||An attitude that unthinkingly and unproblematically places \'Europe\' at the centre of human inquiry, social analysis and political practice. These three spheres are closely interlinked, and revolve around the constitution of \'Europe\' as subject and object of inquiry, as architect and arbiter of method, and as exemplar and engineer of progress. Thus \'Europe\' is placed at the centre of human inquiry through the assumption that it provides the model and master-narrative of world history: that its histories and geographies are the norm and the rule from which all others learn or deviate. \'Europe\' is placed at the centre of social analysis through the assumption that its theoretical formulations and methods of analysis provide the most powerful resources for all explanation and interpretation. And \'Europe\' is placed at the centre of political practice through the assumption that its cultural and political systems act as the bearers of a universal Reason that maps out the ideal course of all human history.
\'Europe\' appears in scare-quotes throughout the preceding paragraph to draw attention to its cultural construction. Indeed, the discourse of Eurocentrism has a long history (or rather historical geography) through which it has been so closely entwined with the projects of colonialism and imperialism that it cannot sensibly be confined to the continent of Europe. In the course of its expansions, \'Europe\' has turned into \'the West\' (see Orientalism) which has more recently been turned into \'the North\'. Each of these transitions has been freighted with its own cultural and political baggage, but their general burden is clear: \'Eurocentrism is not merely the ethnocentrism of people located in the West\', Dhareshwar (1990, p. 235) notes, but rather \'permeates the cultural apparatus in which we participate\' (see also Shohat and Stam, 1994). It follows from these characterizations that it is in principle possible to study Europe without being Eurocentric, and that it is equally possible to study non-European and indeed non-western societies in thoroughly Eurocentric ways.
Geography has a particular and a general interest in Eurocentrism. Historians of the modern discipline have argued that it is a constitutively \'European science\' (Stoddart, 1986). Critics have objected that this erases the contributions of other geographical traditions, and that geography in its modern, transnational and hegemonic forms is more accurately described as a \'Eurocentric science\' (Gregory, 1994 p. 33; see also Sidaway, 1997). Recent work in the history of geography has drawn attention to these issues through a critical interrogation of geography\'s complicity in the adventures of colonialism and imperialism and, in particular, of the reciprocities between the intellectual formation of the discipline and the political trajectory of European expansion, exploitation and dispossession (Driver, 1992). During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries the discipline invested heavily outside Europe in activities that had considerable instrumental value (and some historians have suggested that it was precisely these practical contributions that secured the formal incorporation of the modern discipline within the western academy). Its strategic contributions included mapping and surveying other territories, compiling resource inventories, and producing imaginative geographies of other peoples and places (see Godlewska and Smith, 1994; Bell, Butlin and Heffernan, 1995). These investments contributed to the formation of the modern (British) discipline as a \'white mythology\' that postulated a racially unmarked subject-position as the condition of scientific discourse, effaced alternative subject-positions, and appropriated other forms of knowledge: all three gestures are diagnostics of Eurocentrism (Barnett, 1998; see also whiteness).
Although the contemporary Anglo-American discipline has become sensitive to its intellectual formation as a situated knowledge, it continues to rely on what Slater (1992) has called a Euro-Americanism that projects its own situations as \'lineages of universalism\'. This colonizing gesture was explicit and obvious in the formulations of classical spatial science, whose supposedly general models were almost invariably predicated on specifically European and American cases, but Slater is most interested in the dispositions of an ostensibly \'critical\' human geography. He argues that its dependence on critical theory, historical materialism and postmodernism (the list could now usefully be extended: feminist geography has also been exercised by these questions) continues to license assumptions of \'universal applicability\' that conceal \'a particularity based to a large extent on the specific experiences of the USA and the UK\'. Geographies written under the sign of post-colonialism are directly interested in these issues â€” in the need to \'provincialize\' the assumptions of Euro-American geography, to attend to other voices and to \'learn from other regions\' â€” but they also often draw directly on European \'high theory\' so that there is no simple solution to the struggle against Eurocentrism (cf. Young, 1990).
Geography is scarcely alone in these predicaments, and in the sense of discourse rather than discipline it has a much more general involvement in Eurocentrism. Gregory (1998) has drawn attention to four conceptual strategies â€” four \'geo-graphs\' â€” that entered directly into the formation of a colonial modernity: (i) absolutizing time and space (the construction of concepts through which European metrics and meanings of History and Geography were taken to be natural and inviolable, as marking the centre around which other histories and other geographies were to be organized); (ii) exhibiting the world (the production of a space within which particular objects were made visible in particular ways, and by means of which particular claims to knowledge made by viewing subjects were negotiated and legitimated); (iii) normalizing the subject (the production of spaces of inclusion and exclusion that normalized the subject-position of the white, middle-class, heterosexual male); and (iv) abstracting culture and nature (the production of an ideology of nature that separated modern western culture from \'nature\' and represented temperate nature as \'normal\' nature). This argumentation-sketch is more than an exercise in historical reconstruction. \'In elucidating the conceptual orders of Eurocentrism\', Gregory argues, \'it becomes much more difficult to assume that we have left such predicaments behind, and much more likely that we will be forced to recognize that Eurocentrism and its geo-graphs continue to invest our geographies with their troubling meanings.\'Â (DG)
References Barnett, C. 1998: Impure and worldly geography: the Africanist discourse of the Royal Geographical Society, 1831-73. Transactions, Institute of British Geographers NS 23: 239-52.Â Bell, M., Butlin, R. and Heffernam, M., eds, 1995: Geography and imperialism 1820-1940. Manchester: Manchester University Press.Â Dhareshwar, V. 1990: The predicament of Theory. In M. Kreiswirth and M. Cheetham (eds), Theory between the disciplines: Authority / vision / politics. Ann Arbor : University of Michigan Press, 231-50.Â Driver, F. 1992: Geography\'s empire: histories of geographical knowledge. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 10: 23-40.Â Godlewska, A. and Smith, N., eds, 1994: Geography and Empire. Oxford and Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.Â Gregory, D. 1994: Geographical imaginations. Oxford and Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.Â Gregory, D. 1998: Power, knowledge and geography. Geographisches Zeitschrift, 86: 70-93.Â Shohat, E. and Stam, R. 1994: Unthinking Eurocentrism: Multiculturalism and the media. London and New York: Routledge.Â Sidaway, J. 1997: The (re)making of the western \'geographical tradition\': some missing links. Area 29: 72-80.Â Slater, D. 1992:Onthe borders of social theory: learning from other regions. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 10: 307-27.Â Stoddart, D.R. 1986:On geography and its history. Oxford and Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.Â Young, R. 1990: White mythologies: writing History and the West. London and New York: Routledge.
Suggested Reading Slater (1992).Â Gregory (1998).