Okay, but seriously, what exactly IS a civilization?

Evie

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By that standard, there were no civilization until the 19th centurY, at ehich point all humanity was one civilization, an pd we only got to two civilizations in the 20th...
 

Henri Christophe

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By that standard, there were no civilization until the 19th centurY, at ehich point all humanity was one civilization, an pd we only got to two civilizations in the 20th...
Why there is no civilization until the 19th century?
When I think about the word civilization it come to my mind very ancient civilizations as Babylon, Egypt and China. And they are very ancient.
And two civilizations in the 20th? who should be?
 

Evie

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"By that standard", Henri,

As in, the standard of the poster just before me who said a civilization is a group of one billion people.

Human population only reached one billion in the nineteenth century,

Context matters.
 

Krajzen

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Few more thoughts.

If we were treating this game series on precedence basis, there are very few boundaries left to cross in terms of "is this really a civilization?" anyway. We have already gotten:
- Huns, who were non - city dwelling, non - writing nomadic confederation, appearing for few decades and disappearing forever
- Gran Colombia, an ephemeral political entity existing for a whopping twelve years
- Venice, a city state
- Greeks and Maya: a sort of conglomerate of wider cultural area, despite never being really unified IRL (why is then medieval/renaissance Italy argued against on this basis I'll never know, even besides modern united Italy being very important country for 150 years)
- Austria, a powerful empire, whose core and founding ethnic group has essentially been part of German civilization in every possible meaning of this word (to the point a huge part of population actually wanted to be incorporated into Germany all the way until ww2, and almost certainly would do that if not for allies forbidding this after both world wars - only after ww2 did Austria develop truly separate identity; Anschluss happened largely because of actual support from huge part of Austrian population)
- Australia, Canada and England all in the same game (you could quite convincingly argue this is essentially one Anglo - Saxon civilization in a wider sense, even if you discounted America from this group on the basis of its distinctiveness)
- Maori, not a city - dwelling or state - building culture, tribal agriculturalists
- Shoshone and Sioux, iirc mostly hunter - gatherers
- Minor countries playing, let's be honest and with all my love for them, secondary and tertiary role in history (Zulu, Georgia)
- We even got workarounds for cultures deprived of city name lists and well known language (Huns, Scythians most notably)

What am I trying to say is, we kind of already broke through almost every barrier, so is there even much controversy left at this point? There isn't that much ground left to deny the entrance of Chile, Albania, Kikuyu, Belgium, Laos, Shirvan, Chechnya, Austro - Hungary etc - all those already have their close precedences present in the game. The main criterium left is opportunity cost of including the most diverse, interesting, spectacular, to some degree influential? peoples.
 

reddishrecue

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Why there is no civilization until the 19th century?
When I think about the word civilization it come to my mind very ancient civilizations as Babylon, Egypt and China. And they are very ancient.
And two civilizations in the 20th? who should be?
It's also difficult to get a civilization late since there are so many mixed people with bloodlines from civilizations from the past. Thus causing a new civilization like it does in HK- humankind- where you can choose a new civilization from the era whether it's Contemporary, modern or future.
 

Abaxial

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Well let's just call them red, blue, orange etc. Oh wait, is that Beyond Earth?
 
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- Greeks and Maya: a sort of conglomerate of wider cultural area, despite never being really unified IRL (why is then medieval/renaissance Italy argued against on this basis I'll never know, even besides modern united Italy being very important country for 150 years)
Despite being not unified, they are clearly recognized as having some sort of enhanced political system leading every separate city, including Phoenicia, so they have always fit the bill of being called a "civilization" in the historical sense.

- We even got workarounds for cultures deprived of city name lists and well known language (Huns, Scythians most notably)
If they were to continue including these groups, and I hope they do, there needs to be some sort of special ability that allows you to do either or both:
1) Move your cities/encampment/unique infrastructure and make them mobile. Make the military encampment the only district you can build.
2) Not being able to train settlers after you found your capital. Gain more cities only by conquest.
 

BuchiTaton

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Hmm, I feel like the conversation has diverged somewhat from what I intended. Originally, I wasn't really asking "Where do we make the divide between the civilized and the uncivilized", but rather "How granularly can we divide civilizations, before any two given become too similar?" Again, this is mostly inspired by someone pointing out (I don't remember who, where or when), that if all of India is one, single civilization, then so should all of Europe.
This was my replay.
Lately civilizations are alternative accessories for disney characters.
And this explain the issue with India in CIV.

