- Bound Together: How Traders, Preachers, Adventurers, and Warriors Shaped Globalization
Nayan Chanda embraces globalization not as a recent phenomenon, but as the expression of one of humanity's deepest and oldest impulses. He asks: "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" (p. x)? His lively and energetic account of this long journey is structured around the activities of ever restless and active migrants, traders, and missionaries. Chanda's view of history follows the path of Fernand Braudel's "longue durée perspective" (p. 172), so Chanda's first globalization episode is the beginning of human migration from the African continent. Globalization becomes a succession of episodes: migration, emigration, exploration, immigration, trade routes, and invasion.
His first chapter, "The African Beginning," is not only a quick review of the DNA evidence that supports the "out of Africa" thesis (Chinese caveats mentioned [p. 7]), but also lays the groundwork of his recurring theme that the human motivation for the episodes of globalization is the search for security and the search for a better, more fulfilling life. As Chanda will do throughout the book, he quickly ties his arguments about the past to the present. He seeks his own past in an examination of his personal DNA markers that tie him squarely to India. His delight is apparent when the analysis also reveals that he shares marker M168 , traceable to an African man who is "the common [End Page 273] ancestor of every non-African person living today" (author's italics, p. 13). Chanda acknowledges the influence of other writers on this topic, and the work of Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza (Genes, Peoples, and Languages, 2001) and Jared Diamond (Guns, Germs, and Steel, 1997) echo through this chapter. The sources Chanda cites in this and subsequent chapters are wide ranging, current, and informative. One could wish that Yale University Press had also supplied a bibliographic index.
If human migration was the first globalizing episode, trade is the next one. Again, Chanda will tie old historical trade patterns to very current ones. He orders an Apple iPod music player for his son and marvels at the global journey his purchase reveals: a plant in China, a Pacific journey via FedEx, and, within two days, delivery on the U.S. East Coast. By his definition, Steve Jobs is a "trader" in the global historical sense, "making profit by producing and transporting goods across border" (p. 37). He shares Adam Smith's insight that trade for profit is a human instinct that can be traced throughout history. The iPod purchase is no different in principle from trade in ancient Mesopotamia, in Zheng He's China, or via the great English and Dutch trading companies of the 1600s. The wide sweep of Chanda's narrative is exhilarating, but could well pose a challenge to readers not familiar with world history. Bound Together will, however, offer an introduction. Chanda writes fluently and evocatively. He says of the Silk Road: "For more than a millennium the path that spanned three continents became a conveyer belt for the transmission of religions, art, philosophy, languages, technologies, germs and genes" (p. 42). This is a great guide for further reading in world history.
Chanda begins one of his most interesting chapters ("The Preachers' World," p. 105) by expanding the idea of the missionary to an unexpected contemporary usage: secular missionaries who preach the human rights agenda around the world. "They are the newest incarnation of missionaries, in the broadest sense of the term, agents of globalization who have been a historical force in reconnecting dispersed human communities" (p. 107). The expansion of Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam is the foundational story, as they carry ideas as well as trade and political power across the globe, weaving a web of interconnections that are as much cultural and economic as religious. World explorers, too, become part of the globalization...