Eurocentrism focuses on culture, politics or history from a European point of view to the exclusion of a broader viewpoint of the world.

What is eurocentrism?

A Eurocentric approach is one that basically considers the European perspective to be the most important when it comes to politics, culture and history. 

Simply explained, it puts Europe at the front and center, interpreting the world through the lens of Western (and specifically Eurocentric) culture and values.  

Eurocentrism doesn’t just elevate Western values above others, but considers them the norm. It is a concept that has existed since the beginning of civilization and continues to set the universal standard for Western societies, neglecting or diminishing the values of other cultures. In its more extreme form of expression, it portrays the non-Western world as inferior and underdeveloped.

The origins of Eurocentrism

Eurocentrism as an ideological concept was coined by the Egyptian-French Marxian economist and political scientist Samir Amin in the 1970s. Amin used the term to describe how European states continuously exploit emerging economies under the helm of imperialism and capitalism. 

As a worldview, it seeks to homogenize the world to fit the European capitalist model. The problem is it also reinforces Western narratives linked to decolonization and industrial progress, ignoring or undervaluing contributions from non-European societies.

Negative impacts

A Eurocentric view of the world can have negative consequences in several ways. A narrow understanding of the world can often lead to the misinterpretation and undervaluing of non-Western societies:

How Eurocentrism reinforces biases

Eurocentrism sets non-European (African, Asian, Latin-American) societies against a universal Western-European standard. This generally leads to negative beliefs about people who do not embrace the values of the Western world. 

It ignores the richness of non-Western cultures, reducing these to simple stereotypes. Narrow and biased portrayals reinforce the notion that non-European societies are inferior, exotic, or primitive. 

How to challenge Eurocentrism 

Challenging Eurocentrism requires re-examining the dominance of European perspectives, narratives, and values. Some of the ways in which Eurocentrism is being opposed are: 

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