Colonialism
See colony and colonization for examples of colonialism that do not refer to Western colonialism. Also see Colonization (disambiguation)
The pith helmet (in this case, of the Second French Empire) is an icon of colonialism in tropical lands

Colonialism is the establishment, maintenance, acquisition and expansion of colonies in one territory by people from another territory. It is a process whereby the metropole claims sovereignty over the colony and the social structure, government, and economics of the colony are changed by colonizers from the metropole. Colonialism is a set of unequal relationships between the metropole and the colony and between the colonists and the indigenous population.

The colonial period normally refers to the late 15th to the 20th century, when European states established colonies on other continents. During this time, the justifications for colonialism included various factors such as Christian missionary work, the profits to be made, the expansion of the power of the metropole and various religious and political beliefs.

Colonialism and imperialism are ideologically linked with mercantilism.[1]

Contents

Definitions

The opening of the Colonial Institute (now the Tropenmuseum) in Amsterdam by Queen Wilhelmina, 1926

Collins English Dictionary defines colonialism as "the policy of acquiring and maintaining colonies, especially for exploitation."[2] The Merriam-Webster Dictionary offers four definitions, including "something characteristic of a colony" and "control by one power over a dependent area or people."[3]

The 2006 Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy "uses the term 'colonialism' to describe the process of European settlement and political control over the rest of the world, including Americas, Australia, and parts of Africa and Asia." It discusses the distinction between colonialism and imperialism and states that "[g]iven the difficulty of consistently distinguishing between the two terms, this entry will use colonialism as a broad concept that refers to the project of European political domination from the sixteenth to the twentieth centuries that ended with the national liberation movements of the 1960s."[4]

In his preface to Jürgen Osterhammel's Colonialism: A Theoretical Overview, Roger Tignor says, "For Osterhammel, the essence of colonialism is the existence of colonies, which are by definition governed differently from other territories such as protectorates or informal spheres of influence."[5] In the book, Osterhammel asks, "How can 'colonialism' be defined independently from 'colony?'"[6] He settles on a three-sentence definition:

Colonialism is a relationship between an indigenous (or forcibly imported) majority and a minority of foreign invaders. The fundamental decisions affecting the lives of the colonised people are made and implemented by the colonial rulers in pursuit of interests that are often defined in a distant metropolis. Rejecting cultural compromises with the colonised population, the colonisers are convinced of their own superiority and their ordained mandate to rule.[7]

Types of colonialism

Historians often distinguish between two forms of colonialism, chiefly based on the number of people from the colonising country who settle in the colony*:

  • Settler colonialism involved a large number of colonists, typically seeking fertile land to farm.
  • Exploitation colonialism involved fewer colonists, typically interested in extracting resources to export to the metropole. This category includes trading posts, but it applies more to the much larger colonies where the colonists would provide much of the administration and own much of the land and other capital, but rely on indigenous people for labour.

These models of colonialism overlap. In both cases, people moved to the colony, and goods were exported to the metropole.

A plantation colony is normally considered to fit the model of exploitation colonialism. However, in this case there may be other immigrants to the colony such as slaves to grow the cash crop for export.

In some cases, settler colonialism took place in substantially pre-populated areas and the result was either a culturally mixed population (such as the mestizos of the Americas), or a racially divided population, such as in French Algeria or Southern Rhodesia.

Although legally different from colonies, League of Nations mandates had many elements of exploitation colonialism.[citation needed]

History

World map of colonialism in 1800
This map of the world in 1914 shows the large colonial empires that powerful nations established across the globe
World map of colonialism at the end of the Second World War in 1945

Activity that could be called colonialism has a long history. The Egyptians, Phoenicians, Greeks and Romans all built colonies in antiquity. The word "metropole" comes from the Greek metropolis [Greek: "μητρόπολις"]—"mother city". The word "colony" comes from the Latin colonia—"a place for agriculture". Between the 11th and 18th centuries, the Vietnamese established military colonies south of their original territory and absorbed the territory, in a process known as nam tiến.[8]

Modern colonialism started with the Age of Discovery. Portugal and Spain discovered new lands across the oceans and built trading posts. For some people, it is this building of colonies across oceans that differentiates colonialism from other types of expansionism. These new lands were divided between the Portuguese Empire and Spanish Empire, first by the papal bull Inter caetera and then by the Treaty of Tordesillas and the Treaty of Zaragoza (1529).

