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Lecture 4

GGRA03H3 Lecture Notes - Lecture 4: Age Of Enlightenment, Eurocentrism, Urban Design

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Andre Sorensen

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Modernity and Utopias
Modernity: belief of continuous progress, improvement, technical solutions
to problems
Modernity and Europe
Ideas of Modernity were highly Eurocentric
• Progress was seen in contrast with ‘tradition’ and ‘traditional societies’
which were considered less advanced
European colonization was justified as a project to civilize the world,
which was seen as backward and ‘traditional’
‘Orientalism is the Euro-centric idea that the Middle-east, Asia and
Africa societies were static and undeveloped, while Europe was
developed, rational and superior
Ideology is a belief system that is projected as accepted, ‘normalized’
Key Concept 1
• The set of ideas, based in the European Enlightenment,
that contrasted ‘tradition’ with ‘modernity’
• Saw traditional societies (in Europe but especially elsewhere), as stagnant
and unchanging, while modernity represented progress, a better future
• The technological and industrial (also imperial) project of the 19th C led
to great optimism about the future, and the possibility of greatly improved
social and economic conditions for the majority
Urbanization, technological and infrastructure advances were seen as a
key part and proof of this project
• Modernity refers to the period starting with the Enlightenment, (1650-
1750) which is characterized by the rejection of tradition, feudalism, and
religious rule in Europe, and characterized by the spread of secular ideas,
scientific method, and capitalism.
The application of the scientific method and technological development
led to assumptions about the inevitability of continual progress in
knowledge, social organization, and wealth, that have since 1980s been
challenged by post- modernism.
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