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Before European Hegemony: The World System A.D. 1250-1350 Paperback – February 21, 1991

ISBN-13: 978-0195067743 ISBN-10: 0195067746 Edition: Reprint

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; Reprint edition (February 21, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195067746
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195067743
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 0.9 x 5.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #158,169 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review


"A provocative, well-researched, imaginative book."--Contemporary Sociology


"A useful and stimulating economic history that juxtaposes data from many different regions....The book should prove useful and popular in world history courses."--American Historical Review


"An important work in historical sociology."--Science & Society


"A beautifully written work, whose scope is comparable to those of Immanuel Wallerstein and Fernand Braudel."--American Sociological Association


"World history at its best, combining breadth and depth, pattern with detail....A first-class contribution that will become a major reference point in future scholarship."--American Journal of Sociology


About the Author


Janet L. Abu-Lughod is Professor of Sociology at Northwestern University (Emeritus)

Customer Reviews

It is well written and has a nice bibliography.
R. Albin
I also found Abu-Lughod's scepticism about grand conceptual schemas and strong preference for considering the complex texture of reality engaging.
M. Lorenzo Warby
There are few books in the field of economic history that I'd say are both landmarks and enjoyable to read.
Virgil

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

76 of 78 people found the following review helpful By Thomas M. Martin on August 1, 2000
Format: Paperback
Among teachers and students of world history, this book is already considered a classic. It is not so much a book about people, places, and events, as it is a book about processes and networks in a non-Eurocentric 13th century Old World.
Welcome to a world whose hub is India. To the east Southeast Asian gold and spices and Chinese silks and porcelain. From the west come carpets, dye, incense, gold, silver, and slaves from the Persian Gulf and Red Sea - gold, ivory, and slaves from East Africa. To the north, the Mongols control Central Asia and the Silk Road that Marco Polo takes to China. However, much like "westernization" is sometimes used as a concept in modern history, this was a time of "southernization" in an Asia-centered world connected by monsoon winds. Way out on the periphery of an overlapping Mediterranean network lie Genoa and Venice. Indeed, if Europe were mentioned at this time, most literate people would think of Constantinople - not medieval Western Europe, but the postclassical Byzantine Empire.
*Before European Hegemony* is obviously a `not for everyone' history book. Nevertheless, the reason that I gave it 5 stars is because I consider it the most accessible `world systems' history - and also because of the maps of overlapping trading networks which are probably known even better than the book. I can recommend the book to teachers (and students) of AP and college-survey world history courses without hesitation, or any reader whose tastes run to historical scholarship.
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39 of 41 people found the following review helpful By R. Albin TOP 500 REVIEWER on February 12, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book is approaching the status of a classic. While a work of history, the author is not a historian but rather a sociologist with an interest in the role of cities. Perhaps because she was a disciplinary outsider not specializing in a given historical period, as well as being used to comparative analysis, Abu-Lughod adopted a cross-cultural approach. The starting point for this book was the prevailing belief that a world economy was created by Europeans in the early modern period. More naive interpretations saw this as a logical development of European capitalism and that capitalism was unique to Europe. A major point of this book is that a world economic system, spanning all of Eurasia and including Southeast Asia and Eastern Africa existed prior to the early modern period. This world system was based on pre-existing regional trade networks in the Eastern Mediterrenean, the Indian Ocean, Central Asia, and China. Some of these linkages, like the famous Silk road across Central Asia and trade across the Indian Ocean, were ancient.

Abu-Lughod reconstructs a true world economy stretching from western Europe to China reaching its peak during the 13th and 14th centuries and then declining. She shows that Europe joined this system relatively late and was a smaller component of these large trade networks. The peak of this world system is associated with the Mongol conquest of Central Asia and China. Mongol successes are seen as simultaneously making trade across Central Asia, the northern axis of the world system, and trade through the Indian Ocean and south China, the southern axis, more efficient. This lead to a Eurasian boom. As a corollary, Abu-Lughod explores the richly capitalist nature of trade in the Muslim, Indian, and Chinese regions making up the world system.
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33 of 36 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 31, 1999
Format: Paperback
A completely convincing presentation of a world economic system before the surge of the West, in which Europe played only a minor part. Not as Marxist as Wallerstein, and not as over-the-top as Andre Gunner Frank's new book Re-Orient, which draws on it considerably. Her prose style does not scintillate, but neither is she difficult; reads like it grew out of her thesis. Because this is a big idea, and she explores it thoroughly, it's one of the most exciting books I have read in a long time.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Virgil on March 16, 2004
Format: Paperback
There are few books in the field of economic history that I'd say are both landmarks and enjoyable to read. Assuming the reader has a great interest in history, Before European Hegemony is certainly one of them.
Abu-Lughod's excellent world systems survey details the inter-connections between pre-modern economies and societies of the era. There is also the sense of continuity between these pre-modern economic relationships and the modern era.
Special mention should be made of the fact that Before European Hegemony was one of the first of a new wave of economic, historical and sociological studies that de-emphasized the eurocentric histories that came before them. Guilty of the same simplistic approaches the eurocentric histories were charged with, for example giving the only reason for the rise of the West as military might, much of what followed Before European Hegemony was, in a word, garbage. Not so, this groundbreaking study.
Well researched, well written and highly recommended.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By M. Lorenzo Warby on December 8, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A work drawing on deep scholarship providing welcome adjustment to views that overstate Europe's precocity and importance before 1500. Europe was a peripheral backwater prior to its export of the Eurasian disease pool to the Americas (and even for some time after). Abu-Lughod examines each major area of the Eurasian trading network in term, bringing out how much events in one area were affected by changes elsewhere (in particular, how much Europeans were responding to such changes).

I also found Abu-Lughod's scepticism about grand conceptual schemas and strong preference for considering the complex texture of reality engaging. She sets out a highly informative history of the creation of an interacting Eurasian economy under the period of Mongol domination and how changes among the various participating powers (particularly China) resulted in the interactions falling back to a lower level. She also argues a power vacuum was set up in the Indian Ocean that the Europeans (first the Portugese, then the Dutch and finally the British) were able to fill. That there was a "Fall of the East" prior to there being a "Rise of the West". She does a nice job of debunking "cultural" and "Confucian-isolationism" explanations for China's shift, placing the public policy considerations the Ming court was dealing with in a more plausible context.

My first quibble is with the title. This is about the Eurasian system, not a global one, a point the author herself concedes (p.37). It is a "world" system only in terms of the Old World/New World usage and, to be fair, she is responding to Immanuel Wallerstein's coinage of the term.
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Before European Hegemony: The World System A.D. 1250-1350
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