Rolf Petri, Western Ideology


Bloomsbury Academic. Historiography



Rolf Petri

A Short History of Western Ideology:
A Critical Account

Bloomsbury Academic, 2018


We are arguably living in a ‘postideological’ era. However, when we tune into the TV news we can hear political leaders talk about ‘advanced’ societies, geopolitical experts suggest ‘humanitarian’ interventions, and sober events presenters qualify a murder as ‘barbaric’. What does this mean? In this comprehensive book, Rolf Petri reveals how our everyday political language is full of ideological representations of the world, and places them in an accessible historical narration.

From the secularization of Europe and the Enlightenment project of ‘civilization’ to the contemporary preoccupation with ecological catastrophes or the end of history, A Short History of Western Ideology carves out the central elements of western ideology. It focuses on a wide variety of issues including religion, colonialism, race and gender, which are essential for how we conceive of the modern world. By creating an awareness of the ideological character of the western worldview, its limits and its flaws, this book warns us of the dangers that derive from a self-righteous mindset.

Table of contents

1. Europe and History
2. Freedom and Sovereignty
3. Hierarchy among Equals
4. A Craving for Goodness
5. Ecology and Apocalypse


Informazioni dell’editore


Rolf Petri è professore ordinario di Storia contemporanea presso l’Università Ca’ Foscari di Venezia. Ultimamente ha scritto ‘The Mediterranean Metaphor’ (History, 2016, n. 348) e curato Balcani, Europa. Violenza, politica, memoria (Giappichelli, 2017), nonché The Baltic Sea: A Space of Changing Expectations (Leipziger Universitätsverlag, 2017).



“In this fascinating and important book Rolf Petri has created a concise history of Western ideology, each of the chapters a brilliant essay on its own terms, coming together to form a major historical statement that sums up what it has meant to think “Western” over the course of the last three centuries. This book compels us to rethink the most fundamental aspects of how we understand the role of ideology in the making of the modern world.” –  Larry Wolff, Professor of History, New York University, USA

“What might western ideology mean after decades of postcolonial criticism and deconstruction? What’s left of Eurocentrism and Westernness? Rolf Petri dives deep into this immense cultural tradition, scrutinizing it with intellectual devices that localize it in a concrete geographical and historical context and, at the same time, delocalize it, viewing it within a non-hierarchical global context. Present-day preoccupations with civic bonds and the environment, temporality and making sense of history set the stage for rediscovering, rereading (and reshaping) the western intellectual tradition.” –  Antonis Liakos, Professor Emeritus of History, University of Athens, Greece

“A brilliant account of core elements of Western ideology, explaining how they emerged from eschatological thinking to inform our modern experience of the world. Instead of running his readers through a schematic list of authors and their thought, Petri takes a holistic approach, looking at the presumptions they share. It is a tour de force which leads us from Herodotus to the Abrahamic religions, from Enlightenment and colonisation to global warming.” –  Axel Körner, Professor of Modern History, University College London, UK

Citare questo post
Antonella Salomoni (2018, 23 Febbraio). Rolf Petri, Western Ideology. Associazione Amici di Memoria e Ricerca. Recuperato il 21 Maggio 2024, da

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