Inter-area/Border Crossing

Organized Panel Session

1 - The First Global Age: Asian Perspectives, 1500-1800

Saturday, July 7
4:30 PM - 6:00 PM
Location: Rudraksha, Lower Ground Floor

The three centuries of what has variously been termed the ‘early modern period’, the ‘age of exploration’ or the ‘first global age’ have been the focus of a great many studies over the past few (several) decades. The tendency has been to study it (the Age) from the European perspective, so that the focus is on how the Portuguese, followed by the north (North) European countries, found their way across the oceans to Asia, and then affirmed their technological and maritime superiority to assert their sovereignty over first the seas, and then the land. The Asian trading world was seen as a self-contained one into which Europeans entered in the sixteenth century, initially as fairly marginal players. Asia was seen as frozen and immutable, a canvas into which Europeans brought in the ideas of mobility and change and transformed it forever.


However, it is also necessary to look at the same Age from a more Asian perspective, something that has only just begun. Frank (1992) pointed to the technological, demographic and economic superiority of Asia, and India and China in particular, at the beginning of this period, and as is well known, the challenges and acceptance of the world systems theory has also led to a great deal of research on the world system  and its various dimensions.

Radhika Seshan

Pune University, India

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1 - The First Global Age: Asian Perspectives, 1500-1800



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