Summary and Info
With contributions of James Morris Blaut, Andre Gunder Frank, Samir Amin, Robert A. Dodgshon, Ronen PalanAn important and provocative text which will profoundly affect the way we look at the evolution of the third world, at development and underdevelopment. The essays in this book were first published in the journal Political Geography (Peter J. Taylor, editor), vol. 11, no. 4, July 1992, as a debate 'On the Significance of 1492'.Dr. James M. Blaut's book, 1492 - The Debate on Colonialism, Eurocenterism and History is a much-needed, thought-provoking addition to the analysis of world history. Blaut challenges the notion that the rest of the world was sleeping when Western Europe "burst forth" with technology, economic vigor and curiousity to explore and colonize other nations.Instead, Blaut states that many countries and societies in Asia, Africa and some parts of the Americas were at the same socio-economic level as Western Europe prior to 1492. He also states that many of these countries were actively engaged in exploration and global trade relations.He poses 3 profound questions: 1) Why did Western Europe embark on its campaign of conquest and exploitation of Africa, Asia and the Americas at the time that it did? 2) Why did Western Europe choose to conquer these other societies rather than simply establish equal trade relations as was done by other countries? 3) What global situation was Western Europe responding to that led to the political decision to conquer other nations?The slim volume not only provides Dr. Blaut's views but it includes perspectives from 5 other global historians and takes the form of a rich debate. Blaut's book has two omissions that could enrich this analysis. First, there is ample historical evidence that several West African nations such as Mali had active trade relations with the Americas as early as the 11th century. This fact can help fortify the point that many countires were at the same or higher socio-economic level as Western Europe.Second, the role of the medieval Islamic empire is a critical element in the global geo-political and economic trends. It is my suspicion that the competitive pressure on Western Europe that engendered the Crusades, was also a major factor in Western Europe's decision to become a world conqueror rather than a world trader. This factor is yet to be explored.
More About the Author
James Morris Blaut (October 20, 1927 – November 11, 2000) was a professor of anthropology and geography at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
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