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Tutor profile: James J.

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James J.
M.A. History & Future College Instructor
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Questions

Subject: Study Skills

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Question:

I've heard of "Study Skills," but I don't think they're of use for me. Convince me why I should receive Study Skills tutoring from you?

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James J.
Answer:

I am an adamant believer that few people can achieve their goals and dreams in life entirely on their own. No matter if the goal is as small as passing high school, or getting admitted into a nationally accredited pharmacy program; assistance along the way from various people helps us reach our goals. Some people may feel uncomfortable in asking others for help in a situation, especially regarding school and college. However, there is no shame in needing Study Skills tutoring or simply requesting assistance during college. If anything, it shows the true strength of an individual when they can reflect on their areas of improvement and ask for outside help in addressing that area. I am open to helping any and all students that want to succeed in their personal, academic, and/or vocational objectives. I am fortunate to have wonderful mentors and advisors during both my undergraduate and graduate academic careers attending Sacramento State University. They helped show me the greater bounds of my potential as a student and as an instructor. They drove me intellectually and as a person during times when I thought I could not meet their expectations, but I realize now that they knew I would exceed their expectations. I wish to instill similar experiences with my own students in their Study Skills tutoring sessions. Finally, experiences in Study Skills tutoring can be immensely fun and rewarding! I have a strong affinity for the adage that you need to follow what your passion or heart is in life. Many individuals attend college to get a degree that will eventually pay off the six-figure salary. But during college they struggle in classes that they do not enjoy, so they see college as just going through the motions or that the ends justify the means. This mindset diminishes the experience of college altogether. College is about course content, there is no denying that. College also allows you to discover your interests, not just academically or career wise. Perhaps you participate in a team building exercise such as a hiking club or rowing club and learn that you are more of an outdoors person than you originally thought. The point is: you cannot find these facets of yourself if you are rushing to finish college, or focusing solely on getting good grades.

Subject: World History

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Question:

How has recent world history scholarship developed its view on Eurocentrism within its historiography?

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James J.
Answer:

