Kenneth Pomeranz's research while affiliated with University of Chicago and other places

Publications (32)

Article
Tonio Andrade's The Gunpowder Age is a big book. It spans roughly 800 years, in both China and Europe. Its boldest claims concern China, but Andrade delves into European history as well, making it a challenge for any one scholar to assess his evidence and arguments. Because China specialists would want to know how historians specializing in Europea...
Article
Amitav Ghosh, perhaps Asia's most prominent living author, moves among many genres and across vast territories. His fiction— The Circle of Reason (1986), The Shadow Lines (1988), The Glass Place (2000), The Hungry Tide (2004), and The Ibis trilogy—takes us from Calcutta where he was born in 1956 to the Arabian Sea, Paris, London, and back again to...
Article
Transnational history By Saunier Pierre-Yves. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan, 2013. Pp. ix +193. Hardback £57.50, ISBN 978-0-230-27184-5; paperback £18.99, ISBN 978-0-230-27185-2 - Volume 10 Issue 3 - Kenneth Pomeranz
Article
Twenty years ago, a graduate orals field in modern Chinese history—however that term was defined—would probably not have included more than a handful of works on any area, other than the Northeast, that had not been ruled by the Ming or any area that lay west of today’s Lanzhou-Chongqing railway. Today, research on West China abounds. Some of the r...
Chapter
Forty-three essays about modern world history is both too many and too few, and to begin c. 1750 is both too late and too early. We could not do everything, and have chosen to exhibit a wide variety of approaches to world history - focusing on regions, moments, commodities, large social processes, themes, and so on - rather than providing many exam...
Book
Since 1750, the world has become ever more connected, with processes of production and destruction no longer limited by land- or water-based modes of transport and communication. Volume 7 of The Cambridge World History, divided into two books, offers a variety of angles of vision on the increasingly interconnected history of humankind. The first bo...
Chapter
Inspired by 1960s environmentalism, a recognizable environmental history emerged first in the United States. South Asian environmental history also emerged in the wake of environmental activism – a very different activism from that of the United States. Despite the huge differences between US and Indian national histories, their environmental histo...
Article
Discussions of world history often focus on the pros and cons of thinking on large spatial scales. However, world history also tends to employ unusually large timescales, both for research and teaching; frequently it is framed around a teleology and a series of "revolutions" which mark milestones taking humans from a very distant past to "modernity...
Article
Kenneth Pomeranz, whose book The Great Divergence was one of the key starting points for global history, has developed a methodological approach to the concept of 'divergence'. Historical divergences raise many questions: those of perspective, issues of 'origin', points where differences become divergences and those of multiple time scales.
Article
“Development” involves increases in human and physical capital, plus institutional changes, that are characteristic of whole societies, not just particular sectors. Such changes are not necessarily well-reflected in GDP figures at the time that these changes are occurring – even assuming that we can measure GDP in historical societies with sufficie...
Article
First and foremost, I am grateful to the participants for their thoughtful comments and pleased that The Great Divergence is still considered worth discussing a decade after publication. I suspect that the reason why the book still attracts attention is also a reason why many readers are not fully satisfied with it: its topic remains the sort of im...
Article
Stephen Peter Rosen. War and Human Nature. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 3005. Pp. 211. $29.95 (US). Reviewed by John A. Lynn
Article
Jack Goody’s work on the origins, spatial extent and defining characteristics of modernity has vigorously questioned claims that only European history led to assorted modern characteristics: capitalism, science, democracy, romantic love, and inwardly-motivated personal restraint. He argues that many societies which experienced the Bronze Age urban...
Article
China has had very active markets for both the sale and the rental of land since Song times (960-1279), if not longer. By the sixteenth century, most of the institutional arrangements that would characterize these markets until 1949 were in place. These institutions differed sharply from those of emerging land markets in early modern Western Europe...
Chapter
The Great Divergence brings new insight to one of the classic questions of history: Why did sustained industrial growth begin in Northwest Europe, despite surprising similarities between advanced areas of Europe and East Asia? As Ken Pomeranz shows, as recently as 1750, parallels between these two parts of the world were very high in life expectanc...
Article
Attempts to reconstruct basic aspects of the standard of living in late eighteenth century China, focusing primarily on the Yangzi Delta (China's richest region) but also briefly considering other areas, and arguing that for most of the population it was probably broadly comparable to Western Europe at the same time. Food supply is evaluated in ter...
Article
Reponse de l'A. aux critiques de Philip C.C. Huang a propos de son ouvrage The Great Divergence: China, Europe, and the Making of the Modern World Economy. Il suggere que Huang n'a pas compris sa demarche et son propos. Reprenant les differents points de la critique de Huang, il soutient notamment qu'il n'existe aucun fondement theorique et methodo...
Article
Much literature normalizes a North Atlantic pattern of development, and sees a regionally specific "East Asian" path in the 20th century. However, development patterns in core regions of Europe and East Asia were surprisingly similar until almost 1800, and Europe's divergence thereafter was shaped by exceptional resource bonanzas. East Asian growth...
Article
In this paper, I want to explore a very simple contrast which has many potential implications. China at the end of the nineteenth and in the early twentieth century was, by most measures, a very poor society. China in the latter part of the eighteenth century seemed – both to its own members and to most, though not all, visitors from abroad – a ver...
Article
Philip C.C. Huang molded substantial evidence regarding the meager livelihood of peasants in the Yangzi delta into his inventive theory of involutionary growth. His scholarship was met with unanimous applause. However, Huang made silver invisible in order to carve his Procrustean bed and cover it with a blanket of subsistence-level farming. Unfortu...
Article
The environmental history of much of the West – and of Japan, Taiwan, and Korea --might be summarized as "first get rich, then clean up." In the case of China, the country's size, its population/resource ratios, and various other factors have made this kind of sequencing impossible, and thus require a more complex balancing act. The paper that foll...

