SIDELINING THE WEST?
How and, just as importantly, where did the modern era come into being? The driving forces of the period—industrialization, the spread of colonial rule, the financial integration of the globe, the advent of mass consumer society, the growth of working-class and anti-colonial movements—were seen, in Hobsbawm’s influential account of the long nineteenth century, as being propelled by twin economic and political revolutions: the former embodied in the emergence of England as the workshop of the world and the latter in the French Revolution, with its reverberations throughout the post-Napoleonic era. The consolidation of industrial capitalism in Europe then drove, or crucially inflected, transformations in Asia, Africa and elsewhere. C. A. Bayly’s The Birth of the Modern World sets out to tackle the same period within a globalized framework: to trace ‘the rise of global uniformities in the state, religion, political ideologies and economic life’ between 1780 and 1914, while also noting that growing interconnectedness and interdependence could ‘heighten the sense of difference, and even antagonism, between people in different societies’.
Subscribe for just £40 and get free access to the archive
Please login on the left to read more or buy the article for £3
- Jennifer Pitts: A Liberal Geoculture? Jennifer Pitts on Immanuel Wallerstein, The Modern World-System IV: Centrist Liberalism Triumphant, 1789–1914. A seminal multi-volume account of the ‘capitalist world-economy’ reaches the long 19th century.
- Timothy Brennan: Subaltern Stakes If the post-colonial theory that emerged as a militant intellectual project in the 80s has faltered over the past decade, against a backdrop of actual imperialist excursions, Vivek Chibber’s critical intervention in the field has ignited fresh debate around it. Timothy Brennan asks whether an effective challenge can be mounted without tackling the theory’s amnesia more directly.