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  A form of prejudice or stereotyping that assumes the superiority of one\'s own culture or ethnic group (see ethnicity). An ethnocentric perspective is unreflexive, regarding a particular outlook (its own) as natural and \'unmarked\'. Other ways of seeing are regarded not only as different but as inherently inferior. No longer a key term in contemporary social science, ethnocentrism is often used as a polite synonym for harsher terms such as racism or xenophobia (a pathological fear of foreigners). Whereas prejudice may be directed against specific groups or individuals, ethnocentrism is directed indiscriminately against everyone who is perceived to belong to a different ethnic group.

Edward Said\'s (1978) study of Orientalism provides a searching critique of the imaginative geographies that supported the ethnocentric (European) construction of an exotic cultural other (Gregory, 1997). Said\'s work also reveals the contradictory nature of ethnocentrism, where hostility towards \'Orientals\' can be unproblematically maintained alongside a respect for Arab and Islamic cultures as the historical source of European language and \'civilization\'. The ethnocentrism of Geography\'s history, particularly concerning the politics of Empire, has been explored in several recent studies (e.g. Driver, 1992; Godlewska and Smith, 1994) while Mitchell (1997) has argued for a more critical engagement with transnational processes and discourses of globalization as a way of reducing such ethnocentrism. (See also difference; positionality; transnationalism.) (PAJ)

References Driver, F. 1992: Geography\'s history: histories of geographical knowledge. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 10: 23-40. Godlewska, A. and Smith, N., eds, 1994: Geography and empire. Oxford: Blackwell. Gregory, D. 1997: Orientalism reviewed. History Workshop Journal 44: 267-78. Mitchell, K. 1997: Transnational discourse: bringing geography back in. Antipode 29: 101-14. Said, E.W. 1978: Orientalism. London: Routledge.



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Other Terms : multiple nuclei model | concentration and centralization | geopolitical transition
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