Economics: The Failure of Modernity--Regions

Figure 1.--Frenchman Alexandre Leroux (1836-1912) was one of several European photographers who brought photography to the Muslim world. He opened several photography studios in Algiers, including his premiere studio on Bab Azoum. He took portraits, but also took ethnographic photographs for sale in a Europe fascinated by the exotic backwardness of the Middle East and North Africa. He opened his first studio (1876). Thus this photograph could have been taken any time from 1876-1912. In fct it could have been taken a millenium earlier if photography existed. It is titled 'Rue a Ras-El Guerria dans L Oasis de Biskra'. Biskra is an Algerian town which developed around a desert oasis.

Around the World as the West invented modernity, other regions generally failed to make that transition. Sub-Saharan Africa was the single most backward area. But we see countries showing great poverty and the lack of technolog in many other areas as well. One of the most backward areas is the Muslim world streaching from Central Asia through North Africa. North Africa was a little different because it was colonized by the Europeans. We notice other areas that seem backward such as India and China and are not sure how to compare them with the Middle East and Central Asia. And of course any such comparison had to destinguish between urban and rural areas. Comparing these regions becomes somewhat difficult. It is fairly easy to compare the West with these failed regions. It is more difficult to compare these regions with each other. We are not entirely sure which region was the poorest. In assessing poverty, agricultural productivity has to be a major factor in a pre-industrial world. There seems to be, for example, great poverty in China which may have approached or even exceeded that of China. But notably, Western merchants had no great desire to reach Arab lands. The Arabs until the West discovered ther oil, had very little to offer, other than the trade goods produced in the East, both China and India. Thee were the prductive societies producing the goods coveted by the Europeans.


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Created: 4:16 AM 12/14/2016
Last updated: 4:16 AM 12/14/2016