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Category: History Other

Autor: anton 26 November 2010

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Impact of Western Consumerism on Islamic States and Pacific Rim Nations

The impact of western consumerism on the Islamic states and Pacific Rim nations brought about varying results. Religious disruptions, cultural and social differences, and economic patterns were affected by consumerism. In the Islamic states, Islam was challenged by Christian missionaries; populations either rose or plummeted according to new diets; and trade flourished or completely stopped in various states. Though completely separated from the western states, the Pacific Rim nations went through similar changes. Their religionsВ—Buddhism and ConfucianismВ—received the attention of Jesuit missionaries who tried to convert the people. Culture was transformed, and the economy was completely altered.

Western consumerism in the Islamic states did not cause much religious controversy. In Islam "the real purpose of life was salvation, not just material goods" (Stearns 4). Therefore, during the Mughal Empire, when Christian missionaries tried to convert Akbar and his subjects, they met with minimum success. Akbar had created his own syncretic "divine faith", a blend of Muslim and Hindu beliefs, and that was enough to cause mayhem within the empire itself. The Pacific Rim nations in the east, however, were "more secular" and therefore "more open to consumerism than highly religious ones" (Stearns). The Portuguese's rediscovery of China and the Spanish's discovery of the Philippines renewed the converting fervor of the Jesuit and Christian missionaries (Clyde 85). Europeans, afterwards, trekked to the eastern states where they were more successful than in the Islamic states. The Japanese emperor Tokugawa Ieyasu wanted to develop a commercial relationship with Spain and opened Japan's ports to Spanish ships. The Spanish, on the other hand, were more interested in sending missionaries than trading, so Ieyasu had the port closed off to Spanish and English visitors (Clyde 94). In China, Jesuit missionaries tried to interest the peoples in Christianity by using mechanical devices such as clocks, prisms, and astronomical instruments, but the Chinese were fascinated only by the mechanism of the devices, not the religion itself (Clyde 86). Western consumerism also caused changes in cultural and social patterns in the Islamic states and Pacific Rim nations.

Cultural styles before the arrival of Europeans in the Ottoman, Mughal, and Safavid empires had been strictly Islamic. When trade with the Europeans began though, the "Ottomans became enamored of European architectural decorations and furniture" (Lapidus 342). French-styled architecture, dress and decorations, and the "freer style of relations among the people" were all inspired by the interactions between the west and the Islamic states. Likewise, in the Pacific Rim nations, the introduction of western ideas influenced cultural adjustments. In Japan and in China, "whimsical fashion gave way to stricter and less fluctuating rules for dress" (Stearns 8). The Europeans encouraged new fashions and China gradually became "a material China rather than an aesthetic one; an economic China rather than an intellectual one" (Clyde 99). China, Japan, the Philippines, and the other Pacific Rim nations were slowly turning into a consumerist society. Impacts in social patterns also became visible due to western consumerism.

In the Islamic societies, western consumerism brought about population changes. Trade with the British in the Indian subcontinent during the Mughal Empire brought new foods and crops. Since the crops from Europe had more nutritional values, the peoples retained more energy and lived longer. Crops such as sugar, tea, and rice enhanced the diets (Lapidus 338). Similarly, in the east, new crops also were the cause of increase of the population. Europeans also introduced improved agricultural techniques, and later the Japanese and Chinese came up with their own agricultural inventions, therefore increasing food surpluses and consequently the general population.

Economically, both the Islamic societies and the Pacific Rim nations prospered from western consumerism. The Ottomans were involved in trade with England, France, Venice, Germany and other European countries. They traded in luxury cloths, silk, satin, paper, iron, sugar, indigo, cotton, and cattle (Lapidus 336). Since "merchant activity was compatible with religious goalsВ…religious leaders approved of profit making" (Stearns 4). Through all this trade, the economy of the Islamic societies flourished while it also enjoyed new fashions and standards of living. Just so, the Pacific Rim nations prospered. The rich nobles of China enjoyed a new magnificence: "new luxuries and food and clothing" (Stearns 7). These comforts magnified the nobles' s status even more, for it established that the peasants weren't worthy to own such luxuries. The economy was so affluent that even after China and Japan secluded themselves from foreign trade, they was still able to get back on balance when the seclusion ended. "By the 1820s, Americans were doing brisk business at Manila, exchanging US-made goods for spices, sugar, hemp, and other products from the islands" (Pascoe 13).

Western consumerism helped change many aspects of the Islamic states and the Pacific Rim nations. Though the Islamic nations weren't affected much by Christian and Jesuit missionaries, the Pacific Rim nations did adopt several western ideas and customs into their religions and lifestyles. The introduction of new crops and agricultural techniques altered diets of both areas and led to population increases. The economies prospered because of trade with the west in which newer merchandises were introduced. All in all, western consumerism played a large role in the formation of the early Islamic states and Pacific Rim nations.

Works Cited

Clyde, Paul Hibbert. The Far East: A History of the Impact of the West on Eastern Asia. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1948.

This book goes into detail about every aspect of the eastern nations: social, political, cultural, economic, religious, military, etc. It explains everything from how the nation was created to how it declined or ended.

Lapidus, Ira M. A History of Islamic Societies. New York, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1988.

This book provides detailed explanations about every Islamic society that has ever existed from the beginning to the present.

Pascoe, Elaine. The Pacific Rim: East Asia at the dawn of a new century. Brookfield, Connecticut: Twenty-First Century Books, 1999.

This book examines the history and current economic and political importance of Japan, China, Taiwan, the Koreas, Southeast Asia, Indonesia, and Malaysia.

Stearns, Peter N. "Consumerism in World History: The Global Transformation of Desire." New York, New York: Routledge, 2001.

This book goes into explanations about the consumer society in the west and Japan and other smaller societies.

Stearns, Peter. "Teaching Consumerism in World History." World History Connected. 2003. George Mason University. 16 Jan. 2005.

This article briefly examines the roles of consumerism in general areas and provides explanations as to how those areas were affected by consumerism.

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