Study Questions for Jarred Diamond, Guns, Germs and Steel, Chapter 8
1) Write down the chapter thesis (pg. 131). Why is this important to his overall argument?
2) Briefly describe his "comparative" approach. What is he trying to show?
2a) Be sure to write down and think about the last sentence of the major section that concludes on pg. 134.
3) What is the advantage of a Mediterranean climate?
4) What were the advantages of the F.C.'s natural cereal flora?
5) How does the F.C.'s wheat and barley stack up against the
6)List the other areas of the world that had Mediterranean climates.
7) What were the 5 advantages that the F.C's Mediterranean climate had over other areas with a similar environment?
8) What's "ethnobiology"?
9) Is it possible that hunters and gatherers who never made the transition to agriculture (or did so slowly through shifting agriculture) were just not aware of the agricultural potential of their natural environment? What does ethnobiology tell us? And why is this important to Diamond's argument? By the way, this is our first encounter with a concept that anthropologists sometimes call "local knowledge." Local knowledge often refers to those knowledge systems of colonized peoples; by and large these systems are not only sophisticated, but are often "appropriated" in various ways by the colonizers.
10) What is the "critical" fact mentioned on pg. 147.
11) OK, write a single paragraph that starts with this topic sentence:
"When compared to the natural suite of the Fertile Crescent's biological organisms, both the New Guinea and eastern North America possessed some decisive disadvantages in their suites of domesticable plants and animals." . . .
We are not reading the next chapter. It deals with a similar dynamic, but focuses on animals instead of plants. Using your intuitive prowess, guess the thesis of Chapter 9. You can find help on pg. 131-2.