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Mary Pat Brady’s chapter poses an alternative approach to hemispheric fiction by reading not according the scales of concentric geometries of space (local, regional, national, transnational), but instead reconceptualizing what she terms “pluriversal novels of the 21st century.” She argues for attending to the complexly mixed temporalities, perspectives, and languages of novels that reject the dualism of monoworlds (center/periphery) for the unpredictability of stories anchored in multiple space-times. While this is not an exclusively 21st-century phenomenon, she shows that pluriveral fiction has flourished recently, as works by Linda Hogan, Jennine Capó Crucet, Julia Alvarez, Gabby Rivera, Karen Tei Yamashita, Ana-Maurine Lara, and Evelina Zuni Lucero demonstrate.
None of the rulers from the time of Abdur Rahman’s death until the communists seized power in 1978 had his reputation for violence, and the country enjoyed a long peace from the 1930s through the early 1970s. Our theory can explain why despite substantial political order, property rights did not develop much: the rulers who made minor progress in establishing legal property rights had very little state capacity and could not maintain political control, and there was never much progress in establishing political constraints. The communist governments faced even fewer constraints and were largely insulated from local institutions, which contributed to a massively unsuccessful effort to redistribute land, while the Taliban, despite providing some semblance of order and recognizing the importance of customary and traditional institutions, were largely unconstrained and without much administrative capacity to implement any sort of reform. Together, these developments illustrate a key implication of the theory: meaningful progress in establishing property rights requires a monopoly on coercion, high state capacity, strong political constraints on rulers, and inclusive political and legal institutions. Weakness of any of these elements can prevent the emergence of private property rights.
The conclusion summarises the central arguments of the book, advances the notion of ‘navigational agency’ for understand the manner in which traders contend with the fraught geopolitical across which they lead their lives and make a living, and explores the possible futures of the informal networks that bind different parts of Eurasia to one another.
In Chapter 3, we consider property rights in Afghanistan from the formation of the Afghan state in 1747 through 1901, when Abdur Rahman, one of Afghanistan’s most ruthless kings, died. The Afghan state during its first century was fragmented and marred by frequent political conflict. Nonetheless, its political arrangement, which we call a de facto federation because it dispersed political power in practice but not formally, provided a political foundation for the emergence of land-use rights and vibrant trading routes. The situation was not unlike England’s de facto federation that enabled the rise of markets after the Glorious Revolution, one in which the fragmentation of political power at the national level and the rise of towns contributed to a political environment in which institutions were allowed to change in response citizens’ needs. Unlike in England, where wealth-creating economic institutions strengthened over time, these productive institutional developments in Afghanistan were reversed at the conclusion of the nineteenth century as Abdur Rahman began to consolidate political power. Our theory can explain why: because coercive and administrative capacity occurred alongside the dismantling of political constraints, consolidation of political power resulted in the destruction of private property rights and trading routes.
This chapter introduces the book’s central focus and argument and discusses the themes in relationship to which it is structured. Recent work on connectivity in Eurasia has focused upon the role played by international projects of development, notably China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Building on ethnographic work with informal traders active across Afghanistan, the book emphasises the importance of informal networks of trade and commerce to Eurasian connectivity. The longdistance trading networks it describes and analysed are historically layered, structured in diverse ways, and comprised of politically astute actors able to navigate the complex geopolitical worlds across which they work. Trust is important to the activities of such networks, but so too is the ability to withstand moments of mistrust.
traces how health concerns informed good governance of the urban food trades. Urban authorities, in negotiation with food-related guilds and traders, established, intervened in, and physically altered food markets in order to expel wares deemed unsafe for consumption. The central position of food in Galenic medical theories of health preservation was reflected in an urban context especially in the policies around three highly regulated products: meat, fish and grain. Market inspectors, and likely also vendors and buyers, applied medical knowledge on preservation and disease risks. The extensive regulation of grain and bread provision closely related to issues of urban order and threat of shortages. Finally, butchering in particular was also targeted as a source of environmental pollution through coordinating the disposal of offal.
This chapter is principally concerned with the relationship between central and local power in Byzantium. It focuses on the resources and structures characterising political elite membership, particularly land, public offices and salaries, kinship, networks, status and display. From a mainly provincial perspective, it examines changes over time in the possessions and political horizons of elites, taking note of the roles of monasteries, villages and commerce. Considerable attention is paid to the polycentric Byzantine world of the later period, which continued until, and in some cases beyond, the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453 and involved polities beyond the Palaiologan dynasty. While much about Byzantine political practice changed between 700 and 1500, the post-1204 evidence reveals the long-term importance of the local to power in Byzantium, a state of affairs often hinted at in earlier periods but only rarely visible in the surviving sources.
