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Benjamin SchmidtInventing Exoticism: Geography, Globalism, and Europe’s Early Modern World

University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015

by Carla Nappi on May 19, 2015

Benjamin Schmidt

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Benjamin Schmidt's beautiful new book argues that a new form of exoticism emerged in the Netherlands between the mid-1660s and the early 1730s, thanks to a series of successful products in a broad range of media that used both text and image to engage with the non-European world. Inventing Exoticism: Geography, Globalism, and Europe's Early Modern World (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015) takes readers into the Dutch ateliers in which exotic geography was produced by bookmakers, paying special attention to frontispieces and other paratexts through which these editor-printer-booksellers created a new way of looking at the world. Picturing, here, was a kind of performance. Schmidt considers how the exotic, non-European body was produced not just in texts and pictures but also in a range of material arts that depicted the body experiencing pleasure and pain. The book concludes by looking ahead to the middle of the eighteenth century, when there was a backlash against exotic geography, and a call for more "order and method" in the geographical description of the world. Inventing Exoticism is a focused, gorgeously illustrated multi-media exploration of a topic of crucial importance to the history of the early modern world.

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Ed ConwayThe Summit: Bretton Woods, 1944

May 18, 2015

The functioning of the global economy remains as relevant a topic as ever before. Commentators continue to debate the causes and consequences of the financial crisis that hit the United States from 2007-2008. They also continue to ask questions such as: How long will China keep purchasing the treasury bonds that the U.S. government needs […]

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Asaad al-SalehVoices of the Arab Spring: Voices of the Arab Spring: Personal Stories from the Arab Revolutions

May 16, 2015

Asaad al-Saleh is assistant professor of Arabic, comparative literature, and cultural studies in the Department of Languages and Literature and the Middle East Center at the University of Utah. His research focuses on issues related to autobiography and displacement in Arabic literature and political culture in the Arab world. His Book Voices of the Arab […]

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Robin Grier and Jerry F. HoughThe Long Process of Development: Building Markets and States in Pre-industrial England, Spain and their Colonies

May 11, 2015

According to a popular saying, "Nothing succeeds like success." As concerns what economists and political scientists call "development"–that is, progress towards liberty and prosperity–the saying seems to be true. As a general rule, the countries that were relatively free and relatively prosperous 100 years ago are the ones that are relatively free and relatively prosperous today. 200 years ago? […]

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Deborah CowenThe Deadly Life of Logistics: Mapping Violence in Global Trade

May 9, 2015

[Cross-posted with permission from Who Makes Cents: A History of Capitalism Podcast] Our guest today tells us that the seemingly straightforward field of logistics lies at the heart of contemporary globalization, imperialism, and economic inequality. Listen to Deb Cowen, the author of The Deadly Life of Logistics: Mapping Violence in Global Trade (University of Minnesota Press, […]

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Pedro MachadoOcean of Trade: South Asian Merchants, Africa, and the Indian Ocean, c.1750-1850

May 5, 2015

Pedro Machado's Ocean of Trade: South Asian Merchants, Africa and the Indian Ocean, c.1750-1850 (Cambridge University Press, 2014) is a richly detailed and engaging account of Gujarati merchants and their role in the trade of textiles, ivory and slaves across the Indian Ocean. The book not only enhances our understanding of an under researched pan-continental trade […]

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Andrew CaytonLove in the Time of Revolution: Transatlantic Literary Radicalism and Historical Change, 1793-1818

April 21, 2015

Andrew Cayton is a distinguished professor of history at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. In his book Love in the Time of Revolution: Transatlantic Literary Radicalism and Historical Change (University of North Carolina Press, 2013) he has given us a lucid and beautifully written history of the transatlantic relationships among the circle of radical writers […]

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Mariana CandidoAn African Slaving Port and the Atlantic World: Benguela and its Hinterland

April 17, 2015

Mariana Candido’s book An African Slaving Port and the Atlantic World. Benguela and its Hinterland (Cambridge University Press, 2013) is a powerful and moving exploration of the history and development of the port of Benguela. Founded by the Portuguese in the early seventeenth century, Benguela, located on the central coast of present-day Angola, was the third largest […]

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Thom van DoorenFlight Ways: Life and Loss at the Edge of Extinction

April 17, 2015

Thom van Dooren’s new book is an absolute must-read. (I was going to qualify that with a “…for anyone who…” and realized that it really needs no qualification.) Flight Ways: Life and Loss at the Edge of Extinction (Columbia University Press, 2014) is a beautifully written and evocative meditation on extinction. The book offers (and implicates us […]

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James Q. WhitmanThe Verdict of Battle: The Law of Victory and the Making of Modern War

April 3, 2015

In The Verdict of Battle: The Law of Victory and the Making of Modern War (Harvard University Press, 2012),  Yale Law School Professor James Q. Whitman dissects the law behind eighteenth century European land wars. Whitman's impressive attempt to sort out the intellectual path of the laws of war leaves us with a clearer understanding of […]

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