What is Development? International Inequality in Historical Perspective

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4
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0
Number: 
139B
CCN: 
76005
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Course Description: 

A world without the West,” “Islamic banking,” “leap-frogging development,” “failed states,” “virtual economy vs. real economy,” “neo-mercantilism” – these are only a few of a long list of real-world phenomena which are in the news today. Important shifts in the distribution of power and wealth in the world raise a central question: are we witnessing the dissolution of the post-1945 world political and economic order? The declining hegemony of the United States in the world economy, the rise of oil-based authoritarianisms, the linking-up of various tribal and semi-feudal societies to the world of latest technology, the wholesale questioning of the universality of human behavior, the unexpected return of religion and mysticism into politics, the growing fuzziness surrounding the very definitions of labor, production and services stagger our minds and boggle our imaginations. These developments are often described as unexpected and even stunning. Yet, as this course will argue, the shocking nature of these developments, the sensationalism which accompanies them, are in fact a result of a hugely insufficient knowledge of the history of the rise of the international market economy and the circumstances which conditioned that rise.

Subfield: Comparative Politics


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