In a process called diffusion, people of any one culture may copy from those of another rather than constantly "reinventing" ideas and technologies. They copy things as diverse as pots, plants, plans, books, and automobiles; the techniques for constructing or replicating such artifacts; institutions, whether ecclesiastical, managerial, ceremonial, military, or economic; and ideas or complexes of ideas, including religious beliefs and political ideologies. In the process they transform these things, sometimes beyond recognition. How important, then, are these diffusion processes in determining the overall shape of cultures? Under what conditions do they operate? When will they be resisted?
This volume offers exciting multidisciplinary perspectives on the questions of diffusionism and its critiques. Well-known scholars from the fields of geography, anthropology, and sociology consider the spread and modification of ideas and material culture over space and time.