In-game representation is linked to leaders and no other leader is most "the MASCOT" of CIV than Gandhi. Because this we are stuck with the representation of an contemporary unified India, sabotaging thousands of years of interesting independent civs from the subcontinent.

Funny to think that even in-game India is the one about the end of Anglo domain, seem like the proper definition of "civilization" is be related to Anglo history (cough* Cree, cough* Maori, cough Zulu*, cough Scotland, etc.)
 
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Funny to think that even in-game India is the one about the end of Anglo domain, seem like the proper definition of "civilization" is be related to Anglo history (cough* Cree, cough* Maori, cough Zulu*, cough Scotland, etc.)
I mean can you think of a major Polynesian group or Native American group from the U.S./Canada that wasn't related to Anglo history in some form? :confused:

Then again we also had the Mapuche. :p
 

Evie

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Two comments on your Anglo-Saxon civ thing :

From a historical perspective Anglo-Saxon is only applicable to a limited period of Early English history, and even in that limited role the term is currently falling out of favor. It ended long (several hundred years) before English colonization began. By the time Australia had been founded, it was English (an amalgam of various Germanic tribes including Angle, Saxon and others, Celtic tribes and Roman and Normand influences), not Angle, or Saxon or Anglo-Saxon, and even later British culture that was current, and that was exported to the colonies (as a matter of fact, there's a good case to be made that Canada's "English" side is as much Scottish and Irish as it is English so definitely not Anglo-Saxon). So calling it Anglo-Saxon civilization is nonsense. Anglo-American civilization is actually a far better term to represent how modern English-language culture is as much American as it is English. If Anglo-Saxon culture was made into a civ it would be weird civ that focus on England in the late first millenium CE only.

The only use of Anglo-Saxon that includes the colonies is as a ethnic/racial supremacist term, when it was used to set people of English origin as separate and above even their European peers. I trust I don't need to explain why that should not be used. It's like a civ called the Caucasian civ.

Two, Canada is a hybrid of English and French. It merges elements of both, and is part of neither. So no, it can't just be lumped into English/British civilization. And it's not like the game hides this or focuses on the English side: in-game Canada has a French-Canadian leader who says half his line in French and has a theme tune made of two tradiitional French Canadian songs (O Canada was a French Canadian anthem long before it became the anthem for all of Canada) . Question whether colonial nations really belong in the game all you want, and I agree that's a fair question, but the French-Canadian erasure that keeps showing up whenever someone wants to criticize colonial civs is really getting old.


(And three, if you think America is the only colony to have developed its own culture...LOL. No.)
 
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reddishrecue

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I mean can you think of a major Polynesian group or Native American group from the U.S./Canada that wasn't related to Anglo history in some form? :confused:

Then again we also had the Mapuche. :p
That's a good question particularly when English is spoken by more people than French in the world.
 

reddishrecue

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Two comments on your Anglo-Saxon civ thing :

From a historical perspective Anglo-Saxon is only applicable to a limited period of Early English history, and even in that limited role the term is currently falling out of favor. It ended long (several hundred years) before English colonization began. By the time Australia had been founded, it was English (an amalgam of various Germanic tribes including Angle, Saxon and others, Celtic tribes and Roman and Normand influences), not Angle, or Saxon or Anglo-Saxon, and even later British culture that was current, and that was exported to the colonies (as a matter of fact, there's a good case to be made that Canada's "English" side is as much Scottish and Irish as it is English so definitely not Anglo-Saxon). So calling it Anglo-Saxon civilization is nonsense. Anglo-American civilization is actually a far better term to represent how modern English-language culture is as much American as it is English. If Anglo-Saxon culture was made into a civ it would be weird civ that focus on England in the late first millenium CE only.

The only use of Anglo-Saxon that includes the colonies is as a ethnic/racial supremacist term, when it was used to set people of English origin as separate and above even their European peers. I trust I don't need to explain why that should not be used. It's like a civ called the Caucasian civ.

Two, Canada is a hybrid of English and French. It merges elements of both, and is part of neither. So no, it can't just be lumped into English/British civilization. And it's not like the game hides this or focuses on the English side: in-game Canada has a French-Canadian leader who says half his line in French and has a theme tune made of two tradiitional French Canadian songs (O Canada was a French Canadian anthem long before it became the anthem for all of Canada) . Question whether colonial nations really belong in the game all you want, and I agree that's a fair question, but the French-Canadian erasure that keeps showing up whenever someone wants to criticize colonial civs is really getting old.


(And three, if you think America is the only colony to have developed its own culture...LOL. No.)
I don't know how this is credible.
 

