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Interdisciplinary Research cluster

Decentering Eurocentrism

This research cluster brings together historians, lawyers, political scientists and economists to understand the origins and consequences of an epistemology that places Europe—sometimes explicitly and sometimes implicitly—at the centre of the world.

Eurocentrism is a set of assumptions about the superiority of European (or “Western”) ways of knowing and doing. It is pervasive in global governance, in the rules of economic organization, and in the epistemologies of the humanities and social sciences. At the same time, it is increasingly the subject of intellectual critique. This research cluster brings together historians, lawyers, political scientists and economists to understand the origins and consequences of an epistemology that places Europe—sometimes explicitly and sometimes implicitly—at the centre of the world.

This cluster analyses four sets of questions.

  • What exactly is Eurocentrism? If there are multiple Eurocentrisms, how do they relate to each other? What are the shortcomings of the notion of Eurocentrism (eg, in terms of essentialising Europe and disregarding the diversity within Europe)?
  • How does Eurocentrism manifest itself? What reactions does it engender? In what ways does it display continuity with its colonial past, and in what ways has it changed in assumptions, intent and content? In what forms does eurocentrism perpetuate itself in contexts geographically far removed from Europe?
  • How can Eurocentrism be overcome? Are there instances in which it has been? Are there instances in which it should not? More practically, how can international and comparative research projects be designed in a non-Eurocentric manner?
  • To what extent is the EU (and the EUI) inherently Eurocentric? In what ways does the very existence of the EU change the meaning of Europe and “European-ness”? What would a non-Eurocentric European Union look like?

These are some of the questions explored in this research cluster through the combined lenses of the EUI’s disciplinary communities, from history to law, economics and political science, via a series of activities detailed below.

 “3X3” conversations

Distributed over each of the three academic terms, we will organize a series of activities, open to all members of the EUI community, focused on three main priorities of our research cluster (hence 3X3). These are as follows:

Decentering Eurocentrism Reading Group: Meeting once a month, this reading group discusses titles proposed and selected by cluster members in a “bottom up” process.

Decentering Eurocentrism Lecture Series: Each term, a selected author of one of the titles previously selected for our reading group will be invited to give a public lecture to the EUI community.

Decentering Eurocentrism in the EUI: Each term, our group will organize a discussion focused on a specific academic department within the EUI, in order to reflect on its curriculum, disciplinary structure, and core methodologies from the critical perspective of decentering Eurocentrism. Members of the EUI Diversity Committee and the EUI Decolonising Initiative will be invited to participate in these events.

Decentering Eurocentrism Cluster Co-Sponsorships

Over the course of the year, we will offer six micro-grants up to the amount of EUR 500 to incentivize the organizers of workshops, seminars, and other planned activities to incorporate more systematically questions related to “Eurocentrism”. We prioritize activities connected to the CIVICA research focus area “Europe Revisited” and related to applications for the 2022 CIVICA call for collaborative research proposals. Applications will be accepted on a rolling bases, but the funded activities must take place by the end of 2022. The cluster co-coordinators will serve as the grant-awarding committee. To apply please, submit a one-page proposal succinctly describing the event, and the specific way in which funding will be used to advance the aims of the research cluster in a way that it could not otherwise. Send to: [email protected]

Inter-disciplinary workshop “Decentering Eurocentrism across the Disciplines”

This will be a international workshop funded by the cluster, on a specific topic to be selected competitively based on proposals from members of the EUI community. Call for Proposals to be launched in spring 2022, for an event to be scheduled before the end of the 2022 calendar year.

The team

Group members

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