Notes on Intercultural Communication

Trade, Geography, and the Unifying Force of Islam / The Silk Road

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Trade, Geography, and the Unifying Force of Islam

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Inequality in regional suitability for agriculture across the Old World

Inequality in regional suitability for agriculture across the Old World

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Percentage of Muslim population in AD 1900 in the Old World

Percentage of Muslim population in AD 1900 in the Old World

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Major trade routes in the Old World AD 600-AD 1800

Major trade routes in the Old World AD 600-AD 1800

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(…) We start with the observation that, on the one hand, Islam surfaced in the Arabian Peninsula under conditions featuring an extremely unequal land quality distribution across regions. And, on the other hand, Islam surfaced in areas close to lucrative trade routes. As a result, when dwellers from the oases were attempting to cross the surrounding vast arid lands in pursuit of trade profits, they were facing threats to their livelihoods from nomadic groups. These encounters had the potential to bring trade flows to a halt, setting the stage for the emergence of a centralising force that featured redistributive rules. We argue that Islam was such a centralising force and that, accordingly, its economic tenets had to address inherent economic inequities across clans. This resulted in an economic doctrine that promoted poverty alleviation and redistribution, equitable inheritance rules and anti-usury laws.

(…)

Fortunately, among the pre-colonial traits recorded by Murdock (1967) there is an entry describing whether a group believes or not in gods that are supportive.. of human morality. Anthropologists and evolutionary biologists have argued that the belief in moralising gods – gods who tell people what they should or should not do – was necessary to keep societies together by condemning infringements on other group members. Similarly, we  argue that the presence of an unequal geography and proximity to trade opportunities intensified the need for cooperation among heterogeneous clans. Such cooperation could be achieved by adopting a religion which, besides the appropriate economic rules, would provide a coordination mechanism that penalised those who deviate from prescribed norms. With this in mind, it is not surprising to find that a 50% increase in Muslim adherence within a group increases the likelihood that a group believes in gods that dictate what should or should not be done by 40%. If anything, Christian and ethnoreligious groups are less likely to have harboured beliefs in a moralising god in the pre-colonial period.

(…)

Conclusions:

Our findings show that Islam flourished in very challenging geographical terrains. These terrains harboured inherently unequal economic opportunities and bred conflict. Any political platform that attempted to bring clashing populations together had to address these primordial inequities. Islam was certainly such a movement, and its spread is a prime example of how geography shapes a society’s institutional and societal arrangements. (…)

8 December 2012
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Stelios Michalopoulos
Assistant Professor of Economics, Brown University

Alireza Naghavi
Assistant Professor of Economics, University of Bologna

Giovanni Prarolo
Assistant Professor of Economics, University of Bologna

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Read the full post online at VOX, download  pdf at Brown University here, or as pdf here.

(retrieved 19.04.2014 at http://www.voxeu.org/article/trade-geography-and-unifying-force-islam-0)

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Ann. of the Editor: I personally do not agree to the conclusions. Trade is based on trust. The Quran (similar to the Bible) has the character of a constitution. Moral norms as “Not Lie, Not Steal” are crucial until today’s  international trade. “Being balanced against a feather” is a keyword in Muslim morals. International institutionalised morals can appear as international law (see INCO-Terms).

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The Silk Road and Related Trade Routes

Map of  the Silk Road and Related Trade Routes

(retrieved 20.04.2014 at http://www.metmuseum.org/learn/for-educators/publications-for-educators/art-of-the-islamic-world/introduction/~/media/Files/Learn/For%20Educators/Publications%20for%20Educators/Islamic%20Teacher%20Resource/Map2.pdf)

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The Islamic World

Map of the Islamic World

(retrieved 20.04.2014 at http://www.metmuseum.org/learn/for-educators/publications-for-educators/art-of-the-islamic-world/introduction/~/media/Files/Learn/For%20Educators/Publications%20for%20Educators/Islamic%20Teacher%20Resource/Map1.pdf)

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Trade Routes Africa  15th century

Map of Trade Routes in  Africa  around 1500

“History of Africa”  27 February 2008.  HowStuffWorks.com. <http://history.howstuffworks.com/african-history/history-of-africa.htm>  20 April 2014. (retireved 20.04.2014 at http://history.howstuffworks.com/african-history/history-of-africa2.html

See the whole article about Africa around 1500 online here or download as pdf here.

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Additional Material

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Southeast_Asia_trade_route_map_XII century

(retrieved 20.04.2014 at https://laofutze.files.wordpress.com/2014/04/d9ba6-706px-southeast_asia_trade_route_map_xiicentury.jpg)

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(…) Perhaps no one has described in more ringing language than Tome Pires the advantages of a port commanding the straits :

Whoever is lord of Malacca has his hand on the throat of Venice. As far as from Malacca, and from Malacca to China, and from China to the Moluccas, and from Moluccas to Java, and from Java to Malacca and Sumatra, all is in your power. (…)

Read the full article about Ancient Asian Trade online here or download pdf here.

