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Decentering of Non-Western Culture

In: Historical Events

Submitted By kjpenn57
Words 1059
Pages 5
Kevin Penn
American Intercontinental University
Unit 2 Individual Project 2
Topics in Cultural Studies Kelly Dormady
June 29, 2013


This paper will explore the decentering of non-western culture by the Europeans as well as within the African nations. It well look at the conditions in the African nation were in before the decentering of these nations i.e. religion, traditions, and overall culture. Also, this paper will give examples of what the impact of decentering of the African culture by Europeans has had on the continent up to and including present day.

In the late 19th and early 20th century the military, communication, naval might and technology began strengthening in the western world. None of the non-Western cultures wanted to assimilate to these Western cultures because of their own values and own way of thinking. The western cultures main focus was not so much the re-centering of a civilization; but by placing many fundamental challenges to their cultural identities it decentered their culture. (Sayre, 2013,)
The Europeans were determined to impose their will on these smaller and weaker nations claim them and incorporate them as a part of their own new territories. These non-Western cultures were not ready for a decentering of their own culture which ultimately would have these cultures losing their identities. Yet we see where the western cultures were continually gaining strength over other cultures and they began to fear the power the western cultures; smaller and weaker nations found themselves and the civilization that they once knew to be fading and they were being incorporated into the European traditions. (Agatucci, 2010)
Of the many cultures that suffered from this decentering frozen in fear of change and lacked of development was Africa; this change was believed to be growth by Europeans and was also accompanied with promise of great economic gains from outside culture. In the early19th century, the African culture was rich and overflowing with tradition. The African culture was made up of many villages within a certain region. These villages were comprised of families that were led by an appointed leader. The African culture was one of the richest in music, art, and dance, with tradition at certain stages of human growth, the stages of the passing of seasons to coincide with the agricultural year. (Sayre, 2013) Because of these promises of even greater economic growth; Africa was ready to change their own values and ways thereby creating a void and allowing for the decentering of their philosophy and ultimately changing the characteristics of the culture forever.
We must understand that in Africa like in all other places certain conditions must be present in order for the culture to thrive there has to be an extremely sophisticated assembly of historic individuality, and shared involvements of similar and different situations, transcendent ideas and social relationships. As a result of this we can see spans of collective practices with a coherent linking of ideas in the African cultural and its group’s personality emerged long before the introduction of western culture. (“Westernization-Africa,” n.d.) In order to fully understand how and what, were the effects European expansion on African culture, we must first understand that before the Europeans, Africa was a very successfully thriving nation that was wealthy with its natural resources and lead in the trade with other countries. Food was never a question or a problem for any of the village as its agriculture belt flourished in much of the region. The majority of the trade of gold, salt, iron, ivory, and slavery was controlled in countries like Ghana, Africa. The only other contributions that were made to this culture was from the Arab nations with the religious introduction of Islam. (“Westernization-Africa,” n.d.) The way that the Africans did things for centuries before were now looked down upon and viewed as a primitive lifestyle under European control. The European expansion and colonization then slowed the cultural growth to the point of near extinction and ruined the lifestyle of the African’s arts, music, and most every aspect of how these people lived. (Niemeyer, 1976).
At this point slavery had become a greater part of the picture and along with all the other negative effects on this new civilization was the introduction of disease amongst the African people that were incurable and caused many Africans to die. It became clear to see that it was impossible to re-establish their old traditions and a culture was now lost forever for many Africans especially those that faced the tortures of slavery forever. Others Africans were faced unfair treatment and trading practices for raw materials that they produced. With the colonization of their land a new language was also forced upon them they faced urbanization, and taxation which produced wage labor of the native people; something they had never seen or did before. (Sayre, 2013)
In conclusion, Globalization by European countries has helped with a positive increase in the growth of some countries, but this is not the case in Africa. The globalization of Africa; today accounts for barely 2 percent output of today’s trade and one percent of foreign investment. (Deousas, 2001) The disparity that has retarded the development in Africa is a direct result of the decentering caused by European countries. We now see poverty like no other period before, again as a direct result of European decentering of Africa. This continent which once lead the way by being a major mover and shaker within the Atlantic-trade, is now charged tariffs 10 times higher for its goods than that of the European Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development within the same continent. (Unknown, 2005)


Agatucci, Cora, (2010) African Timelines, retrieved from
Author unknown, (2005) How Globalization Works - and Doesn't Work - in Africa, retrieved from
Deousas, Mohammed, (2001) Africa Faces Challenges of Globalization. (Globalization and Africa).(economics)(Statistical Data Included), retrieved from
Niemeyer, Gerhart. National Review. 10/29/1976, Vol. 28 Issue 41
Sayre, H. M. (2013). Discovering The Humanities. Second Edition Pearson Upper Saddler River, New Jersey Education,Inc
Westernization - africa - bibliography. (n.d.). Retrieved from…...

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