The Colonizer's Model of the World: Geographical Diffusionism and Eurocentric History

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Guilford Publications, Oct 29, 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.

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The colonizer's model of the world: geographical diffusionism and Eurocentric history

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Blaut (Univ. of Illinois) challenges the notion of "Eurocentric diffusionism'': the pervasive presumption that superior Western culture has naturally flowed outward, bringing modernization to the rest ... Read full review

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About the author (1993)

J. M. Blaut, PhD, until his death in 2000, was Professor of Geography at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The author of The Colonizer's Model of the World and Eight Eurocentric Historians, Dr. Blaut was a recipient of the Distinguished Scholarship Award from the Association of American Geographers (AAG). Awards in his name are given annually by the Cultural and Political Ecology Specialty Group and the Socialist and Critical Geography Specialty Group of the AAG.

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