The Economic History of Globalization

Discipline: Semester at Sea Seminars
Instructor: White
Credits: 3
Day: A
Start: 15:55
End: 17:10
Field Work: Day 1 | Portugal Download Syllabus

This course explores the various meanings of globalization, focusing on its economic aspects – the exchange of knowledge, notably concerning technology; the expansion of commodity trade; the increasing movement of people and of capital; but taking a much broader context, including political and cultural interactions and the movement of disease, crops and animals. It relates globalization in turn to population increase and the development of information and commercial networks; to the influence of various stages in economic development, including key structural changes in the movement to agriculture, commerce, industry and services; and to the changing nature of political organization, including the rise and fall of empires and of the nation state and global institutions. The core of the course traces the history of globalization through five phases. It introduces the first wave through the successful human settlement of the world, involving early interactions including trade exchanges. The second wave focuses on ‘world systems’ and the relative development of international contacts in and between Europe and Asia, notably the trade routes linking Asia and Europe. The third phase follows the discovery of the Americas by Europeans. It considers the role of slaves and silver in the emergence of an integrated world economy and of ‘ghost acres’ in the development of Europe. The fourth phase of globalization is linked to the pioneer inception of modern economic development and the Industrial Revolution, with analysis of the Atlantic triangular trade, the Pax Britannica and the gold exchange standard, concluding with the great reversals of two world wars and the Great Depression of the 1930s. The final wave comprises recovery after 1945 and the growing integration of global markets. In the light of the recent financial meltdown it considers the degree to which the contemporary world is genuinely global and the need for a political as well as economic globalization to help solve emerging global problems.

Field Work

Country: Portugal
Day: 1

Lisbon was a key site for many of the decisions and preparations which supported the early explorations round Africa and into the Indian Ocean during the 15th and 16th centuries. It contained the residence of the famous Henry the Navigator. I will prepare the students on the background of what they will see. The core of the workshop will consist of a guided tour of the Maritime Museum. It will be supplemented by a bus tour of the key sites of interest in Lisbon for those studying the explorations, particularly sites relevant not just to the explorers but also to the traders, notably those trading in spices.