Beyond Eurocentrism: A New View of Modern World History

Beyond Eurocentrism: A New View of Modern World History

Beyond Eurocentrism: A New View of Modern World History

Beyond Eurocentrism: A New View of Modern World History


Questions established canons and encourages readers to recognize the similarities between West and non-West nations.


This book is a work of revisionist scholarship. If today nearly all subjects in history are dominated by social historians, world history remains something of an exception. It continues to be studied in terms of elites, mainly Western elites. How can one bring the newer logic of social history to this field? How can one get beyond Eurocentrism?

Social history maintains that history is expressed through the lives of the majority. This majority in a global sense comprises subsistence farmers in the countryside of the Third World and casual laborers living largely from barter in Third World urban areas. If this majority is the center of human history, one needs to work out a new method to study world history; at least this is the argument here.

Several attempts to do this have already been proposed, especially in political economy, and one can learn quite a bit from them. a number of writers have categorized the Third World as the periphery of world capitalism, but I have found this position to beg as many questions as it answers. Should the vast majority of the world's population be characterized as peripheral, or does this assumption simply perpetuate Eurocentrism? If not, is there a better way for a historian to proceed? in the 1980s political economy took up several themes under the general rubric of globalization of capitalism, which are of some use. Still, most of the world's population is only involved in capitalism to a limited degree; world history cannot be based solely on world capitalism and or claims about its globalism.

Such issues arose for me out of the experience of trying to persuade college students that they had a stake in understanding Third World social history. the majority of the students I refer to here took a course called Introduction to Third World History to pass a distributional requirement at Temple University in Philadelphia. From what I could tell, most of them expected to find nothing of importance in the subject matter for a Westerner; among those more sophisticated, even the idea of history itself--any . . .

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