In“Before Europeon Hegemony” Janet Abu-Lughon argues that between the 13th and 16th centuries no culture obtained hegemony over others. Lughod focuses her argument on three areas; Europe, Middle East, and the Orient. Although Europe clearly dominated the other cultures in the 16th century there was no clear hegemony prior. In the 13th century these three areas achieved “cultural maturity” in many aspects. Lughod focuses on the 13th century because this is the time period that global markets matured and truly developed. Although world markets existed to a small extent prior to the 13th century this is where Lughod decides to trace European dominance since this is when international trade grew and countries made advancements in the arts, technology, and trade. Lughod explains “Europe pulled ahead because the Orient was temporarily in disarray” due to the fall of the Mongol empire and Genghis Khan, other reasons are hard to point out.
I found it incredibly interesting how three cultures are equal in strength and dominance yet decline in three centuries to a point where European dominance becomes evident. The Middle East and Asia were more advanced in many ways yet still declined by the 16th century. It is also fascinating how many more similarities than differences existed between these regions. These similarities include invention of a currency, mechanisms for pooling capital, and wealthy merchants who could fund trade expeditions.
Although there is still a good portion of the book to read in which I anticipate Lughod to go more indepth to the reasoning behind Europeon hegemony, I would have liked her to elaborate more in the portion I have read so far. I would like to know more reasons for why Europe achieved dominance and how they ended up in a position of hegemony. I liked how descriptive Lughod was in explaining how the markets in Europe were set up, I thought she did a great job in explaing how the 13th century markets operated and were set