European Hegemony : The World Essay

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Janet Abu-Lughod published Before European Hegemony: The World System A.D 1250-1350 in at exactly the right time in history; it was 1989, and the world was on the cusp of a great economic revolution and transition not unlike that of the 13th century on which she focuses her book. Primarily, she aimed to prove that a Eurocentric world system was not a permanent fixture since the Fall of Rome, and “that there was no inherent historical necessity that shifted the [world economic] system to favour the West of the East”. She did this in studying Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, and examining the roles of these regions in trade, production, innovation, and culture. With a discerning eye, Abu-Lughod picked apart existing research, analysis and data and attempted to showcase the power and influence of this once thriving, but seldom studied, 13th century world system. However, there was a gap present in her analysis following the supposed decline of this impressive system. Any interactions or cooperation between the newly arrived Europeans and the Chinese, Indian, Arab, and Southeast Asian peoples were omitted, and an instantaneous European takeover of the region was implied.
Although Abu-Lughod devoted chapters to the conclusion of her argument that there was no inherent historical necessity for the Europeans to dominate the world system, her final chapter was in some ways a puzzling denouement. According to Abu-Lughod, the fragmentation of the various empires created a vacuum in…

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