What concepts (culture, religion) are important for analysis and how does the author define these concepts?

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Culture and religion (itself an important part of culture) are indeed categories for analysis in The Embarrassment of Riches. In fact, the book is fundamentally an examination of Dutch culture in a particular historical moment: the so-called "Golden Age" following Dutch independence from Spain in the late sixteenth century....

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Culture and religion (itself an important part of culture) are indeed categories for analysis in The Embarrassment of Riches. In fact, the book is fundamentally an examination of Dutch culture in a particular historical moment: the so-called "Golden Age" following Dutch independence from Spain in the late sixteenth century. Generally, Schama is describing something that historians call "mentalités," the collective mindset of the Dutch people. This is really what he means by "culture," which, quoting Emile Durkheim, he characterizes as the "collective or common conscience." For Schama, then, "culture" does not just include high art. It encompasses religion, human geography, economics, the family, and other aspects of life. He analyzes these different aspects of Dutch life, concluding that Dutch mentalité is shaped by such factors as their Calvinist faith, the precariousness of their existence as a low-lying region, their obsession with physical space, and above all the vast material wealth that flooded the country in the seventeenth century. So, "culture" is a category of analysis that includes a number of different facets.

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