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Antiracist Praxis

Eurocentrism by Sarah Trembath

The term Eurocentrism describes a worldview, mindset, or rhetorical orientation that centers European, or White, ways of knowing as sole, central, or superior to all others. It is sometimes conscious and other times quite unconscious, revealed only when other ways of being, knowing, or doing come in contact with it and highlight its presence. It falls into a category that critical thinking experts Richard Elder and Linda Paul call “sociocentric thinking,” which is one of the habits of mind that inhibits critical thinking. Thinkers who want to improve this habit of mind along with their cross-cultural understanding can develop what cultural theorist Gloria Anzaldua called “la consciencia de la mestiza”; what Chicana studies scholar Chela Sandoval calls “coalitional consciousness”; or what antiracist rhetoric and composition scholar Frankie Condon calls “decentering.” Each of these concepts requires thinkers to decenter ego- and socio-centrism and connect with other ways of being in the world. 

“Eurocentrism is not a geographical issue,” according to decolonial literature scholar Walter Mignolo, “but an epistemic and aesthetic one (e.g., control of knowledge and subjectivities). In order to [delink from it] it is necessary to think and act (doing, praxis) decolonially, both in the analysis of the colonial matrix of power” (Mignolo Loc 3113). Unexamined and unchallenged, it imposes “a provincialism as universalism” (Mignolo Loc 3018); it takes one perspective and centers it as the only and most valid one.

Not surprisingly, Eurocentricity has origins in the era of European exploration and conquest and is closely related to racism. Historical study of the manner in which European colonization marginalized and suppressed non-Europeans often proves helpful to individuals seeking to grow away from this type of cultural bias. For them, "multiculturalism" remains "up for grabs across the ideological spectrum" and available only to those willing to expend the energy to "grab" it: to search, envision, grasp, articulate, and enact it (Pratt qtd in Condong and Young 490).

Works Cited

Anzaldua, Gloria. Borderlands: The New Mestiza = La Frontera. Aunt Lute Books, 2007.

Elder, Richard and Linda Paul. Critical Thinking: Concepts & Tools. Foundation for Critical Thinking, 2016.

Mignolo, Walter and Catherine E. Walsh. On Decoloniality: Concepts, Analytics, and Praxis. Duke University Press, 2018.

Davis, Angela Y. Foreword. Methodology of the Oppressed, by Chela Sandoval. University of Minnesota Press, 2000.

Young, Frankie and Vershawn Ashanti Condon. Performing Antiracist Pedagogy in Rhetoric, Writing, and Communication. University Press of Colorado, 2017.

Other Resources

Paul, Richard W. and Linda Elder. Critical thinking: Tools for Taking Charge of Your Professional and Personal Life. Financial Times/Prentice Hall, 2002.

Mignolo, Walter. The Darker Side of Western Modernity: Global Futures, Decolonial Options. Duke University Press, 2011.

Mignolo, Walter. Local Histories/Global Designs: Coloniality, Subaltern Knowledges, and Border Thinking. Princeton University Press, 2012.