Citations

... The zoological origins of the rabbit are situated within the late Eocene, some 45 million years ago, where they emerged within the order of Lagomorpha. Modern lagomorphs belong to two families, the Leporidae and Ochotonidae, comprising twelve genera (Cheeke, 2000). Together with the rodents (Rodentia), they trace back to a common ancestor of which foot bones were discovered in a coal mine in Gujarat (India) about 53 million years ago and which crossed the Mongolian territory to eventually spread in Europe, Asia, and North America some 10 million years later (Dickenson, 2014). ...
... As Kenneth Pomeranz has pointed out, British industrial development came to rely on extra-territorial supplies of land to overcome the land squeeze and the equilibrium trap it would have entailed, and fortuitously located coal supplies to overcome the timber squeeze. 18 The cotton which fueled it was grown by slave labor in the American South. ...
... Engaging with climate change, Amitav Ghosh (2016) illustrates the need for 'new fictions' to imagine the unthinkable. Ghosh explains that in modern literature, 'nature' was the plausible setting, or the base for a fictional/believable world, which human characters could observe and act upon. ...
... In some cases, it is not quite clear if we are talking about Europe, northwestern Europe, Great Britain, or the Netherlands, for the West (European) side, and for the East Asian (Chinese), if we are referring to China, the Yangtze region, or its prefecture areas, when we analyse the economic differences between both areas during the period of the industrial revolution and 17 mid-Qing dynasty. Such large generalities might lead to vague and weak results as Pomeranz mentioned in his work (Pomeranz 2000). ...
... exploration five centuries ago. While we know in fine detail the precise number of porcelain cups, knives and forks, books, furniture and gowns owned by merchants, lawyers, and even some artisans in 17th-and 18thcenturies Holland, England and Spain (Brewer and Porter, 1993;Schama, 1988;Torras and Yun, 1999;Weatherill, 1996), we know virtually nothing about the possession let alone use of things by hundreds of millions of Chinese people in the same period, other than estimates of their overall standard of living (Pomeranz 2005). Yet, our historical understanding has suffered as much from an excess of knowledge as from its deficit. ...
... 5 Another anecdotal evidence of the strength of the collective institutions in East Asia, South Asia, MENA countries is the virtual absence of urban slums (Pomeranz 2008) and homeless children, which are found in abundance in LA, SSA, and FSU. 6 Overall trend in homicide rates, all pre-modern local estimates and four national series. ...
... El estudio de estos fenómenos desde una perspectiva global ha tendido a romper el encapsulamiento de la historia nacional, o en su defecto, la división planetaria en mundos. Dicha situación ha mostrado la existencia de diversos procesos de hibridación e interconexión con tendencias manifestadas en un contexto regional-local crecientemente complejo, aunque a veces para éstos últimos espacios se insista en su estrecha vinculación con una división preconcebida por medio de distintos mundos o áreas culturales (Breuilly, 2014, p.315;Pomeranz, 2015, p.510; Potter y Saha, 2015, p.3). Trascender este tipo de narrativas es uno de los desafíos, en absoluto menor, que el enfoque de historia global pretende superar. ...
... Interpretive and constructionist HRM can address this limitation by suggesting the meanings of each numeric value (Mises, 1957). They also can help contextualize non-numeric data-such as pictures, images, oral records, and graphic designs (Burke, 2001;Elliott & Davies, 2007;Marchand, 1986;Yan, 2010)-and enhance explanatory and predictive power by boosting sample size and representativeness with data extending beyond national, cultural, or temporal boundaries (Brundage, 2008;Pomeranz, 2014). ...
... The fluctuation phases within uneven social development can be presented as alternations of divergences and convergences. A group of global historians (the 'California School') denoted the 19 th -century powerful breakaway between the West European and Asian societies as a 'great divergence' (see Goldstone 1991Goldstone , 2002Goldstone , 2008aGoldstone , 2008bPomeranz 2000Pomeranz , 2002Wong 1997;Frank 1998;Marks 2002;Vries 2003Vries , 2010. Following this approach we find it appropriate to call the epoch beginning between 1950 and the 1970s, and lasting until the present day, the 'great convergence', since during this period the periphery and semi-periphery have been catching up with the world-system core Korotayev 2014b, 2015). ...
... First, the advantageous location of coal fields near to industries in Britain and second, easy access for important resources from the colonies helped Europe to embark on the Industrial Revolution [4]. He argues that, of course,it had something to do with the technological innovations, but the important factors are "exogeneous" to the economy [15]. ...