From Globalization to Global History

Berg, Maxine
October 2007
History Workshop Journal;Oct2007, Vol. 64 Issue 1, p335
Academic Journal
The globalized labour markets of the twenty-first century have important foundations in the making of Britain’s industrialization in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Eley seeks to ‘historicize’ globalization by making slaves and servants key players in capitalist accumulation. His case, not as new as he claims, would be greatly enriched by turning to recent research in global history. Slaves, servants and labourers produced commodities, many of these consumed globally as luxury, addictive and fashion goods, and ultimately as ‘necessities’. Caribbean slave-plantations producing the sugar, tobacco and coffee early integrated into European diets need to be linked to the worlds ‘first industrial regions’ in China and India producing the global cottons and porcelains, manufactured on a mass scale for world markets long before Europe’s industrialization. Eley makes an admirable plea to ‘historicize’ the global, but we need to go further, to be more global and more historical. Our current global perspectives are shaped by US geopolitical aims, but also by Middle Eastern resistance and Chinese and Indian economic resurgence. The histories of Chinese and Indian connections to the wider world, and of Islam and Europe, of Islam and Africa are histories we need to know. These have provided the key components, aspirations and material cultures that have shaped the making of the history of the ‘West’ and of ‘capitalist modernity’.


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