worldview centered on or biased towards Western civilization

Eurocentrism (also "Western-centrism") is a worldview centered on and biased towards Western civilization. The exact scope of centrism varies from the entire Western world to only Europe or even just Western Europe (especially during the Cold War). When applied to history, it may refer to an apologetic stance towards European colonialism and other forms of imperialism.

Eurocentrism as the term for an ideology was coined by Samir Amin in the 1970s

Quotes edit

  • There is yet one more version of the culture hypothesis: perhaps it is not English versus non-English that matters but, rather, European versus non-European. Could it be that Europeans are superior somehow because of their work ethic, outlook on life, Judeo-Christian values, or Roman heritage? It is true that Western Europe and North America, filled primarily by people of European descent, are the most prosperous parts of the world. Perhaps it is the superior European cultural legacy that is at the root of prosperity—and the last refuge of the culture hypothesis. Alas, this version of the culture hypothesis has as little explanatory potential as the others. A greater proportion of the population of Argentina and Uruguay, compared with the population of Canada and the United States, is of European descent, but Argentina’s and Uruguay’s economic performance leaves much to be desired. Japan and Singapore never had more than a sprinkling of inhabitants of European descent, yet they are as prosperous as many parts of Western Europe.
    • Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson, Why Nations Fail: The Roots of Power, Poverty, and Prosperity (2012)
  • As the twentieth century approached, therefore, the pace of technological change and uneven growth rates made the international system much more unstable and complex than it had been fifty years earlier. This was manifested in the frantic post-1880 jostling by the Great Powers for additional colonial territories in Africa, Asia, and the Pacific, partly for gain, partly out of a fear of being eclipsed. It also manifested itself in the increasing number of arms races, both on land and at sea, and in the creation of fixed military alliances, even in peacetime, as the various governments sought out partners for a possible future war. Behind the frequent colonial quarrels and international crises of the pre-1914 period, however, the decade-by-decade indices of economic power were pointing to even more fundamental shifts in the global balances—indeed, to the eclipse of what had been, for over three centuries, essentially a Eurocentric world system. Despite their best efforts, traditional European Great Powers like France and Austria-Hungary, and a recently united one like Italy, were falling out of the race. By contrast, the enormous, continent-wide states of the United States and Russia were moving to the forefront, and this despite the inefficiencies of the czarist state. Among the western European nations only Germany, possibly, had the muscle to force its way into the select league of the future world Powers. Japan, on the other hand, was intent upon being dominant in East Asia, but not farther afield. Inevitably, then, all these changes posed considerable, and ultimately insuperable, problems for a British Empire which now found it much more difficult to defend its global interests than it had a half-century earlier.
  • I am quite ready to take the Oriental learning at the valuation of the Orientalists themselves. I have never found one among them who could deny that a single shelf of a good European library was worth the whole native literature of India and Arabia. The intrinsic superiority of the Western literature is indeed fully admitted by those members of the committee who support the oriental plan of education. [...] It is, I believe, no exaggeration to say, that all the historical information which has been collected from all the books written may be found in the most paltry abridgments used at preparatory schools in England.
  • Better understanding of the Asian mind ‑ Indian and Chinese ‑ had one further consequence which needs emphasis. It had been almost a dogma of European thought that everything of value arose in the regions that touched the Aegean Sea. Religion, philosophy, art and even science, it was claimed, originated in this area. In fact, for all civilization a Greek origin was postulated. A persistence in this belief was responsible in the early years of Oriental research for the futile attempts made to date events in Asia, especially Indian history, to periods where they could be conveniently adjusted to developments in Greece. That belief in a monopoly of wisdom for the Greeks had to be reluctantly abandoned, as a result of increased knowledge of Asian civilizations. The liberalization of the European mind consequent upon the recognition of the fact that all nations have contributed towards the growth of human civilization, is a gain of considerable significance.
    • K. M. Panikkar (1953). Asia and Western Dominance, a survey of the Vasco da Gama epoch of Asian history, 1498-1945, by K.M. Panikkar. London: G. Allen and Unwin.
  • Wherever there was the least similarity between Indian and foreign ideas, Indians were taken to be the borrowers. The Epics were supposed to be indebted to Homer’s works, Indian drama, mathematics, philosophy, and astronomy were derived from the Greeks, and even Krishna cult was derived from Christ. The very poor evidence on which such theses were boldly enunciated, even by learned scholars, demonstrated a prejudiced mind rather than bad logical deduction or inference.
    • R.C. Majumdar, ‘Nationalist Historians’, in Philips, ed., Historians of India, Pakistan and Ceylon, 418. quoted from E. Sreedharan - A Textbook of Historiography, 500 B.C. to A.D. 2000.
  • The interpretation that underdevelopment is somehow ordained by God is emphasized because of the racist trend in European scholarship. It is in line with racist prejudice to say openly or to imply that their countries are more developed because their people are innately superior, and that the responsibility for the economic backwardness of Africa lies in the generic backwardness of the race of black Africans. An even bigger problem is that the people of Africa and other parts of the colonized world have gone through a cultural and psychological crisis and have accepted, at least partially, the European version of things. That means that the African himself has doubts about his capacity to transform and develop his natural environment. With such doubts, he even challenges those of his brothers who say that Africa can and will develop through the efforts of its own people. If we can determine when underdevelopment came about, it would dismiss the lingering suspicion that it is racially or otherwise predetermined and that we can do little about it.
  • There were two main reasons why decolonization happened on such a wide scale in the 1950s and ’60s. The first was the social and economic exhaustion of the colonizing powers. In 1910 a European man, especially if he was French or British, could still safely assume that he was on top of the global pile. He may have been poor in his own country, or felt threatened by suffragettes or revolutionaries. But it was his country that had set the global agendas for as long as he could remember. The world economic system was created to make him produce and consume. His culture and his religion were assumed to be the envy of the world. And others, who were not Christian Europeans, who did not possess the Europeans’ science or technology, or military skills, or well-honed and ruthless administrations, were seen as distinctly inferior. Compare this with a generation later, in 1945. The European countries were exhausted by warfare and their inhabitants had themselves begun to doubt their centrality in the world. With what right did they rule others, when they could not avoid repeatedly tearing their own continent to pieces? Principles of racial superiority—at least those openly stated—now had a bad name. Hitler had seen to that. And was not the primary duty of a young Englishman or Frenchman to his own battered country, rather than to faraway places? Resources were scarce, and almost all Europeans wanted them spent at home.
    • Odd Arne Westad, The Cold War: A Global History (2017)

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