Globalization -- the easy movement of ideas, goods, and people across national boundaries -- is a topic much in discussion these days. But it is not a new phenomenon. In a sense, this course has been about globalization from the very beginning: Diamond argued, in effect, that "globalization" in prehistoric times helps account for Europe's advantage over Africa and the Americas in the early modern period.
Jeff Williamson and Kevin O'Rourke among others have pointed out that globalization also characterized the Long Nineteenth Century (that is, the period from the Napoleonic Wars to World War I). Unlike our present-day globalization, however, that of the nineteenth century was characterized not by restraints on immigration coupled with relative free trade in goods but rather by the opposite -- tariffs on the exchange of goods but free immigration. Your assignment is to connect these two more recent episodes of globalization -- 19th-century and present-day -- with your previous thoughts about the virtues of centralization versus decentralization. Is globalization a centralizing or decentralizing force? In Empire, Niall Ferguson argues that these episodes of globalization are the result (respectively) of the British Empire and American hegemony. Evaluate this claim. Is it possible in either case that hegemony is the effect of globalization not its cause?
Due: December 7.