3. The European Superiority Complex


In this module, we’re going to discuss the global imposition of white supremacy and Western European knowledge and culture as universal. In order to maintain dominance, whiteness and eurocentrism must project and present itself as naturally superior. This means idealizing capitalist and colonial logics–logics centred in harm and destruction–while presenting and masking as a system that is for the benefit of all. And when harm is inexplicably caused, whiteness is the benevolent altruistic helper there to repair it (supposedly).

This module traces the connection between whiteness and Western culture, and considers how both are presented as naturally superior.

 Learning Objectives

By the end of this module, you should be able to:

  • Describe European superiority and white supremacy and how they have been imposed on the world ideologically and structurally
  • Critically assess the Myth of Meritocracy and how it shapes the economy and education
  • Identify how global inequality and “development” are shaped by European superiority and white supremacy
  • Analyze the trope of the white savior and reflect on how it shapes relations between individuals, communities and nation-states today

How to Use This Module

This module begins with a 10-minute video that introduces you to key ideas and concepts about the European superiority complex. The sections following the introductory video will provide additional content to help you dive deeper into these topics. Learning activities are integrated throughout. It may take you 2 to 6 hours to complete this module, including all learning activities. However, this will vary greatly by individual. Depending on your social location, lived experience and disciplinary background (area of study), you will engage with these materials in different ways.

If you have not yet, visit the section on Self-Guided Learning in the Introduction to Global Justice and Change for reminders on how you can support your learning process. There are many ways to engage with this module. Please decide what works best for you.

Reflection Journal 

Please open the google doc template for the European Superiority Complex reflection journal. You can save your own copy to your Google Drive. Alternatively, if you don’t have access to google drive, you can download a word copy to your desktop or phone. You will be asked to respond to the questions in your journal throughout the module. 


Another way to explore the themes in this module is to listen to our playlist, available in the following formats:

  • Spotify (in development)
  • Youtube (in development)

You will also find individual songs shared throughout the module to support further learning and reflection.



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Global Justice and Change Copyright © 2022 by Nisha Toomey and Emma Wright is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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