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Lecture 2

HIST 200 Lecture 2 The Idea of Africa 2- Continents and Geography.docx

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Department
History
Course
HIST 200
Professor
Rachel Sandwell
Semester
Fall

Description
The Idea of Africa 2: Continents and Geographies  What is a continent? o Single landmass defined by tectonic plates, with multiple countries o A continent is a large dry land comprehending many countries all joined together, without any separation by water - thus Europe, Asia, Africa, one continent, and all Americas together - definition in 1700s  So how does Africa get divided off? o Political/cultural/social decision - debated by geographers and political figures - Historical roots o The same is true for Asia - the border between Europe and Asia is entirely arbitrary (this is argued over)  What does it matter if continents are just a "myth"? o Might divide people along lines that don't make sense to the people actually living there o Creates a generalization/assumptions that might do violence or mask complexity ex. North America is this…  Assumption of unity - diversity reduced to sameness  Solidifies the idea of separation o Remember that social conventions are real  Geographies o Great diversity within the continent - African continent has so much climate diversity because its centered around equator, and covers a lot along North/South lines that creates diversity - there is no one "African Environment" o Climate and geography do not determine destiny/history - but they shape and influence people's lives o Zone: Dessert - Sahara  Huge, vast from West to East across continent  Huge obstacle - hard to settle  Massive trade - major commodity was salt  Significant effect on human life - human settlement along rivers/oasis which are located near the edge  Agriculture is hard ex. sand fences to stop the fast expansion of the Sahara  Camels have been used for over 2000 years to do long distance trade across the dessert  Shaping and limiting trade and communication  First genocide by colonial powers o Zone: Savannah  Where most people live - more grass, more animals, and people - more rain  Forestation increases as you go farther from dessert and equator - more rain  You can domesticate animals and do agriculture here o Zone: Equatorial Forest - near equator  Dense tropical rain forest - lots of rain  Lots of trees inhibits agriculture due to lack of light  Disease can spread fast through damp climates - ex. little cuts can get infe
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