For years I’ve complained that we don’t have a good name to describe precisely the version of Europe that took over the planet in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. ‘The West’ fits a certain sort of self-conception, but at the cost of a strange, supercessionist genealogy that includes Jerusalem and Athens. Some seem to like ‘Euro-American’, but as an American who studies Australia this category doesn’t seem to cover 1) non-American settler colonies and 2) people of color in American settler colonies. There is ‘global north’ as opposed to ‘global south’ but this drives me crazy since Australia, the colonizer, is south of Papua New Guinea. In PNG people regularly talk about ‘whites’ and I borrow that term from the lifeworld I study when I talk about PNG/Australian dynamics but of course again the US is made up of more than just white people. Whorf had the euphemism ‘Standard Average European’ which I like a lot but its not too catchy.
I was wondering recently whether reviving the term ‘Christendom’ wouldn’t be a good solution — in the sense of the Christianitas which Charlemagne was supposed to rule over. It actually covers the right bits of Europe (i.e. Catholics and successor states) that we mean when we speak of standard average colonialism, and demarcates an important part of the shared culture of both Europe and its settler colonies, regardless of the ethnicity of their inhabitants. Also, it indicates that colonization was really not something all of Europe got into, but only certain western portions of it.
So I don’t know — as a shortcut for ‘Catholic Europe and Its Settler Colonies’ maybe ‘Christendom’ is good enough? Just a thought.