“The West”: A conceptual exploration

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This article explores the transformation of the directional concept "the west" into the socio-political concept "the West". From the early 19th century onward, the concept of the West became temporalized and politicized. It became a concept of the future ("Zukunftsbegriff"), acquired a polemical thrust through the polarized opposition to antonyms such as "Russia", "the East", and "the Orient", and was deployed as a tool for forging national identities. The gestation of "the West" went hand-in-hand with the gradual substitution of an east-west divide for the north-south divide that had dominated European mental maps for centuries.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages24
JournalEuropäische Geschichte Online
Early online date21 Nov 2011
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Western Civilization
  • The West
  • Conceptual History
  • Intellectual History


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