Having a look around my desk and computer area, a familiar thought pops into my mind. “All of this ‘stuff’ really do come from all over the place.” This assignment (for my current history class) is not the first thing that have propmted that thought. Looking around this time, though, something new does strike me. Namely, patterns.
Inspecting the various electronic equipment that lie scattered about, the commonality between them should come as no surprise. They are all manufactured in China, or have parts that are. The raw material for most of my furniture is also largely from the east, although mainly Russia moreso then China – even if they are assembled locally. Well, with the exception of a relatively ancient family heirloom in the form of a couch, which as far I am aware is made in Norway from norwegian meterials.
Excluding one or two items, pertty much everything in this room comes from somewhere else. Even the books in my bookshelves. So, selecting one of these far-travelled objects – let us have a look at how it got here.
This is a jade necklace that I purchased locally. I picked this object because, unlike most of the other items, I know exactly where this one came from and how it came to Sweden. The jade itself is from Mayanmar (Burma), and was at some point transported northeast into china. There it was purchased by a tradesperson in its raw form and taken to a jeweller trained in working with jade. The artisan carved the dragon you see in the picture above and was paid by the tradesperson.
It is also the very same tradesperson who travelled to sweden at a later time (having purchased this bit of jade as a tourist) that I myself bought the necklace from. As it happened, the transaction occurred during a local, medieval, jousting re-enactment tournament. The interesting thing about this item is that even though it travelled to Sweden in the hands of private people rather than larger businesses – many items travel similar paths.
Now, going in to the realm of speculation, what could have prompted the seller to journey all the way from Sweden to China, purchase jade – have them fashioned into objects – travel home again and sell them at a small profit? Obviously there has to be some kind of demand, but how is that possible?
Increasing exposure to the far-away cultures? Perhaps. What this small jade necklace tells me, is that the average person’s view of the world is expanding. It could be that we are observing the pathways of the industries we are involved with – be it because we take an interest in global economy, environment, or sustainability.
The way I see it, the world is only getting smaller and the more people notice that, the harder it is for some of us to get along. But that is a different matter entirely.