The Historical Geography of Globalization
What are the antecedents to modern globalization?
When, how and why did the economy go global?
“The World is Ten Years Old”
“It was born when the Wall fell in 1989…many world markets are only
recently freed…the spread of free markets and democracy around the world
is permitting more people everywhere to turn their aspirations into
achievements. And technology…has the power to erase not just
geographical borders but also human ones”
Merrill Lynch advertisement, Oct 11, 1998
But, wait a moment...
• Did globalization just begin in 1989?
• Has it no history?
• Are there no antecedents?
The expansionist civilizations:
Greek and Roman Empires
• long-distance exploration
• innovation and trade
• war and conquest
• land clearance and irrigation
• first cities
7th - 13th centuries
Early global economy based on trade across Asia, Africa and much of
Europe. Also known as the Islamic Renaissanec – artists, engineers,
scholars, poets, philosophers, geographers and traders – which spread the
influence of Islamic knowledge and commerce. 2
The Rise of Global Capitalism
Begins to emerge at the end of the 15 century
What is capitalism?
Economic system based on a free market, open competition, profit motive
and private ownership of the means of production (private property), and
the exploitation of the surplus values of land (resources) and labour.
See also see Sach’s definition – read his article about the rise of global
Stages and ages of global capitalism
1. Age of exploration, encounter and conquest by European
countries, notable England, Holland, Spain, Portugal: 15th-19th
centuries - new lands, colonization, exploitation of resources, trade in
commodities, e.g. silver, gold, sugar, cotton …,
2. Age of Enlightenment:
• Intellectual and artistic liberation
• Scientific invention and discovery
• New philosophies, e.g. of human relations with nature
• New technologies
• More exploration and trade
How much were these really ages of “discovery” and “enlightenment”
• Slavery and indentured labour (the first great global diaspora)
In 18th century Britain shipped 2 million slaves from west Africa to
the western hemisphere: 400,000 to America, 1.6 m. to the Caribbean
Portugal shipped 2m. to Brazil.
• Destruction of indigenous civilizations, through war, but especially
the introduction of European diseases like smallpox and measles.
• Imposition of European culture and political systems
• Displacement of subsistence agriculture by commercial plantations
• Resource degradation – deforestation, soil erosion 3
This age produced