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Film: Guns, Germs and Steel

Wednesday, November 28, 2012
7:30 PM - 9:30 PM
Event Type:
Location Details:
Humanist Hall
390 27th Street
uptown Oakland, between Telegraph and Broadway

Film evenings begin with optional potluck refreshments & social hour at 6:30 pm,
followed by the film at 7:30 pm, followed by a discussion after the film.

Episode III: Into the Tropics
by National Geographic

Based on Jared Diamond‘s book of the same name, this National Geographic film "Guns, Germs and Steel" traces humanity’s journey over the last 13,000 years — from the dawn of farming at the end of the last Ice Age to the realities of life in the twenty-first century. This ambitious, ground-breaking film, following the book, portrays Jared Diamond’s discovery of an answer to the question: Why were Europeans the ones to conquer so much of our planet — why wasn’t it the Chinese or the Inca? And why are the tropics now the capital of global poverty?

When it comes to the European conquest of tropical areas of Earth like the middle of Africa, the Europeans definitely had some setbacks to overcome. With respect to temperate climatic conditions, the Europeans were right at home in the temperate areas they conquered. The 9 or so crops that they had domesticated in Europe also grew in the temperate places they conquered when they planted them there, even though they were not native to the new territories. And the 14 domesticated animals that they regularly used in Europe were also able to live in temperate zones when the Europeans conquered those zones and brought their animals. But Europeans were not able to grow their usual European plants or corral their usual European animals in tropical regions — the climate was too formidable, too hot, too wet. And instead of communicating their European disease germs to the native tropical peoples and decimating them, the tropical people of Africa communicated their tropical disease germs to the Europeans and decimated them instead. The Europeans had become immune to small pox over thousands of years but taking it to the New World, it was able to kill 95% of the native New World peoples who were not immune. In Africa, the Africans had become immune to small pox and malaria over thousands of years and knew how to live away from mosquitoes and keep their population down — but malaria was able to render most Europeans useless in their conquest of Africa.

So instead of conquering and settling in tropical areas of Africa, while being sick with malaria, Europeans first conquered southern Africa, where the climate was temperate, then ventured northward into tropical Africa and enslaved Africans from afar, from Europe: European governments turned to cheap African labor to maximize the profit from the rich natural resources of Africa — resources like copper, diamonds, and gold that were valuable to Europeans. In other words, Europeans enslaved Africans to work for European empires and industries without settling in tropical Africa. In the colonial era, Europeans exploited Africa to the hilt and in the process completely shredded the advanced African civilizations that were established in tropical Africa long before — the Bantu in particular — just as they had done to the Aztec and the Inca in South America.

Wheelchair accessible around the corner at 411 28th Street

$5 donations are expected

Added to the calendar on Thu, Nov 8, 2012 5:09PM
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