Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A Eurocentric Problem

Cartographic Violence


"On no other major civilization do self-regard, self-congratulation and denigration of the ‘Other’ run as deep, nor have these tendencies infected as many aspects of their thinking, laws, and policy, as they have in Western Europe and its overseas extensions.[2] These tendencies reached their apogee during the nineteenth century, retreated briefly after World War II, but have been staging a come back since the end of the Cold War.......

In order to ‘explain’ the history of European superiority, the Eurocentrics first had to manufacture the history of this superiority. They endowed ‘Europe’ with historical depth by appropriating Greece and Rome; this was accomplished by defining Europe as a geographical, racial and cultural unity. In addition, they denied the eastern origins of Greek civilization, and, for the same reason, they passed over the connections of early Christianity to Syria and North Africa. In order to obscure Western Europe’s extensive debt to the Islamicate, they devalued the birth of new cultural formations in western Europe in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, flowing from contacts with the Arabs in Spain, Sicily and the Levant.[4] Instead, this history was moved forward several centuries to place it in northern Italy, whose cultural flowering – defined as a rebirth – was connected to the ‘direct’ recovery of Greek philosophy, sciences and literature.

The Eurocentrics construct a European history that begins in Greece, migrates westward to Rome, and again to points in Western Europe. In tracing the origins of the Renaissance to Greece, the Eurocentrics show little embarrassment about the fifteen centuries during which the Greek sciences and philosophy – mostly forgotten in ‘Europe’ – were being cultivated in the Middle East......"

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