Theory, Culture and Society 26 (7-8):1-15 (2009)

This article introduces the special section on the contribution of Jack Goody, which focuses on The Theft of History . Goody attacks the notion of a radical division between Europe and Asia, which has become built into the commonsense academic wisdom and categorical apparatus of the social sciences and humanities. Eurocentrism is a constant target as he scrutinizes and finds wanting the claims of the West to have invented modern science, cultural renaissances, the free city, capitalism, democracy, love and secularism. Goody’s approach favours a dynamic long-term basis for comparisons between societies and focuses on the exchange of information and goods across Eurasia to argue that the comparative advantage one society gains has been only temporary, swinging between different parts of Eurasia a number of times over the millennia. Goody suggests that China developed an active mercantile urban culture before Europe. Cities and towns with their mixture of luxury and learning, should not be seen as inevitably subordinate to centralized power structures in both eastern and western Eurasia. Goody criticizes the theoretical assumptions and the handling of evidence of Perry Anderson, Fernand Braudel, Norbert Elias, Moses Finlay, David Landes, Karl Marx, Joseph Needham, Immanuel Wallerstein and Max Weber. His concern is that the master categories of world history, such as antiquity, feudalism and capitalism, have been developed against a background of the particular European trajectory, then projected onto the world at large. Goody remains sceptical, not just about eurocentrism, but also the additional danger of being eurocentric about ethnocentricity, which he regards as a trap that postcolonialism and postmodernism frequently fall into
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DOI 10.1177/0263276409348088
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References found in this work BETA

Neoliberal Political Economy, Biopolitics and Colonialism.Couze Venn - 2009 - Theory, Culture and Society 26 (6):206-233.
From Kant to Goethe.J. Bleicher - 2007 - Theory, Culture and Society 24 (6):139-158.
Archive.Mike Featherstone - 2006 - Theory, Culture and Society 23 (2-3):591-596.
Kant and Goethe.G. Simmel - 2007 - Theory, Culture and Society 24 (6):159-191.

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Citations of this work BETA

Off the Record.Dave Boothroyd - 2011 - Theory, Culture and Society 28 (7-8):41-59.
Many Renaissances, Many Modernities?Jan Nederveen Pieterse - 2011 - Theory, Culture and Society 28 (3):149-160.

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