The United States celebrates a day in October as Columbus Day, to commemorate the event of Christopher Columbus landing in the Bahamas mistaking them for the spice islands of Asia. However, two states South Dakota and Alaska as well as a growing number of cities celebrate instead Indigenous People’s Day. This marks a distinct shift in the social optics of European history as well as introduces the notion of Eurocentrism. Patrick Manning, author of Navigating World History: Historians Create a Global Past, denotes Eurocentrism as projecting Europe onto North America within the framework of historical studies. (Manning 101) Alfred W. Crosby Jr. illuminates the realities hidden by the seemingly positives of Eurocentrism, and Kenneth Pomeranz offers an alternative to the Eurocentrism often seen throughout historiography. These approaches have the capacity to propel historical thought to include new and wider outlooks on ubiquitous concepts routinely examined. Some scholars utilize Eurocentrism as a means to bridge the gap between United States history, European history, and World history. (Manning 101) In other words, scholars best analyze history removed from the context of the West by examining how the western world impacts, “other areas of the world.” (101) Unfortunately this perspective almost entirely focuses on the positive impacts of Europe against the western world and on the global context itself, while failing to give particular attention to unexpected consequences of European conquests. For instance, the topic of the Columbian voyages have for many generations venerated the so-called accomplishments of the European conquistadors but as Alfred W. Crosby Jr. argues in The Columbian Exchange: Biological and Cultural Consequences of 1492 the realities of these encounters had everlasting effects on people, flora, fauna, and the environment of the new world itself. In his text Crosby argues how, “Even the economic historian may occasionally miss what any ecologist or geographer would find glaringly obvious after a cursory reading of the basic original sources of the sixteenth-century: the most important changes brought on by the Columbia voyages were biological in nature.” (Crosby xxvi) As Crosby asserts any economical gains from such voyages take a back seat to the direct biological impact on the new world continents. Crosby’s evidence further cements the negative impacts on these voyages in the realm of migrations or, “biological transfers.” (211) The many introductions of Old World organisms dramatically altered, “The ecology of vast areas of the Americas.” (Crosby 211) For native fauna “such as the bighorn sheep” the Old World fauna completely displaced them into higher elevation environments detached from their grazing fields while the Old World fauna such as “enormous herds of horses” had a free for all--given the European system of open-range grazing. Europeans saw to it that native flora was promptly “eliminated completely or restricted to uncultivated strips” and the once abundant fields of native flora replaced with commodity crops such as “sugar, coffee, bananas, and wheat.” (211) Perhaps in agriculture the effects of the European voyages had most harsh an impact due to the “destruction of ecological stability over enormous areas and an increase of erosion.” (211) Again for the modern student this may come as a shock that their celebrated Christopher Columbus perpetuated such as an adverse force upon the continent, especially with contemporary efforts of animal and plant preservation frequently proliferated. For all its fantastic highlighting of placing the Columbian Exchange in a global context, regrettably Crosby’s text cannot break away from Eurocentrism based on the sources that he utilizes. Few if any of his sources are derived from non-European origins and the sources that address the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries remain scarce. For example, Crosby has an inadequate analysis of Africa. Crosby’s own colleague J. R. McNeill acknowledges this shortcoming. (xiii) If readers are to accept of Crosby's work that, “No one had put these pieces together before, and no one had written on these subjects with such wit and verve.” (Crosby xii-xiii) Then why reserve so little text to Africa? Additionally, Crosby’s methodology for writing The Columbian Exchange includes a bio-history utilizing vast secondary sources. This bio-history includes sources of medical and demographic data of populations. Most notably the sources on syphilis do not sufficiently introduce the topic and its controversies, many of which still persist into modern day--such as the disease’s specific origin. While groundbreaking texts such as Crosby’s may reorient historians’ perspectives on a topic there needs to remain an effort for inclusiveness and diversity regarding choice of sources. Meanwhile, in his text The Great Divergence Kenneth Pomeranz effectively speaks to the innate problems of Eurocentric scholarship and advocates for a wider integrative or global approach within historical studies. Furtermore, Pomeranz details how much of early bastardized “social science” scholarship of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries sought to discover just how the western European model of economic success came to fruition. (Pomeranz 3) This viewpoint completely ignores any direct or indirect contributions for Europe’s economic success, which oddly enough seems strange given the widescale trade relations occurring prior to the nineteenth-century industrial economic shift. As Pomeranz describes many Eurocentric scholars hoped to once and for all contend that “Europe . . . had within its borders some unique home grown ingredient of industrial success or was uniquely free of some impediment.” (3) Pomeranz does not hesitate to confirm “yet those efforts have yielded no consensus.” (3) If Europe does not stand as unique apart from the world countries then what factors contributed to its rise? Pomeranz notes that another form of Eurocentric thought addresses “various forms of colonial extraction,” which modern Western scholars overtly shunned. (3) Pomeranz specifically critiques the use of Marx’s “primitive accumulation.” While he applauds the honest connotation of the harsh treatment of indigenous populations by Europeans, Pomeranz shows reluctance in this rhetoric because “primitive” implies that the industrial economic shift became inevitably attracted to the European extraction model, while ignoring the fact of already slow “internally driven European growth.” (3) More specifically Europe did not display the pinnacle of extraction models because such extraction had long occurred “in east Asia, until almost 1800.” (3-4) Modern historiography does a splendid job of accurately illustrating the horrors faced by indigenous populations through interactions of their colonizers, which yet again provides a contrast to Eurocentric scholarship. The argument of Pomeranz’s text speaks directly to the historiographic trend of Eurocentrically utilizing China as a perfect antithesis for analyzing Europe’s rise during the nineteenth-century industrial economic shift, “the early nineteenth century represents a crucial moment of divergence with lasting effects—the moment when . . . England avoided becoming the Yangzi Delta, and the two came to look so different that it became hard to see how recently they had been quite similar.” (283) Thus Pomeranz’s evidence emphasizes several factors to show that similarities existed between Europe and Asia long before the nineteenth-century industrial economic shift and surprising recently after it as well. Additionally, the factors that led to Europe taking the helm of the nineteenth-century industrial economic shift could have occurred to any country at that time in history, but it just so happens that it happened in Europe. Pomeranz’s methodology in writing The Great Divergence combines comparative analysis approach and integrative or global approach. (4) Pomeranz acknowledges that the comparative-integrative dichotomy has an inherent symbiosis. For instance, if western Europe and eastern Europe have stark differences but share particular traits with China, then historians cannot solely rely on a comparative approach to accentuate a European difference. (4) Likewise, any resemblances discovered through integrative analysis cannot, “be explained as unique products of European culture or history.” (4) These “resemblances” between western Europe and the rest of the world force historians to apply a more integrative approach to delineate the “global conjectures.” (4) Interestingly historiography has noted that such pre-1800 global conjectures have favored European advantages over the rest of the world. However, since these pre-1800 global conjectures thrived well before the nineteenth-century industrial economic shift modern scholars can no longer claim that Europe sits at the center of the world instead world affairs see “a polycentric world with no dominant center.” (4) Alternatively, if any advantages existed to favor Europe, Europeans did not “create or impose them.” For instance, Spain’s rise as a global trade leader only occurred with China’s establishing silver as legal tender during the fifteenth century--long before the European encroachment into the Americas. Accordingly, Europe cannot have said to rise merely by “primitive accumulation overseas” or simply advancing an “endogenous European growth.” (5) Historians should instead favor (as Pomeranz suggests) a perspective that views “cross cultural comparison” and “contingency” as “deviations.” (8) This is attempted by viewing each deviation through the lens of the other. Or as Pomeranz articulates, “Thus, this book will emphasize reciprocal comparisons between parts of Europe and parts of China, India, and so on that seem to me to have been similarly positioned within their continental worlds.” (10) Critics point out that while Pomeranz’s The Great Divergence purports to utilize a methodology of comparative-integrative analysis it does not display a balance in its’ content. Three parts and six chapters make up Pomeranz’s text, while his evidence assists to exemplify his comparative-integrative analysis of Europe and China. Pomeranz spends the first two parts utilizing a comparative analysis, and leaves the last third of his text for the integrative outlook. Critics may note this organization as shortsighted, but Pomeranz’s approach needed to fuse the long historical similarities between Europe and China into readers’ understanding of the content, prior to discussing the two regions’ points of divergence leading up to the nineteenth-century industrial economic shift. Part I comparatively analyzes the issue of how historians can identify several regions with higher than average stockpile of wealth, demographic booms, and key economic markets, but none of these factors explain why the industrial economic shift “occurred first in western Europe” in the nineteenth century--as opposed to China, Japan, or any other region of the world. (24) Part II focuses on intercontinental comparisons of specific economic markets instead of markets “directly tied to physical necessity.” (24) Part III postulates that while western Europe had some perceivable economic advantages, the advantages did not have enough influence to help certain “core areas” of western Europe out of the bog of “ecological constraints.” (24) Furthermore, Pomeranz’s insistence that the Great Divergence is a groundbreaking historical concept falls short even while the title as The Great Divergence. Namely, the title is merely a hook to have readers learn of Pomeranz’s new comparative-integrative approach, and readers already know Pomeranz’s conclusion before getting into the text. For the majority of historiography Eurocentrism has embedded itself in the methodology, organization, and analytical tools of historical studies. As Crosby and Pomeranz illustrate Eurocentrism prevents historians from gaining a wider global context of any event. No experience of historical significance should be analyzed within a vacuum of Eurocentrism. This perspective dims the asking of new questions that could open up new research areas and new subtopics within historical disciplines. Therefore, Eurocentrism or viewing Europeans as the stakeholders of the entirety of human history diminishes scholarship and world participation. All regions of the world participate and contribute to history in some variation. By accepting and promoting an integrative or global approach historians can help shed light on hidden niches of history long trapped by the quagmire of Eurocentrism.

