Since humans migrated from Africa and dispersed throughout the world, they have found countless ways and reasons to reconnect with each other. In this entertaining book, Nayan Chanda follows the exploits of traders, preachers, adventurers, and warriors throughout history as they have shaped and reshaped the world. For Chanda, globalization is a process of ever-growing interconnectedness and interdependence that began thousands of years ago and continues to this day with increasing speed and ease.
In the end, globalization—from the lone adventurer carving out a new trade route to the expanding ambitions of great empires—is the product of myriad aspirations and apprehensions that define just about every aspect of our lives: what we eat, wear, ride, or possess is the product of thousands of years of human endeavor and suffering across the globe. Chanda reviews and illustrates the economic and technological forces at play in globalization today and concludes with a thought-provoking discussion of how we can and should embrace an inevitably global world.
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Q. What is your definition of globalization?
A. I see globalization as a historical process of interconnectedness that has shaped all of our lives. If we look under the hood of our daily existence, almost everything—from what we consume, wear or use to the music we listen to or the movies we enjoy—is the product of a long and complex historical journey.
Q. What do you say to people who tell you they are opposed to globalization?
A. Growing interconnectedness has always brought pain in about equal measure to gain. For all its positive contributions, globalization has also brought war, slavery, displacement, and pandemics. But it is impossible to oppose the process of globalization, which is being driven by hundreds of millions of people from every walk of life.
Q. Of traders, preachers, adventurers, and soldiers, is there one group that has played a greater role in shaping the world today?
A. It is hard to assign a greater significance to any one of them. They are not independent from one another. Still, I would say that traders, who often moonlighted as preachers, adventurers, and soldiers, played the most significant role.
Q. Are there certain transition points in history that greatly facilitated globalization in its various forms?
A. There are many critical moments. But some of the most important revolve around transport and communications. For example, the discovery of the monsoon wind widened trade and human links between Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, just as the steam engine and electricity encouraged the growth of mechanized industrial production. Most recently, the development of the World Wide Web has "flattened" the world of global services and accelerated the transfer of ideas and information.
Q. What do you hope readers will take away from your book?
A. A sense of how closely all humans are related. From the cells in our bodies to the objects that are integral to our everyday existence, we are all connected by invisible threads that stretch across continents and millennia. For better or for worse, we are all the products of globalization.
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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