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Nguyen 1Phuc H Nguyen – Student no 216374597Professor Taylor – TA Angie ParkHUMA1170March 4th, 2019 Major Research: Evaluating The Origin of ModernityKenneth Pomeranz in The Great Divergencedates the beginning of modern era to the beginning of the Industrial Revolutions in 18thcentury Great Britain and Europe. Not only scholars after reading The Great Divergence was convinced by Pomeranz’s argument, but many readers were also made to believe that modernity originates in Europe and spreads throughout Western Civilization linearly and progressively. His comparison between Europe and Eurasia, primarily China and Japan, along with evidence of the capabilities of Europe to rapidly grow out of agriculture-based economies to prove the driven force for advancement and modernizing of the world has been agreed upon by many historians. However, Pomeranz’s research is a topic up to debate until present about whether it is fair to treat the industrial revolution as the origin of modernity and as a phenomenon specified for 18thcentury Europe only. Many recent pieces of research on this controversial issue have brought more insights into the difference between Chinaand Europe to re-evaluate the origin of modernity. In term of technologies, while Europeans havelong prided themselves of technological advancements such as the development of printing press, uses of gunpowder, compass and so on, many of these technologies were long in used in Chinese society (Ringmar 19). In economic terms, according to a case study by Sugihara called Japan, China, and the Growth of the Asian International Economy, 1850-1949,published in 2005, the research emphasizes that instead of growing due to Western impact, modern Asian
Nguyen 2economy was determined by the growth of intraregional trade, migration, capital and money flows, which already happened around Eurasia region for a long time. For those suggested cases, this essay will focus on, rather than opposing Pomeranz’s argument, developing an alternative to evaluate modernity in a broader context using textual analysis, which includes but not limited two mentioned case studies of East Asia’s societies in eighteenth and nineteenth century and The Great Divergence itself; and autoethnography which allows for the experience of the writer to be considered as a part of the research.First, a brief introduction of The Great Divergence will be provided to see what arguments of Pomeranz that the essay will examine. Close argumentation is joined to the accurate empirical comparison, derived from the best, most up-to-date studies, before The Great Divergence waspublished, of China and Europe. Although he does not introduce new primary sources, he gleans valuable data from many monographs. Pomeranz focuses mostly on England and the lower Yangzi delta of China from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century; sometimes includes Europe, China, Japan, India, and the New World. The main thesis of the book is clearly