And the Challenges of the Industrial Era


Smbat Kh. Hovhannisyan

Key words – Armenian merchants, Armenian Trade Capital, New Julfa, Fernand Braudel, Global History, Time’s Rhythms, World-Economy, Civilization Challenges.

This article discusses issues of Armenian trade capital in the context of Fernand Braudel’s theory of civilizations. While this topic was subject to a great deal of research, most researchers have primarily discussed political and economic aspects of trade capital. New approaches provide the opportunity to discuss the topic from the point of view of theory of civilizations. The comparative method is one of these methods aiming at studying issues of Armenian history in the context of global history.

On the bases of works of French Annales School and particularly of Fernand Braudel’s theory, one can discuss activities of Armenian merchants in global dimensions. The same applies to Armenian international commerce, which flourished in the 16th-18th centuries.

In this paper, I discuss the problem in a broad context of the industrial civilization and rely on Braudel’s theory of global history, which is based on three fundamental (temporal and axiological) algorithms of history: political, economic, and civilizational. They set up the essence and rhythm of global history. For this purpose, I suggest consider the network of Armenian merchants as a “world-economy,” which was characterized by the following components: a/ A definite geographic space and boundaries of communication, that transform even if slowly; b/ Existence of a center such as a leading city (or cities); c/ Hierarchical structure.

The emerging system also served the purpose of recovering Armenian statehood by facilitating the move from a pre-Industrial society to an Industrial one. However, the successful completion of this mission was possible only through a adequate response to the civilizational challenges of the time. Among these, the three most important responses were: 1) moving from caravan and land commerce to an “oceanic” environment in accordance with the most up to date technologies of trade and economy; b) learning to use he newest banking technologies and discovery of new means of capital development; c) efforts of restoring national statehood on solid grounds in order to instigate the formation of the modern national state for the Armenians.

As further developments showed, Armenian merchants neither managed to drop the burden of tradition nor make sufficient radical transformations to their activities to adapt to new environment. Efforts to restore statehood did not bring about the anticipated result and no Armenian state was established.

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