Timothy Brook 's Vermeer 's Hat

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Prior to 1500, there was very little contact between peoples who lived in different areas of the world. Some lands were distant and isolated from each other that they were not even aware of each other’s existence. During the Middle Ages, Europe had operated under the feudal system: peasants worked the land for nobles in exchange for protection. As the Middle Ages drew to a close, one of the most drastic changes that the world experienced was the growing interactions between people of different cultures and the spread of people and goods around the globe. Timothy Brook’s book Vermeer’s Hat, analyzes the objects found in the paintings of a seventeenth century painter from a small Dutch town to explore the extent to which things moved across geographical and cultural borders. Of the people who were making their way across the globe at this time, many did so freely as explorers, traders, and settlers. There was significant portion, however, who were forced to migrate and serve as laborers to ensure cash crops grown in the New World reached European markets. Marcus Rediker’s Slave Ship describes in graphic detail how the Trans-Atlantic slave trade operated. Whereas Brook examines the bigger picture of how capitalism spread goods across the globe and brought different peoples together materially, Rediker analyzes the details: how the inherent hierarchy of the system affected the individuals. Thus, Rediker’s argument that capitalism is a dividing force is much more compelling than

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