Thursday, September 10, 2009

European Hegemony

I think Janet L. Abu-Lughod brings up a lot of interesting points in explaining the history and facts that lead to Europe hegemony. She does a great job making clear that she will not argue, but will inform us with why certain historical changes influenced global outcomes economically, religiously, and superiorly. She knows that the amount of trade going on during the 12th and 13th century is nothing compared to today, but when compared to other times around those centuries something had to occur that lead to increase in globalization. Abu begins describing some similarities and differences that lead to such conclusions. One similarity that Abu points out is the invention or backing of money and credit by the city-states and wealthy merchants. This is a large step for any society to take, and Abu’s second point helps push this with the advent of mechanisms, instruments, and means for accruing capital while being able to understand the risks. One of the differences she explains how the Orient fell behind simply because of the loss of control by peace keepers. Also, the spread of the Black Death by sea ports is a tremendous influence in dividing the east and the west. Finally, Abu points out an important part of this with religion and the Crusades.
I believe it is hard for Abu to go into great detail yet, but I hope some of the interesting points that will elaborated will be the how societies locally and globally accepted and trusted a form of currency. I do not know much about the origins of currency and credit and it is something that interests me. It seems like it would be very difficult to employ a system that is still questioned today. Especially, when the transactions of goods and services could take months, years, or even decades. I would find it very hard for me to invest in a shipping industry when I would have no idea for months if the goods or services have reached customers or if it is lying on the bottom of the ocean. I guess at some point something had to occur in order for the trust to be gained. I would also like Abu to discuss more about the Age of Discovery and who gained the advantages and who fell behind. I feel the Age of Discovery is a very influential time period as Abu describes the loss of belief in the church and scriptures as science and math begin to discredit the church. From this new areas were explored, ideas were spread, and inventions lead to part of the exponential growth that was about to happen.
One question Abu asks is if there was an increase in trade in the 13th century, did it unite the large amount of developing areas? I wonder if it was the uniting of the areas that increased trade, or if it was the increase in trade that united the areas. It seems they come hand and hand and in order to have one you have to have the other. This is an interesting argument because it always makes me think about pirates and how we still have them today. How can a global economy thrive if areas are scared to transport their goods and services because of the fear of loss to the repressed tyrants? Abu brings up the loss of Genghis Khan’s protection over trade route regions to subdivisions which disrupted many sea and land routes. I feel like events like this are reasons why no world system is global and until we can gain control with trust and protection of all areas and people, we will never have a true world system. I just wonder if it could ever happen during my lifetime. "Gotta get that silk road"


  1. I had not put much thought into the amount of trust people must have had during this time. But now that you mention it, people waited for months or even at times years before they saw results and yet the system not only worked but was a success. I also enjoyed reading your point about whether increasing trade united countries or uniting countries increased trade. Initially, i thought the obvious, increased trade united the countries, but now I think it is the other way around because the connection has to be made before trade or any exchanges can be made.

    --Dorothy "Bunny" Smith,

  2. Agreed. This puts the perfect perspective on trust. I think even today however you have to put trust in the product you ship. Think of trucking and rail lines. The point you raise about never have a world market system. I believe you have lost faith my friend. We are all standing on the shoudlers of a past. If we continue to work towards it, soon it will happen, but i think the truth is, it will never last. All in all good post, Trust me like they trusted those ships!! "Gotta get that silk road"