The final chapter in Part III examines more directly the claim that parliaments are a consequence of commercial activity by looking at two cases, which have dominated especially neo-institutionalist accounts due to their thriving wool trades, England and Castile. The main mechanism tying trade to representative institutions is that of capital mobility, which is assumed to endow mercantile groups with bargaining powers. The section on England shows that taxes on mobile capital were not key for representation, as they were not bargained for in Parliament. Indirect taxation was also far less than direct taxation in the critical period of parliamentary emergence. Moreover, bargains that did occur resulted in sectoral privileges, not constitutional gains. In fact, the chapter shows how mercantile interests and the collective action of merchants were endogenous to state capacity. The section on the Castilian Mesta shows how the assumed inefficiencies of this commercial system can be traced to the political weakness highlighted in chapter 5.
The setting of the city within the environment of Mesopotamia, on a branch of the river Euphrates, was without special advantages amid more ancient cities with older fame. Sumerian and Semitic Akkadian were very different languages integrated into the urbanized written culture, whereas Amorite immigrants from the west were tribal outsiders who often assimilated in the cities. Water management by canals, sluices, and flood control, and the extension of land for agriculture and settlement were duties of kings reflected in early myths. Merchants travelled abroad, west to the Mediterranean, north into Anatolia, east across the river Tigris into Iran, where they encountered the rival civilization of Elam, and south down the Arabian Gulf. They brought in precious metals, stones, timber, and plants. After 1,300 years, Babylon became a ceremonial centre without indigenous kings, but foreign kings still came to have their claim to rule legitimized in a city where the bearing of arms was prohibited. King-lists and chronicles underpinned Babylonians’ understanding of their own history; prayers, songs, epics, technical manuals, rituals, records of divination, and astronomy as well as archival and administrative texts were written on various media, of which only clay, being inorganic, survives. Temples, a palace, a harbour, city walls, and gates characterized urban space.
African per capita income levels have fallen significantly behind other world regions during the long twentieth century. But despite the outward appearance of economic stagnation, African economies underwent profound transitions. This chapter contrasts African patterns of recurrent growth and contraction, and persisting specialization in primary commodity production, to deeper changes in factor endowments, economic geographies, and institutions governing states and markets. It discusses the periodization of growth cycles in relation to global market forces and colonial and postcolonial economic policies, and questions how the deeper currents of change have affected the capacity of African societies to outgrow poverty.
This chapter considers to what extent ‘geography’, broadly conceived, mattered for economic growth across the globe. First, it sets out the pattern of comparative aggregate growth between 1700 and 1870 and documents the east to west shift in the global distribution of economic activity. The next section surveys the comparative evidence on key first nature (or physical) geography characteristics that are potentially critical for long run economic development. This is followed by a discussion of second nature geography (the ’geography of interactions between economic agents’) and a quantitative assessment of the extent to which first nature characteristics, second nature geographical forces and institutional quality can account for income differentials across a sample of major economies in America, Asia, and Europe. Finally, a case study on shifting comparative advantage in the textile industry illustrates the outcomes of technical change within a changing global economic geography. The chapter concludes that changes in trade costs, agglomeration economies and differential access to markets with associated productivity gains probably played a major role in moving the economic centre of gravity. The West became absolutely and relatively richer than the East, not only because of better institutions but also because of more favourable geographies.
This chapter outlines the key contours of Australian economic history between 1870 and 2010 in a comparative perspective. Overall, the story it tells is a positive one, in spite of the vexing challenges that Australia has faced. Despite undergoing relative economic decline and a fundamental reorientation in the direction of its trade over this period, Australia emerged into the twenty-first century with its status as one of the world’s most prosperous and advanced societies intact. While numerous challenges remain unresolved, Australia’s experience to date provides a clear-cut example of a society where an abundance of natural resources has proved a blessing rather than a curse. The secret of Australia’s avoidance of the pitfalls that have befallen so many countries similarly blessed appears to lie in the ability of its institutions to adapt successfully in the face of changed circumstances while remaining supportive of innovative and productive activities.
There were two very different conjunctures for the Ottoman economy during the eighteenth century. The decades until the end of the 1760s were a period of relative peace and economic expansion. In contrast, from the end of the 1760s until the 1820s was a period of wars and domestic political struggles when long-distance trade as well as agricultural and manufacturing output were frequently disrupted, state finances came under pressure and the frequent debasements led to inflation. Even though trade and more generally economic interaction between the Ottoman Empire and western Europe increased during the eighteenth century, its volume remained small. As a result, both urban and rural crafts and manufacturing activities in the Ottoman Empire remained mostly intact. The nineteenth century was a period quite different from the earlier era. It was characterized, on the one hand, by major efforts of Western-style reform in administration, education, law, and justice, as well as economic, fiscal, and monetary affairs. It was also a period of integration into world markets and rapid expansion in trade with industrial Europe that transformed the Ottoman economy into an exporter of primary products and importer of manufactures.