This period is also associated with the Commercial Revolution. The late Middle Ages saw reforms in accountancy and banking in Italy and the eastern Mediterranean. These ideas were adopted and adapted in western Europe to the high risks and rewards associated with colonial ventures.

The 17th century saw the creation of the French colonial empire and the Dutch Empire, as well as the English colonial empire, which later became the British Empire. It also saw the establishment of some Swedish overseas colonies and a Danish colonial empire.

The spread of colonial empires was reduced in the late 18th and early 19th centuries by the American Revolutionary War and the Latin American wars of independence. However, many new colonies were established after this time, including the German colonial empire and Belgian colonial empire. In the late 19th century, many European powers were involved in the Scramble for Africa.

The Russian Empire, Ottoman Empire and Austrian Empire existed at the same time as the above empires, but did not expand over oceans. Rather, these empires expanded through the more traditional route of conquest of neighbouring territories. There was, though, some Russian colonization of the Americas across the Bering Strait. The Empire of Japan modelled itself on European colonial empires. The United States of America gained overseas territories after the Spanish-American War for which the term "American Empire" was coined.

After the First World War, the victorious allies divided up the German colonial empire and much of the Ottoman Empire between themselves as League of Nations mandates. These territories were divided into three classes according to how quickly it was deemed that they would be ready for independence.[9] However, decolonisation outside the Americas lagged until after the Second World War. In 1962 the United Nations set up a Special Committee on Decolonization, often called the Committee of 24, to encourage this process.

Further, dozens of independence movements and global political solidarity projects such as the Non-Aligned Movement were instrumental in the decolonization efforts of former colonies.

Neocolonialism

The term neocolonialism has been used to refer to a variety of contexts since decolonization that took place after World War II. Generally it does not refer to a type of direct colonization, rather, colonialism by other means. Specifically, neocolonialism refers to the theory that former or existing economic relationships, such as the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and the Central American Free Trade Agreement, created by former colonial powers were or are used to maintain control of their former colonies and dependencies after the colonial independence movements of the post–World War II period.

Colonialism and the history of thought

Colonialism and geography

Settlers acted as the link between the natives and the imperial hegemony, bridging the geographical, ideological and commercial gap between the colonisers and colonised. Painter, J. and Jeffrey, A. affirm[when?] that certain advances aided the expansion of European states. With tools such as cartography, shipbuilding, navigation, mining and agricultural productivity colonisers had an upper hand. Their awareness of the Earth's surface and abundance of practical skills provided colonisers with a knowledge that, in turn, created power.

Painter and Jeffrey argue that geography as a discipline was not and is not an objective science, rather it is based on assumptions about the physical world. Whereas it may have given “The West” an advantage when it came to exploration, it also created zones of racial inferiority. Geographical beliefs such as environmental determinism, the view that some parts of the world are underdeveloped, legitimised colonialism and created notions of skewed evolution.[10] These are now seen as elementary concepts.[clarification needed] Political geographers maintain that colonial behavior was reinforced by the physical mapping of the world, visually separating “them” and “us”. Geographers are primarily focused on the spaces of colonialism and imperialism, more specifically, the material and symbolic appropriation of space enabling colonialism.[11]

Colonialism and imperialism

A colony is part of an empire and so colonialism is closely related to imperialism. Assumptions are that colonialism and imperialism are interchangeable, however Robert Young suggests that imperialism is the concept while colonialism is the practice. Colonialism is based on an imperial outlook, thereby creating a consequential relationship. Through an empire, colonialism is established and capitalism is expanded, on the other hand a capitalist economy naturally enforces an empire. In the next section Marxists make a case for this mutually reinforcing relationship.

