Exploration of New Land
A traveler sees many wonderous things in their time discovering other communities and civilizations. As a traveler that has visited some of most dynamic countries in the world, I feel I witnessed history. Throughout the next pages my goal is to explain all about what I have experienced so that the rest of the world may know just how incredible this transformation was. I will tell about my travels to India, Japan, and the Ottoman Empire. When I visited, these three civilizations are on the cusp of becoming modern. I will describe what I mean by modernization in the rest of my report. I will discuss why these countries became modern, the outcome of their attempt and whether it was a success. I will also break down how the local communities reacted to these never seen before changes. I saw how their long-established institutions changed. Finally, I will talk about the relationship between modernization and westernization, and whether it is one to embrace or not. Modernization caused changes worldwide that no one could have foreseen, specifically the modernization of India, Japan, and the Ottoman Empire. They have had substantial and long-lasting impacts on the world.
Modernization can be defined as the process of a nation striving to reach the advancement level of countries who are the most modern. There are many aspects and ways to describe modernization. One of the biggest contributors to how modern a country is would be its level of technology. Technology influences so many other aspects of the country like trade, production, war, and disease. Science and medicine also describe most modernizing stories. Each country advanced their medical knowledge which saved the lives of many, and their new scientific knowledge helped people to understand the natural world. Another defining characteristic of modernization is education and language. This is usually brought to the modernizing country along with all the other characteristics of modernization. India, Japan, and the Ottoman Empire all experienced the effects of modernization differently.
All these countries resorted to modernization for heir own reasons, but many other civilizations followed their lead. India suffered greatly from Britain’s need for more raw materials, inexpensive labor, and trading with foreign markets. Whether or not they wanted to, this was one of the reasons for their modernization. Britain ruled India as a colony, so they did not have much of a choice when they began to modernize. Britain used the Indian population for cheap labor, and to produce many goods. (Lecture 4/26/2019). One way that India was massively modernized was by the institution of railroads. While this was an excellent way to ship things farther away it came with negative externalities. The railroads caused the spread of disease much faster and farther. The railroads also contributed to famine. There was a lack of food because people did not need to buy locally, they took the food from where it was grown and shipped it away to the highest payer (Gandhi, 292).
Japan also resorted to modernizing, and like India this took place against their will. Prior to modernization Japan was ordered to fire upon any foreign ship regardless of what they bring. Japan thought it would be better to be independent rather than be influenced by other nations (Strayer and Nelson, 297). In the 1850’s Japan did not want to modernize. When they were demanded to by the American, Matthew Perry, Japan replied with their isolationist theory. They thought that if they stood together as a country and followed their military protocol for invaders then they would be able to show the world their fame and power (Nariaki, 298). The debate over that response moved even beyond just politics into art. There was a painting that depicted a Japanese sumo wrestler throwing a French competitor to the ground (Utagawa, 299). This was significant because so many other nations were bragging about how they were better than Japan. This illustration and event just showed that Japan was powerful. Sakuma Shozan, an official in the shogun’s government, wrote about how it may be time to modernize. One of his major points was that to not be taken over by the barbarians one must become familiar with them. To do this he proposed that Japan adopt the barbarian language (Shozan, 302). Learning the western language was the first major step for Japan to reach modernization. The outcome of this was the borrowing of western technology that eventually led to massive industrialization. Along with this industrialization Japan began to adopt cultural changes like music and clothing. Illustrated in a painting one can see the adaptation of this by looking at the women all singing around a painting. This depicts western features like the piano, but it also contains Japan’s heritage with the flowering trees (Chikanobu, 303). Japan’s modernization was successful. As with any big change there were negatives associated with it, but in the end, Japan prospered from all the advancements they made. They became one of the worlds super power’s which is ultimately what every country wants.
Modernization brought with it changes to local long-established political, social, economic, and cultural institutions. Mahatma Gandhi describes many of the changes that have been occurring in his report titled Indian Home Rule. When asked what Gandhi means by civilization, he starts to list the characteristics of what the Europe is becoming like and comparing to what it used to be. In reference to social differences he mentions the difference of clothes that the Europeans have begun to wear. He mentions a lot more economic and cultural changes. Gandhi talks about how fields used to be plowed by hand, and now they are plowed by a machine. He says the same thing about traveling and even war, referencing the power one man has behind a gun to kill thousands. From all this Gandhi says that people are becoming weaker. Not only physically, but mentally and emotionally. He talks about how reliant all the Europeans have become on machines and money. He ends by saying how objectively strange their definition of civilization is. He reveals how men keep up their energy by being intoxicated and women, who should be treated as queens, are being worked in factories. Gandhi say there is no way people can be happy in this kind of world (Gandhi, 291, 292). Overall Gandhi’s reactions to these changes are negative, and he does not want India to modernize and become a civilization like the ones in Europe.
While India was resisting the changes, the Ottoman’s were making big changes. One of the changes was the Tanzimat reforms. This transformed the political life of most of the local communities. It declared the political equality of communities regardless of their religion. It also established new laws, which was a big deal because they were no longer based upon religion, but rather other modernized nations. Another long-established social norm that changed was the role of women in society. Now, with this new modernization women were not only allowed to be educated, but nobody questioned it. Women in turkey were very hard workers and they were now being recognized for their incredible contribution to society (Avar, 1-4). Across the world more changes were taking place
In Japan there were also massive changes. In Sakutaro Fujioka’s writing, Fifty Years of New Japan he talks about the major changes of the past 50 years. In fact, he says that if a young man was raised in Japan and came back 50 years later, he would not even recognize where he grew up. There were massive political changes that took place during modernization in Japan. First the Sh?gun no longer existed and secondly, the daimy? had become like peers to the Japan citizens. Japan’s politics became more like the Western way of ruling. In fact, they became insatiably interested in the West and wanted to do everything like them. The adopted their music, their dress, their economics, their food, and their art (Fujioka, 1, 2). In the end Japan had become very modern and quite similar to many Western civilizations.
Modernization caused changes worldwide that no one could have foreseen, specifically the modernization of India, Japan, and the Ottoman Empire. Every one of these countries changed drastically over a short period of time. Most, if not all of the inspiration for this change came from the West. However just because the West inspired the changes does not mean that these countries Westernized. To become Westernized means to emulate all the characteristics of the Western nations. The countries that modernized were able to keep many of the features that defined them. For a specific example, the Ottoman Empire struggled to modernize without compromising Islamic society. Islam was not a prevalent aspect of Western society; however, it was very important to the Ottoman’s. They were able to modernize by adopting the mechanical side of civilization and even the education of the population. However, they did not sacrifice their religion (Avar 1). With that example, Modernization does not exactly entail Westernization. For India, and Gandhi this was a process to reject. As was mentioned earlier Gandhi thought that this progress was encouraging entrapment by money, and no longer physical enslavement. He also criticized the fact that it destroyed families. Western civilizations became to fixated on physical property instead of people that they should by no matter what (Gandhi, 292). These countries’ modernization journeys were shaped by the west and they in turn shaped the history of the East.