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Re: Dating the Age of the World System
by Andrew Jorgenson
27 August 2002 03:13 UTC
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Interesting discussion.  I wanted to add one point of clarification without sounding like a "hairsplitter".  Chase-Dunn and Hall identify for types of interaction networks: bulk goods, prestige goods, political-military, and information.  The brilliance of their work in Rise and Demise is that they take an earlier set of world-systemic assumptions and reframe them as empirical questions (e.g. c/p hierarchy and/or c/p differentiation).  With their approach, world-systems could most definitely exist ten thousand years ago.  Furthermore, a hypothetical world-system fifteen thousand years ago could be compared with the modern world-system in regards to the structural characteristics of the four types of interaction networks.  Obviously there are additional types--I don't think this Chase-Dunn and Hall attempted to make these four exhaustive and/or mutually exclusive.  Their approach should be taken more seriously both empirically and analytically, especially by those rare sociologists that address social change in much more deep historical contexts. 
Cheers,  Andrew Jorgenson
Institute for Research on World-Systems and
Department of Sociology
University of California, Riverside 
----- Original Message -----
From: Carl Nordlund
Sent: Monday, August 26, 2002 7:35 PM
To: 'Luke Rondinaro'; wsn@csf.colorado.edu
Subject: Re: Dating the Age of the World System
My 2 cents:
Isn't the world system/world-systems concept extended a bit too far when pushing the dating of the world(-)system(s) way back past Frank/Gills already contested dating before Wallerstein's original dating of the system?
Obviously, to argue for that the world(-)system(s) are as old as 10,000BCE does imply redefinition, or at least reinterpretation of earlier definitions, of the world system as a analytical concept. For instance, what do we mean by "world" here: the spatial scope of the system or a more cosmological aspect from the viewpoint of the system itself?
If intersocietal relations, a term which Chase-Dunn/Hall have used which I personally like, may they be economic, cultural or political-military relations, are to define world-systems, or the world-system, then why not use this term instead: intersocietal relations? And how does this time-extended 'world system' dating affect the ideas of core-periphery hierarchies/differentiation, not to mention the 'Polanyian' exchange forms: reciprocal, tributal and market structures? And what about accumulation: accumulation of exactly what (energy? information? capital/reproductive wealth? etc)?
Carl Nordlund
Carl Nordlund, BA, PhD student
Human Ecology Division, Lund university
-----Ursprungligt meddelande-----
Från: wsn-owner@csf.colorado.edu [mailto:wsn-owner@csf.colorado.edu] För Luke Rondinaro
Skickat: den 26 augusti 2002 18:08
Till: wsn@csf.colorado.edu
Kopia: Nemonemini@aol.com
Ämne: Dating the Age of the World System

Dating the Age of the World System …

I’m now more of the opinion that (in even dating the System’s integrative beginnings at 10,000 BCE) we’re not dating it early enough to identify important socioeconomic, communicative-cultural, and psychological high points in the development of human experience over time. 

[David Christian] suggests dating it at 200,000 years ago.  One of the reasons I didn’t in the argument of my WSN mini-essay was because, by 10,000 and then the start of the Neolithic we see human populations at last (definitely) spread into the Americas [thereby gaining a global demographic reach over the earth.  They may not have spread to every habitable region of the world, but did so to the point where they had, at least initially, circled around the globe to all the major continents where habitability was possible]; now unless it can be shown that Clovis sites in the Americas can be dated to earlier periods (20,000-50,000 BCE) by archaeologists & accepted by the community of Prehistoric scholars, we are going to have an ongoing dilemma trying to argue for an earlier dating to a worldwide, globally extended! World System in pre-Mesopotamian human affairs.  (Unless we can more fully establish that a concrete human presence existed in the Americas pre-13,000 y.a. we may be forced to make due with the 10/11,000 BCE date as the start of a world systemic integrative process.)  With the coming of the Neolithic, we see in Hacilar, Jericho, & Catal Huyuk the first positive evidence of pre-writing “civilizations” in human affairs.  Catal Huyuk itself represents the first ‘[world] city’ in human history (if the article by William Carl Eichman is to be taken seriously)( http://www.telesterion.com/catal1.htm ). 

Still, if we consider the gradations of human development, it would yet be possible to hypothesize an earlier world systemic dating (if we understand that there wasn’t one “FIRST” to when the World System began but an evolving process of “FIRSTS” from earlier Human Prehistory, from social organization in more loosely banded groups to the development of the first human village settlements, and so on and further … up to the Neolithic and its towns/cities … up to the rise of Mesopotamian society).  This would require, however, a reworking of the criteria for what constitutes world-systems/the World System; it would require we look beyond our standard sorts of criteria for how such systems arise & look for more fundamental (dare I say more “ultimate”, basic, or underlying explanations beyond the standard fare.  It necessit! ates our looking into, not just how far reaching economic networks and communicative relays are formed, but into how the first kinds of more structured human communities came into being and started interlinking with each other.  It even requires we consider earlier kinds of developments in human socio-intellective-expressive behavior (occurring within evolving human communicative abilities and economic-cultural frameworks).  At this state, we’d be even required to take organic evolution (adaptations) of the human brain and the human mind into account as we began to present the story of world systems development in early human events and a “big history” context (reaching back through the Middle Paleolithic & into the latter fraction, last hundred thousand years of the Inferior Paleolithic).

I invite your comments on this matter …

Luke R.

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