Marxist view of colonialism

Marxism views colonialism as a form of capitalism, enforcing exploitation and social change. Marx thought that working within the global capitalist system, colonialism is closely associated with uneven development. It is an “instrument of wholesale destruction, dependency and systematic exploitation producing distorted economies, socio-psychological disorientation, massive poverty and neocolonial dependency.”[12] Colonies are constructed into modes of production. The search for raw materials and the current search for new investment opportunities is a result of inter-capitalist rivalry for capital accumulation. Lenin regarded colonialism as the root cause of imperialism, as imperialism was distinguished by monopoly capitalism via colonialism and as Lyal S. Sunga explains: "Vladimir Lenin advocated forcefully the principle of self-determination of peoples in his "Thesis on the Socialist Revolution and the Right of Nations to Self-Determination" as an integral plank in the programme of socialist internationalism" and he quotes Lenin who contended that "The right of nations to self-determination implies exclusively the right to independence in the political sense, the right to free political separation from the oppressor nation. Specifically, this demand for political democracy implies complete freedom to agitate for secession and for a referendum on secession by the seceding nation."[13]

Liberalism, capitalism and colonialism

Classical liberals generally opposed colonialism and imperialism, including Adam Smith, Frederik Bastiat, Richard Cobden, John Bright, Henry Richard, Herbert Spencer, H. R. Fox Bourne, Edward Morel, Josephine Butler, W. J. Fox and William Ewart Gladstone.[clarification needed] Moreover, American revolution was the first anti-colonial rebellion, inspiring others.[1][14]

Adam Smith wrote in Wealth of Nations that Britain should liberate all of its colonies and also noted that it would be economically beneficial for British people in the average, although the merchants having mercantilist privileges would lose out.[1]

Post-colonialism

Post-colonialism (or post-colonial theory) can refer to a set of theories in philosophy and literature that grapple with the legacy of colonial rule. In this sense, postcolonial literature may be considered a branch of postmodern literature concerned with the political and cultural independence of peoples formerly subjugated in colonial empires. Many practitioners take Edward Saïd's book Orientalism (1978) as the theory's founding work (although French theorists such as Aimé Césaire and Frantz Fanon made similar claims decades before Said).

Saïd analysed the works of Balzac, Baudelaire and Lautréamont, exploring how they both absorbed and helped to shape a societal fantasy of European racial superiority. Writers of post-colonial fiction interact with the traditional colonial discourse, but modify or subvert it; for instance by retelling a familiar story from the perspective of an oppressed minor character in the story. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak's Can the Subaltern Speak? (1998) gave its name to Subaltern Studies.

In A Critique of Postcolonial Reason (1999), Spivak explored how major works of European metaphysics (such as those of Kant and Hegel) not only tend to exclude the subaltern from their discussions, but actively prevent non-Europeans from occupying positions as fully human subjects. Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit (1807), famous for its explicit ethnocentrism, considers Western civilization as the most accomplished of all, while Kant also allowed some traces of racialism to enter his work.

Impact of colonialism and colonization

The impacts of colonization are immense and pervasive.[15] Various effects, both immediate and protracted, include the spread of virulent diseases, the establishment of unequal social relations, exploitation, enslavement, medical advances, the creation of new institutions, and technological progress.

Impact on health

Encounters between explorers and populations in the rest of the world often introduced new diseases, which sometimes caused local epidemics of extraordinary virulence.[16] For example, smallpox, measles, malaria, yellow fever, and others were unknown in pre-Columbian America.[17]

Disease killed the entire native (Guanches) population of the Canary Islands in the 16th century. Half the native population of Hispaniola in 1518 was killed by smallpox. Smallpox also ravaged Mexico in the 1520s, killing 150,000 in Tenochtitlan alone, including the emperor, and Peru in the 1530s, aiding the European conquerors. Measles killed a further two million Mexican natives in the 17th century. In 1618–1619, smallpox wiped out 90% of the Massachusetts Bay Native Americans.[18] Smallpox epidemics in 1780–1782 and 1837–1838 brought devastation and drastic depopulation among the Plains Indians.[19] Some believe that the death of up to 95% of the Native American population of the New World was caused by Old World diseases.[20] Over the centuries, the Europeans had developed high degrees of immunity to these diseases, while the indigenous peoples had no time to build no such immunity.[21]

