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The origins of globalisation

Can historians help us understand the news?

By Matthew Wolfson  

The historian David Armitage argues that the foundations of our modern "globalised" world were set in 17th and 18th centuries

Concepts exist to organise and explain the world, but they often disintegrate in the face of reality. Take the bombings in Boston: we’ve talked abstractly about “globalisation” for 30 years, but events like this show just how viciously complicated a globalised world can be. Tracing Tamerlan and Dzhokar Tsarnaev’s toxic resentments sends us careening from Chechnya’s conflicts with Russia, to the opaque interplay between fundamentalism and a liberal…

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