Friday, October 2, 2009

Blog 4

(Sorry for the late post... I got the times mixed up. It's Friday at 10 and Saturday at 5, not the other way around...)

I am happy to be done with the 13th century!  This week our reading introduced the 19th century before World War I, the world of imperialism.  It begins with the centennial of the American and French Revolutions, describing the massive increase in technology, allowing for a more connected world (via steamboats, the telegraph, and train systems).  During this time, countries worked together to advance the human race as a whole, instead of our current competitive nature.  However, it did not take long for the world system to become competitive, causing an imperialistic world.  With colonial expansion came feelings of European supremacy.  Europeans looked down on less developed nations, not respecting other cultures.  What imperialism did was westernize the world.

It is interesting to look at the European hegemons in contrast to the 13th century when the East was certainly more dominant.  The world we are reading about now is very similar to the world we currently live in, where the world system is dominated by western culture. 

I’d be interested to see what the American part is in the imperialist world.  Thus far, America has not been mentioned in the reading too much.  What was the US’s role in this world so different than the 13th century?

--Arielle Parris


  1. In the 13th century America was irrelevant. In the 1800's though it was fighting to make it onto the world market scene but within the next 50 years American exports exploded onto the world scene. Especially with cotton. The cotton produce in America in 1859 consisted of about 50% of all of American exports.

  2. Until the British and French developed permanent colonies in the beginnings of the 17th century, North America was isolated from the rest of the world system. The sailing and navigational technology for such long journeys simply didn't exist.
    America's role in the world system of the 1800's was essentially the young upstart as Sarah describes. As a country founded in 1776, we were essentially the "baby" of the international system. Just think, Italy had been trading with places like Egypt, the Middle East and China since before Europeans even travelled to America. As for the 1800's in addition to cotton exports, America began to transform itself from an almost entirely agricultural society to an industrial power. In New England especially, mills and factories began to produce massive quantities of textiles and other regions began producing steel and other goods, for use at home and as exports. This industrial power would be critical to winning the world wars, which is truly the point in which America truly became a world hegemon. So the development during the 1800's provided the base for America's later international dominance.