Friday, May 15, 2009

European influence

I've been working with various major groups of nations of the world in my latest work on the knowledge base, and sometimes I wonder how this is supposed to be interesting. As the saying goes, sometimes you can't see the forest for the trees.
So I've found it useful to step back and look at what large-scale patterns seem to be emerging.

One of them is the huge impact European civilization has made on the world in the past five hundred years or so. While much is made of the eurocentrism of various historians and social scientists, there has been an undeniably huge influence that cannot be ignored. The remedy, it seems, is not to discard Western Civilization, but to give due importance to the other peoples. I've been working with this idea for years, so it seems more or less natural to me now, and I forget that it's still controversial in some quarters. Nevertheless, there are British and American footprints and cultural imprints all over the world. Some of the gaps I'm trying to fill include knowledge of the Spanish colonial empire, or the influence of France, the Netherlands, and so on. It's evident that the coastal nations of Europe had a much larger share of worldwide influence in modern times than, say, Italy or Greece, or Hungary. There have been both virtues and flaws in Western civilization. I'll probably wind up discussing these in more detail in the future.


Adelaide Dupont said...

What about the Nordic countries and Russia?

Like your approach to Eurocentricism: not a nice thing to do!

Confutus said...

I haven't forgotten about them at all. The difficulty is, as always, that I can't do everythign at once. These will be getting filled in as I work.