Eric Hobsbawm, in The Age of Empire talks about an entirely different period of the global economy than Abu-Lughod in Before European Hegemony. He talks about the period between and around the 17th and 18th centuries, a period where much of the industrialization occurred specifically in Europe. Industrialization aided all aspects of life and changed the way trade worked in the world. The world was “now genuinely global,” one was able to travel places that normally took months in weeks due to advancements in railways and steamships (13). These advancements changed the meaning on exploration. In the past people explored to find new land, but during these centuries exploration turned to competition. The telegraph was also invented during this period, which helped make the world more global. After all these advancements there was a major collapse in the 1870’s, in which agriculture massively suffered. Countries affected most by the spur in industry moved farther and farther away from agriculture, and these countries that moved away mostly became the core countries in world trade. The economic crises during these periods created a major gap between wealthy and poor nations. If a nation could afford technologic advancements, their production and wealth grew exponentially. Hobsbawm then transitioned into the pre-war period (the time between 1875 and 1914) a time known as the “age of empire.” It was during this period that the colonial empire was created, and the state gained in power “at home and abroad.” Imperialists during this period was a positive term, but recently it has developed a negative connotation.
The development of words over time, and how their connotations change is something very interesting to me. Thus the change in the term and meaning of being an imperialist interests me. Another thing I found interesting in this weeks readings is that during the competitions to different places on earth, it was an American who won the race to the North Pole. It was just a really cool fact.
What I would like to know is why in general the countries that became more industrialized became core countries. Countries need farmers, and need agriculture and food, so one would think that the countries with a strong agriculture base would have power in the world system. Please help me figure this out.