Eastern world  

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East–West dichotomy


The Eastern Origins of Western Civilisation (2004)

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Eastern world is an umbrella term for various cultures or social structures, nations and philosophical systems, which vary depending on the context. It most often includes at least part of Asia or, geographically, the countries and cultures east of Europe, the Mediterranean region and Arab world, specifically in historical (pre-modern) contexts, and in modern times in the context of Orientalism. Africa may rarely be included. It is often seen as a counterpart to the Western world, and correlates strongly to the Southern half of the North-South divide.

The various regions included in the term are varied, hard to generalize, and do not have a single shared common heritage, as is frequently claimed for the Western world. Although the various parts of the Eastern world share many common threads, most notably being in the Global South they have never historically defined themselves collectively.

The term originally had a literal geographic meaning, referring to the eastern part of the Old World, contrasting the cultures and civilizations of Asia with those of Europe (the Occident or Western world). Traditionally, this includes all of Central, North and East Asia (the Far East), Greater Middle East, Southeast Asia and South Asia (the Indian subcontinent).

Conceptually, the boundary between east and west is cultural, rather than geographical, as a result of which Australia is typically grouped in the West, while Islamic nations and much of the former Soviet Union are, regardless of location, grouped in the East. Other than Asia and some parts of Africa, Europe has successfully absorbed almost all of the societies of Oceania, and the Americas into the Western world, Turkey, the Philippines, Israel, and Japan, which are geographically located in the Eastern world, are considered at least partially westernized due to the cultural influence of Europe.

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Identity politics

Asian concepts

Although the concept of a united Asian people is not the same as that of the Asian race. It is even more debatable due to the fact that most of the world link the Asian identity to the people of South, East and Southeast Asia and exclude regions of Western Asia who do not consider themselves as part of the Eastern world such as the Arab nations, Israel, Turkey and Iran.

Additionally, a Pan-Asian identity is hampered by the broader racial and ethnic diversity in Asia, when compared to the continents of Europe and Africa.

The presence of many different cultures, environments, economics, historical ties and government systems whose peoples have strong traits of Nationalism and ethnic individualism results in restrictive cultural identities which are not inclusive of the entire continent. People of Asia may prefer to identify with their individual nations or ethnic groups rather than with their continent or region.

The division between 'East' and 'West' is a product of European cultural history, and of the distinction between European Christendom and the cultures beyond it to the East. With the European colonization of the Americas the East/West distinction became global. The concept of an Eastern, "Indian" (Indies) or "Oriental" sphere was emphasized by ideas of racial as well as religious and cultural differences. Such distinctions were articulated by Westerners in the scholarly tradition known as Orientalism and Indology. The notion of an Asian identity may considered as a primarily European construct. An intriguing fact to be noted is that Orientalism has been the only Western concept that was about a unified Eastern world and not about any specific region(s), but rather all of Asia together.

European concepts

During the Cold War, the term "Eastern world" was sometimes used as an extension of Eastern bloc, connoting the Soviet Union, China and their communist allies, while the term "Western world" often connoted the United States and its NATO allies such as the United Kingdom.

The concept is often another term for the Far East – a region that bears considerable cultural and religious commonality. Eastern philosophy, art, literature, and other traditions, are often found throughout the region in places of high importance, such as popular culture, architecture and traditional literature. The spread of Buddhism and Hindu Yoga is partly responsible for this.

Eastern culture

Eastern culture has developed many themes and traditions. Some important ones are:

See also





Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Eastern world" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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