Asian Studies Summative Assessment

Prompt: Discuss how multiple social studies subjects are analyzed together to develop and understanding of Spice Trade.

Multiple lenses of social studies are interacted to form the world we live in today. In this assignment, I will discuss some of these lenses in terms of the Spice Trade.

Economy and Geography are interacted in the spice trade when the merchants tried to mix fake peppercorns into the real ones. In the 1600’s, the demand for spices was really high in Europe. “Coffee, pepper, and sugar. The three articles most in demand for European consumption” (Batavia Early). Since Europe did not have the geography nor the knowledge for growing spices, they had to ship spices from South East Asia. Which made spices really rare and expensive. With such high demand from the rich ones, the merchants knew the supply was limited. They increased the supply by mixing in fake peppercorns, which made the business a lot more profitable. We saw this in the “Spice It Up” reading, “Any of whom may mix a bit of something with it making a few fake peppercorns.” (P22 R. R. Palmer). Economy and Geography are big parts of the Spice Trade, but they do not make up the whole definition of Spice Trade, whereas Cultural Anthropology and Economy take up smaller parts, they are important factors of the Spice Trade’s existence.

Cultural Anthropology and Economy are present when famous Portugal trader Vasco da Gama reached Calicut, India. He was the first to sail from Europe to Calicut by going around Africa in one trip. (Shown in map) He was there for two reasons, “For Christ and spices!” (1 the Economist). “Gold and Christians” (Green). Famous sailor Christopher Columbus was funded by the royal family to go the Indonesia for the same two reasons, for spices and proselytization. “He was able to convince Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain to fund his expedition by promising riches and conversions of the natives” (Green). Spices, gold and proselytization are tightly bonded to each other, without the spices, there would be no gold and riches, without gold and proselytization; there would be no point of making the journey. Converting Christians and finding spices are common goals of traders and sailors, and they both fit under the Cultural Anthropology and Economy lenses. Economy, Geography and Cultural Anthropology are important lenses not only in the spice trade, but also in the world we live in today.

“Columbus, De Gama, and Zheng He! 15th Century Mariners. Crash Course: World History #21.” YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. 08 Sept. 2015.

From J. M. Gullick, Adventures and Encounters: Europeans in South-East Asia, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1995.


Screen Shot 2015-09-05 at 3.09.21 PM

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *