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Historical Growth of Globalization PDF Print E-mail
Written by Michael Fones   
Wednesday, 24 September 2008 09:27

Globalization, according to Beynon and Dunkerley's A General Introduction in Globalization: The Reader, NY Routledge Press, 2000, is not only a contemporary phenomenon. They point out that between 1430-1530, the globe was explored by the Spanish, British, French and Portuguese. These nations had developed an 'outward looking-ness', while other powerful nations remained inward-looking, regarding the outside world as a hostile threat. In Asia, the Chinese explorer Cheng Juo, preceded the Europeans' exploration by a century, but such travels of discovery were stopped by the Chinese emperor as undesirable. The Koreans also did not explore much beyond their peninsula, and their resistance to western ideas and culture was expressed in the persecution of Catholics in the late 18th and early- to mid-nineteenth centuries.

There were some remarkable consequences of European exploration:
-expansion of geographical knowledge, with Europe at the center

-expansion of technical information. Europeans learned about different types of sails from the people of India, gunpowder and the compass from China, and the astrolabe from the Muslim world, to name a few sources of advancement in European technology.

-emergence of a 'global consciousness' as"'the capcity to conceive of the world as an accessible and attainable whole that could be explored and was, indeed available for exploitation by those who could achieve this." (Spybey, Globalization and World Society, 1996)

-the growing sense of destiny and a mission to spread European culture. European systems of trade, politics, administration, justice, government, military and worship were reproduced under colonization. Many colonized nations willingly adopted European ways, seeing the benefits of being part of an embryonic network of international relations. The Koreans began westernizing to counter Japanese dominance in the region - as well as an attempt to match the modern weapons used by the Japanese.

- the international acceptance of European standards, like the Gregorian calendar, and the Greenwich meridian. The European concept of the nation state was also widely adopted - an important aspect of globalization.

-the appearance in Europe in the 16th century of produce never seen before: spices, herbs, potatoes, tomatoes, green beans, peppers and chocolate, which had a dramatic local impact among those who could afford them.

In some ways, globalization has been a long-term process. The current globalization we are experiencing is simply the latest manifestation of a set of historical processes (Held et al., Global Transformations: Politics, Economics and Culture, 1999)
Examples of these are the pre-historic and historic migration of people; the global spread of the major world religions; the impact of the great Empiresp the influence of powerful Western nation states and modern nationalism, including the outward expansion of Europe from the 16th c; the transnational flows of capitalism and of 'big' ideas (pertinent to science, liberalism, socialism, feminism, etc.); and, of course the hegemony of Ennglish as a truly 'global language'. There are technological antecedents, too: for example the development of the trans-Atlantic telegraph in the 1860's and cable communication across the British Empire by the 1880s.
Of course, even before then, there were ideas being transmitted through manuscripts: Benedictine monks in Europe translating and copying the works of Greek, Jewish and Muslim philosophers and early Church fathers.

David Held et al., in Global Transformations, look at four periods of globalization.

Pre-modern (before 1500) 'globalization' was interregional within Eurasia and the Americas, based on political and military empires and the movements of peoples into uncultivated areas.

The early modern (1500-1850). This was marked by the rise of the West and the movement of Europeans into the Americas and then Oceania. It was in the early modern period that world religions spread and exerted their most significant cultural influence, especially Christianity and Judaism, both of which attained a global distribution.

Modern globalization (1850-1945) This period witnessed an accelaration of global networks and cultural flows, dominated by the European powers, especially the British; and the great migration of European peoples to the new world. By the mid-nineteenth century European peoples, ideas and religions had transformed the Americas, with rapid developments in transport and communication technologies in the second half of the 19th century (for example telegraphy, telephones, radio, railways, shipping, canals, etc.) making connections over a large area possible.
Contemporary globalization is marked by an environment that is degraded in every region of the world, and new patterns of global migration have replaced the old. A worldwide system of nation states, overlaid by a combination of regional and global forms of regulation and governance, has emerged. Although still highly asymmetrical, contemporary globalization is less dominated by America and Europe: "distributional patterns of power and wealth no longer accord with a simple core and periphery division ... (and) ... reflect a new geography of power and privilege which transcends political borders and regions, reconfiguring established international and trans-national hierarchies of social power and wealth." (Held, et al.)

From roughly 1500 through the last century, one of the effects of colonization and the subsequent migration of people and ideas was the spread of Christianity. Sometimes that spread was forced or coerced, and accompanied by violence, and we look upon it today with different eyes. But the current globalization offers new opportunities for presenting the Christian faith to others, and I will look at that briefly tomorrow.

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