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"Bound Together: How Traders, Preachers, Adventurers, and Warriors Shaped Globalization", Nayan Chanda

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Bound Together: How Traders, Preachers, Adventurers, and Warriors Shaped Globalization

Nayan Chanda

Yale University Press | July 2007 | ISBN 978-0-300-11201-6


Extract from "Introduction"

The term globalization emerged because the visibility of our globally connected life called for a word to sum up the phenomenon of this interconnectedness. But if one looked under the hood of our daily existence, one could see a multitude of threads that connect us to faraway places from an ancient time. Without looking into the past, how does one explain that almost everything - from the cells in our bodies to everyday objects in our lives - carries within itself the imprints of a long journey? Why in that first instance did human beings leave Africa and become a globalized species? Most of what we eat, drink, or use originated somewhere else than where we find these objects today. Almost everything we associate with a nation or take pride in as our own is connected with another part of the world, however remotely. Today's capitalist business model can explain why Starbucks coffee - an iconic symbol of globalization - is sold in thousands of locations around the world or why Japan's Canon camera is a globally recognized brand. But the economic definition leaves other questions unanswered. How, for example, did the coffee bean, grown first only in Ethiopia, end up in our cups after a journey through Java and Colombia? How did the name of the Bodhisattva Avalokiteswar, translated into Chinese as Guanyin and in Japanese as Kwanon, inspire the Japanese brand name for a camera?

Endless other questions point to deeper processes at play. How is the same gene mutation found in three people living in continents thousands of miles apart? How did Islam, born in the deserts of Arabia, win over a billion converts in the world? How did Europeans learn to play the violin with a bowstring made of Mongolian horsehair? Or, for that matter, how did the ninth-century Arab mathematician al-Khwarizimi lend his name to the algorithms that now run the world of information? How did the economic model of growing sugarcane with slave labor, developed in the eastern Mediterranean, reach the Caribbean? Why was there no fiery kimchi in Korea before Christopher Columbus found chili pepper plants in the New World? How did the United States currency get its name from a German silver-mining town? Why are the grapes that yielded the first barrel of wine in California called mission grapes? How did the Chinese paper-making technology reach the West and end up producing the stock for the book you are reading? The questions are as varied as they are unending, and they go to the heart of the all-embracing phenomenon of global interconnectedness. The economic definition of globalization cannot explain why an electrician in New Haven cared about the Brazilian rain forest or how global awareness of such issues has arisen. As we shall see in Chapter 8, the story of how the word globalization emerged is directly linked to the visibility of growing integration of the world. The term globalization, reflecting awareness of these global connections, grew out of the very process it describes - a process that has worked silently for millennia without having been given a name.

Adapted from Bound Together: How Traders, Preachers, Adventurers, and Warriors Shaped Globalization by Nayan Chanda, published in 2007 by Yale University Press.

© 2007 by Nayan Chanda. Reprinted by permission.


Nayan Chanda is director of publications, Yale Center for the Study of Globalization, and editor, YaleGlobal Online. He is former editor of the Far Eastern Economic Review and the Asian Wall Street Journal Weekly.


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