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Anievas, Alexander and Nisancioglu, Kerem (2017) 'How Did the West Usurp the Rest? Origins of the Great Divergence over the Longue Durée.' Comparative Studies in Society and History, 59 (1). pp. 34-67.

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Traditional explanations of the “rise of the West” have located the sources of Western supremacy in structural or long-term developmental factors internal to Europe. By contrast, revisionist accounts have emphasized the conjunctural and contingent aspects of Europe's ascendancy, while highlighting intersocietal conditions that shaped this trajectory to global dominance. While sharing the revisionist focus on the non-Western sources of European development, we challenge their conjunctural explanation, which denies differences between “West” and “East” and within Europe. We do so by deploying the idea of uneven and combined development (UCD), which redresses the shortcomings found on both sides of the debate: the traditional Eurocentric focus on the structural and immanent characteristics of European development and the revisionists’ emphasis on contingency and the homogeneity of Eurasian societies. UCD resolves these problems by integrating structural and contingent factors into a unified explanation: unevenness makes sense of the sociological differences that revisionists miss, while combination captures the aleatory processes of interactive and multilinear development overlooked by Eurocentric approaches. From this perspective, the article examines the sociologically generative interactions between European and Asian societies’ development over the longue durée and traces how the breakdown of feudalism and the rise of capitalism in Europe were fundamentally rooted in and conditioned by extra-European structures and agents. This then sets up our conjunctural analysis of a central yet underappreciated factor explaining Europe rise to global dominance: the disintegration of the Mughal Empire and Britain's colonization of India.

Item Type: Journal Article
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > Department of Politics & International Studies
Legacy Departments > Faculty of Law and Social Sciences > Department of Politics and International Studies
ISSN: 00104175
Copyright Statement: © Society for the Comparative Study of Society and History 2017. This is the accepted version of Anievas, Alexander and Nişancioğlu ‘How Did the West Usurp the Rest? Origins of the Great Divergence over the Longue Durée’ Comparative Studies in Society and History Vol. 59 (1), 34-67. Published version available from Cambridge University Press at:
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 26 Jul 2017 08:06

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