Global history is very much the fashion in leading university history departments today. Some of them seek to replace courses in Western civilization with classes in global history—but usually such courses have to be team-taught by a variety of specialists, since so few individual academics have such a broad reach. “Empire of Cotton” proves Sven Beckert one of the new elite of genuinely global historians.
Good economic history tells dramatic stories of ingenuity and aspiration, greed and national self-interest. Sven Beckert writes good economic history. But why cotton? Mr Beckert’s answer is that for 900 years, until 1900, it was the world’s most important manufacturing industry. Cotton is relevant now because the story explains how and why an industry goes global. It is a story of wildly fluctuating fortunes, from stunning wealth to dire social disasters.
In December 2012, thousands of protesters flooded the streets of cities across India, demanding a safer environment for women. A 23-year-old female student had died from injuries sustained 13 days earlier, when six men raped and savagely beat her on a Delhi bus. The case gained international attention, and since then South Asian media have reported dozens more horrifying instances of violence against women, several involving tourists: a Danish woman was gang-raped in Delhi after asking for directions back to her hotel, and an American was raped while hitchhiking in the Himalayas.
This workshop report is a summary of themes discussed by five panels during a daylong workshop on “Innovation and Access to Technologies for Sustainable Development: A global Perspective” at Harvard University on April 24, 2014. The workshop brought together a diverse group of scholars to explore how the technological innovation needed for sustainable development can be promoted in ways that assure equitable access in current and future generations.
Three key themes that emerged from the workshop include: (1) The central role of power, politics and agency in analyzing technological innovation and sustainable development—an important aspect of this includes the articulation of the roles of actors and organizations within frameworks and models of innovation systems. (2) The importance of focusing both on supply-push and demand-pull mechanisms in innovation scholarship and innovation policy. (3) The need to focus more innovation scholarship around the goals of sustainable development.
An integrated world economy requires cooperation among major economic powers. Without determined cooperation among the principal powers, globalization is unlikely to survive the inevitable shocks to which it is subjected.
The world faces a difficult adjustment to reduce the macroeconomic imbalances that were a major cause of the current crisis. This means reducing the surpluses of the major surplus countries in East Asia and Europe, and reducing the deficits of the major deficit countries in North America and Europe. Both processes require substantial domestic economic changes; economies and people will be tempted to turn inward, and governments will be tempted to reduce the priority they give to their external ties. This increases the risks of a breakdown in international cooperation.
Historical precedent is instructive. During the interwar period, a global macroeconomic imbalance was a major cause of the eventual economic catastrophe. During the 1920s, Germany borrowed heavily from the United States. But when a crisis hit, it turned out that neither country was politically prepared to maintain cooperative policies. Americans, focused on domestic concerns, were unwilling to help work out a cooperative resolution of the crisis. Germany exploded into social and political unrest and ended up in the hands of rabid nationalists and protectionists. The problem was political: a lack of domestic support for the sacrifices necessary to maintain international cooperation.
As the crisis winds down and post-crisis adjustment begins, major governments will be challenged to work together to support a well-functioning international economy. They will need to address the concerns of constituents who will chafe at the economic changes forced upon them. Governments that can build domestic political support for international economic engagement will be in a stronger position to work to sustain an integrated global economy.
The report analyses the policy statements on Arctic issues released from 2010 by the EU institutions and the EU’s role-building in the Arctic political framework, notably the Arctic Council. It describes how the EU’s role in the Arctic is seen in strategies and policy papers of Member States, and reports on the EU’s relations with other Arctic actors, particularly indigenous peoples. It gives an overall view of the status of the main EU policies with relevance for the Arctic and identifies the main challenges the EU has to face for progressing to an integrated and coherent Arctic policy.
The failure of the 1848-49 European revolutions was crucial in the evolution of Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. Whitman shared the revolutionary spirit of 1848-49, portraying an ideal America of unique and growing diversity. How does Whitman as an American national poet with revolutionary sympathies compare with his European contemporaries, such as Mickiewicz of Poland, Petőfi of Hungary, or Shevchenko of Ukraine? Whitman sympathized with liberal European revolution, but not with European xenophobia, which after 1848 was increasingly associated with nationalism and the poetry of nationalism. Whitman is spiritually closest not to European national poets but to poets of the East such as Tagore and Iqbal. His identification with America as heir to xenophobic, dying Europe took added force from his father’s death. Whitman, despairing at the reality of American politics in the 1840s and 1850s, sought an idealized freedom of the Self in a universalist mystical vision. The tolerant inclusiveness of Whitman’s poetry found a practical outlet in the Civil War, in his saintly, self-sacrificing behaviour as a hospital nurse and the expression in his poetry of the horror, not glory, of war. Through his inner conflicts, in which his sexual identity was central, Whitman spoke for the uncertainties of American national identity after 1848. Whitman’s poetry revealed his power, and that of the Nation, to contain and resolve painful contradictions and grow through them; and in this way, too, a multicultural America could emerge.
