Study Questions

  • State and explain the two themes presented at the beginning of the chapter. Apply each to the contact situations between white European colonists, African Americans, American Indians, and Mexican Americans. Identify and explain the key differences and similarities among the three situations.

  • Explain what a plantation system is and why this system of production is important for understanding the origins of slavery in colonial America. Why are plantation systems usually characterized by (a) paternalism, (b) huge inequalities between groups, (c) repressive systems of control, (d) rigid codes of behavior, and (e) low rates of overt conflict?

  • Explain the Noel and Blauner hypotheses and explain how they apply to the contact situations covered in this chapter. Explain each of the following key terms: ethnocentrism, competition, power, colonized minority group, and immigrant minority group. How did group conflict vary when competition was over land rather than over labor?

  • Explain the role of prejudice and racism in the creation of minority group status. Do prejudice and racism help cause minority group status, or are they caused by minority group status? Explain.

  • Compare and contrast gender relations in regard to each of the contact situations discussed in this chapter. Why do the relationships vary?

  • What does it mean to say that under slavery, acculturation for African Americans was coerced? What are the implications for assimilation, inequality, and African American culture?

  • Compare and contrast the contact situations of Native Hawaiians and American Indians. What were the key differences in their contact situations, and how are these differences reflected in the groups’ current situations?

  • Compare and contrast the contact situations in colonial America, Canada, and Mexico. What groups were involved in each situation? What was the nature of the competition, and what were the consequences?