The geographical hotspots of the world are all related to economic trade and global exchange of political interests. Places such as the Panama and Suez Canals have always been in the Western media. However, from an economic and strategic perspective, the Strait of Malacca is one of the most important shipping lanes in the world in the 21st Century. The history of this Strait’s geopolitical relevance goes as back as 400 years of history.
For centuries the strait has been the main shipping channel between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. It has been controlled by the major regional powers and also by the mayor global power during different historical periods. In 2011 hundreds of thousands of containers in more than 60,000 vessels crossed its waters carrying about one-quarter of the world’s traded goods including oil, Chinese manufactures, and Indonesian coffee.
In order to understand which is the geopolitical importance of the Strait of Malacca for the Chinese government we need to overview the current geopolitical dynamics and economic investments in the region.
The following image from NASA clearly depicts what are some of the IMPRESSIVE negative externalities caused by the transport of global goods in the region and opens the door for discussing
- How can we fix this?
- Who should fix it?
- Can it be fixed?
- Can we reduce the future impacts in the area?
- What solutions are available?
Yesterday, April 22 many people gathered to celebrate “Earth Day” in order to call for a stop of human action and creativity in the process of transforming our planet. Fortunately, against these destructive minds and philosophy many men and women have been working to show why the transformation of the world is something good, positive and beneficial for all of us.
I invite you to watch this wonderful video titled “If I wanted America to fail”
Furthermore, I also invite you to read the essay written by Alex Epstein (Founder and Director of the Center for Industrial Progress) in which he elaborates why human transformation of Earth is the product of our success in being more efficient and productive. Because as Epstein wonderfully elaborates,
“It is only through technology–transforming the world around us for human purposes–that we eventually lessened that load. Technology, by creating a human environment in which our goals are easier to accomplish, buys us time–time to enjoy ourselves as we please, or time to create more technologies that will buy us even more time by improving our environment even more.” Read his essay here
Rudolph Vecoli introduced his edited volume A Century of European Migrations, 1830–1930 with the statement “[w]e need to move beyond the framework of the ‘Atlantic Migration’ . . . It [has] blinkered us to the global nature of [migration].”
And indeed, that is what Prof. Adam McKeown planned to demonstrate in the article “Global Migration, 1846–1940”. The article is a great tool to understand the role that global interconnectedness, industrialization and increase in trade meant for the world. McKeown explains how was it that millions of migrants during the period of his study enabled for the population of America, Southeast Asia and Manchuria to increased more quickly than world population.
Read it:Global Migration 1846-1940. McKeown, Adam, Ph.D. Journal of World History, Volume 15, Number 2, June 2004, pp. 155-189 (Article)
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Today I had an epiphany in Economic History thanks to Ph.D. Isa Blumi who gave a lecture on “The Ottoman Legacy: Socio-Economic Dynamics and the Origins of Modern Politics” emphasizing the economic history of Egypt and The Ottoman Empire during the 18th. and 19th Centuries.
The first great argument was rooted in how Egypt had been already transforming its economy and society long before The Napoleonic French Campaign (1798-1801). As well, he made very clear how Napoleon’s interest in acquiring Egypt’s wheat was much more important than posing for a picture in front of the Sphinx. He explained the consequences of this invasion and the resulting liberation of Egypt by the genious of Muhammad Ali Pasha.
The epiphany to my research interest came when he localized the first modern factory 2,500 miles away from the cities of Derby, Birmingham and Manchester. Most surely, researching this argument would surely enlighten the current historiography of Economic History and establish more roots of entrepreneurial activity, innovation and mass production in the Middle East. Doing this will also disentail the roots of the creation of Wealth from the Eurocentric historigraphy that has been in fact characterized by its antipodes: mercantilism, patrimonialism and altruism.
If you are interested in learning more of this subjects here are recommended readings that Professor Blumi shared with me:
- Ariel Salzmann, “An Ancien Regime Revisited: ‘Privatization’ and Political Economy in the Eighteen-Century Ottoman Empire,” Politics & Society, Vol. 21 No. 4 (December 1993): 393-423.
- Peter Gran,Islamic Roots of Capitalism: Egypt, 1760-1840 (New edition: Syracuse University Press, 1998), first two chapters.
- Judith Tucker, “Decline of the Family Economy in Mid-Nineteenth-Century Egypt,” in The Modern Middle East, Albert Hourani et al eds., (Berkeley, 1993): 229-254.
- Akram Khater “’House’ to ‘Goddess of the House’: Gender, Class and Silk in 19th century Mt. Lebanon,” International Journal of Middle East Studies, 28/3 (1996): 325-348.