The ethnocentrism it is the tendency to think about the world based on the perspectives inherent in one’s own culture. This is equivalent to locating one’s own cultural or social group in an imaginary center of the world, which supposes it in a relationship of superiority and importance above the rest.
Thus, ethnocentric tendencies They value their own language, tradition, gastronomy, religion and customs always above those of others, which reinforces the feelings of belonging and group self-esteem, to the detriment of the capacity for integration, tolerance and cultural enrichment provided by diversity and hybridity.
This phenomenon even occurs within fields of study purportedly objective, such as science or social science, and are often naturalized by hegemonic cultural systems, so it takes extra effort to unmask them.
This is the opposite point of view to that of Cultural Relativism.
Examples of ethnocentrism
- The conquest of America. The relationship of violent disrespect and enslaving treatment that the European settlers gave to the American aborigines during the conquest of the continent, is an extreme case of ethnocentrism, if not simply of racism. The conquerors ignored the presence of the complex aboriginal cultures and imposed their religion, language and modus vivendi.
- The Conquest of the Desert of Argentina. This is the name of a war campaign against the indigenous tribes (Ranqueles, Mapuches and Tehuelches) of Argentine Patagonia, carried out by the State during 1878-1885. Westerners considered the indigenous territory as “desert” and the settlers as “savages”, which justified their systematic extermination from a radically ethnocentric perspective.
- Nazi extermination. From an ethnocentric view of privileging the Aryan race and the Germanic peoples over others, the German Nazis imposed cruel restrictions on life on Jewish citizens under their rule, which reached its climax in the camps of extermination where the “inferior races” were massively executed in a grotesque case of social Darwinism.
- Islamic jihad. The “Holy War” that radical Islamic groups affiliated with ISIS (Islamic State) terrorism waged against the West during the first decade of 2000 is another case of extreme ethnocentrism, as fanatics seek to apply their religious code to the entire world.
- Hollywood cinema. Many American blockbusters cover deep ethnocentric precepts, constantly imagining a world under siege by natural or extraterrestrial forces and depending almost exclusively on American organization and politics. In these films, the world is talked about as if it were equivalent to the United States.
- The Mexican-North American border. Despite having taken away a high percentage of its territory during the 19th century, the border between the United States and Mexico embodies an ethnocentric dilemma in which Latin Americans are associated with a certain exoticism, but their historical claims and their human rights are undervalued. , when they seek to clear their way as illegal in a better country.
- Literary criticism. Ethnocentric interpretations are often incurred when restricted to literary productions from peripheral countries that serve as an allegory or as a postcard of the real conditions in which their nation finds itself; while European or North American artists are approached from a universalist perspective.
- The RAE. Despite the fact that 90% of Spanish speakers are in America, the Royal Spanish Academy insists, with less and less efficiency, on regulating the use of Spanish and exercising control over a language that no longer belongs exclusively to Spain.
- Eurocentrism cultural. Many hegemonic discourses place Europe as the cradle of art in the West, and its forms as avant-garde and as Fine Arts, while those of other nations, considered peripheral, are always considered “artistic manifestations”, a notorious subcategory.
- The Rwandan genocide. In 1994, one of the two sides of the Banyaruanda ethnic group of this African nation, the Hutus (majority), tried to exterminate the other, the Tutsis (minority), through a genocide orchestrated from the instances of the hegemonic government of the former. This cost around a million violent victims, despite the absence of racial or linguistic criteria that distance these two estates.