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Guns, Hoes And Steel: Techno-Environmental Determinism

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Chapter Summary

Technology serves as a catalyst for environmental change. Once the process is set in motion, it results in the substitution of the natural by the artificial and, of Nature by Culture. Diamond offers an explanation for historical phenomena that had transformative environmental impacts locally and globally. He identified that guns, iron technology and steel gave Europeans a critical advantage. His 'steel' thesis, and 'guns' thesis, explains why it was that before and during European-African contact, Europeans colonized Africans and not the other way around. In Ovamboland, the plow led to more labor-intensive preparation of the soil and used more land to produce the same quantity of crops. Animal-drawn plows facilitated the cultivation of land that had been unsuitable for hoe cultivation. The use of implements affected agricultural production, resource management and social relations, with women becoming the de facto environmental resource managers, while men struggled to retain de jure control.

Keywords: African; Diamond; European; guns; hoe; Ovamboland; plow; steel; Technology



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