Friday, September 11, 2009

Commentary 1

In the couple of chapters of Before European Hegemony, Janet L. Abu-Lughod takes the reader through an explanation of the different sorts of countries and how they interacted through the world trade from 1200-1300. She goes on to explain the difference between the countries. Core countries are more developed and industrialized and usually dominate other countries. The opposite are Periphery countries who are underdeveloped and poor and instead of dominating other countries, they are dominated by others. There is also a category in the middle known as the semi-periphery countries who are in the process of developing and industrializing, and dominate as well as submit. During the time period of 1200-1300, the Pax Mongolica was dominant. Trade between the three big countries of Europle, the Middle East, and China connected different regional systems and spread each individual culture of the country along the trading routes.

One of the observations I made was how different the trading style was back then than it is now. It seems like in today's hectic society, most people are preoccupied with speed rather than quality. Everything is about efficiency and along the way of pursuing instant gratification, quality is lost. During the trading period back then, everything was about exploration and discoeries of new and exciting things. Trade by ship took months and years as opposed to mere days in today's society, and things were savored and appreciated much more by their caliber of production rather than the speed at which they were produced.

Another thing that I learned was the effect the Black Death on the spread of globalization and the course of trading. I had learned a lot about the Black Plague before, analyzing statistics and going in to detail abotu the actual disease and the viral logistics, but I had never before considered what such a massive pandemic (killing up to an overwhelming 60% of the world's population) would do to trade. I think Abu-Lughod did a very clear and efficient job explaining it and its devastating effects both on the human condition and on globalization in general.

Yet another item I found interesting was in the second part of the reading that concerned how the economic system got started. It was enlightening to see the roots of today's current economic system, including mortgage and down payments, start so early in history. When global trade really began to pick up, larger merchants also set up their lots. Consequently, a primitive credit and banking system was created through the rising need of currency.

-Helena Li

1 comment:

  1. Your comparison between the speed and supposed lack or care in today's trading society and the slower pace and supposed higher quality of today's global trade system is quite interesting. You reasoned that because the trade system took longer, as goods were slowly shipped across oceans or trails that the goods were of a higher caliber and therefore were appreciated to a higher extent. However, in both the trade environment of today and of the thirteenth century, money was made through the amount of goods sold. Who is to say that even then, goods where not also manufactured with the cheapest materials possible, and a quickly as possible, to guarantee the highest amount of profit yielded? The market has not changed as much as one would think, even as out methods of trade and consumption have.