Smallpox decimated the native population of Australia, killing around 50% of indigenous Australians in the early years of British colonisation.[22] It also killed many New Zealand Māori.[23] As late as 1848–49, as many as 40,000 out of 150,000 Hawaiians are estimated to have died of measles, whooping cough and influenza. Introduced diseases, notably smallpox, nearly wiped out the native population of Easter Island.[24] In 1875, measles killed over 40,000 Fijians, approximately one-third of the population.[25] The Ainu population decreased drastically in the 19th century, due in large part to infectious diseases brought by Japanese settlers pouring into Hokkaido.[26]

Conversely, researchers concluded that syphilis was carried from the New World to Europe after Columbus's voyages. The findings suggested Europeans could have carried the nonvenereal tropical bacteria home, where the organisms may have mutated into a more deadly form in the different conditions of Europe.[27] The disease was more frequently fatal than it is today; syphilis was a major killer in Europe during the Renaissance.[28] The first cholera pandemic began in Bengal, then spread across India by 1820. Ten thousand British troops and countless Indians died during this pandemic.[29] Between 1736 and 1834 only some 10% of East India Company's officers survived to take the final voyage home.[30] Waldemar Haffkine, who mainly worked in India, who developed and used vaccines against cholera and bubonic plague in the 1890s, is considered the first microbiologist.

Countering disease

As early as 1803, the Spanish Crown organised a mission (the Balmis expedition) to transport the smallpox vaccine to the Spanish colonies, and establish mass vaccination programs there.[31] By 1832, the federal government of the United States established a smallpox vaccination program for Native Americans.[32] Under the direction of Mountstuart Elphinstone a program was launched to propagate smallpox vaccination in India.[33] From the beginning of the 20th century onwards, the elimination or control of disease in tropical countries became a driving force for all colonial powers.[34] The sleeping sickness epidemic in Africa was arrested due to mobile teams systematically screening millions of people at risk.[35] In the 20th century, the world saw the biggest increase in its population in human history due to lessening of the mortality rate in many countries due to medical advances.[36] The world population has grown from 1.6 billion in 1900 to an estimated 6.975 billion today.[37]

