First Globalization by Geoffrey C. Gunn


The book the first globalization by Geoffrey C. uncovers the making of the modern world with reference to the period 1500 to 1800; it explains all the parts of the modern world and the various exchanges among cultures and regions. Globalization can be defined as the increasing convergence of the ways of life across the world; globalization depends on human migration, trade and integration of markets.

Analysis of the first globalization by Gunn:

Geoffrey C. in his book first globalization tries to uncover the multivalent changes and cultural exchanges across the world; he tries to reveal the making of the modern world by considering all the parts including cultural and economic factors. This book focuses on the process of globalization between the years 1500 to 1800 which is also referred to as the period of discovery.

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We will first focus on chapter seven of the book which is titled civilization encounters; this chapter focuses on civilization, Asia’s first encounter with civilization was the arrival of missionaries and merchants. Although there was resistance to the Jesuit in china and the restriction of importing European text, there was a change in the people’s way of life due to the western culture. People started to adopt the western culture and this can be termed as globalization.

Catholic missionaries arrived in Japan in the year 1549, the missionaries were Portuguese and Spain sponsored Jesuits, religion was seen as an integral part of the state and also seen as having extra benefits other than spiritual benefits.

Chapter six is entitled enlightenment views of Asian governance, this chapter focuses on the adoption of various forms of governments in Asia, there was high acceptance of forms of government which was influenced by earlier Jesuit writings, Baron however used travel literature to critique despotism in china and also Muslim courts, and it was Plato’s idea that china be ruled by a king.

The enlightenment of the whole of Asia through adoption of various forms of government also led to early civilization and globalization; this shows how migration and the movement of ideas led to changes in people’s way of life; however the enlightened despotism faded away when the image of Asia in Europe turned negative.

Chapter eight is titled livelihoods, this chapter focuses on the introduction of records in Europe concerning Asia, and an example is Luis De Frois who wrote about the differences in early modernity between Japan and Europe, another example is the work of Marco Polo who wrote about the everyday life of china, this writings significantly changed the peoples way of life leading to people learning other languages and the emergence of the major European languages.

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Written literature worked as a way of popularizing the knowledge and ideas of a certain region, for example the invention of vital geographical knowledge by Europeans who also gained more information from the Arabs. This was aided by the invention of the print media in Europe leading to more and more regions being popularized.

There was also the emergence of the alternative literature which was referred to as alternative due to the fact that it seemed to mock the real text, it was characterized by abstract scientific ideas and a good example is the well known book Gulliver travelers, this book however portrays a lot of Asian history and wisdom.

Chapter nine is titled language, power and hegemony, the author describe the success of missionary in Asia as a result of mastering the Asian languages, the missionaries were the first lexicographers of the Asian languages while the Portuguese used their own language to their conquest or even worked with interpreters.

European colonizers proclaimed the superiority of their language to their conquest and therefore through this there was the adoption of European languages. There was also the emergence of the translation of European literature that would as a result aid in scientific learning by various regions, this however come to an end due to the emergence of the European world languages.

Chapter ten focuses on global acculturation, the author considers the period 1500 to 1800 as one that was characterized by intense creolization of the various cultures, this as a result produced nations example the myriad communities located along the cost of china, music also was a cause of global acculturation.

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Globalization is evident in our current world, the book first civilization tries to bring forth the process of globalization, the history provided by this book shows causes and consequences of each event that occurred between the year 1500 to 1800. The author tries to explain the modern world by focusing on the past; globalization in the world we live in today is evident due to universality of languages, development of transport and communication networks, common markets for world countries and the similarities in the ways of life in the whole world.

This book therefore describes the complex movement of ideas, philosophies, languages and technologies across regions which led to the transformation of both Asia and Europe in the era known as the discovery period; this therefore can be referred to as the first wave of globalization.

Europe in this era transformed the world which in this case includes Asia and on the other hand the discovery of Asia by Europe also transformed it, however the book portrays European hegemony over Asia where major transformations were evident in Asia.

Geoffrey C. Gunn in this book has proved that this era was not only an era characterized by westernization but also it is the era of the first civilization, he has also contributed to the study of globalization through the use of historical dynamics and the cultural point of view of globalization.


This book tries to uncover the meaning and process of globalization with reference to the period 1500 to 1900, it analyses the period as one characterized by westernization but proves that this period was the first wave of globalization, through literature, learning of new languages, missionaries and traders, Asia was transformed into a new world. However he does not forget to point out that despite transformation of Asia by Europe, Europe at the same time was

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In his definition of globalization he takes into consideration all the parts that were involved in the process of globalization in the era of discovery, he takes into consideration cultural variations, scientific discoveries, missionaries and religion and also economic factors that led to globalization.


Geoffrey C. Gunn (2003) First Globalization: The Eurasian Exchange 1500-1800, Row man Littlefield Publishers, New York

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