Globalization: a magnified pre-colonial system of transportation and trade. While attribution for connecting trade markets across oceans often falls to European colonizing powers, such as Spain and Great Britain, the fundamentals of long-distance trade stem from pre-colonial India and Mexico/the American Southwest (hereafter to be referred to as Mexico). Prior to European intervention in these self-sufficient regions, trade routes fulfilling the desired trade of the respective cultural centers flourished. Propelled on the false premise of a need to aid India toward civilization, the British outlandishly convinced themselves that India, a land that, according to Adam Smith, nearly rivaled Britain in terms of “universal civilization,” or capitalism, desperately sought European intervention into their affairs.[i] Additionally, Anglos, more specifically the Spanish, incorrectly viewed the New World as theirs to claim because of its previous vacancy. However, Chicano history, a tribe of Native Americans who lived in Mexico, contradicts the Anglo belief, claiming that “[Chicano ancestors] had already founded such cities as San Antonio…and Los Angeles well before the appearance of Anglo-Americans.”[ii] Therefore, European justification for colonization and rule over perceived less-than-civilized cultures resides on false pretenses yet again. European intervention into India and Mexico not only rooted itself in faulty reasoning, but also halted progress of such trade previously mentioned. By forcing its industrial ways and self-exalted superior trade knowledge upon India and Mexico, respectively, European colonizing powers destroyed, if not wholly, at least partially, trade routes and transportation networks from pre-colonial times. Though globalization seemingly stemmed from European ambition and colonization of India and Mexico, pre-colonial trade and transportation methods in the aforementioned cultural centers existed prior to European colonization and would have contributed immensely to the installation of global trade were they not first obstructed by European expansionism.
Prior to Spanish intervention in Mexico, local area tribes thrived through the use of lakes as an avenue to transport goods for trade. In the mid-1700s, Spanish explorers observed Nahua communities that utilized canoes as transport over lakes, reporting that, “Nahuas long relied on canoes for a wide range of enterprises: lake-borne transportation provided employment for local residents…and artisans and merchants reached their customers by canoe.”[iii] Nahua communities’ utilization of canoes for transport and trade connected cities separated by long-distances and boosted shipping time. Moreover, Nahua canoes “helped supply Mexico City with essential goods. As such…the rowers of canoes assumed a key, intermediary position in the transportation network.”[iv] Nahua transportation and transshipment networks combat the European claim that pre-colonial Mexico lacked civilization and order. Additionally, hierarchical systems of labor webbed into the trading industry highlight a high level of self-sufficiency within Native American and Mexican cultures prior to the forceful rule of the Spanish Crown.
Similarly, pre-colonial India possessed international trade capabilities prior to European expansion into the subcontinent. Rich in textiles, the trade routs within and branching out of India existed well before the British arrival. In fact, India’s international trade suffered following Britain’s Industrial Revolution, providing evidence of India’s flourishing trade developments in pre-colonial times.[v] Economic decline caused by a rise in industry half way across the face of the globe underlines an existence of interconnectivity of Indian and European trade partners. Though European colonizers of India used their fleets to ship textiles via ocean trade routes to distant trade centers, these powers did not first connect Indian commodities to outside markets, but did, however, first exploit Indian goods for profit.
Colonial Detriment to Mexican Trade
Victim to the fate of merely being, Mexico’s trade networks experienced turmoil at the hands of Spanish thirst for riches. Though infamous Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés reported that the city of Tlaxcala rivaled Granada, a Spanish city, in strength and boasted both prominent markets and an honorable judicial system, the impressive nature of Mexico failed to prevent Cortés from tearing her apart.[vi]
In the wake of Cortés’s slaughtering at Cholula, the Aztec Empire’s great riches and prosperous trade lay crippled. In addition to the destruction caused by man, the introduction of horses to North America also wreaked havoc on Mexico.
Imported from Europe during Spain’s expansionist period, horses often highlighted social stratification within the indigenous class system. Mexican and Native American elites sought the privilege of learning to ride horses and incorporate them into entertainment for the social elites (see picture top left).[vii] Peoples of lower classes, those without permission to ride and own horses, attended to burros during pasteurization and transport to market (see the picture bottom left).
The increased distance between class levels in Mexican and Native American communities damaged the previously cohesive labor hierarchy adopted by peoples like the Nahua. Additionally, the Comanche integrated horses into their military strategy as weaponized vehicles, with which they terrorized other tribes more quickly and easily.[viii] Already a violent people, horses enabled the Comanche to plunder neighboring civilizations with a much greater success rate, leaving their victims nearly helpless when defending themselves. Expanded social divide and an exponential increase in death-by-tribal-warfare halted trade both because of a temporarily scarce middle class and heightened inter-tribal hostility.
