Contingent pathways in Eurasian history. Economic historians and historians of Asia have been deeply involved in a debate with long roots: Why did modern economic development occur first and most consistently in western Europe in the seventeenth century, and why did China not capitalize on its many advantages in the early Qing Dynasty to take the lead? Those advantages included advanced scientific and medical knowledge; extensive population; and an effective central state governing a vast population. There has been a strong case made by a group of historians led by Ken Pomeranz, Bin Wong, and James Lee that this way of characterizing world history embodies a host of misconceptions, including the idea that there is one best pathway to modern economic development (link).
Pomeranz's The Great Divergence: China, Europe, and the Making of the Modern World Economy. and Wong's China Transformed: Historical Change and the Limits of European Experience led the way in this line of thought. The future was to be with cotton, however. Civilisation and savagery at war. An anti-Muslim organisation called the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) has been posting advertisements in support of Israel on buses and trains around the US. One reads in part: "In any war between the civilised man and the savage, support the civilised man". Needless to say, Israel is equated with civilisation.
Savages, according to the AFDI's website, include the Palestinian Authority, the torturers of Gilad Shalit, and all those who wage war on "innocent civilians". Calling your enemy bad names is as old as warfare. King Philip's War (1675 to 76) was one such war, between the Puritan settlers of New England and Algonquian Indians (King Philip was one name used for the Indian leader who began the war). Decoding the "savagery" of the Indians is an instructive exercise. Fighting for existence To begin with, the Indians made a point of going after the religion of the Puritans. When not burning down the Puritans' houses and towns, the Indians went after their crops and cattle. The Eurocentric Conception of World Politics. Western International Theory, 1760–2010 John M. Hobson, University of Sheffield. Eurocentrism and more « The Disorder Of Things. For this fourth post in our symposium on John M.
Hobson’s The Eurocentric Conception of World Politics, TDOT is delighted to welcome a response from Brett Bowden, Associate Professor of History and Political Thought at the University of Western Sydney. The first three posts included an introduction from the author, and responses by TDOT’s Meera and Srdjan. In the next few days we look forward to a response from the author. Let me begin by stating what will soon become obvious: this is not a book review of John Hobson’s The Eurocentric Conception of World Politics.
The earlier posts from Meera and Srdjan have done an admirable job of engaging with the book in greater depth than I intend to here. Given that this is a blog, I will lay my cards on the table upfront – I’m a fan of John Hobson’s work. But I digress. Oswald Spengler (1880-1936) G.W.F. Another concern for the disincline of IR is its tendency to talk to itself to the exclusion of others. Johann Gottfried Herder (1744-1803) The Empire of Civilization: The Evolution of an Imperial Idea, Bowden. Culture and Imperialism - Edward W. Said. Born in Jerusalem and educated at Victoria College in Cairo and at Princeton and Harvard universities, Edward Said has taught at Columbia University since 1963 and has been a visiting professor at Harvard and Johns Hopkins University.
He has had an unusual dual career as a professor of comparative literature, a recognized expert on the novelist and short story writer Joseph Conrad, (see Vol. 1) and as one of the most significant contemporary writers on the Middle East, especially the Palestinian question and the plight of Palestinians living in the occupied territories. Although he is not a trained historian, his Orientalism (1978) is one of the most stimulating critical evaluations of traditional Western writing on Middle Eastern history, societies, and literature. In the controversial Covering Islam (1981), he examined how the Western media have biased Western perspectives on the Middle East.
Colonial Desire: Hybridity in Theory, Culture, and Race - Robert Young. CDContents. The Invention of the Savage: Colonial Exhibitions and the Staging of the Arab Spring. Watching a popular uprising in real time was indeed a dramatic experience. As viewers tuned in (or streamed in) to the violence, courage, and uncertainty of events in North Africa this year, many of them had the impression of witnessing the “actual” events, free from the framing tactics and analytical bias often found on the six o’clock news.
A host of new media celebrities became household names as they reported live from Tahrir, and news outlets such as Al-Jazeera saw an unprecedented rise in viewership. Spectators were made to believe that a return to the event “itself” was once again possible after decades of being locked into what Jean Baudrillard called the hyper-real. The revolution in-and-of-itself seemed to unfold before our eyes, creating a fetish for real-time revolt. A current exhibit at the Quai Branly Museum in Paris, entitled “The Invention of the Savage,” may seem to be an odd lens for a commentary on the staging of the Arab Spring.
Debating the British Empire. Counterinsurgency. Under construction... Western Imperialism in the Middle East 1914-1958: Hardback: D. K. F. Review: D.K. Fieldhouse, Western Imperialism in the Middle East 1914—1958, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2006; xvii + 376 pp.; £75.00 hbk; ISBN 0199287376. How empire ruled the world. Why, in 2011, think about empires? We live in a world of nation-states — over 200 of them, each with their seat in the UN, their flag, postage stamps and governmental institutions.
Yet the nation-state is an ideal of recent origin and uncertain future and, for many, devastating consequences. Empire did not give way to a secure world of nations with the end of Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian, Romanov or German rule after the first world war or, in the 1940s-1970s, with decolonisation (by the French, British, Dutch, Belgian and Portuguese). Many recent conflicts — Rwanda, Iraq, Israel, Afghanistan, ex-Yugoslavia, Sri Lanka, the Congo, the Caucasus, Libya, etc — emerged from failures to find viable alternatives to imperial regimes, after 1918, 1945 and 1989.
It is not a question of sinking into imperial nostalgia: sentimental evocations of the British Raj or French Indochina have nothing to offer to our present political thinking. What gave empires their world-shaping force? One empire, one God. Empire’s Ways of Knowing. During the run up to the invasion of Afghanistan, three burly American classmates jeered at me. They said, “We’re gonna kill Osama.”
Presumably, I would be especially aggrieved at Osama’s death, since I am a Muslim, and therefore, an Osama sympathizer if not also a bomb-carrying terrorist. My classmates were full of assurance and triumphalist pride. They said: “We can hit even a coffee mug in a cave.” The cave stood for where I am from, the enemy territory, the blank space on the map, the primitive place. I couldn’t stop myself from asking how they would know which cave to hit. They said: “If you can bring down the whole mountain, you don’t have to know which cave to hit.”
The capacity to do violence allows the powerful to exercise the privilege of what Gayatri Spivak has called “sanctioned ignorance.” Ahmed writes, “We have programmed forgetfulness in our civic and political lives.” But Ahmed is no scribe of power.