Economic growth in China prior to 1870 was kept in check by the performance of its agricultural sector, where diminishing returns to labour reduced effective demand, discouraged investment in manufacturing, and kept the urban share of population from growing. Economic recovery from the Wars of Transition (1644–1681) ended in 1740, when the rate of growth of total output – especially of food – fell below the rate of population growth. For the next century and a half, the economy shrank on a per capita basis. The resulting higher cost of capital relative to labour discouraged the adoption of labour-enhancing tools, even as the decline in the average size of farms raised demand for basic goods. Symptomatically, labour remained stuck in farming and a preponderance of manufacturing activity remained attached to the peasant household. For a period, the expansion of the frontiers coupled with labour intensification elsewhere were sufficient to feed the population, support trade, and fund the state. After 1800, however, environmental degradation took its toll and markets disaggregated. A period of rising social insecurity and political instability set in at the moment when China faced rising external threats from industrialized and industrializing nations.
This chapter shows how developments in military technology and strategy since the 1600s joined the political ambitions of states and merchants’ commercial interests to create European rules in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Why did warfare in early modern times produce this outcome? Wars and empires had existed before. The European warfare outside Europe, the chapter suggests, could exploit more resources than the other major powers in Eurasia could, leading to decisive shifts in the balance of power. At the same time, trade entailed violence, whether we consider the Atlantic slave trade or the impact of European wars upon the actions of the Indian Ocean merchant firms. A final section asks how empires shaped economic change in the world; and shows that the emergence of empires had lasting effects on commercialization, though direct effects on living standards until 1870 were ambiguous.
China has begun to take a more active and assertive role in international public goods provision and the results of this are more varied than the duality of revisionism versus status quo orientations would have it. As a goods supplier, China is increasingly identifying gaps in the existing international order and filling them without necessarily challenging the USA directly. In this chapter, Julia Bader shows how China’s Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) became a successful example of asset substitution. The AIIB was initiated as a counter-hegemonic attempt, targeted at the architecture of international finance and at US dominance therein. Yet, as ever more European democracies somewhat unexpectedly joined the Bank – against the wishes of the USA – the institution gradually transformed into an integrated part of the existing international financial architecture. The case of the AIIB illustrates how opportunistic hedging and uncoordinated herding by third states may inadvertently undermine the existing order. Bader shows how the framework of international goods provision, involving producers and consumers alike, directs our attention to non-hegemonic actors as crucial but overlooked players.
Ideas and practices often perceived as modern carry a complex premodern history that cannot be excised from their present. This is certainly the case of trade embargoes as economic means for the attainment of political goals. For a variety of reasons, however, tracing change over long periods of time remains an exercise in chronological and spatial jurisdiction. Further complicating our understanding of the convoluted relationship between past and present has been the increasingly pronounced tendency to write in the vein either of a “history of ideology” or, conversely, of a “history of action.” In fact, “theory” and “practice” existed in a dialectical relationship, a cyclical tug of war that produced not so much winners and losers as complex realities that require a thick reading of legal, political, cultural, and social change. This chapter, by contrast, seeks to explain the transfiguration of the legal tradition from the perspective of international law history by focusing on two interrelated transitions.
The global ascendancy of neoliberal economics has deepened inequalities between and within nations and largely undermined efforts toward sustainable development. Based on a belief that the market should be the organizing principle for social, political and economic decisions, policymakers in many countries promoted privatization of state activities and an increased role for the free market, flexibility in labor markets and trade and investment liberalization. The benefits of these policies frequently fail to reach the indigenous peoples of the world, who acutely feel their costs, such as environmental degradation, cultural dispossessions and loss of traditional lands and territories. As vulnerable and often marginalized segments of the world’s population, indigenous peoples are at a heightened risk of experiencing the negative consequences of globalization. Understanding this reality could provide pathways for effective interventions to alleviate, overcome or, at the very least, minimize such effects.
The development of global value chains (GVCs) in recent decades has transformed China into a global hub of manufacturing and assembly. Most of China’s exports to the USA are in the context of value chain trade. The deep participation of Chinese firms in GVCs has greatly promoted the rapid growth of Chinese exports to the USA, as well as China's trade surplus with the USA (which triggered the ongoing US-China trade war). Toward an understanding of the complexity of the bilateral trade imbalance, this chapter adopts the GVC perspective in its analysis of the success of China’s exports to the USA and of the persistent huge US trade deficit with China. It shows that conventional trade statistics seriously distort the bilateral trade imbalance by on the one hand exaggerating China’s surplus and on the other hand underestimating actual exports of the USA. In addition, the chapter discusses the impact of the trade war on China-centered GVCs and argues that it is impossible to hedge the risk of the punitive tariffs with the depreciation of the yuan. Shifting part of value chains out of China would be inevitable and the coronavirus pandemic would further strengthen the trend.