chapter  2
15 Pages

Ethnocentrism and racism in psychology

Ever since the Portuguese explorer Bartholomew Diaz reached the southern tip of Africa in 1488 in search of a trade route from Europe to Asia, the identity of the continent has been defined in European terms. Both the outer limits of the continent and the inner boundaries of many countries have been drawn by Europeans with a vested interest. Until Algeria’s independence in 1962, the outer limits of the continent were considered to be the southern portion of France. Madagascar, 800 km across the Mozambique channel from the continent, and Mauritius, 1600 km away, were similarly considered to be politically part of the continent, whereas Greater Yemen, which is a short distance across the Red Sea, was not. With the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, which was built to make it easier for Europe to trade with the rest of the world, north-east Africa and Arabia became part of two continents despite the similarity in geology, language, and culture (Mazrui, 1986). Partition of Africa by the imperial colonial powers led to the establishment of 48 new states, ‘most of them with clearly defined boundaries in place of the existing innumerable lineage and clan groups, city-states, kingdoms, and empires without fixed boundaries’ (Boahen, 1987, P. 95).