Evie

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Which part, exactly, are you struggling with?

The fact that anglo-saxon as a historical term refer to a specific period of English history that was over long before England had any colony?
The fact that it's currently falling out of favor as a term?
The fact that the use of "Anglo Saxon" to describe the British colonies makes no sense if the term isn't used in a racial way?
Or the fact that Canada is in fact an amalgam of French and English?
 
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Personally, I subscribe to a dialectical look at history: what we do shapes who we are, even as who we are shapes what we do. One of the earlier writers for Civ6 followed a kind of "great man" view of history. In a dialectical view, a material like grain gives society a certain structure, even as ideas of what is edible push people in one direction or the other. A society that revolves around pastoralism is going to develop in different ways than ones that revolve around irrigation-dependent agriculture. But at the same time, we aren't entirely driven by our material; innovation, cross-cultural contact, etc., can cause things to shift.
About Eurocentrism in Civ VI's quotes: I actually agree with this critique. As a scholar of Southeast Asia, I do try to bring a more global view to such things, thus far only in elements like the policy cards for NFP, or in the rewrite of the Civilopedia a couple years ago. Some references aren't entirely picked up on; my "city-ever-shining" achievement, a description of Ayodhya in the Ramayana, is attributed online to Reagan's speech about America being the "shining city on the hill", which is incorrect, but achievements are often hidden references, anyway (I think most of the others people picked up on, as well as the references in the Corporations pack).
I'd point you all, too, to the critiques of notions of "Classical Age" and collapse coming out from anthropological and archaeological scholars, especially against Jared Diamond's writing there. While Diamond has some valuable points re: environment, "collapse" is a far more nuanced thing - sometimes collapse doesn't actually mean collapse, and simply means an abandonment of centralized cities because something has become politically, economically, or environmentally unstable there. The Maya have "collapsed," but there are millions of Maya living now, living Maya lives and speaking Maya languages. The birth of cities doesn't have to mean hierarchy, and the decline of cities doesn't have to mean that a culture has disappeared.
If we must use the word "civilization," which we must, we might define it as a particular configuration of people (with, as I said, a sizeable impact on others) living in a distinct way. And a recognition that these definitions are going to be partial, and that we don't have the resources to include everyone, no matter how deserving.
 

reddishrecue

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Which part, exactly, are you struggling with?

The fact that anglo-saxon as a historical term refer to a specific period of English history that was over long before England had any colony?
The fact that it's currently falling out of favor as a term?
The fact that the use of "Anglo Saxon" to describe the British colonies makes no sense if the term isn't used in a racial way?
Or the fact that Canada is in fact an amalgam of French and English?
All of them which don't seem as facts to me.
 

Evie

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That last one too, lol? I mean, Canada literally has two official languages, French and English, reflecting its mixed heritage, which is an easily verifiable matter of public record, but, sure, if you really want to doubt that…
 

Bactrian

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Personally, I subscribe to a dialectical look at history: what we do shapes who we are, even as who we are shapes what we do. One of the earlier writers for Civ6 followed a kind of "great man" view of history. In a dialectical view, a material like grain gives society a certain structure, even as ideas of what is edible push people in one direction or the other. A society that revolves around pastoralism is going to develop in different ways than ones that revolve around irrigation-dependent agriculture. But at the same time, we aren't entirely driven by our material; innovation, cross-cultural contact, etc., can cause things to shift.
About Eurocentrism in Civ VI's quotes: I actually agree with this critique. As a scholar of Southeast Asia, I do try to bring a more global view to such things, thus far only in elements like the policy cards for NFP, or in the rewrite of the Civilopedia a couple years ago. Some references aren't entirely picked up on; my "city-ever-shining" achievement, a description of Ayodhya in the Ramayana, is attributed online to Reagan's speech about America being the "shining city on the hill", which is incorrect, but achievements are often hidden references, anyway (I think most of the others people picked up on, as well as the references in the Corporations pack).
I'd point you all, too, to the critiques of notions of "Classical Age" and collapse coming out from anthropological and archaeological scholars, especially against Jared Diamond's writing there. While Diamond has some valuable points re: environment, "collapse" is a far more nuanced thing - sometimes collapse doesn't actually mean collapse, and simply means an abandonment of centralized cities because something has become politically, economically, or environmentally unstable there. The Maya have "collapsed," but there are millions of Maya living now, living Maya lives and speaking Maya languages. The birth of cities doesn't have to mean hierarchy, and the decline of cities doesn't have to mean that a culture has disappeared.
If we must use the word "civilization," which we must, we might define it as a particular configuration of people (with, as I said, a sizeable impact on others) living in a distinct way. And a recognition that these definitions are going to be partial, and that we don't have the resources to include everyone, no matter how deserving.
To the thread's larger discussion, I'm not sure the extent to which trying to map a logical definition of a "civilization" onto Civilization can ever be a fruitful exercise. The franchise largely reflects pop culture understandings of historical societies, which makes sense as the games are themselves pop culture media artifacts. While I certainly have opinions on the civs and their designs, I long ago made the choice to more or less shrug and just roll with whatever the designers came up with.

