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Columbian Exchange
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The first selection on Columbian Exchange highlights how the arrival of Europeans in the
Western hemisphere in the late 15
century initiated a wide-reaching exchanges of animals, new
crops, people and even ideas into new areas and directions. This exchange between the old and
new worlds was called the Columbian exchange but ended up taking place in the microscopic
level as smallpox, measles and influenza inundated susceptible Americans. This led to the
widespread of old word diseases which were described as virgin-soil epidemics. These diseases
plus European exploitive social and economic systems led to demographic collapse.
The second selection highlights the diseases and epidemics in the old and new worlds.
Even before 1492 when the people on both sides of Atlantic had no contact with one another,
there still existed diseases such as the plague and smallpox. Some of these old world diseases
have environmental causes such as malaria and yellow the western hemisphere people
also suffered from diseases such as dietary deficiencies, TB and trepomatosis. With the start of
the Columbian exchange, diseases such as small pox became more widespread and continued
virulence of old diseases such as malaria into the new world.
The main topics of these selections when compared to how our textbook treats them are
that the spread of these old and new world diseases was unintentional yet they had profound
consequences. The main topic of Columbian exchange in the textbook is set to be the main cause
and rise of colonialism. The exchange led to many native communities being absorbed by
outside influences hence ended up losing their cultural traditions and sense of micro patriotic
identity. There is a huge difference therefore to how the textbook views the Columbian exchange
as compared to the selections point of view. The main difference is that, in the textbook the
exchange is viewed as the root cause of all modern world problems including epidemics,
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colonialism and slavery while in the selection, the exchange is portrayed to have had its benefits
including the exchange of ideas and introduction of new crops.
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