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Since humans migrated from Africa and dispersed throughout the world, they have found countless ways and reasons to reconnect with each other. In this entertaining book, Nayan Chanda follows the exploits of traders, preachers, adventurers, and warriors throughout history as they have shaped and reshaped the world. For Chanda, globalization is a process of ever-growing interconnectedness and interdependence that began thousands of years ago and continues to this day with increasing speed and ease.
In the end, globalization—from the lone adventurer carving out a new trade route to the expanding ambitions of great empires—is the product of myriad aspirations and apprehensions that define just about every aspect of our lives: what we eat, wear, ride, or possess is the product of thousands of years of human endeavor and suffering across the globe. Chanda reviews and illustrates the economic and technological forces at play in globalization today and concludes with a thought-provoking discussion of how we can and should embrace an inevitably global world.
Globalization may seem like a relatively new term, but Chandra, a director for the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization, argues intriguingly that its history ranges across centuries, beginning when the first humans left Africa, "following game herds... [or] shellfish beds around the Arabian Peninsula." Chanda illuminates the stepping-stones of humankind's global conquest, such as early trading routes, the domestication of horses, the rise of the world's great religions, the slave trade, the World Wide Web and the spread of diseases like SARS and Avian flu, looking from angles psychological, geographic, philosophical, theological, commercial and military. With the perspective of a historian and the savvy of a political scientist, Chanda skillfully argues that globalization was, is and will always be inevitable (a particularly revealing statistic: "migrants constitute 20 percent of the population in some 41 of the world's largest countries"). Using ubiquitous examples like FedEx, McDonald's and Starbucks, Chanda uncovers common denominators and shared consequences, underpinning his analysis with anecdotes of commerce through the ages (the discovery of coffee by a goat herder, the Starbucks opened in the "five-hundred-year-old Forbidden City compound in Beijing"). Like a good mystery, Chanda's chronology is rich with surprises and moments of revelation. (June)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
"Look, they are returning and they have bought something truly amazing! Trees heavy with fresh incense ready to plant. Ebonine, precious ivory, baboons, monkeys and dogs, countless Leopard skins, even slaves and children. Nothing like this has ever happened to another king of Egypt." -Queen Hatshepsut exclaiming on the return of the Egyptian expedition to Punt (Africa) on the walls of her temple (1473-58 BCE)
In some telling of history, imagination provides the context for a truer meaning underneath. To begin understanding the story of globalization, there is hardly a more apt opening phrase than the familiar fairy tale opening, "Once upon a time," followed by a tale that, as recorded here, is part imagination, part reality.
Once upon a time there was a village in a place called Duniya. It was a village on the edge of the forest where the sun shone on the tall grass and the undulating hills. Life was hard, but there were enough roots to dig, nuts to gather, and gazelles or hares to hunt. For shelter, there were caves or overhanging rocks. But the countryside around the village began to change. The sun gothotter and the air drier. There was less and less food as animals perished from drought or left the area in search of water. Villagers, too, chose to follow the herds to stay near food. As they trudged along, they broke into groups. Some headed north following the animals, others moved toward the ocean. The exodus increasingly separated the groups moving farther and farther away from one another. It was an endless walk. As they walked, some settled in places that looked bountiful, others moved on in the direction that promised food and security. Thousands of years passed.
In their endless, slow wandering through icebound plains, windswept steppes, and snow-capped mountains, the villagers lost their sunburned look. Gradually their hair and eyes changed colors, and even their faces and body shapes were transformed. After two thousand generations of wandering, nobody knew where the original village in Duniya was. In their dispersed habitats, the people spread over the vast land, separated by mountains, deserts, and the rising ocean that submerged an earlier land bridge. They spoke a variety of tongues, wore diverse clothes, and ate different foods. Then one day a trader walked over the hill and discovered another human settlement, other people who spoke a different language and fashioned new and interesting tools. Trading between the separated villages took off. A preacher, too, ventured out from another of the many villages that now dotted Duniya, hoping to teach others about his god. In yet another village an ambitious chief assembled a small army to extend his control over other villages, in the hope of building an empire. There were also intrepid villagers, curious about what lay behind the mountain at the edge of their village or at the other side of the blue waters. They set forth to see what they could see, and they returned with stories about the amazing plants, animals, and treasures that lay on distant shores.