Some believe that discussion of how diseases were spread has been scuttled by descendants of colonialists to conceal actual origins of how indigenous populations were purposefully infected with these new diseases. An argument here is that once European colonists discovered indigenous populations were not immune to certain diseases, they deliberately spread diseases to gain military advantages and subjugate local peoples. The most infamous case involves suggestions by Lord Jeffery Amherst, British commander in chief for America during the so-called French and Indian Wars between 1754 to 1763,[38] although history is mute on whether his barbaric suggestions were carried out. Many scholars[who?] have argued that evidence that supports this practice as having been executed on a larger scale across North America is weak. Yet, growing evidence is showing that other indigenous communities were purposefully infected, citing oral history from the descendants of said peoples.[citation needed] It has been regarded as one of the first instances of bio-terrorism or use of biological weapons in the history of warfare.[39][40] There is, however, only one documented case of germ warfare, involving British commander Jeffrey Amherst.[41] It is uncertain whether this documented British attempt successfully infected the Native Americans.[42]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ a b c Liberal Anti-Imperialism, professor Daniel Klein, 1.7.2004
  2. ^ "Colonialism". Collins English Dictionary. HarperCollins. 2010. http://www.collinslanguage.com/results.aspx?context=3&reversed=False&action=define&homonym=0&text=colonialism. Retrieved 5 April 2010. 
  3. ^ "Colonialism". Merriam-Webbster. Merriam-Webster. 2010. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/colonialism. Retrieved 5 April 2010. 
  4. ^ Margaret Kohn (2006). "Colonialism". Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Stanford University. http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/colonialism/. Retrieved 5 April 2010. 
  5. ^ Tignor, Roger (2005). preface to Colonialism: a theoretical overview. Markus Weiner Publishers. p. x. ISBN 1558763406, 9781558763401. http://books.google.com/?id=CMfksrnWaUkC&pg=PR10#v=onepage. Retrieved 5 April 2010. 
  6. ^ Osterhammel, Jürgen (2005). Colonialism: a theoretical overview. trans. Shelley Frisch. Markus Weiner Publishers. p. 15. ISBN 1558763406, 9781558763401. http://books.google.com/?id=CMfksrnWaUkC&pg=PA15#v=onepage. Retrieved 5 April 2010. 
  7. ^ Osterhammel, Jürgen (2005). Colonialism: A Theoretical Overview. trans. Shelley Frisch. Markus Weiner Publishers. p. 16. ISBN 1558763406, 9781558763401. http://books.google.com/?id=CMfksrnWaUkC&pg=PA16#v=onepage. Retrieved 5 April 2010. 
  8. ^ The Le Dynasty and Southward Expansion
  9. ^ "The Trusteeship Council - The mandate system of the League of Nations". Encyclopedia of the Nations. Advameg. 2010. http://www.nationsencyclopedia.com/United-Nations/The-Trusteeship-Council-THE-MANDATE-SYSTEM-OF-THE-LEAGUE-OF-NATIONS.html. Retrieved 8 August 2010. 
  10. ^ "Painter, J. & Jeffrey, A., 2009. Political Geography 2nd ed., Sage. “Imperialism” pg 23 (GIC)
  11. ^ Gallaher, C. et al., 2008. Key Concepts in Political Geography, Sage Publications Ltd. "Imperialism/Colonialism" pg 5 (GIC)
  12. ^ Dictionary of Human Geography, "Colonialism"
  13. ^ In the Emerging System of International Criminal Law: Developments and Codification, Brill Publishers (1997) at page 90, Sunga traces the origin of the international movement against colonialism, and relates it to the rise of the right to self-determination in international law.
  14. ^ Johannorberg.net 2004-9-4
  15. ^ Come Back, Colonialism, All is Forgiven
  16. ^ Kenneth F. Kiple, ed. The Cambridge Historical Dictionary of Disease (2003)
  17. ^ Alfred W. Crosby, Jr., The Columbian Exchange: Biological and Cultural Consequences of 1492 (1974)
  18. ^ Smallpox The Fight to Eradicate a Global Scourge, David A. Koplow
  19. ^ "The first smallpox epidemic on the Canadian Plains: In the fur-traders' words", National Institutes of Health
  20. ^ The Story Of... Smallpox – and other Deadly Eurasian Germs
  21. ^ Stacy Goodling, "Effects of European Diseases on the Inhabitants of the New World"
  22. ^ "Smallpox Through History". Archived from the original on 2009-10-31. http://www.webcitation.org/query?id=1257008292443871. 
  23. ^ New Zealand Historical Perspective
  24. ^ How did Easter Island's ancient statues lead to the destruction of an entire ecosystem?, The Independent
  25. ^ Fiji School of Medicine
  26. ^ Meeting the First Inhabitants, TIMEasia.com, 21 August 2000
  27. ^ Genetic Study Bolsters Columbus Link to Syphilis, New York Times, January 15, 2008
  28. ^ Columbus May Have Brought Syphilis to Europe, LiveScience
  29. ^ Cholera's seven pandemics. CBC News. December 2, 2008
  30. ^ Sahib: The British Soldier in India, 1750-1914 by Richard Holmes
  31. ^ Dr. Francisco de Balmis and his Mission of Mercy, Society of Philippine Health History
  32. ^ Lewis Cass and the Politics of Disease: The Indian Vaccination Act of 1832
  33. ^ Smallpox History - Other histories of smallpox in South Asia
  34. ^ Conquest and Disease or Colonialism and Health?, Gresham College | Lectures and Events
  35. ^ WHO Media centre (2001). Fact sheet N°259: African trypanosomiasis or sleeping sickness. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs259/en/index.html. 
  36. ^ The Origins of African Population Growth, by John Iliffe, The Journal of African HistoryVol. 30, No. 1 (1989), pp. 165-169
  37. ^ World Population Clock - Worldometers
  38. ^ http://www.college.ucla.edu/webproject/micro12/webpages/indianssmallpox.html
  39. ^ Ann F. Ramenofsky, Vectors of Death: The Archaeology of European Contact (Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press, 1987):
  40. ^ Robert L. O'Connell, Of Arms and Men: A History of War, Weapons, and Aggression (NY and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989)
  41. ^ Diamond, Jared (1997). Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies. W.W. Norton & Company. ISBN 0-393-03891-2. 
  42. ^ Dixon, Never Come to Peace, 152–55; McConnell, A Country Between, 195–96; Dowd, War under Heaven, 190. For historians who believe the attempt at infection was successful, see Nester, Haughty Conquerors", 112; Jennings, Empire of Fortune, 447–48.

