Beginning around 1500 kaleidoscopic movements of people, goods, and ideas through the Atlantic basin created networks of kinship and exchange, which bound together expanding communities of settlement and trade. This new social and economic world was mostly a European creation — it was Europeans who first crossed the Atlantic and then bound its societies into a common network of exchanges, though Africans would be dominant numerically in transatlantic migration, and the societies of native peoples would be those most dramatically altered by the encounter. Europeans had greater power to shape the resulting contact than Africans or Indians and this distinguishes the European experience in the Atlantic from that in the Indian Ocean in the same period. In the Atlantic, Indians and Africans and European settlers, traders, and migrants encountered foreign and exotic societies and were forced to come to terms with challenging physical and social environments. In doing so they reinvented themselves, and contributed to the reinvention both of the societies they encountered and of their home cultures.
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Michael J. Braddick
- Macmillan Education UK
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