In the week’s reading, Abu- Lughod examines European, Middle Eastern, and Far Eastern segments of the world system. The readings begin explaining the Middle Eastern system which was known for the hosting the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea, which were significant trade routes. The Persian Gulf was characterized by calm seas, various land-access points because its route was so near the coastline, and more so, the land route was shorter than most other routes were. The Persian Gulf was favored over any other route and Egypt wielded much power, influence, and wealth. Later, the Red Sea became the dominant trade route in the area because economic downturn in the Persian Gulf gave way to India’s rise. This major change affected all three segments of the world system as the Middle East was responsible for getting goods from Eastern Asia to Europe and European goods to Asia. In the world system India was most important when it came to exporting rather than importing. India had been self-sufficient and really only gained a place in the trading system because of its essential location.
One of the things I found most interesting in this week’s reading was India’s stance in the global society. It is interesting to me how India had so much power and money being flushed into it. The fact that India did not take it to the next level; hegemony, is something very unique to India. I think it says something about India’s culture, goals, and values. It seems as though India did not want to emerge and a hegemony because they were contempt with the position they were in, which was still controlling the world trade, and therefore the world system. India preferred to stay on top peacefully rather than toil with war, retaliation, and unrest. It is clear that cultural ideals did affect India’s platoonic rise to power; contradictory to Europe, India valued peace (maybe above wealth and status).
What I want to know, after reading these latest chapters, what would the world be like today, and how would history be different if India had reached its full potential (sea power, or hegemony). Its possible India could have been colonizing the world rather than be colonized- then again, with their peaceful ideals, maybe not. Its an interesting subject, regardless.