Beyond the Eurocentric perspective

2024/01/24 STEAM-Hezkuntza (Elhuyar Zientzia)

Ed. Pernan Goñi

We Europeans sometimes live by our navel. We do not take account of other realities in the world and, without realizing it, we extend the Eurocentric perspective. It is therefore interesting to reflect whether our views, arguments and proposals take into account other realities in the world or can be made from a broader perspective.

It is not a difficulty as an individual, but as a society. Even today's science, supposedly objective, is very Eurocentric. Your scientific questions and how you interpret the world are not meaningful to three-quarters of the world.

The green economy only makes sense if it is set on a small scale. If it is set at global level, it is not sustainable. On the question of transport, in order to avoid both CO2 emissions into the atmosphere, the purchase of modern electric cars is a solution. Does this serve all the countries of the world? Attention, so that the discourse that opens does not perpetuate the structural eco-social injustice.

To give up a Eurocentric vision, it is necessary to take into account other cultures and needs of the world. Otherwise, the adoption of such measures in the name of the environment can become a green colonialism. And protecting ecosystems cannot bring more social injustices.

It is useful to give prominence to local wisdom, languages and social movements. For example, more and more studies indicate that minority languages are valuable tools to act against the environmental emergency. Local languages are a reflection of the relationship between individuals and cultures with nature, and in fact, some of these historically persecuted linguistic communities are closely related to nature care and knowledge of nature. Minority languages, upon receiving the global knowledge of their ancestors, constitute a repository of ecological memory.

The recognition of minority languages as a useful tool for sustainable development can help traditional nature-related communities to voice indigenous peoples, who have been silenced for so many years.

Euskera also has a rich vocabulary related to nature, which helps to know and understand the nature of the place. Bearing in mind that the human being maintains a strong attachment to the landscape and the mother tongue of its surroundings, until it is part of its own identity, the Basque Country is a valuable tool for transmitting ecological knowledge, strengthening the adhesion to nature and making the Basque community a sustainability agent.

However, 50 per cent of the world ' s languages are in danger of extinction and much information will be lost with them. 91% of medicinal plants in the Amazon, for example, are transmitted only in indigenous languages and in oral communication. The disappearance of indigenous languages implies the loss of the main tool to deal with the environmental emergency: knowledge.

Cultural and linguistic diversity being a key element in the sustainable development of peoples, linguistic ecology should be at the centre of the debate. Linguistic ecology is the knowledge that studies the relationship between languages and environmental variables. Building a development model based on equality and human values will require care for linguistic diversity.


Androcentrism is understanding the world in masculine terms. This conception of reality starts from the idea that the male gaze is the only possible and universal gaze, ignoring or devaluing the experiences of non-male members.

Thus, men are subjects of the whole society in an androcentric system, although this group is composed of men, women and other identities. And that means that the interests of non-men are invisible, or even more so that they are considered identical to men.

A well-known example is that when car airbags were designed, female bodies were not taken into account. Even when emergency kits are designed, everything related to women's menstrual hygiene is forgotten. In contraceptive methods, all initiatives for men to take the pill fail; it is women who receive this type of treatment, although they suffer serious side effects. The male perspective has also played an important role in the design of the mobility system in cities.

Androcentrism is also reflected in the illustration of human evolution, in which man always appears in the process of hominization. Recently, feminist illustrators have represented women at the heart of the famous sequence of human evolution.

Scientific evidence shows a clear correlation between climate change and gender. The consequences of the emergency are particularly crude for poor women and girls, older women, LGBTIQ+ people, people with functional diversity, migrant women and people living in rural areas. If they are invisible in normal situations, especially in emergency situations.

Any proposal for a solution should therefore incorporate the gender perspective and place the voices of women at the heart of the ecological transition, turning them into active agents of change and focusing the debate. Mainstreaming the perspective of women is crucial to improving environmental protection, reducing poverty and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

But there are also other strict human gazes that hinder the process towards sustainability, like anthropocentrism. We are convinced that man is at the center of nature and that other living beings are at the service of it. This approach hinders the understanding of the functioning of nature, since the human being, far from being in the middle of nature, is only a gear of complex machinery.

The system works thanks to everyone’s input. Humans inevitably need the input of other species, we are totally interdependent, interdependent. Understanding the functioning of ecosystems will lead society to internalise the importance of preserving biodiversity.

To delve into the contents click here.

This project, promoted by Elhuyar, is supported by the Department of Economic Promotion and Strategic Projects of the Provincial Council of Gipuzkoa.

Gai honi buruzko eduki gehiago

Elhuyarrek garatutako teknologia