Material Modernity(ies): Europe in Expansion



Antwerp, view of the freight station and warehousesThe plurality of material modernity(ies) requires determining the contours of European power as it was constructed during the early modern and modern eras. The global domination of the most advanced European countries followed the establishment of a capitalism in full expansion, whose goal was the integration of markets. From their manufacture to their circulation and consumption, it made of objects and goods one of the most obvious characteristic traits of European civilization.

Firmly associated with the notion of progress, the positivity of these innovative modernities—an exhaustive list of which is illusory so real was its democratization—was on the one hand replaced by an astounding knowledge economy, and on the other associated with the formulation of new social and moral values perceived as being liberating.

At present, a problematic form of historical irony is leading to a depreciation of these material modernity(ies) broadly diffused and invented by Europe, in order to question their contributions and even their very legitimacy.