Subject: US History

TutorMe
Question:

Describe the origins, economic systems, and social mores of the New England colony and the Virginia colony. Make sure to also address the question, "Why was slavery more prominent in Virginia and less prominent in New England?"

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James J.
Answer:

Virginia was established very slowly as wealth was not found quickly. The first group of Englishmen came with indentured servants and slaves searching for gold. Gold was never found and eventually tobacco was brought as a cash crop. Many indentured servants and slaves were brought to Virginia as labor was in high demand. When indentured servants finished their time as servants they were rewarded with a small plot of land. Many were given land outside of Jamestown closer to neighborhood tribes. The ex-indentured servants were unhappy with the less fertile land the threat of nearby Indian tribes. They complained to Nathaniel Bacon, who was also unhappy with his land situation. He encouraged a rebellion where ex-indentured servants attacked both Indian tribes and Jamestown. This led to less indentured servitude and more slavery. The leaders of Jamestown believed slaves were less likely to rebel. They also divided the slaves and indentured servants, in fear they would rebel together. Jamestown and the colony of Virginia were built strong on farming and large amounts of slave labor. The colony started in search of wealth. New England was founded by Pilgrims who wanted to practice their Puritan Faith their way. Some slaves and indentured servants were brought with them, but most members of the Puritan faith believed it was wrong to have someone do your work for you. They developed very strong work ethics in order to stay alive. They had a more egalitarian idea system than most English people. They also had much more complicated farming than Virginia. They didn’t mass produce a cash crop, they produced everything they needed to live. Many of their crops were more complicated to farm than tobacco. They found it easier to farm for themselves than to teach multiple slaves how to care for each individual crop. Due to the difference in farming and the religious beliefs the community was built on, slavery was very uncommon in New England. However, because of mass production of a cash crop in huge plantations, slavery was prominent and deeply rooted in Virginia.

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