This is some bullshit: T.M. Luhrmann’s op-ed in the NYTimes.
Basic thesis: Western Europeans are individualistic because they eat wheat. The global south is collective-minded because they eat rice.
I call geographic determinism, just as bad as Jared Diamond, who was taken down so wonderfully by James M. Blaut. To summarize Blaut’s arguments:
- Environment doesn’t shape all human history. This little thing called culture has a role, too.
- Hindsight is 20-20. My anthro professor as an undergrad used to call these “just-so stories” after Rudyard Kipling. Diamond starts with the historical conclusion – Europe is preeminent – and goes backwards from there.
- Ostensibly, Diamond’s aim is to take down essentialist explanations of why Europe is dominant, but he still ends up asserting Europe’s superiority. This is why Blaut claims Diamond is Eurocentric.