World History 


 

20th Century World Thought and Culture

World History Since 1500

 Why the West?

The question of how “the West” came to dominate the globe during the modern era has been debated recently among historians.The debate has been polarized between those who view “modernity” as the result of a “European miracle,” the culturally unique and internally generated project of the West, and those who question this “European miracle” paradigm as Eurocentric, and look to other factors to understand and explain Western economic and political world dominance.The traditional narrative, represented by David Landes in his recent The Wealth and Poverty of Nations, attributes European success to its unique cultural values, social institutions, and political practices.This success was entirely “internally driven” by these characteristics.Recently, a number of historians have questioned this “European miracle” paradigm as Eurocentric, and look to other factors to understand and explain Western economic and political world dominance.After surveying the recent work of historians addressing this problem, this paper argues for placing European expansion within a global context, and understanding the Industrial Revolution as a global transformation.This perspective allows us to understand European technological and economic changes within the larger context of patterns of worldwide economic and cultural interaction.


World Digital Library

The World Digital Library (WDL) makes available on the Internet, free of charge and in multilingual format, significant primary materials from countries and cultures around the world.

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