The progressive integration of eastern Africa into an Afro-Eurasian world-system, first–fifteenth centuries ce

Authored by: Philippe Beaujard

The Swahili World

Print publication date:  October  2017
Online publication date:  October  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138913462
eBook ISBN: 9781315691459
Adobe ISBN:


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Long-distance trade, along with the exchange of knowledge, beliefs and values, has always been a crucial factor for social change. At the beginning of the Common Era, the occurrence of regular and significant exchanges and interconnections between maritime and terrestrial routes combined to build what can be considered as the first world-system. It included Asia as well as parts of Europe and Africa (Beaujard 2005, 2012), the Indian Ocean occupying a central position. Although Wallerstein (1974) introduced it for the modern period, the concept of world-system has been employed by many other authors to refer to more ancient periods. A world-system can be defined as a space where exchanges lead to a process of globalisation, marked by a division of labour and hierarchisation occurring both between and within interconnected regions. This process is also characterised by the existence of economic and political cycles, with each cycle experiencing phases of growth and demise.

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