References

  • Cooper, Frederick. Colonialism in Question: Theory, Knowledge, History (2005)
  • Getz, Trevor R. and Heather Streets-Salter, eds. Modern Imperialism and Colonialism: A Global Perspective (2010)
  • Stuchtey, Benedikt: Colonialism and Imperialism, 1450-1950, European History Online, Mainz: Institute of European History, 2011, retrieved: July 13, 2011.

Primary sources

External links


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • colonialism — COLONIALÍSM s.n. Politică a unor state de cucerire de colonii1 (2) sau de menţinere a coloniilor. [pr.: ni a ] – Din fr. colonialisme. Trimis de hai, 29.06.2004. Sursa: DEX 98  colonialísm s. n. (sil. ni a ) Trimis de siveco, 10.08.2004. Sursa:… …   Dicționar Român

  • colonialism — co‧lo‧ni‧al‧is‧m [kəˈləʊniəlɪzm ǁ ˈloʊ ] noun [uncountable] ECONOMICS when a powerful country rules a weaker one and establishes its own trade and culture there: • the new Third World states liberated from colonialism * * * colonialism UK US… …   Financial and business terms

  • Colonialism — Co*lo ni*al*ism, n. 1. The state or quality of, or the relationship involved in, being colonial. The last tie of colonialism which bound us to the mother country is broken. Brander Matthews. [Webster 1913 Suppl.] 2. A custom, idea, feature of… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • colonialism — 1853, ways or speech of colonial persons, from COLONIAL (Cf. colonial) + ISM (Cf. ism). Meaning the system of colonial rule is from 1886 …   Etymology dictionary

  • colonialism — ► NOUN ▪ the practice of acquiring control over another country, occupying it with settlers, and exploiting it economically. DERIVATIVES colonialist noun & adjective …   English terms dictionary

  • colonialism — [kə lōn′nē əliz΄əm] n. the system or policy by which a country maintains foreign colonies, esp. in order to exploit them economically colonialist n., adj …   English World dictionary

  • colonialism — The establishment by more developed countries of formal political authority over areas of Asia, Africa, Australasia, and Latin America. It is distinct from spheres of influence, indirect forms of control, semi colonialism , and neo colonialism .… …   Dictionary of sociology

  • colonialism — [[t]kəlo͟ʊniəlɪzəm[/t]] N UNCOUNT Colonialism is the practice by which a powerful country directly controls less powerful countries and uses their resources to increase its own power and wealth. ...the bitter oppression of slavery and colonialism …   English dictionary

  • colonialism — colonialist, n., adj. colonialistic, adj. /keuh loh nee euh liz euhm/, n. 1. the control or governing influence of a nation over a dependent country, territory, or people. 2. the system or policy by which a nation maintains or advocates such… …   Universalium

  • colonialism — co|lo|ni|al|is|m [kəˈləuniəlızəm US ˈlou ] n [U] when a powerful country rules a weaker one, and establishes its own trade and society there →↑colony, imperialism ↑imperialism ▪ a legacy of European colonialism …   Dictionary of contemporary English

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”