Thousands of years and thousands of generations passed. Some villages were no longer villages but bustling towns and cities. People had invented all sorts of devices that allowed them to go from one village to another faster than on horseback. They had built ships that carried huge amounts of goods from one place in Duniya to another. The population had grown to billions from the original few hundred who had left the drought-stricken village three thousand generations ago. The masses now traveled, migrated in search of jobs, and bought and sold goods from far and wide. Nobody remembered the name of the village of their origins or how their ancestors had lived. But every day they knew more about the many villages and towns that now dotted Duniya. They could taste different foods, listen to music they had not heard before, and, thanks to a magical box in their homes, even see what was happening in other parts of Duniya. This was duniyaization, they concluded. Many loved this new life, but some were upset to learn that people in other parts of Duniya led far more comfortable lives. Others complained that villagers from a distant place, who looked different and spoke other languages, were arriving in their towns and taking jobs. Cheap products from other places were filling up their store shelves, and local factories were closing down. If this is duniyaization, we will have none of it, they said. But nobody knew how to control this growing surge of connections that had linked all the descendants of one village thousands of years ago and continued to bring them closer. They did not know that they were once all from the same village.
It's no fantasy. Just call that metaphorical village Africa and replace Duniya with what it means in Arabic, Hindi, or Hausa-the world-and what you get in a nutshell is the story of globalization. Of course, there was no village until humans settled down to plant and harvest crops. But comparing the African continent to a metaphorical village is not so far-fetched. Africa may be a vast land that is home to nearly a billion people today, but our human ancestors who walked out of Africa so long ago may have numbered just two thousand, the size of a hamlet. One estimate puts the number of migrants out of Africa at no more than 150 people, the typical size of a hunter-gatherer population. These early adventurers may have had wanderlust, but they ventured out of their known habitat mainly for survival. Those who stayed on survived by moving to more hospitable parts of Africa. The five billion inhabitants of today's non-African Duniya are descendants of those villagers who walked out of Africa. They are increasingly interconnected and, for better or for worse, interdependent. Homo sapiens-the anatomically modern humans who emerged in Africa-is the first mammalian species that has voluntarily spread itself out to every corner of the globe and begun what we have come to call globalization. In the sixty thousand years since that early journey out of Africa, humanity has diverged. The physical differences among humans that form the basis of what we call "race" were forged in this period of great divergence by geography, climate, and natural selection. As we shall see, the multihued great human diasporas from Africa, which sprang up in different latitudes and longitudes of the globe, organized themselves in distinct communities and began reconnecting with long-separated cousins across oceans and mountains.
This process of reconnection-driven by adventurers, traders, preachers, and warriors-has grown thicker and faster with each passing year, integrating the world more tightly than ever. The beginning of the twenty-first century marks an ironic turning of the full circle for the "out of Africa" adventurers. Thousands of destitute and jobless Africans are again on the move as migrants. In a desperate attempt to find a better life in Europe and the Middle East, they are trudging across forbidding deserts and risking life on perilous journeys. Unlike our ancestors of sixty thousand years ago, today's Africans are not walking along the Yemeni coast or trudging north through the Nile and Jordan valleys to the erstwhile unknown world of the Mediterranean and beyond. From the Atlantic coast of Senegal and Mauritania, they are boarding fishing boats, cramming into hulls in the hope of a better life across nine hundred miles of water. Their immediate destination: the Canary Islands, stepping-stone to the European Union. It is not just that Africans are again leaving the continent in search of a better life. The sight that often greets the fully clothed African immigrants wading ashore beaches of the Canary Islands compounds the irony: the "naturist" European bathers soaking in the sun are in the same state of undress as when our ancestors left Africa.
Other desperate people from Ethiopia-humanity's cradle land-and Somalia are taking to the ocean in the hope of reaching Yemen and beyond. Globalization continues. In this chapter we will see how the urge to find a safer, better life turned some of our human ancestors into adventurers and set them on a journey that marked the first step in the globalization of our species. It would take more than forty thousand years for human settlements to emerge and the process of connecting with one another to take off. But the same motivations that drive greater and greater integration today have been with us from the day humans formed sedentary communities.
THE HIDDEN STORY OF A JOURNEY
How do we know that we all are originally from Africa? Twenty years ago the proposition was mostly guesswork. In his work on human evolution The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex (1871), Charles Darwin suggested that because Africa was inhabited by humans' nearest allies, gorillas and chimpanzees, "it is somewhat more probable that our early progenitors lived on the African continent than elsewhere." Although voluminous biological and paleoanthropological evidence gathered since this statement has fortified the evolutionary history of life on earth, it has been a long wait to validate Darwin's insight about Africa. Opportunity emerged with our new ability to look deep into our cells and decode the history written there. The first step was taken in 1953 when British scientist Francis S. Crick and his American colleague James D. Watson discovered the structure of DNA. "We've discovered the secret of life," Crick announced with justifiable pride. With the discovery of the double helix structure of DNA-the complex molecules that transmit genetic information from generation to generation-we received the most powerful tool to dig into our ancestral history. As Watson wrote, "We find written in every individual's DNA sequences of a record of our ancestors' respective journeys." Since these early days, sequencing DNA has gotten much easier, faster, and cheaper. With help from archaeologists, climatologists, and linguists, geneticists and paleoanthropologists have been able to reconstruct the histories of human populations-a reconstruction that was unimaginable only two decades ago.
