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Before European Hegemony: The World System A.D. 1250-1350by Janet L. Abu-lughod
Synopses & Reviews
By the end of the thirteenth century the regions of Europe, the Middle East, the Indian Ocean area, and China were becoming integrated--through activities in an archipelago of cities located along major land and sea routes--into a world system of commerce and production, albeit one in which Europe still played a minor role. This book traces the formation of the system and explores how the Black Death, circa 1350, and the subsequent isolation of China under the Ming dynasty interrupted its further development. Abu-Lughod argues that demographic, geographic, and political factors, rather than any unique qualities of Western capitalism or "personality," account for the eventual triumph of "the West" during the ensuing period of six hundred years, and suggests that current transformations in the world system may signal the end of this aberrant phase of world history.
In this important study, Abu-Lughod presents a groundbreaking reinterpretation of global economic evolution, arguing that the modern world economy had its roots not in the sixteenth century, as is widely supposed, but in the thirteenth century economy--a system far different from the European world system which emerged from it. Using the city as the working unit of analysis, Before European Hegemony provides a new paradigm for understanding the evolution of world systems by tracing the rise of a system that, at its peak in the opening decades of the 14th century, involved a vast region stretching between northwest Europe and China. Writing in a clear and lively style, Abu-Lughod explores the reasons for the eventual decay of this system and the rise of European hegemony.
Includes bibliographical references (p. -427) and index.
About the Author
Janet L. Abu-Lughod is Professor of Sociology at Northwestern University (Emeritus)
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