The European history has been associated with the industrial revolutions that saw the development of trade and culture of the people. There is a lot that is said about the great leaders that are considered key in the transformation of the continent to what it is. Eric Wolf takes us through a different aspect of European history, which he considered key to the developments that have been experienced. This is all about the unspoken people whose contributions facilitated trade connections and gave Europe a name that it currently holds in the world. These are the poor peasants who were mostly migrants to Europe and who influenced the cultural perspective of the continent. They ked to the formation of trade ties between Europe and other nations and exposed the continent to a multicultural society that had a lot to share in terms of goods and culture.
Wolf exposes the trend of capitalism in a historical perspective with the realization that history is discriminative. There is a lot about history that the authors do not tell us. They focus on the great men and women whose political influences transformed the nation and fail to recognize the efforts that were done by the little people in the society (Wolf, 124). The history of Europe started way beyond 1400 and there is much more to the technological developments that historians live to talk about. When a person talks about the economy of a country, it mainly stated with trade. It is through trade that people realize the different economic capabilities of people as well as benefit from the resources that they did not have. However, to attain such efforts and even before people knew where they would get the best architectural and technological reasons; there were people who were behind such inspiration.
Wolf recognizes the fact that the peasants, in search of a better life trued on several things. They attempted trade, farming and even constructions that to experiment on what would work for them. Before even faster means of transport and communication were invented, these poor peasants realized the importance of moving and interacting with other people. They had no alternative but to walk for long distance with their animals carrying goods with the hope of finding a better market for them. In the process of their adventure, they encountered hostile environments, communities and even world animals yet they had to persevere just to achieve what they wanted (Erickson, 94). They worked against all odds to ensure that their lives were better. It is through such sacrifices that people later came to realize the importance of having more sophisticated ways of communicating and even moving. History does not however recognize the events and people before such major inventions, which leave the peasants with no history at all.
The people without a history also focus on the indigenous people of Europe who were mostly brought into the land because of slave trade. They were taken away from their home countries to come and serve a nation and a people they did not know much about. They were hence forced to abandon their culture and language to embrace that which they found in a foreign country. The nature of their transfer did not permit them to know where they were going and leaving them with no hope of seeing their people (Wolf, 78). The fact that they were taken to far countries made it even difficult for them to trace their roots. They are hence considered as a people without a history because they cannot trace their roots. This is even worse for the children that were born by such slaves. They have no idea of the exact place where their ancestors lived and had to adjust to a very different culture. Even after the contributions they made to the economy of Europe, nobody bothered to help them at least identify their historical background.
‘People without history’ is a thought provoking book that challenges us to think beyond the great names of history. In fact, the great historians were mainly building on what had already been established by the indigenous people of Europe. They contributed a lot to the events that followed the industrial revolution yet little is said about them. The book helps us realize that the evils of capitalism did not just begin with the recent years but are embodied in the books of history, which many of us read. Monuments have been made and public holidays named after few individuals who are though to have shaped the history of Europe (Erickson, 173). However, many other people did not utter a word but with their actions, achieved what many of us currently enjoy with little efforts. We have taken technology to the most powerful tool of communicating and connecting with the world, we however fail to realize that there were traders, many years before we existed who inspired such technological developments. As we appreciate technology, we should remember the great but forgotten minds that made us realize the importance of global interactions.
Erickson, Paul. History of Anthropological Theory. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2010.
Wolf, Eric. Europe and the People Without History. California: University of California Press,