Furthering their hindrance of Mexican pre-colonial trade, Spanish expansion northward continued to decimate vibrant culture vital to diversity in global trade centers. In conjunction with the Spanish Crown’s desire for finding gold and other riches in Mexico, Spain sought sole control over the trade profits of the region. Spanish nobility residing in Mexico feared that northern Mexican trade with foreign powers, trade that local cultures proved they possessed the capability of completing, introduced the threat of lost profit to rival powers, such powers as Mexico’s eastern neighbor in the 1800s, the United States.[ix] Capacity to trade with the United States reinforces the Mexican people’s ability to develop trade routes without the condescending aid of Spanish innovation and material. Furthermore, note that trading arrangements blossom from agreement and party equality, wherein all negotiating interests understand compromise to gain either product or money equivalencies. Starkly the opposite of compromise, Spain’s attempt to control profits of Mexican trade produced unnecessary bloodshed and cultural destruction that procured a statement from the New Mexican delegate to the Spanish Crown, Pedro Bautista Pino, saying, “the means of establishing…New Spain lies in giving everyone an interest in the property of the territory.”[x] Pino’s proposition juxtaposed the current condition of Spanish authority, an authority upheld through sequestering trade goods and imposing harsh-to-violent consequences for anti-Spain action, which included mere self-interest. In doing so, Spain replaced the exportation of culturally unique, desirable goods with their own greed. Mexico demonstrated the aptitude for large-scale trade both before and during colonial suppression without requiring Spanish assistance, further showcasing European colonization stalling the progress of global trade.
British Intervention into Indian Prosperity
Across the globe, India’s burgeoning trade suffered with the emergence of British bigotry. Great Britain’s international arrogance, birthed from the industrial revolution in the late 1700s, served as a compass for correcting British-declared incorrect trading processes.[xi] Britain, in search of wealth from established global Indian trade, invaded the Asian subcontinent to improve the efficiency, capacity, and profitability of the Indian trading and transportation network.
Under British rule, Indian trade witnessed extensive growth following “diversification and redeployment of merchant capital” that largely emanated from the construction of railroads.[xii] Like the one depicted in this photograph, railroads permitted smoother, expedited shipment of trade product over either rough terrain or long distances from inland production facilities to harbor for international shipment.
However, while increased trading capacity holds as a positive, British intervention in India not only falsely first enabled a connection of Indian goods to previously claimed unreachable markets, but also harmed Indian trade returns. With the construction of railroads in India, various shipment regions experienced large increases in transport capacity, with some locations increasing shipment loads by more than six thousand percent.[xiii] An increase in shipment constraints differs from the creation of such abilities. Returning to a previously discussed observation, India’s trade suffered from the industrial revolution in Europe.[xiv] Local, inter-hemispheric trade remains consistent and predictable when a separate trading power uncovers mercantile advances in an outside market. Moreover, increasing Indian trade capacity should benefit Indian merchants rather than lowering profitability. In order for Indian trade to suffer from Britain’s industrial revolution, India, by interpolation, maintained trade routes extending beyond their own geographical realm that must have crossed paths with those of Britain. Furthermore, Peers and Gooptu assert that, “it takes a pre-Smithian understanding of economics to suppose that, because one party in a…transaction makes a profit, the other must necessarily be making a loss.”[xv] Therein, for Britian to profit from exploitation of Indian trade, India necessarily incurred a loss. Further cementing the constricting nature of European colonization, India’s unassisted development of trade routes and networking flourished prior to colonization, and suffered upon its chokehold.
Connecting European India to the lost culture in Mexico resulting from Spanish control over goods and abolishment of various local populations, European influence tainted, at a minimum minutely so, the vibrant Indian culture that existed more prominently prior to colonization.
Christian European colonizers, both British and Portuguese, who populated Goa, a region in East India, as seen on the map to the right, imprinted lasting western culture on the landscape.[xvi] While establishing culture in previously unsettled lands resonates logically, entering a foreign region of already inhabited land defines trespassing.
The architecture of the building in the picture left contains strong European roots, yet the building stands in India.
Comparing this building to the Taj Mahal, shown low right, striking contrast in architectural design suggests the occurrence of cultural shift. Traditional beauty lost to colonization lengthens the list of cultural fading attributed to European greed.