Probing the work of C. P. Cavafy has been intriguing for me, not only because he is one of the most influential figures in twentieth-century European aesthetic culture, but also for another reason: as Cavafy records in his diary of his first trip to Greece in 1901 (written in English), he was positively predisposed toward the work of Georgios Roilos, an influential late nineteenth-early twentieth-century Greek painter, among the first to introduce impressionism in Greece, a professor and mentor of, among other artists, Giorgio de Chirico. In his diary entry for June 28, 1901, Cavafy reports that he visited Roilos in his studio and enjoyed his painting "The Battle of Pharsala": "At 4:30 I took the direction of the Polytechneion. The first person I met in the Odos Patision was Tsocopoulo [sic], who accompanied me to the Polytechneion and conducted me to the painter Roilos's study to see this artist's great picture 'The Battle of Pharsala.'" That encounter of the poet with the painter is one of the stories often narrated at home when I was a child—stories that later determined my scholarly attachment to cultural history and art.
This week, the Global Partnership for Education meets in Brussels with the hope of raising $3.5 billion for the education of the world’s most marginalized children. The countries furthest from Education for All (EFA) goals and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are settings of fragility. These countries have traditionally been challenged to attract funding, with overseas development assistance (ODA) channeled primarily toward “good performers” with strong records of good governance. The assumption has been that investment in education is only wise once good governance has been established.
The Global Partnership for Education’s (GPE) new investment strategy, however, turns this assumption on its head. The number of fragile states funded by GPE, for example, grew exponentially, from 1 in 2003 (when GPE was called the Fast Track Initiative) to 22 in 2013. Can investment in education strengthen governance? The GPE’s investment suggests a belief in this pathway. What does the evidence say?
A Dynamic Relationship
Today at the GPE replenishment meetings in Brussels, director of the Brookings Center for Universal Education Rebecca Winthrop will present our exploratory analysis of the connections between universal education and good governance. We have found unmistakable relationships between universal education and good governance. The direction and strength of these relationships, however, remain murky. Does good governance lead to universal education? Does universal education lead to good governance? The answer, in both cases, is likely yes.
The direction of causality is still uncertain, but our exploratory analyses show a stronger relationship between high levels of education in the mid-1990s and good governance in recent years than vice versa.
It appears that there are multiple relationships between universal education and good governance, and that they may be cyclical and mutually reinforcing. Of particular interest are the characteristics of education systems and the content of education, which may mediate the effects of universal education on governance.
How Might Education Improve Governance?
Overall, we see the potential of universal education—for which we use primary net enrollment and primary survival rates as proxies—to act on three elements of governance: voice and accountability, control of corruption, and political instability and violence. These are the three elements of the World Bank’s Good Governance Indicators that we find to be most relevant to education. Across these domains, there are three key mechanisms by which universal education might promote good governance:
The development of a more informed citizenry promotes voice and accountability. Education can be essential for citizens to access and act on information. The ability to access information relates not only to literacy rates; it also relates to other school-acquired knowledge required to comprehend and analyze information and to act civically. For example, math skills allow citizens to understand if their schools are being cheated out of funds, and general knowledge of a political system enables citizens to understand how best to influence it.
The socialization into norms, including attachment to the state, helps control corruption. Education socializes citizens. It can do so in ways that lead both toward and away from good governance. It can lead people to feel greater attachment to the nation state. This greater attachment brings with it greater expectations for honest government, which is associated with increased state capacity, or strong institutions. These strong institutions are less likely to exhibit corruption (and they also feed back into strengthening education). On the other hand, the content of education can serve to distance citizens from the nation state: curriculum can reveal explicit or subtle discrimination toward particular ethnic, religious, or political groups and can increase social distance between diverse groups, while rationalizing or reproducing intergroup grievances. In this way, education can build greater mistrust within government institutions thereby perpetuating weak governance.
Increases in economic equality can reduce political instability and violence. Education can lead to greater productivity, which in turn can create conditions for economic equality. Greater economic equality leads back into more demand for education, which in turn leads to stronger demands on the state by more citizens and decreased elite power, resulting in lowered corruption. Greater economic equality is also associated with political stability and lack of violence. Unequal access to education or lack of access to quality education, however, does not increase economic equality.
