West is Best, East is Beast

When:28 Mar 2014, 12:30pm - 3pm
Venue:Morven Brown 310 (map ref C20)
Who:Professor Norman Davies
Le Gateau Des Rois

Special History Event - Lecture by Professor Norman Davies

Abstract: This talk is about the attitudes and stereotypes which have underlain much of the writing on European History. The late 19th Century concept of 'Western Civilisation', which is still strong in the USA, is built on the notion of "white supremacy" and of the superiority of the west European imperial powers. It was alive and well in the ideology both of the Nazis and of the Stalinists. The idea of 'the Barbarians' is as old as the Greeks. And the denigration of East Europeans is connected to the Partitions of Poland, the Balkans Wars, and the early industrialisation of Britain, France and Germany. Religious strands in the theme can be linked to the habitual dismissal of Orthodox Christianity, Islam and (in the eyes of educated liberal Jews) of the so-called Ostjuden, who practised ultra-Orthodox Judaism. As a result of these trends, the history of East Europe was either minimalized, satirised or ignored.

Bio: Norman Davies is Professor Emeritus of History, University of London, Honorary Fellow St. Antony's College, Oxford, and Life Member, Clare Hall, Cambridge. He has written extensively on the history of Europe, east and west, and is the author of several path breaking and award winning publications. His publications in English include White Eagle, Red Star: the Polish-Soviet War, 1919-20 (1972); God's Playground: a History of Poland (1981); Heart of Europe: the Past in Poland's Present (1984); Europe: a History (1996); The Isles: a History (1996); Microcosm: Portrait of a Central European City, on Wroclaw/Breslau, with Roger Moorhouse (2000); Rising '44: the Battle for Warsaw (2003); Europe East and West: Collected Essays (2006); and Europe at War, 1939-45: No Simple Victory (2006).


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