The Colonizer's Model of the World: Geographical Diffusionism and Eurocentric History
, 1993 - History
- 246 pages
This book challenges one of the most pervasive and powerful beliefs of our time concerning world history and world geography. This is the doctrine of European diffusionism, the belief that the rise of Europe to modernity and world dominance is due to some unique European quality of race, environment, culture, mind, or spirit, and that progress for the rest of the world results from the diffusion of European civilization. J.M. Blaut persuasively argues that this doctrine is not grounded in the facts of history and geography, but in the ideology of colonialism. It is the world model which Europeans constructed to explain, justify, and assist their colonial expansion.
The book first defines the Eurocentric diffusionist model of the world as one that invents a permanent world core, an "Inside," in which cultural evolution is natural and continuous, and a permanent periphery, and "Outside," in which cultural evolution is mainly an effect of the diffusion of ideas, commodities, settlers, and political control from the core. The ethnohistory of the doctrine is traced from its 16th-century origins, through its efflorescence in the period of classical colonialism, to its present form in theories of economic development, modernization, and new world order. Blaut demonstrates that most "Western" scholarship is to some extent diffusionist and based implicitly in the idea that the world has one permanent center from which culture-changing ideas tend to emanate. Eurocentric diffusionism has shaped our attitudes concerning race and the environment, psychology and society, technology and politics.