Ethnocentrism is a concept in Anthropology defined as the vision demonstrated by someone who considers their ethnic group or culture to be the center of everything , therefore, on a more important plane than other cultures and societies. Ethnocentrism definition
The term is formed by the juxtaposition of the word of Greek origin ” ethnos ” which means “nation, tribe or people who live together” and centrism which indicates the center.
An ethnocentric individual considers the norms and values of his own culture better than those of other cultures. This can pose a problem, as it often gives rise to unsubstantiated prejudices and ideas.
An ethnocentric view sometimes demonstrates ignorance of different cultural habits, leading to disrespect, depreciation and intolerance by those who are different. In its most extreme cases, it gives rise to prejudiced, racist and xenophobic attitudes. Ethnocentrism definition
This universal phenomenon can reach drastic proportions when technically more fragile cultures come into contact with more dominant and advanced cultures.
Examples of ethnocentrism
One of the most striking examples of ethnocentrism in history is Nazism . Nazism was the German ideology preached by Adolf Hitler, who advocated the superiority of the “Aryan race”.
According to this ideology, the Germanic peoples were a pure and superior race, and all other “races” were inferior. Based on this idea, the Germans exterminated thousands of Jews and some other ethnic groups, which became known as the Holocaust. Ethnocentrism definition
Hitler won popular support by blaming the Jews for the precarious situation in which Germany found itself at the end of the First World War.
Another example of ethnocentrism was European colonization in the Americas. Upon arriving in American territory, Europeans came across peoples of completely different habits and cultures.
Europeans considered themselves superior to the original peoples and imposed their customs, traditions and religion. In Brazil, for example, the indigenous people were forced to follow the Christian religion and were catechized by the Jesuits. Ethnocentrism definition
Ethnocentrism and cultural relativism
Cultural relativism is a current of thought or doctrine that aims to understand cultural differences and study the reasons for differences between different cultures.
While ethnocentrism is confrontational, relativism approaches differences in a calming way.
It is important to highlight that cultural relativism is an ideology that defends that values, moral principles, right and wrong, good and bad, are social conventions intrinsic to each culture. Ethnocentrism definition
An act considered wrong in one culture does not mean that it is also wrong when performed by peoples of different cultures.