While globalization underwent modifications under European colonial rule, globalization’s roots lay nestled in the soil of India and Mexico. People avoid building a house on sand because, without a foundation, the house’s sturdiness would be a question mark. Similarly, global trade required a foundation before improvement. Just as the CEO of Apple Inc., Tim Cook, receives notification as the face of Apple today through his presentation of Apple’s newest products on their release day, Europe receives credit for connect the world through trade.[xvii] However, Steve Jobs created Apple’s initial globally desired product line, not Tim Cook. Similarly, India and Mexico’s pre-colonial creation of trade routes and transportation networks served as the foundation for globalized trade. Regardless of what shape, industry or idea one analyzes, the foundation propels all further tinkering and resulting improvements. The Nahua people and the populations on the subcontinent of India created early trade networks within the constraints of their topography. From the water-based networks in Nahua communities to the land-based networks in India, pre-colonial trade flourished in both regions.
[i] Douglas M. Peers and Nandini Gooptu, India and the British Empire (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), 46
[ii] John R. Chavez, The Lost Land: The Chicano Image of the Southwest (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1984), 2
[iii] Richard Conway. “Lakes, Canoes, and the Aquatic Communities of Xochimilco and Chalco, New Spain.” Ethnohistory 59, no. 3: 543
[iv] Conway, “New Spain,” 543
[v] Peers and Gooptu, India, 46
[vi] 2014. “On the trail of Hernán Cortés.” Economist 413, no. 8918: 53-55. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed April 27, 2015).
[vii] Rodríguez-Alegría, Enrique. 2010. “Incumbents and Challengers: Indigenous Politics and the Adoption of Spanish Material Culture in Colonial Xaltocan, Mexico.” Historical Archaeology 44, no. 2: 51-71. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed April 27, 2015).
[viii] Quammen, David. “People of the Horse.” National Geographic 225, no. 3: 104-126. 2014. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed April 27, 2015).
[ix] Chavez, The Lost Land, 27
[x] Chavez, The Lost Land, 24-25
[xi] “Industrial Revolution,” last modified 2009, accessed April 24, 2015, http://www.history.com/topics/industrial-revolution
[xii] Tirthankar Roy, “Trading Firms in Colonial India.” Business History Review 88, no. 1: 9-10. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed April 28, 2015).
[xiii] Roy, “Colonial India,” 9
[xiv] Chavez, The Lost Land, 2
[xv] Peers and Gooptu, India, 49
[xvi] Wikipedia, Christianity in India, s.v. “Culture,” last modified April 28, 2015, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christianity_in_India
Chavez, John R., The Lost Land: The Chicano Image of the Southwest. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1984.
“Christianity in India.” Wikipedia. April 28, 2015. Accessed April 28, 2015. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christianity_in_India.
Conway, Richard, “Lakes, Canoes, and the Aquatic Communities of Xochimilco and Chalco, New Spain.” Ethnohistory, 2012, 541-68.
History.com Staff. “Industrial Revolution.” 2009. Accessed April 24, 2015. http://www.history.com/topics/industrial-revolution.
Johnson, William. The Cathedral Bombay. 1855-62. DeGoyler Library, Dallas.
“On the Trail of Hernan Cortes.” Economist, 2014.
Peers, Douglas M., and Nandini Gooptu, India and the British Empire, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012
Quammen, David. “People of the Horse.” National Geographic 225, no. 3 (2014): 104-26.
Rodriguez-Alegria, Enrique. “Incumbents and Challengers:Indigenous Politics and TheAdoption of Spanish MaterialCulture in ColonialXaltocan, Mexico.” (2010): n. pag. Academic Search Complete [EBSCO]. Web. 27 Apr. 2015. <https://www.academia.edu/3643336/Incumbents_and_Challengers_Indigenous_Politics_and_the_Adoption_of_Spanish_Material_Culture_in_Colonial_Xaltocan_Mexico>.
Roy, Tirthankar, “Trading Firms in Colonial India,” Business History Review 88, no. 1 (March, 2014): 9-24.
“Tim Cook.” Wikipedia. April 8, 2015. Accessed April 29, 2015. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tim_Cook.
Unknown. Bengal-Nagpur Railway Construction, Photograph No. 39. 1890. DeGoyler Library, Dallas.
Waite, C.B.. Entrance of Cuadrilla. Bull Fight, Mexico. 1904. DeGoyler Library, Dallas.
Waite, C.B.. Train of pack burros in Mexico. 1904. DeGoyler Library, Dallas.