That said, Andrew Johnson's description of historical change is interesting, even if I think it's vision of the past is still overly coherent, even bordering on deterministic. But this is a challenge for all historical writing. How do you present the past as open and contingent when you know how things turned out? I prefer to imagine an ever-shifting set of bounded decision spaces for prior peoples. Within them choices are freely made, but there are real limits imposed by technologies, environments, economies, random chance, etc. This helps avoid deterministic claims like stirrups are the cause of feudalism (to use a classic example), while also recognizing, to paraphrase another scholar, that available choices are not infinite (a challenge, in my opinion, for historical events that overly emphasize sociocultural factors).

Civ the franchise clearly takes a deterministic, even teleological, perspective on history and historical change. As a cultural artifact of 21st-century America that makes sense, since our society and politics is suffused with such thinking ("the arc of the moral universe is long, but bends towards justice," for example, is a very popular expression of a teleological worldview). The debate over who and what counts as a "civilization" reflects this thinking, because it presupposes timeless coherence that never really was. People will never agree on the definition, not only because of the wide diversity of human existence, but because it reflects our own era in a way that is impossible to map onto the past in a way that makes sense for all times and places. Someone will always be able to raise an objection.

Also, something to think about, culture is not purely human. It's also something seen in many animal groups and been shown to be transmissible across generations. Culture, in that sense, probably predates homo sapiens as a species. Hmm, maybe there is a primordial, timeless thread throughout history then...
 
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Two comments on your Anglo-Saxon civ thing :

From a historical perspective Anglo-Saxon is only applicable to a limited period of Early English history, and even in that limited role the term is currently falling out of favor. It ended long (several hundred years) before English colonization began. By the time Australia had been founded, it was English (an amalgam of various Germanic tribes including Angle, Saxon and others, Celtic tribes and Roman and Normand influences), not Angle, or Saxon or Anglo-Saxon, and even later British culture that was current, and that was exported to the colonies (as a matter of fact, there's a good case to be made that Canada's "English" side is as much Scottish and Irish as it is English so definitely not Anglo-Saxon). So calling it Anglo-Saxon civilization is nonsense. Anglo-American civilization is actually a far better term to represent how modern English-language culture is as much American as it is English. If Anglo-Saxon culture was made into a civ it would be weird civ that focus on England in the late first millenium CE only.

The only use of Anglo-Saxon that includes the colonies is as a ethnic/racial supremacist term, when it was used to set people of English origin as separate and above even their European peers. I trust I don't need to explain why that should not be used. It's like a civ called the Caucasian civ.

Two, Canada is a hybrid of English and French. It merges elements of both, and is part of neither. So no, it can't just be lumped into English/British civilization. And it's not like the game hides this or focuses on the English side: in-game Canada has a French-Canadian leader who says half his line in French and has a theme tune made of two tradiitional French Canadian songs (O Canada was a French Canadian anthem long before it became the anthem for all of Canada) . Question whether colonial nations really belong in the game all you want, and I agree that's a fair question, but the French-Canadian erasure that keeps showing up whenever someone wants to criticize colonial civs is really getting old.


(And three, if you think America is the only colony to have developed its own culture...LOL. No.)
I'm not sure if you were referring to me or not but the term Anglo-Saxon was never used in either of our posts. Just the word Anglo-to denote the experiences with English speaking people. Using the term Anglophone might have been better.

I do agree with your second point about Canada.
 

Evie

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No, both were in response to Krajzen saying :

Australia, Canada and England all in the same game (you could quite convincingly argue this is essentially one Anglo - Saxon civilization in a wider sense, even if you discounted America from this group on the basis of its distinctiveness)
 

reddishrecue

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That last one too, lol? I mean, Canada literally has two official languages, French and English, reflecting its mixed heritage, which is an easily verifiable matter of public record, but, sure, if you really want to doubt that…
Ohh.. interesting..
 
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