Academia[ edit ] The 13th century world-system. Her teaching career began at the University of Illinois , took her to the American University in Cairo , Smith College , and Northwestern University , where she taught for twenty years and directed several urban studies programmes. In Abu-Lughod was a director of research for the American Society of Planning Officials, in — research associate at the University of Pennsylvania , consultant and author for the American Council to Improve Our Neighborhoods. In addition, she argued that the "rise of the West," beginning with the intrusion of armed Portuguese ships into the relatively peaceful trade networks of the Indian Ocean in the 16th century, was not a result of features internal to Europe, but was made possible by a collapse in the previous world system. Abu-Lughod in her works approaches the social and economic development of global cities with the commitment to seeing and acting on possibilities for constructive social change.
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Shelves: steppe-history , website-widget Much-cited. Turns out there was nothing to be afraid of: quite an easy read for the curious.
Sep 10, Dewey rated it it was ok In Before European Hegemony, Janet Abu-Lughod questions the assumption that European dominance in the 16th century occurred by necessity.
By assessing regional power and influence, Abu-Lughod proves that between and the East and the West equaled one another in economic strength. The shift of power to the West in subsequent centuries occurred not because of factors predetermined by Western dominance, but rather because the Eastern system left a vacuum of power that European countries In Before European Hegemony, Janet Abu-Lughod questions the assumption that European dominance in the 16th century occurred by necessity.
The shift of power to the West in subsequent centuries occurred not because of factors predetermined by Western dominance, but rather because the Eastern system left a vacuum of power that European countries were able to exploit. Through examination of three different global subsystems of Eurasia, Abu-Lughod shows that the economies of the Middle East and Asia were more advanced than their European counterparts.
The most important analysis of Before European Hegemony shows that no single hegemon existed in the thirteenth century, nor did hierarchical relationships exist between economic systems. Instead, economies and trade routes developed around seven different regions with varying peripheral systems developing around the core.
The second section of the book examines three Middle-Eastern trade routes and shows the impact Mongolian unification had on trade and the location that allowed the routes to become centers of the core system.
The discussion ends with China, whose advanced technology, well-developed use of paper money, and strong sea presence granted it ability to link trade along the north-south axis prior to the arrival of the plague.
The author discredits previous Eurocentric ideas by proving that Europe did not have a monopoly on economic development and that European dominance did not occur a priori because of European superiority. Abu-Lughod strives to refute ideas like the European miracle and successfully shows that the East at a minimum rivaled the West in trade prior to the 16th century.
The introduction states that by looking at the world as it enfolded, rather than a regressive chain of effects and their causes, one can separate what happened from what necessarily happened. Yet, the end-result is the same; Europe did develop hegemony after the onset of the black plague. To argue that it did not happen necessarily or could have happened differently is recursive. The author admits as much in stating that the Portuguese were brutally violent when arriving on the Indian Ocean.
These factors, while not unique to only Europe, did give it a head start. By many measurements China stood as the most advanced region before the plague began. The book overcomes the potential problems of weak data, unreliable testimony, and lack of perspective. However, in the passionate defense against European superiority, Abu-Lughod fails to credit Europe with the characteristics that allowed it to take advantage of the vacuum left by the dissolution of Asian economic power.
Overall, that the Eurocentric ideas the book argues against have been largely discredited speaks to the success of its arguments.
Before European Hegemony: The World System A.D. 1250-1350