organizational change is the function of environmental factors. Do lean implementation initiatives have adequate accounting support? The debate of duality. Although Kaplan attempts to steer clear of geographical or environmental determinism , he concludes that geography just may triumph over globalism. The Revenge of Geography.


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Environmental determinism (also known as climatic determinism or geographical determinism) is the study of how the physical environment predisposes societies and states towards particular development trajectories.

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Environmental determinism is the belief that the physical environment affects social and cultural development. This school of thought can be traced back to ancient Greek times but did not become.

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Environmental determinism is the belief that the environment (most notably its physical factors such as landforms and/or climate) determines the patterns of human culture and societal development. Psychology Definition of ENVIRONMENTAL DETERMINISM: Philosophical idea where individual differences are put down to emvironmental factors, that is nurture opposed to nature. Compare biological determinism- g.

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Environmental determinism argues that both general features and regional variations of human cultures and societies are determined by the physical and biological forms that make up the earth’s many natural landscapes. It is one position in a wider series of literatures that examine the relationship between humanity and the global environment. Environmental determinism synonyms, Environmental determinism pronunciation, Environmental determinism translation, English dictionary definition of Environmental determinism. n sociol the theory that human activity .