Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Excerpt Of The Day

This excerpt is from page 13 of one of my favorite books - Eugen Weber's Peasants Into Frenchmen: The Modernization of Rural France, 1870-1914 - where the writer is discussing the destituteness that pervaded the French countryside in the nineteenth century.
One evidence of poverty, often cited by contemporaries, was the sale of women's hair. This was particularly widespread in the center and the west, where the hair of countrywomen was periodically harvested to be exchanged in the market for a length of cloth, a couple of kerchiefs, or simply a few centimes. The midsummer fair at Limonges was especially dedicated to this trade, attracting buyers from as far as Paris; so did another important center, Treignac, in Correze. The practice waned as prosperity spread after the 1880's, and as Chinese competition drove the market down, a development that saw the value of a kilogram of hair drop from 100 francs in the early 1880's to only 50 in 1902.

It's great to see that the Chinese have been driving down prices of goods for even longer than I had previously thought.


Anonymous said...

Good One!

bubs said...

Here's how you know someone is an academic. One of their favourite books is subtitled The Modernization of Rural France, 1870-1914.

Ahsan said...


Thanks for that.


Hahaha. I promise you that the book is not nearly as dry as the title suggests. It essentially traces the social and political construction of a French national identity in France's rural regions instrumentally pursued by the Third Republic. It's really well researched, lucidly written, and presents a tremendously important argument about the fungibility of ostensibly immutable identities.

Nikhil said...

I'm sure most members of Oprah's book club are frantically looking for it on amazon before it runs out. Nothing gets them excited like an argument about the fungibility of ostensibly immutable identities.

also, i think you overuse ostensibly.

Ahsan said...

That may or may not be the case, but surely you can agree that its use was correct in this instance?

Ahsan said...

Touche, by the way.

Asfandyar said...

ffs Ahsan, you need to tone down the essentially 'essay/thesis' language.

that said, what i really enjoyed was earlier in the year when Mattel had to recall lots of dolls/action figures because they had some issues; apparently one part could be swallowed and it wasn't a "oh its okay if your toddler swallowed it." can't be arsed at the moment to look that up.

But my point was, Mattel realized that Chinese goods have substantial QC issues, in the year 2008. In Pakistan, since 2000, we've been avoiding Chinese products for the simple reason that we know they're shit.

Hence, Pakistani consumer sensibility > US consumer and corporate sensibility.

How funny is that?!

Anonymous said...

@ asfandyar:

chinese products are not monolithically produced. there are different producer lines for different markets. most of the stuff coming into pakistan from china is made to be shit. the big multinationals who licence their production in china naturally get supplied 'superior' shit.

Ahsan said...

Yeah, I would agree with anon208 and I would also add that in fact Pakistan does import a great quantity of Chinese goods in particular sectors of the economy (electronics, appliances, and rickshaws to name three).