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The Theft of History by Jack Goody

The Theft of History (2006)

by Jack Goody

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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The Theft of History is a synoptic work that attempts to deconstruct and analyze the systematic abuse of historical memory in order to justify European colonialism and Imperialism over the last four centuries.

Central to the argument is the idea that Europe developed Sui Generis from the rest of the world, almost hermetically sealed off from the scientific, political, cultural and religious influences of Africa, Asia, and indeed the whole world.

In so doing, western historians defined the continent as having exceptional and unique qualities, immaculately conceived from the days of Classical Greece, despite the contradictions that had to be glossed over in the process.

Interlaced through this was the attempt to define Europeans as biologically distinct and superior to other peoples, and thereby justify their domination over the entire world.

Goody dissects the historical record of these attempts, and most damningly of all, often use the words of the very individuals who participated in these fraudulent notions to state his case against them.

He describes the attempts by Imperialist historians and philosophers to downplay, obfuscate and sometimes even distort the historical record of the numerous and profound ways in which Africa and Asia influence European culture and thought, starting from the days of Pre-classical Greece to 19th century.

Having said that those who already accept the notions of Western exceptionalism are hardly going to be swayed by this book.

To those willing to accept validity of such a critique to begin with, there are things that may strike you as new and refreshing. ( )
  Jamshed.S | Nov 19, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jack Goodyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Vázquez Ramil, RaquelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The 'theft of history' of the title refers to the take-over of history by the west.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0521691052, Paperback)

Professor Jack Goody builds on his own previous work to extend further his highly influential critique of what he sees as the pervasive eurocentric or occidentalist biases of so much western historical writing. Goody also examines the consequent 'theft' by the West of the achievements of other cultures in the invention of (notably) democracy, capitalism, individualism, and love. The Theft of History discusses a number of theorists in detail, including Marx, Weber and Norbert Elias, and engages with critical admiration western historians like Fernand Braudel, Moses Finlay and Perry Anderson. Major questions of method are raised, and Goody proposes a new comparative methodology for cross-cultural analysis, one that gives a much more sophisticated basis for assessing divergent historical outcomes, and replaces outmoded simple differences between East and West. The Theft of History will be read by an unusually wide audience of historians, anthropologists and social theorists.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:17 -0400)

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