One point that came up a few times at the Human Rights Conference I was attending this weekend was that some American Indians had been acculturated into the emerging American culture and economy, but from 1890-1940, most were stripped of their property and wealth and sent to reservations. African Americans on the path to the middle class often lost their jobs to the European immigrants of this era. I heard this primarily from James Loewen, but also my brilliant colleague Kelly Sassi.
A similar pattern was being played out in Africa--the imperialist Europeans were exploiting the people, stripping of them of wealth they had, and stealing their resources.
So, in addition to Jared Diamond's ambitious explanation of why some parts of the world developed more quickly than others, and why some populations acquired more wealth than others, it struck me today that "stealing" might have been almost as significant a factor as steel (and in fact the two are related).
Hmmm, that seems like the first note for a choral mediation, a first note for a new MEmorial.