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UNIT 18: Rethinking the Rise of the West

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VIDEO SEGMENT: World Systems Critique

Until recently, historians viewed the story of growing European dominance, industrialization, and imperialism as an inevitable part of world history. This segment begins by demonstrating many scholars' long-held belief that the course European history took was "normal," and that all nations, in order to progress, should follow the European model.

This "modernization theory," was increasingly questioned by scholars who lived through the period of European decolonization, when they saw former European colonies reject the European way of life in favor of alternate paths. In the 1960s and 70s, some scholars developed a "world systems theory" that viewed European domination of the world as the result of European capitalism and its capacity to exploit cheap labor and underdeveloped markets in weaker areas of the world.

The ties linking European capitalist areas (the core) with non-European weaker areas (the periphery) were seen as a "world system." Unlike traditional historical views of European global domination, world systems theory is critical of both capitalism and Western expansion.

SELECTED IMAGES AND MAPS


Anonymous, SHIP OF WAR (1325). Courtesy of The British Library.

Utagawa Hiroshige, STEAM TRAIN IN YOKOHAMA, JAPAN (1872). Courtesy of Library of Congress.


Gustavo Tomsich, 13TH CENTURY FRENCH MANUSCRIPT DEPICTING TRADE AND INDUSTRY (c. 1200-1300). Image donated by Corbis-Bettmann.

A.C. Pugin and Thomas Rowlandson, THE HOUSE OF COMMONS (1808). Courtesy of The British Library.



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