The discovery of fossils of Homo erectus in Indonesia and China-the so-called Java and Peking men-showed that the ancestors of Homo sapiens, or anatomically modern humans, had begun to travel and colonize Asia and the Old World about two million years ago. The dedicated work of paleoanthropologists like Louis and Mary Leakey in the 1950s and a slew of researchers in the following thirty years established that ancestors of modern humans lived in East Africa's Rift Valley. The remains of a hundred-thousand-year-old Homo sapiens were found in Israel, but that species met a biological dead-end, blocked perhaps by the more robust Neanderthals who then inhabited the area. Amazingly, so far the only other remains of modern man dating back to forty-six thousand years have been found in Australia. Did these anatomically modern humans-Homo sapiens-have multiple origins, or did they evolve as a single species in Africa? The first intriguing evidence that those fossil finds in Africa were, not just the earliest humans, but our direct ancestors, came to light, not in some ancient fossils, but in the history contained in cells of modern women. This startling discovery was built on the earlier discovery of the structure of DNA. By analyzing the DNA of living humans from different parts of the world, geneticists can reconstruct the movement of their ancestors and track the prehistoric human colonization of the world. We now know that around sixty thousand years ago, a small group of people-as few as perhaps one hundred fifty to two thousand people from present-day East Africa-walked out. Over the next fifty thousand or so years they moved, slowly occupying the Fertile Crescent, Asia, Australia, and Europe and finally moving across the Beringia land bridge to the American continent. The rising waters at the end of the Ice Age separated the Americas from the Asian continent. It was not until Christopher Columbus's encounter with the Arawak on the shores of San Salvador in 1492 that the long-separated human cousins from Africa would meet each other. More about that later. First, we will see how our ancestors succeeded in making humans the first truly globalized species.
A MOTHER IN AFRICA
The discovery that all humanity stems from the same common parents came in 1987. The New Zealand biochemist Allan Wilson and his American colleague Rebecca Cann reached this conclusion at the University of California, Berkeley, by looking into a so-far ignored part of human DNA. Wilson and Cann's team collected 147 samples of mitochondrial DNA from baby placentas donated by hospitals around the world. Unlike the DNA that is recombined as it is passed from one generation to the next, mitochondrial DNA (abbreviated mtDNA) has tiny parts that remain largely intact through the generations, altered only occasionally by mutations that become "genetic markers." MtDNA is maternally inherited, transmitted only from a mother to her offspring, and only daughters can pass it on to the next generation. The mtDNA leaves intact all the mutations that a daughter inherits from her maternal ancestors, thus allowing one to find the traces of the earliest mutation. Since the rate of mutation is roughly constant, the level of variation in mutations allows us to calculate the age of the family tree created by the mtDNA string passed down through the generations. The result of Wilson and Cann's research was a bombshell. Going down the human family tree of five geographic populations, they found that all five stemmed from "one woman who is postulated to have lived about 200,000 years ago, probably in Africa." The press inevitably, if misleadingly, called her the "African Eve." She indeed was, as James Watson put it, "the great-great-great ... grandmother of us all," who lived in Africa some two hundred thousand years ago. Obviously, she was not the only woman alive at that time: she was just the luckiest because her progenies survived to populate the world, while the lines of descendants of other women became extinct. Or, in genealogical terms, their lines suffered a "pedigree collapse." Children of the three surviving lines of daughters-identified by mtDNA markers L1, L2, and L3-now populate the world. While the first two lines mostly account for the African female population, the non-African women of the world all carry in their cells the inheritance of the two daughters of L3 line-M and N. A scientist has given these lines the nicknames Manju and Nasrin based on the assumption of where the two mutations are likely to have occurred: India and the Middle East.
Our most recent common mother may have been African, but what about the father? Significant recent progress in elucidating the paternal Y-chromosome has filled in the gap. In a groundbreaking research paper in 2000, Italian geneticist Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza and his colleague Peter Underhill established that the Y chromosome that determines male sex also has an African ancestry. Just as mtDNA is transmitted only from a mother to her children, the Y chromosome that is passed on from a father to his son also does not undergo the shuffling-or recombination-that the rest of the chromosomes do. But there are mutations just like mtDNA. The result is that the history of our fathers is carried in perpetuity by sons. Human ancestors who left Africa all carried in their cells either the African Adam's Y chromosome, which has been given the prosaic label "M168," or the mtDNA of one of the African Eve's daughters. Based on extensive study of the world's population, geneticists now say that the most recent common ancestor of us all left Africa just fifty thousand years ago.
Excerpted from Bound Together by Nayan Chanda Copyright © 2007 by Nayan Chanda. Excerpted by permission.
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