What was the catalyst behind European centrism between the 1870s and 1900s?
The concept of Europe as the "center" of all culture came to be predominant during this time, since European influence expanded throughout the world and continued to do so until the First World War. Part of the reason for the European cultural impact on the world was that Europe, specifically Britain, industrialized first. Industrialization raises the standard of living, and expands markets. Most importantly historically, it drove an intense competition between European powers to colonize and secure sources of raw materials for their respective industries. The preeminent example of centrism was found in the ever-expanding British Empire, which at its height controlled a majority of the world's landmass. This time, in fact, has been named for the long reigning monarch during that era as the Victorian Age. Within Europe, the rise of Nation States (notably Germany) sought to compete with Britain on all fronts - politically, technically, and socially; this competition brought forth the ethnic concepts that a German or a Frenchman or a Britain was better than their counterparts, but as a European, he was better than anyone from rest of the world. In short, during this time, Europe ran the planet, and only started to be superseded by the United States at the conclusion of World War I.