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1 - Production, destruction, and connection, 1750–present: introduction

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 May 2015

J. R. McNeill
Georgetown University, Washington DC
Kenneth Pomeranz
University of Chicago
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Connection' is, obviously, central to a work that aims to explore 'world history' in particular, rather than all history that has happened in the world. It forms one of the major ways that we bring remote peoples and places into the same analytical frame. The beginning of 1750 is sharply marked by an increase in the prevalence of world wars, events that connected larger-than-ever parts of the globe in overlapping campaigns of destruction with world-altering consequences. In demography, economy, and ecology, the 1750s is likewise a watershed. Industrialization in some societies often led to soaring demand for commodities they could not easily produce at home, so rubber, cotton, jute, and other primary products became enormous sources of potential profit. 1400-1800 as an era of 'proto-globalization', in the loose sense of a world with much more frequent and influential intercontinental connections. Imagined or mediated communities can have wildly varying scales, scopes, durability, and degrees of emotional power.
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2015

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