(retrieved 20.04.2014 at http://www.angelfire.com/mi/mitrakumarmunich/delta4.html)

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Can a Chinese ‘maritime silk route’ cool tensions in Asia?

Many, both in China and in the region, view China’s mooted Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) with the ASEAN+6 countries as a Chinese effort to push the regional agenda towards softer objectives. For Beijing, RCEP also has the benefit of countering the US-led Trans Pacific Partnership.

Yet the benefit for China of achieving either of these objectives would pale in comparison to the potential benefit of President Xi Jinping’s realising his dream of reviving the ‘maritime silk route’, which he unveiled during his October 2013 visit to Malaysia and Indonesia. The route would build on the East Asia region’s proven strengths in sharing production. It could also enable a greater role for overseas Chinese communities in forging relationships to reduce regional tensions.

The movement of goods along the maritime silk route has a history of over two millennia, which reached its peak in the 15th century when legendary explorer Zheng He led an armada from China through Southeast and South Asia to the Persian Gulf. Today some of these same corridors support East Asia’s unique production sharing network which brings components produced throughout the region to China for assemblage and shipment to Europe and North America.

The production network allows all countries, regardless of their size and technological sophistication, to benefit from deep specialisation and economies of scale by producing parts and components, and adding value to production along the production chain. With labour costs in China now rising, many ASEAN economies stand to gain from any future outsourcing of production. This, combined with the trade deficits that China runs with most of its Asian neighbours (in contrast to its persistent surpluses with the West), makes it easier for ASEAN countries to see China as an opportunity rather than a threat. (…)

Yukon Huang is Senior Associate at the Asia Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and a former country director at the World Bank in China.

East Asia Forum at http://www.eastasiaforum.org/ is always worth a visit!

(retrieved 06.05.2014 at http://www.eastasiaforum.org/2014/05/05/can-a-chinese-maritime-silk-route-cool-tensions-in-asia/)

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Restore the Silk Road

Last September (Ann. of the Editor: meaning September 2013) when he delivered a speech at a university in Kazakhstan, Chinese President Xi Jinping raised the suggestion that China and Central Asian countries should work together to build the Silk Road Economic Belt. The proposal was met with immediate resonance among neighboring countries and received a warm reception. Some provinces in the western region of China have even begun preparing to participate in the new round of cross-border economic cooperation.

Undoubtedly, the Silk Road Economic Belt will benefit all parties including China and her Central Asian partners. The mutual-benefit economic zone will help accelerate the development of China’s remote northwest regions and also facilitate China’s international cooperation with Central Asian countries.

For both China and Central Asia, the Silk Road played an important role in creating marvelous civilizations and economic prosperity in ancient times. Around 2,000 years ago, a Chinese emperor of the Han Dynasty sent his envoy, Zhang Qian, to the unknown west in search of allies to resist the threat of northern nomads. Unexpectedly, Zhang’s journey pioneered a significant bond between China and Central Asia. Since then, a trade road linking China and Central Asia—even stretching as far as Europe—formed and countries along the road thrived. The historic Silk Road was the world’s longest trade route on land.

Although the ancient Silk Road was eventually replaced by shipping routes via sea, China and Central Asian countries have great incentive to revive the historic link under the spirit of cooperation and mutual benefit. Today, China is the largest trade partner of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan as well as the largest investor in Uzbekistan. (…)

Read the full article online here or download full pdf here.

(retrieved 07.05.2014 at http://www.bjreview.com.cn/quotes/txt/2014-03/24/content_608631.htm#)

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Silk Road to Prosperity

Drug production in Afghanistan has increased 40 times since NATO moved in there 13 years ago. The profit from that drug production has become the financial support of terrorism. I think there must be international cooperation among all neighboring countries of Afghanistan, i.e. China, Russia, India, Iran and hopefully others, to wipe out the drug traffic. The drug traffic problem has become a major security problem for Russia—hundreds of thousands of people die every year as a result of drug smuggling from Afghanistan. It has become a big security problem for China, because one of the drug routes goes through Xinjiang. It is also feeding terrorists in Tajikistan, Russia’s Chechnya, Pakistan and the whole region from Afghanistan all the way to Syria, North Africa and even Central Africa. This has become a major source of threat to the stability of the region.

There must be international efforts to stabilize this region. That is why we have been proposing a very concrete extension of the Eurasian Land Bridge to the whole region, and even to Afghanistan, Syria and North Africa. You have to give incentive to the population and let them see the economic cooperation that gives them the chance to have a better future. There is better incentive than to go to drug production, or to support terrorism, which many people do because it’s being paid. Many people are just poor. You have to change the entire region with an economic development prospect which can only come from the New Silk Road Economic Belt.

Helga Zepp-LaRouche, founder and President of the Schiller Institute, an economic and political think tank headquartered in the United States and Germany

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Read the full article online here or download full pdf here.

(retrieved 07.05.2014 at http://www.bjreview.com.cn/world/txt/2014-03/24/content_609047.htm)

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Read more in the Islam category

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(reviewed 07.05.2014)

 

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