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Lecture 2

Week 2 Lecture 1 GEOG 2200 2013 Notes.docx

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Carleton University
GEOG 2200
John Milton

Page1GEOG 2200 Global ConnectionsJohn Milton Instructor SeptemberDecember 2013Week 2Lecture 1 The Making of the Modern World Connections through HistoryGeography and history are intimately bound together Geographies do not appear overnight they reflect processes that take years even centuries to unfold It is very fair to argue that the present is produced out of the pastSo lets step back in time Last week I introduced the role played by trade routes and how more than just goods moved along these routesFeudal Europe was the western terminus of a much larger world system that stretched across the Mediterranean the Middle East the Indian Ocean and into Asia This network was provided some stability by flourishing centres of civilization For example straddling the centre of this network were the Caliphates residing in Damascus and Bagdad who guaranteed safe passage between the two worlds of the Mediterranean and Indian Ocean And further to the east were the Sung dynasty and the Middle KingdomAlong the Silk Road a term coined by Ferdinand von Richthofen in 1877 there flowed caravans of goods innovations ideas and peoplemissionaries adventurers merchants and armies For 2000 years the Silk Road formed the primary artery of Eurasian trade linking ports trading cities oases and hundreds of culturesEurope benefitted greatly from this flow From China came jade paper the compass gunpowder printing porcelain lacquer ware silk pearls peaches apricots citrus fruits and almonds Today we are going to concentrate on one question Why Europe This involves taking a ththsomewhat wild gallop through European history from the 13 century up to the mid18 century in the hope of answering that question It will take us through several key events in European th history from the first stirrings of the transition from feudalism to merchant capitalism in the 13ththcentury through the creation of the European worldsystem in the 16 and 17 centuries to the thprotoindustrialization period of the early 18 century that lay the foundations for the Industrial Revolution But please keep in mind that this is a wild gallopThe Global Conditions for ExpansionBut before we do so lets consider the circumstances that existed in the second half of the thirteenth century that created the essential conditions for expanding global connections and particularly connections between China India and Europe in the century to come Janet AbuLughod 198834 in her delightful albeit drearily scholarly titled book Before European Hegemony The World System AD 12501350 sets out these circumstances beautify in the opening three paragraphsThe second half of the thirteenth century was a remarkable moment in world history Never before had so many regions of the Old world come in contact with one anotheralbeit still only superficially At the beginning of the Christian era the Roman and Chinese empires had been in indirect contact but the connections between them declined when both empires fragmented In the seventh and eighth centuries Islam unified many parts of the central region that lay between the European and Chinese extremities reaching out in both directions but the peripheral areas of this reviving Page2world economy still remained relatively isolated from one another By the eleventh and even more twelfth century many parts of the Old World began to become integrated into a system of exchange from which all apparently benefited The apogee of this cycle came between the end of the thirteenth and the first decades of the fourteenth century by which time Europe and China had established direct if decidedly limited contact with each otherThe thirteenth century was remarkable in another way In region after region there was an efflorescence of cultural and artistic achievement Never before had so many parts of the Old world simultaneously reached cultural maturity In China the most glorious pottery ever produced Sung celadonware was being created and in Persia glowing turquoiseglazed bowls constituted the only serious rival In Mamluk Egypt craftsmen were fashioning elaborate furniture inlaid with complex arabesques of silver and gold and in western Europe cathedral building reached its apex The gemlike stained glass windowadorned Sainte Chapelle of Paris was built in the midthirteenth century just before St Louis departed on crusade The great Hindu temple complexes of south India climaxed at this same period Almost everywhere there was evidence of a surfeit of wealth being devoted to ornamentation and symbolic display The era was equally productive intellectually suggesting that the surplus was used not only to produce things but to support scholars as wellThese two qualities of the thirteenth century increased economic integration and cultural efflorescence were not unrelated Technological and social innovations produced surpluses which were in turn traded internationally to further intensify development Parallel advances in navigation and statecraft facilitated contact among distant societies which generated even more surpluses In all areas prosperityat least at the topyielded high culture and Europe hitherto the least developed region perhaps had the most to gain from the new links being forgedBut first why NOT ChinaWhy was it Europe that emerged as the foci of the world economic system and not China China had roughly the same population as Europe for a long timewell into the fifteenth centuryand was certainly more advanced in science and technology Chinas ironmasters had developed blast furnaces for the casting of iron as early as 200 BC Iron ploughs were created thth in the sixth century The compass was created in the 10 century the water clock in the 11century The Chinese were also far more advanced than the Europeans in terms of medicine papermaking and printing and the production of explosives The nature of their imperial system allowed for central decisionmaking a welldeveloped internal communications system and a unified financial system that were all well suited for economic development and territorial expansion Chinese envoys sailed into the Indian Ocean as early as the late 2nd century BC From 1405 to 1433 large fleets commanded by Admiral Cheng Ho see AbuLughod 1989 He under the auspices of the Yongle Emperor of the Ming Dynasty traveled to the Indian Ocean seven times This however did not lead China to global expansion as the Confucian bureaucracy under next emperor reversed this whole policy and by 1500 it became a capital offence to build a seagoing junk with more than two masts thereby limiting both the size of the vessel and the distance it could travel that is restricting the sailing envelope of the vesselSo why did China not ascend to global dominance militarily politically and philosophically Scholars have presented four arguments One argument was that China failed to take
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