Thursday, October 1, 2009

Hobsbawm 1

The Age of Empire first takes look at the changing global scene of the 19th-20th centuries. By utilizing increased infrastructure, and advanced transportation (steamships, railroads,) the world began "shrinking," opening opportunities for industries that previously did not exist, such as tourism. This also resulted in a renewed interest in exploration, leading to expeditions to the Poles, led by brave men like Sir Edmund Hillary.

During this time we also saw a huge influx in human population, leading to various divisions through expanding areas. Certain regions advanced very quickly, while others were relatively trapped in previous eras. As science and research greatly accelerated, this only expanded the division as only the wealthy nations could afford such advances. This even more created the hegemony we previously discussed in class. In this case, the 19th century was distinctly European.

While I agree that most of the wealth and power was localized to Europe, I have to question if the whole continent can be classified as a power source. Perhaps the Germanic tribes, or British Empire would be a better representation of the times. There were certainly very decrepit areas, particularly in Eastern Europe, who did not have advantage of the American/African trade the West had.

I would like to know what other factors caused (and continue to cause) Eastern Europe to lag behind. The communist block did not really take full power until post WWI. So what explains their slow ascent in the world scene?


  1. Your analysis of the continent of Europe as a source for power is an interesting one. It is smart to consider the continent as its component parts, and then dissect its political and economic progress. Perhaps I can offer a possible explanation for Russia's slower development. At this point all of the power in trade and politics belonged to the nations with strong navies such as Britain, an island. The Siberian nations were completely landlocked.


  2. I have been wondering the same thing. what caused the countries that lagged to fall behind so much. I liked how you tied it back to the hegemony that we have discussed. I believe part of it was also that they were less involved in industrialization, and while Eastern Europe has a large population, it is also more agricultural. As a whole, the countries which were mainly agriculture lagged behind those with many advancements in technology. I also agree with the comment above, that access to water was vital to become powerful and stay largely influential in trade.

    -Justine H.