Why the Economic History of the World ?

We used to study economic history, but it is usually national or even regional economic history. Regional in the sense of Western: indeed, the main work of historians and economists often concerns Western economic history.
From the Industrial Revolution in Europe to the United States through the economic effects of the two World Wars, the Crash of 1929, the Oil Crises of the 1970s and the current crisis we are currently experiencing. The rest of the World was literally forgotten. This Eurocentrism or rather “Westerncentrism” is sometimes extended to the rest of the world when the study of other continents have an impact on the West. For instance, all young europeans studied the triangular trade, the wars of colonization (and decolonization), the international division of labor today called international division of production processes, in order to understand where come from the raw materials and semi-processed used in the West.

But, is it reasonable to believe alone in the world? Can we really continue to think, study and theorize through the single Western prism?

Historical evidences exist on the qualitative and quantitative importance of longstanding connections between people and territories, through exchanges, transfers of technology and ideas, migrations, imperial conquests or even networks of international crimes or terrorism.
It is necessary to understand all of these interactions without passing from an Eurocentrism to a Sinocentrism or Africanocentrism, etc. It is necessary to study global history and going farther than the appropriation of the history by the West who wants to reduce the economic, social or cultural history to a simple hegemony of the Europe replaced by U.S. hegemony.

The “World History” is a school of thought, which is not new, if one refers to the writings of the French historian Fernand Braudel, but still needs to develop.
In the context of the Economic World History, in my mind, the first great work is perhaps one of the most recent, the one of Angus Maddison, The World Economy: A Millennial Perspective. This book is in my opinion the first book of a global perspective of economic history readable by all.

To have an access to this book, click on the picture:

Angus Maddison


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