Wednesday, March 29, 2017

How did the West usurp the rest?

Abstract: Traditional explanations of the rise of the Westhave located the sources of Western supremacy in structural or long-term developmental factors internal to Europe. By contrast, revisionist accounts have emphasized the con- junctural and contingent aspects of Europes ascendancy, while highlighting intersocietal conditions that shaped this trajectory to global dominance. While sharing the revisionist focus on the non-Western sources of European develop- ment, we challenge their conjunctural explanation, which denies differences between Westand Eastand within Europe. We do so by deploying the idea of uneven and combined development (UCD), which redresses the short- comings found on both sides of the debate: the traditional Eurocentric focus on the structural and immanent characteristics of European development and the revisionistsemphasis on contingency and the homogeneity of Eurasian societies. UCD resolves these problems by integrating structural and contingent factors into a unified explanation: unevenness makes sense of the sociological differences that revisionists miss, while combination captures the aleatory processes of inter- active and multilinear development overlooked by Eurocentric approaches. From this perspective, the article examines the sociologically generative interactions between European and Asian societiesdevelopment over the longue durée and traces how the breakdown of feudalism and the rise of capitalism in Europe were fundamentally rooted in and conditioned by extra-European structures and agents. This then sets up our conjunctural analysis of a central yet underappreciated factor explaining Europe rise to global dominance: the disinte- gration of the Mughal Empire and Britains colonization of India. 

How did the West usurp the rest?

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