Jack Goody and the Eurasian miracle

Our today article is on jack goody.We will talk about some history of jack goody.Jack Goody is a world-renowned anthropologist who has devoted an important part of his work to questioning the spontaneous Eurocentrism of many of our representations. In his latest book, The Eurasian Miracle,he protests against the tendency of the social sciences to impute the emergence of capitalism in the West to qualities purely intrinsic to Europe. Noting, on the contrary, the similarity of many traits of civilization (great cuisine to ritualized service, art of cultivating and assembling flowers, art of gardens …) from one end of the Eurasian continent to the other, he develops the idea of ​​a miracle common to Europe and Asia in the Bronze Age, followed by alternations in the technical and organizational advance between East and West, that is, about three millennia. In so doing, he broke with the usual Eurocentric while explaining in part both the rise of the West from 16 thcentury and the return to power of East Asia today. On the other hand, it clearly separates Africa, its field of work, from this set …

Jack Goody and the Eurasian miracle

At the heart of his demonstration is a refutation of all the supposedly specific traits of Europe. Thus the idea that the Europeans would have built capitalism through their late marriage system followed by a certain amount of restraint in matters of procreation, whereas the early Chinese marriage would have led this society to make too many children, way, does not stand up to analysis. Early marriage was compensated in China by many practices of restricting procreation within marriage. Similarly, the idea that the Indian caste system would lead to a much more fixed society than in Europe seems exaggerated: the European Middle Ages led to the practice of marriage within its social class and this practice, although not mandatory , unlike India,

Jack Goody and the Eurasian miracle

The proponents of the “European miracle”, in their search for the causes of the latter, carry out a pro-domo advocacywhich tends to overestimate both the uniqueness of the West and the importance of the supposed miracle. Prisoners of this idea of ​​uniqueness, they reduce all comparison between civilizations to the revelation of the weak points of non-European societies. Obsessed by the importance of the western expansion, they tend to look for the true starting point at almost every epoch, thus identifying as many supposed European specificities … In doing so, they are incapable, both of putting highlighting the qualities and strengths of non-Europe and seeing certain seeds of capitalism. They are then especially incapable of imagining that Europe could have engendered modern capitalism in interaction with the rest of the Eurasian continent. In particular, Goody rejects the idea that,th century as part of a putting out system (with advances in the merchant cash and not in raw materials); it also shows that the caste system did not prevent the expansion of entrepreneurial activities based both on the bonds of caste and kinship that can lead to real factories such as garment factories, the karkhanas, of the Mogul period.

Jack Goody and the Eurasian miracle

It is precisely on the invocation of large kinship groups as a brake on development in Asia that Goody focuses his criticism. It thus shows that most of the strategies concerning inheritance are carried out, most of the time, at the level of the domestic group and not within the lineage or the clan. At the same time, throughout the Eurasian space, it would be the nuclear families that would constitute the units of production as of reproduction and the functions exercised by the larger kinship groups would gradually devolve to the state or religious institutions. Under these conditions, individualism has no reason to constitute a phenomenon at first European. Goody observes that “economic individualism, entrepreneurship, characterizes merchants in a universal way”[2010, p. 29] and if it is associated with democracy, it emerged elsewhere in Europe, sometimes under very different forms and much earlier in its development, in England and in France, the 17 th and 18 th centuries . As for the theses which associate it with Christianity, they are beaten by many oriental anthropologists: Goody quotes in particular the studies of Ikegami which show the rise of the assertion of self in the culture of the samurai and the emergence of ” the individualism of honor “as an ethic of concentration on long-term goals and personal risk-taking for social change.

Jack Goody and the Eurasian miracle

Basically, Goody considers that the Bronze Age created a great similarity between Europe and Asia, especially in terms of urbanization, following the concept of urban revolution proposed by Childe to characterize this period. In opposition to the theses of Marx or Weber, who considered the European city, especially in the Middle Ages, as more autonomous, Goody shows that the urban melting pot common to both parts of Eurasia was the place par excellence of exchanges, production, specialized employment, written culture and education … and if the city disappears in the West with the collapse of empires, not to be reborn in a more dynamic form from 11 thEverywhere else the cities of the Bronze Age have been maintained and have perpetuated, often with magnificence, the activities proper to commercial capital. Whether we reread the pages of Marco Polo with visiting Hangzhou city amazement that his human eyes the 13 th century largely surpassed Venice or his followers, by the density of its trade and wealth … From this point of view, and contrary to the Marxist vulgate, feudalism can no doubt be regarded as a major regression of Europe.

Jack Goody and the Eurasian miracle

But social differentiation would also be a feature shared throughout Eurasia. In this area, the use of the plow has undoubtedly motivated some to hold more arable land, thus determining a crystallization of social classes on an economic basis. On the contrary, in Africa, the use of the hoe would not have permitted any real differentiation other than political. This contrast would be at the origin of cultural traits such as great cuisine or floral art, in the only Eurasian societies, insofar as these techniques come to mark precisely the difference of class. Marriage, rather endogamous in Eurasia, exogamic in Africa, is also linked in its forms to this presence or lack of social differentiation based on income or wealth.

Jack Goody and the Eurasian miracle

If Eurasia has therefore shared a widely shared culture, how to explain the alternation of leadershipbetween East and West? The merchants would probably be the main players because of their ability to transfer technology on the continent, usually late. But Goody considers that at the same time, societies with similar problems, “diffusionism” does not explain everything. In some societies, the logic resulting from the problems historically encountered would, apart from external communication, lead to the inventing of the necessary techniques or tools. The independent invention would therefore also be appropriate. It is the play of these two processes that would be at the heart of this alternation between East and West, the industrial revolution is no doubt clearly of the two logics since a British engineering culture was grafted on an effective and older transfer of techniques, notably Chinese (cf. chronic of 8 March]. At the heart of these alternating moments, Goody also places the retrospective gaze of a society on itself. When it is more secular than religious, such a look leads to a reassessment of tradition and can propel a society towards cumulative innovations: this would be the case both of the neo-Confucian revision of the Song period in Chinae -12 th centuries) and the revival of Greek culture by the European Renaissance …

Jack Goody and the Eurasian miracle

At the end of this journey, Goody concludes that thinking about the rise of the West was wrong to reason in terms of essence, the intrinsic superiority of Europe due to its culture or mentality. This “essentialist” analysis must be replaced by an understanding of both a common matrix established in the Bronze Age and the sometimes complex determinants of the alternation phenomena. This alternation of which we are perhaps living a whole new episode …

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