Friday, September 11, 2009

Blog Commentary 1 – Shaquel Smith

    The first 101 pages of "Before European Hegemony" written by Janet L. Abu-Lughod, is basically a novel of descriptive insider on The World System from A.D. 1250-1350. This period was a critical time slot in the development and idealistic of a world system. The second half of the thirteenth century was indeed a remarkable moment in world history. This introduction of the time period gave us (the readers) a basis in the understanding of what a world system is and how to understand the basics of formation. A world system is basically a system or redistribution of goods and services from the periphery to the core. Abu-Lughod uses the example of the thirteenth century to define if it is a world system or not. One of the main factors during the thirteenth century was the trade market. By the 1250 trade had been developing from the northeastern parts of Europe to China. The trading system involved a wide variety of merchant communities from all around the world. Various points in the globe participated in the trade movement simply because it was needed and the goods that were traded had value both as an export and an import.

    As previously stated, the foundation of a world system includes the redistribution of goods from the periphery to the core. I find it particularly interesting the role of the periphery. The dependency theory states that core countries need the periphery countries to stay relatively undeveloped. This fact truly beguiles and confuses me. I understand that it is important for a country to prosper, however, the "core" countries used their so-called dominance to determine the fate of the smaller, underdeveloped periphery countries. One interesting fact that I came across within the reading was that Europe was considered the periphery of the world system. That opinion was a bold prediction of the past made by Abu-Lughod. The idea of Europe being a periphery is solely standard through the Black Death idea. The Black Death epidemic thought to be started in Asia and spread its way to the rest of the world. Therefore, was Europe truly a periphery? Europe was the center of the World System trading markets and home to many of the subsystems of the world system. Lack of raw products and inability to dominate and influence was definitely a problem for Europe. Despite the various problems, Europe was still able to function and maintain economic power withstanding this time period.

    One of the most interesting ideas within the reading was the Champagne Fairs. The periodic market was one of the withstanding aspects in the city. In periodic markets, merchants bring goods to customers at regular intervals. Merchants managed and oversaw the production and transportation of goods. Each market city was equipped with area for the sellers to set up stalls and stands where consumers could trade and buy goods. Market day was filled with excitement and festivity. The idea of a market is important because it allowed the people to be entertained and the money to go around simultaneously. The fact that the market day for merchants war usually cheap on the money, is staggering because those financial aspects established many credit and fiscal opportunity.

    In retrospect, the thirteenth century was a period where a world system was developing. The development of this world system depended on trade, communication and power. Europe is considered the weak link in the world system. Despite that, I believe that Europe played a vital and important part of the world system. The dependency theory is falsehood and I believe that categorizing powers and utilizing the ideas of superiority is completely biased during that time period. The subsystems within the world system were vital to the formation of valid trade and a classic system, The World System of A.D. 1250-1350.

-Shaq Smith

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