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What Makes a Civilization?

Discussion in 'Civ6 - General Discussions' started by AaronTBD, Oct 18, 2020.

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  1. SMcM

    SMcM Emperor

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    One approach Firaxis seems to use for representing large modern countries is equating them with related historical states- so calling Majapahit 'Indonesia' (which seems reasonable enough), and claiming in civilopedia that the Democratic Republic of Kongo is a successor to the Kingdom of Kongo (complete nonsense). Although they don't do that always, Siam is famous in it's own right so they don't call the civilization Thailand in Civ 5.

    I do agree it would be a bit bizarre to see most modern countries as civilizations. Australia and Canada I could take or leave tbh, especially Canada given it's proximity to America, but what those two do at least have going for them is a relatively high level of cultural unity. Most modern African countries are not plausible as civilizations at all I feel however. Some of the tribes within them and historical kingdoms that existed in those regions would be very interesting additions however.
     
  2. GenyaArikado

    GenyaArikado Judge of Love

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    If they have a name, they are civs to me. Not all of them work for the game concept tho
     
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  3. lotrmith

    lotrmith King

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    To me, after some consideration, a Civilization in-game, and perhaps also historically, is simply a group of people or peoples with a distinct, shared culture (and this is dependent on POV).

    Political identity need not apply, as though it is certain useful, it is not always the case. For example, the Maori or Indonesia have among themselves sufficiently distinct cultures (at least from a western POV) but were politically divided and wared amongst eachother all the time. Except where, for example, the political identity is part of the culture, such as the Iroquois (Civ 5).
     
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2020
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  4. sukritact

    sukritact Artist and Modder

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    I’m seeing the word tribe and chief used a lot, and I urge everyone to be careful using those terms. They are often levelled uncritically and unfairly against Amerindians and African.

    Like, I’ve seen people talk about the Swahili Tribe, which is like, excuse me? They were largely Islamic urban merchants? And then come the weird cases where no one can really say why we still use the term chief, cultures like Benin and the Akan variously get their leaders and kingdoms labelled Kings and Kingdoms, or Chiefs and Paramount Chieftaincies depending on the author. But why? They operated empires that spanned multiple settled cities! The Iroquois are a multi-national confederation and their elected leader is still a chief? Where does chief end and king begin?
     
  5. 8housesofelixir

    8housesofelixir King

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    Another example from East Asia about why the words "tribe" and "chief" can be misleading:

    When Qing officials and scholars first encountered the United States as a political entity in the early 1800s, they couldn't tell what this "State" means, as they have no idea about Federalism or Republicanism.
    Therefore these scholar-officials translated "states" as "tribes" (buluo 部落), recorded that each "tribe" was led by a "chief", and translated George Washington's title as "General Chieftain" (qiuzong 酋總). (See Wei Yuan's Haiguo Tuzhi.)

    As a result, they created a "United Tribes of America" led by a "Chieftain" George Washington.

    The word "tribe" or 部落 in a context like this basically means "a political system that is different from us and looks very uncivilized from our perspective so we just choose this general word".
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2020
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  6. Zaarin

    Zaarin Chief Medical Officer, DS9

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    Speaking from an anthropological perspective, though, the Iroquois did not have a chief and certainly did not have a king. Like I mentioned above, the concept of centralized authority--arguably, the concept of authority, full stop--was antithetical to their world view. They were appalled by Europeans' hierarchical societies. In technical terminology, a "chief" implies a less centralized level of authority than a "king" (and from an anthropological perspective many Medieval kings were really chiefs). Also worth noting that many European explorers did call Native American leaders kings--and at the same time these were often individuals who couldn't coerce their own village into acting against their will, let alone command entire nations. So from the perspective of Native American studies, the term "king" sounds suspiciously Eurocentric in many situations.

    That being said, Champlain was outraged when Iroquoian headmen consistently insisted they were equal to the King of France. :lol:
     

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