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What Is Colonialism? A Historical past of Violence, Management and Exploitation

This text is a part of In Session: The Teen Vogue Lesson Plan. Discover the total lesson plan right here.

Colonialism is outlined as “management by one energy over a dependent space or individuals.” In observe, colonialism is when one nation violently invades and takes management of one other nation, claims the land as its personal, and sends individuals — “settlers” — to reside on that land. Though the phrases colonialism and imperialism are sometimes used interchangeably, they aren’t the identical factor. Imperialism is outlined as a set of insurance policies or practices that reach the facility and management of a nation over the political, financial, and cultural lifetime of different areas. Imperialism might be understood because the ideology, or logic, that drives colonial initiatives.

Two waves of colonialism

There have been two nice waves of colonialism in recorded historical past. The primary wave started within the fifteenth century, throughout Europe’s Age of Discovery. Throughout this time, European nations similar to Britain, Spain, France, and Portugal colonized lands throughout North and South America. The motivations for the primary wave of colonial enlargement might be summed up as God, Gold, and Glory: God, as a result of missionaries felt it was their ethical responsibility to unfold Christianity, and so they believed the next energy would reward them for saving the souls of colonial topics; gold, as a result of colonizers would exploit assets of different nations with a view to bolster their very own economies; and glory, since European nations would usually compete with each other over the glory of achieving the best variety of colonies.

Colonial logic asserted that a spot didn’t exist except white Europeans had seen it and testified to its existence, however colonists didn’t truly uncover any land. The “New World,” because it was first known as by Amerigo Vespucci, an Italian navigator and cartographer, was not new in any respect: Folks had been residing and thriving within the Americas for hundreds of years.

But, in lots of historical past books, Europe’s enlargement is remembered as exploration, and the lads who helmed ships that landed in overseas nations — and proceeded to commit violence and genocide in opposition to native peoples — are remembered as heroes. One in every of these males, an Italian explorer named Christopher Columbus, even has a federally acknowledged vacation to honor him. Columbus thought he was on his approach to Asia, however discovered himself within the Caribbean as a substitute. The primary Indigenous individuals he got here throughout had been the Taíno, who accounted for almost all of individuals residing on the island of Hispaniola (which is now divided into Haiti and the Dominican Republic). They’d a extremely advanced and sophisticated tradition. However this didn’t cease Columbus from claiming the island and its inhabitants for Spain. By 1550, a mere 58 years after he first landed on the island, what was as soon as a thriving tradition and group was severely decimated by European ailments and the brutality of a newly instated slave financial system.

The second wave of colonial enlargement started in the course of the nineteenth century, centering across the African continent. In what is known as the Scramble for Africa, European nations similar to Britain, France, Portugal, and Spain sliced up the continent like a pie, creating arbitrary borders and bounds, and claiming giant swaths of land for themselves. These synthetic borders break up cultural teams, leading to fierce ethnic tensions which have had devastating ramifications all through the continent. Indigenous political, financial, and social establishments had been decimated, as had been conventional methods of life, which had been deemed inferior.

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