Re-locating Asia in the History of Civilizations

Ceylan E.

6th International Conference of Asian Philosophical Association, Ulanbator, Mongolia, 29 - 31 August 2012, pp.177-183

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Full Text
  • City: Ulanbator
  • Country: Mongolia
  • Page Numbers: pp.177-183
  • Istanbul Technical University Affiliated: Yes


Until very recently, the history of civilizations has been taught in a Euro-centric manner. Accordingly, the civilization had appeared in the river basins in Mesopotamia and southern Asia. Then, following a linear progressive line the civilization run mainly in the West: namely through Greek-Helen, Roman civilizations, middle ages, Renaissance, Reformation, Enlightenment, twin revolutions of industrial and French revolution and so on. So, in this narrative there is no place for Asia, let alone Africa and other third world countries.

A similar issue is related to the fact that when the history of Asian societies is narrated, the different life styles of nomadic and settled societies are articulated in a dichotomist way. In this regard, the nomadic societies, which, among other groups, included Turkic peoples, have been regarded as “barbarian” societies, while sedentary societies, of which China was the leading example, have been considered as civilized societies.

As opposed to the Euro-centric histories, this paper will underline the historic role of Asia as the homeland for many ancient civilizations. It attempts to re-locate Asia in world history in a proper way. In this context, there will be references to Asia centered and Sino-centric histories. The article will also try to look for ways to interpret nomadism as a life style imposed by the Asian geography, rather as a feature of barbarism.