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Multicultural Origins of the Global Economy
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Book description

Westerners on both the left and right overwhelmingly conflate globalisation with Westernisation and presume that the global economy is a pure Western-creation. Taking on the traditional Eurocentric Big Bang theory, or the 'expansion of the West' narrative, this book reveals the multicultural origins of globalisation and the global economy, not so as to marginalise the West but to show how it has long been embedded in complex interconnections and co-constitutive interactions with non-Western actors/agents and processes. The central empirical theme is the role of Indian structural power that was derived from Indian cotton textile exports. Indian structural power organised the first (historical-capitalist) global economy between 1500 and c.1850 and performed a vital, albeit indirect, role in the making of Western empire, industrialisation and the second (modern-capitalist) global economy. These textiles underpinned the complex inter-relations between Africa, West/Central/East/Southeast Asia, the Americas and Europe that collectively drove global economic development forward.


‘Building on his past path-breaking work, Hobson lays a historical foundation for a ‘non-Eurocentric new Global Political Economy' in this engagingly written book. Teachers will be rewriting their lectures after reading its many fascinating arguments about the role of the ‘non-West' in constructing the global economy.'

Eric Helleiner - University of Waterloo

‘Hobson's compelling story takes us beyond Eurocentrism without falling prey to Eastern-centrism, finally offering a proper global-historical account that locates the origins of capitalism and the global economy not in ‘the West' nor in ‘the East' but in the complex relations in-between. This is  a much-needed work of historiographical synthesis and conceptual innovation.'

Julian Go - Boston University

‘This is a masterful and revisionary account of the premodern and global lineages of capitalism. It shows how the complexity of non-European societies and economies shaped their encounter with Europe as well as with each other. A necessary and supple corrective to Eurocentric histories of both modernity and globalization.'

Ania Loomba - University of Pennsylvania

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