Not All Universal Education Is Created Equal
Across all three mechanisms, the nature of both the structure of education systems and content of teaching and learning are critical. In particular, education that is inclusive and relevant may have positive effects on governance, while education that alienates or marginalizes individuals and groups or that lacks relevance to the aspirations and possible livelihoods of students may have negative effects on governance. For example, the content and skills about which a citizenry is “informed” through education determine whether and how individuals have voice, seek accountability and counter corruption. Similarly, the inclusivity and relevance of the norms into which citizens are socialized appear to form a dividing line between strong and weak governance. Further, increases in economic equality by definition reflect inclusion so that all citizens can have voice, seek accountability, counter corruption, and work to support rule of law and against political instability and violence.
Overall, in our exploratory analyses, we see stronger correlations between governance indicators and education indicators in the mid-1990s than we do now. An important difference between these two times periods may be the quality of universal education. There is clear evidence that remarkable progress in increasing access to education since 2000 has often happened at the expense of quality. Indeed, not all universal education is created equal. Does the weaker correlation between universal education and good governance more recently reflect tangible differences in the quality of education? A research agenda going forward should be focused on determining the content and structures of education that are most likely to produce pathways to good governance.
The Handbook of Latin America in the World explains how the Latin American countries have both reacted and contributed to changing international dynamics over the last 30 years. It provides a comprehensive picture of Latin America’s global engagement by looking at specific processes and issues that link governments and other actors, social and economic, within the region and beyond. Leading scholars offer an up-to-date state of the field, theoretically and empirically, thus avoiding a narrow descriptive approach. The Handbook includes a section on theoretical approaches that analyze Latin America’s place in the international political and economic system and its foreign policy making. Other sections focus on the main countries, actors, and issues in Latin America’s international relations. In so doing, the book sheds light on the complexity of the international relations of selected countries, and on their efforts to act multilaterally.
The Routledge Handbook of Latin America in the World is a must-have reference for academics, researchers, and students in the fields of Latin American politics, international relations, and area specialists of all regions of the world.
The exchange rate is the most important price in any economy, since it affects all other prices. Exchange rates are set, either directly or indirectly, by government policy. Exchange rates are also central to the global economy, for they profoundly influence all international economic activity. Despite the critical role of exchange rate policy, there are few definitive explanations of why governments choose the currency policies they do. Filled with in-depth cases and examples, Currency Politics presents a comprehensive analysis of the politics surrounding exchange rates.
Identifying the motivations for currency policy preferences on the part of industries seeking to influence politicians, Jeffry Frieden shows how each industry's characteristics--including its exposure to currency risk and the price effects of exchange rate movements--determine those preferences. Frieden evaluates the accuracy of his theoretical arguments in a variety of historical and geographical settings: he looks at the politics of the gold standard, particularly in the United States, and he examines the political economy of European monetary integration. He also analyzes the politics of Latin American currency policy over the past forty years, and focuses on the daunting currency crises that have frequently debilitated Latin American nations, including Mexico, Argentina, and Brazil.
With an ambitious mix of narrative and statistical investigation, Currency Politics clarifies the political and economic determinants of exchange rate policies.
After a quarter-century of tightly focused studies, historians are addressing extended periods of time and the global dimensions of history. As Thomas Piketty did in “Capital in the 21st Century,”his excellent recent study of wealth and inequality, Sven Beckert takes the long view in “Empire of Cotton: A Global History.” Mr. Beckert’s book is more broadly framed and more readable, but at its heart, as in Mr. Piketty’s book, is inequality.
The history of an era often seems defined by a particular commodity. The 18th century certainly belonged to sugar. The race to cultivate it in the West Indies was, in the words of the French Enlightenment writer Guillaume-Thomas de Raynal, “the principal cause of the rapid movement which stirs the Universe.” In the 20th century and beyond, the commodity has been oil: determining events from the Allied partitioning of the Middle East after World War I to Hitler’s drive for Balkan and Caspian wells to the forging of our own fateful ties to the regimes of the Persian Gulf.
Harvard University’s Semitic Museum, lately undergoing an exciting resurgence, was founded in 1889 by Professor David Gordon Lyon. A southern Baptist from Alabama, Lyon was a charismatic scholar of ancient Mesopotamian scripts, and one of Harvard’s more dynamic and vital figures in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
What motivates individuals to participate in contentious, political forms of collective action? In this article, I consider the possibility that the promise of social esteem from an ingroup can act as a powerful selective incentive for individuals to participate in contentious politics. I conducted a field experiment—the first to my knowledge to take place in the context of a political march, rally, or social-identity event—to isolate this esteem mechanism from others. Using measures of intent to attend, actual attendance, and reported attendance at a gay and lesbian pride event in New Jersey, I find evidence that the promise of social esteem boosts all three measures of participation. The article offers new theoretical and practical implications for the study of participation in nonvoting forms of collective action.