A historical sociologist and leading exponent of world-systems analysis, Ravi Palat has made it his mission to show how the world-systems perspective can advance our understanding of historical formations and dynamics past and present.1 With the rise of global history, a wealth of fascinating studies now documents how societies outside Europe contributed to the forging of capitalism and charts how local encounters shaped the capitalist values and institutions that have gradually but inexorably engulfed the world. Yet many of the most influential of these challenges to Eurocentric triumphalism nevertheless accept the underlying teleologies of capitalist modernity. In deploying concepts like divergence, core and periphery, or proto-industrialization, Palat argues, they are universalizing the specific characteristics and dynamics of capitalism. But capitalism, however powerful in the long term, is just one world-system among many that have flourished and contended throughout human history. Applying capitalist-inflected terms of analysis to noncapitalist societies obscures...

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