The University of Arizona

    
Advanced Search
Catalogs The Books The Store News and Events Contact
Cover
Beyond Germs
Native Depopulation in North America
Edited by Catherine M. Cameron; Paul Kelton; Alan C. Swedlund
296 pp. / 6.00 x 9.00 / 2015
Paper (978-0-8165-3554-5) [s]
  
Series
  - Amerind Studies in Anthropology

Related Interest
  - Indigenous and Native American Studies
  - Archaeology


There is no question that European colonization introduced smallpox, measles, and other infectious diseases to the Americas, causing considerable harm and death to indigenous peoples. But though these
An excellent addition to a growing literature that challenges the virgin soil hypothesis and shows its wide exaggeration.

—Choice (Outstanding Academic Title Selection)

An important collection making a vital argument. It should be read widely.

—Western Historical Society

An essential volume, not only for American archaeologists and historians, but for all scholars interested in the complex interplay of disease and colonialism in global history. Highlighting human agency, Beyond Germs offers compelling new analysis and haunting conclusions.

—Christina Snyder, author of Slavery in Indian Country: The Changing Face of Captivity in Early America

This edited volume represents a long overdue reevaluation of a central issue in American archaeology, history, and anthropology—the evidence and implications of catastrophic population declines among indigenous peoples in the New World.

—Michael Wilcox, author of The Pueblo Revolt and the Mythology of Conquest: An Indigenous Archaeology of Contact

diseases were devastating, their impact has been widely exaggerated. Warfare, enslavement, land expropriation, removals, erasure of identity, and other factors undermined Native populations. These factors worked in a deadly cabal with germs to cause epidemics, exacerbate mortality, and curtail population recovery.

Beyond Germs: Native Depopulation in North America challenges the "virgin soil" hypothesis that was used for decades to explain the decimation of the indigenous people of North America. This hypothesis argues that the massive depopulation of the New World was caused primarily by diseases brought by European colonists that infected Native populations lacking immunity to foreign pathogens. In Beyond Germs, contributors expertly argue that blaming germs lets Europeans off the hook for the enormous number of Native American deaths that occurred after 1492.

Archaeologists, anthropologists, and historians come together in this cutting-edge volume to report a wide variety of other factors in the decline in the indigenous population, including genocide, forced labor, and population dislocation. These factors led to what the editors describe in their introduction as "systemic structural violence" on the Native populations of North America.

While we may never know the full extent of Native depopulation during the colonial period because the evidence available for indigenous communities is notoriously slim and problematic, what is certain is that a generation of scholars has significantly overemphasized disease as the cause of depopulation and has downplayed the active role of Europeans in inciting wars, destroying livelihoods, and erasing identities.


Top of Page


Orders:
(800) 621-2736
Office:
(520) 621-1441

© 2015 The University of Arizona Press
Main Library Building, 5th Floor
1510 E. University Blvd.
P.O. Box 210055
Tucson, AZ 85721-0055