Commerce, Currencies, and Commodities

Geoffrey C. Gunn

in History Without Borders

Published by Hong Kong University Press

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9789888083343
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9789882208988 | DOI:
Commerce, Currencies, and Commodities

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This chapter identifies the major commodities traded across the East-Southeast Asian world region, drawing the contours of exchange and trade mechanisms. It seeks to explain the emergence of indigenous coinage in Southeast Asia, both as a measure of intensifying trade and commercial contacts and as evidence of a correlated regional trade. The chapter describes the major traded items; this focus on commodities and on commodity chains linking producers with consumers conforms to a historiographical trend in the writing of world history. Obviously, this was a mixed trade: distinctions should be made between the trade in natural products, which tended to antedate the trade in cultivated cash crops, and that in manufactured or value-added items, including their raw materials, many of which remained staples over a long time. As Pomerantz (2001: chap. 3) has summarized, the circulation of everyday luxuries for popular consumption is an index of the emergence of proto- or even full capitalist development.

Keywords: East-Southeast Asia; commodities; world history; cultivated cash crops; Pomerantz

Chapter.  9566 words. 

Subjects: Asian History

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