This week, Abu-Lughod talks about the history of trade from the Mongols to the Cairo region, the Indian Ocean to China. What I found especially interesting was how she stressed interconnection throughout that time period, and even more interesting, how there was no one, defined world power, no single world hegemony. She describes the possible candidates for the spot, though: China and India.
India was in the perfect position to become a world hegemony. It was the bottleneck and bridge between the two different parts of the Indian Ocean, the Eastern and the Western. Therefore, this meant that a large majority of traders had to move through India to accomplish their trade routes, therefore leaving much much rich, cultural residue in India and also providing it with an economical boost. Trading was highly crucial back then and therefore having control over basically an entire trade route put India in a very powerful position. But, even so, India did not take its chance in becoming a world hegemony. Even though they were powerful, they held no desire to expand. India was very content with their situation and had no desire, need, or will to fend off the troubles that would come with being a world hegemony. Subsequently, the Black Death arrived and with the onslaught of other economic problems, India lost their opportunity.
China also had the opportunity to rise and become a world hegemony, but due to a number of reasons, it did not. It had the perfect opportunity too, but at the end of the day, it did not have the desire to become so powerful of an influence in the trading world. This made me wonder, though. Why exactly did China withdraw? It had all the promise and hopes of becoming a world power, with military power that no one could compete with, solid economic foundations and technological advances that no other country at the time could even come close to. Why then, did China back down?