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Isolation and Contact

Societies located at world crossroads have always been centers of change. Since most new traits come through diffusion, those societies in closest contact with other societies are likely-to change most rapidly. In ancient
times of overland transport, the land bridge connecting Asia, Africa, and Europe was the center of civilizing change. Later, sailing vessels shifted the center to the fringes of the Mediterranean Sea, and still later to the northwest coast of Europe. Areas of greatest intercultural contact are the centers of change,  War and trade have always brought intercultural contact contact, and today tourism is adding to the contacts  between cultures' [Greenwood, 1972]. Conversely, isolated areas are centers of stability, conservatism, and resistance to change. Almost without exception, the most primitive tribes have been those who were the most isolated, like the polar Eskimos or the Aranda of Central Australia, Even among "civilized" peoples, Isolation brings cultural stability. The most "backward" .American  groups have been found in the in accessible hills and valleys of the Appalachians [Sherman and Henry, 1933; Surface, 1970).
Leyburn (1935) has shown how European groups. who migrated to remote, isolated frontiers often retained many features of their native culture long after they had been discarded  by their parent society, Thus, by the nineteenth century, the social life of the Boersin t e South African Transvaal resembled the life of the seventeenth-century Dutch more than that of the nineteenth-century Dutch in the Netherlands. Ethnic. enclaves, whose isolation is social and voluntary rather than geographic, show a similar conservatism, whether it be Americans in Spain (Nash, 1967), Amish in America [Hostettler, 1964), or Tristan Islanders in England (Munch, 1964, 1970). Isolation invariably retards social change.