Genealogies of the West

Genealogies of the West

Civilization, Religion, Consciousness

By Jaume Aurell

Anthem Religion and Society Series

This book presents a new look at the West by tracing the still-recognizable footprints of the past and reflecting on the present challenges is facing. It recalls the genealogies of the plural processes, ideas, and events that structure the West’s tradition and identity, and their presence nowadays.

Paperback, 304 Pages


February 2023

£22.99, $29.99

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About This Book

Genealogies of the West presents a new look at the West by tracing the still-recognizable footprints of the past and reflecting on what the present challenges are facing. It attempts to decipher traces of the places, characters, events, and intellectual trends that the West recognizes as its own. It tries to shape something like a genealogy(es) of the West, starting from the conviction that the knowledge of the past is essential to our enrichment as citizens and, ultimately, for improving our society. The book presents summaries and arguments about a vast array of issues raised by the history of Western civilization, especially about cultural points, intellectual attainments, religious beliefs, and historical transformations. It proposes to embark on a journey that reaches back to the foundations of Western civilization such as Jerusalem, Athens, Rome, and the early Christianity. It explores the painful split between Rome, Constantinople and Mecca. It connects the great values of the Middle Ages – from the chivalrous spirit to the scholastic rationality – to the present. It shows the faces of the modernity and its most relevant achievements – the state in politics, the capitalism in economics, the science in knowledge – and how they are being revised nowadays by postmodernity. It examines the twentieth- and twenty-first-century self-inflicted criticism of the West, which has revised its previous tradition and heritage, and threatens the entire civilization to disappear. The book also recalls the genealogies of the plural processes, ideas, and events that shape the West’s tradition and identity, and their contemporary presence. It inspires the reader not only to brush up on the knowledge of the past but also to reflect on the present and consider the political, social, economic, cultural, intellectual, moral, artistic and spiritual elements of past cultures that have left an indelible mark on contemporary values. Such an effort aids in our understanding of who we are, where we come from, how we are wired, what we owe to each period of the past and, based on this rich experience, how we can face the future with guarantees. The book will help readers gain perspective, understand the complexities of the past, pinpoint historical inaccuracies, recognize Western values and traditions, and accept challenges for the future.


“Genealogy of the West is a stunning achievement, a brief history from the Jerusalem of the Hebrews to the daunting challenges of the new millennium. Erudite yet elegantly written, it covers, critiques, and rescues the heart of our political and cultural tradition for contemporary readers. Perfect for a college survey course, it is exciting and fast paced enough for a general audience”—Robert A, Rosenstone, Professor Emeritus of History, California Institute of Technology, USA.

Genealogies of the West is a lucid and timely analysis of the positive core values that have given the West its unique identity, especially those that have made it an exceptionally innovative, introspective, and self-critical civilization. As much of an unflinching rebuttal of triumphalist Western narratives and attitudes as it is of shortcomings that threaten to unmake the West from within, this daring book packs a welcome punch. Reminiscent of Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age, Aurell’s book offers a serious challenge to all reductionist discourse in the public sphere”—Carlos Eire, University of Yale, USA.

“Jaume Aurell has produced an account of Western history that is a welcome antidote to the current conversations surrounding the positioning of the West in the history of civilization. It will serve as a welcome volume during this tumultuous time.” —Julie Fairman, University of Pennsylvania, USA.

“Jaume Aurell’s book is both a history and a defense of the Western cultural tradition (or as he calls it, West’ DNA), an ambitious work that is reminiscent of the famous Making of Europe by Christopher Dawson. At a time when Western values are often questioned, Aurell’s voice is one that needs to be heard.” —Peter Burke, University of Cambridge, UK.

Author Information

Jaume Aurell is Professor of Medieval History and Modern Historiography in the University of Navarra (Spain).


Anthem Religion and Society Series

Table of Contents

List of Figures; Acknowledgments; Introduction; CHAPTER 1 Jerusalem; CHAPTER 2 Athens; CHAPTER 3 Rome; CHAPTER 4 Christianity; CHAPTER 5 Clash; CHAPTER 6 Expansion; CHAPTER 7 Shift; CHAPTER 8 Exuberance; CHAPTER 9 Modernity; CHAPTER 10 State; CHAPTER 11 Capitalism; CHAPTER 12 Science; CHAPTER 13 Reforms; CHAPTER 14 Enlightenments; CHAPTER 15 Ideologies; CHAPTER 16 Crisis; CHAPTER 17 Liberations; CHAPTER 18 Challenges; Epilogue; Suggested Bibliography; Detailed Table of Contents; Index


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