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European History



Decline of imperialism due to nationalism, anger against oppression, military withdrawal during World War II, weakness of European nations after World War II

1947: Peaceful demonstrations led by Mohandas Gandhi lead to independence of India and Pakistan from U.K.

1947–1954: France fights in vain to prevent independence of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia

1948: Jews who had left Europe for British-controlled Palestine create Israel as Jewish homeland, excluding Arab Palestinians

1949: Dutch leave East Indies, now independent Indonesia

1954–1962: French war to hold onto Algeria fails

1950s–1970s: Countries in sub-Saharan Africa independent

Immigrants from former colonies face racial, religious prejudice in Europe


Art, Ideas, & Culture 1914–Present

Modernism: Writers challenge expectations, explore stream of consciousness, change forms of novels:

  • 1913–1927:In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust (French, 1871–1922)

  • 1922:Ulysses by James Joyce (Irish, 1882–1941)

  • 1927:To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf (English, 1882–1941)

State-controlled socialist realism in USSR promotes Communism

Television provides news, sports, entertainment

Air travel for business and leisure increases

1957: USSR launches first satellite,Sputnik

Filmmakers challenge audiences with innovation: Italian Federico Fellini (La Dolce Vita, 1959), Swedish Ingmar Bergman (The Seventh Seal, 1956), French François Truffaut (400 Blows, 1959)

Existentialism: Writers Jean-Paul Sartre (Nausea, 1938), Albert Camus (The Stranger, 1942) explore absurdity of existence

Feminist and existentialist Simone de Beauvoir’sThe Second Sex (1949) questions the way gender shapes people’s lives

Europeans import, create their own jazz, rock-and-roll, rap music, creating common European culture, use music to criticize society

Sports, especially soccer, become international passion for players and spectators

American influence in film, music, clothing, commercialism, fast-food, soda companies, language causes cultural tension

African, Asian cultures influence dress, food, music, literature

Participation in organized religion, traditional faith drop sharply, but churches continue to influence society

  • 1959–1965:Vatican II calls for more non-European, non–North American bishops, Mass in vernacular rather than Latin

  • 1978: Election of first Polish pope, John Paul II

Postmodernism: Intellectuals like French Claude Lévi-Strauss argue that language and culture shape society

1990s–2000s:Personal computers and Internet access hasten information revolution


Society & Economy 1945–Present

1946–1964:Baby boom after World War II; life expectancy rises

1964: Birth rate starts to fall, due partly to birth control pill

1945–1970s:Welfare state in U.K. provides health care, social security, better housing

Agricultural production doubles due to mechanization, new fertilizer; peasants nearly disappear

1950s–1960s:Mass production and industrial productivity rise all over Europe, especially in Germany

Standard of living rises with sharp increase in indoor plumbing, automobiles, refrigerators

More Europeans use credit, banks to manage money, purchases

1970s: Economic growth slows; inflation, stagnation, unemployment, hurt by Arab oil embargo (1973)

Global economy spreads: International companies, outsourcing jobs, international economic cooperation and competition

Europe tightens immigration policies after 9/11 attacks in U.S.