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II. a second Wave of European Conquests

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Colonial Encounters


Chapter Overview

Chapter Learning Objectives

• To examine the ways in which Europeans created their nineteenth-century empires

• To consider the nineteenth-century development of racism as an outcrop of European feelings of superiority and to investigate the ways in which subject peoples were themselves affected by European racial categorization

• To consider the extent to which the colonial experience transformed the lives of Asians and Africans

• To define some of the distinctive qualities of modern European empires in relationship to earlier examples of empire

Chapter Outline

I. Opening Vignette

A. The author describes his experience in postcolonial Kenya.

1. discovery of reluctance to teach Africans English

2. colonial concern to maintain distance between whites and blacks

B. The British, French, Germans, Italians, Belgians, Portuguese, Russians, and Americans all had colonies.

1. colonial policy varied depending on time and country involved

2. the actions and reactions of the colonized people also shaped the colonial experience

II. A Second Wave of European Conquests

A. The period 1750–1900 saw a second, distinct phase of European colonial conquest.

1. focused on Asia and Africa

2. several new players (Germany, Italy, Belgium, U.S., Japan)

3. was not demographically catastrophic like the first phase

4. was affected by the Industrial Revolution

5. in general, Europeans preferred informal control (e.g., Latin America, China, the Ottoman Empire)

B. The establishment of the second-wave European empires was based on military force or the threat of using it.

1. original European military advantage lay in organization, drill, and command structure

2. over the nineteenth century, Europeans developed an enormous firepower advantage (repeating rifles and machine guns)

3. numerous wars of conquest: the Westerners almost always won

C. Becoming a colony happened in a variety of ways.

1. India and Indonesia: grew from interaction with European trading firms

2. most of Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific islands: deliberate conquest

3. decentralized societies without a formal state structure were the hardest to conquer

4. Australia and New Zealand: more like the colonization of North America (with massive European settlement and diseases killing off most of the native population)

5. Taiwan and Korea: Japanese takeover was done European-style

6. United States and Russia continued to expand

7. Liberia: settled by freed U.S. slaves

8. Ethiopia and Siam (Thailand) avoided colonization skillfully

D. Asian and African societies generated a wide range of responses to the European threat.

III. Under European Rule

A. European takeover was often traumatic for the colonized peoples; the loss of life and property could be devastating.

B. Cooperation and Rebellion

1. some groups and individuals cooperated willingly with their new masters

a. employment in the armed forces

b. elite often kept much of their status and privileges

2. governments and missionaries promoted European education

a. growth of a small class with Western education

b. governments relied on them increasingly over time

3. periodic rebellions

a. for example, the Indian Rebellion (1857–1858), based on a series of grievances

b. Indian Rebellion began as a mutiny among Indian troops

c. rebel leaders advocated revival of the Mughal Empire

d. widened India’s racial divide; the British were less tolerant of


e. led the British government to assume direct control over India

C. Colonial Empires with a Difference

1. in the new colonial empires, race was a prominent point distinguishing rulers from the ruled

a. education for colonial subjects was limited and emphasized practical matters, suitable for “primitive minds”

b. even the best-educated natives rarely made it into the upper ranks of the civil service

2. racism was especially pronounced in areas with a large number of European settlers (e.g., South Africa)

3. colonial states imposed deep changes in people’s daily lives

4. colonizers were fascinated with counting and classifying their new subjects

a. in India, appropriated an idealized caste system

b. in Africa, identified or invented distinct “tribes”

5. colonial policies contradicted European core values and practices at home

a. colonies were essentially dictatorships

b. colonies were the antithesis of “national independence”

c. racial classifications were against Christian and Enlightenment ideas of human equality

d. many colonizers were against spreading “modernization” to the colonies

e. in time, the visible contradictions in European behavior helped undermine the foundations of colonial rule

IV. Ways of Working: Comparing Colonial Economies

A. Colonial rule had a deep impact on people’s ways of working.

1. world economy increasingly demanded Asian and African raw materials

2. subsistence farming diminished

a. need to sell goods for money to pay taxes

b. desire to buy new products

3. artisans were largely displaced by manufactured goods

4. Asian and African merchants were squeezed out by Europeans

B. Economies of Coercion: Forced Labor and the Power of the State

1. many colonial states demanded unpaid labor on public projects

2. worst abuses were in the Congo Free State

a. personally governed by Leopold II of Belgium

b. reign of terror killed millions with labor demands

c. forced labor caused widespread starvation, as people couldn’t grow their own crops

d. Belgium finally stepped in and took control of the Congo (1908) to stop abuses

3. “cultivation system” of the Netherlands East Indies (Indonesia)

a. peasants had to devote at least 20 percent of their land to cash crops to pay as taxes

b. the proceeds were sold for high profits, financed the Dutch economy

c. enriched the traditional authorities who enforced the system

4. many areas resisted the forced cultivation of cash crops

a. German East Africa: major rebellion in 1905 against forced cotton cultivation

b. Mozambique: peasant sabotage and smuggling kept the Portuguese from achieving their goals there

C. Economies of Cash-Crop Agriculture: The Pull of the Market

1. many people were happy to increase production for world markets

2. considerable profit to small farmers in areas like the Irrawaddy Delta

3. in the southern Gold Coast (Ghana), African farmers took the initiative to develop export agriculture

a. leading supplier of cocoa by 1911

b. created a hybrid peasant-capitalist society

c. but labor shortages led to exploitation of former slaves, men marrying women for their labor power, influx of migrants

4. many colonies specialized in one or two cash crops, creating dependence

D. Economies of Wage Labor: Working for Europeans

1. wage labor in European enterprises was common

2. hundreds of thousands of workers
came to work on Southeast Asian plantations

3. millions of Indians migrated to work elsewhere in the British Empire

4. especially in Africa, people moved to European farms/plantations because they had lost their own land

a. European communities obtained vast amounts of land

b. South Africa in 1913: 88 percent of the land belonged to whites

c. much of highland Kenya was taken over by 4,000 white farmers

d. many former farmers were sent to “native reserves”

5. mines employed many

a. Malaysian tin mines attracted millions of Chinese workers

b. South African diamond mines created a huge pattern of worker migration

6. colonial cities attracted many workers

a. were seen as centers of opportunity

b. segregated, unsanitary, overcrowded

c. created a place for a native, Western-educated middle class

d. created an enormous class of urban poor that could barely live and couldn’t raise families

E. Women and the Colonial Economy: An African Case Study

1. in precolonial Africa, women were usually active farmers, had some economic autonomy

2. in the colonial economy, women’s lives diverged ever more from men

a. men tended to dominate the lucrative export crops

b. women were left with almost all of the subsistence work

c. large numbers of men (sometimes a majority of the population) migrated to work elsewhere

d. women were left home to cope, including supplying food to men in the cities

3. women coped in a variety of ways

4. the colonial economy also provided some opportunities to women

a. especially small trade and

b. sometimes women’s crops came to have greater cash value

c. some women escaped the patriarchy of husbands or fathers

d. led to greater fear of witchcraft and efforts to restrict female travel and sexuality

F. Assessing Colonial Development

1. What was the overall economic impact of colonial rule?

a. defenders: it jump-started modern growth

b. critics: long record of exploitation and limited, uneven growth

2. colonial rule did help integrate Asian and African economies into a global exchange network

3. colonial rule did introduce some modernizing elements

a. administrative and bureaucratic structures

b. communication and transportation infrastructure

c. schools

d. health care

4. colonial rule did not lead to breakthroughs to modern industrial societies

V. Believing and Belonging: Identity and Cultural Change in the Colonial Era

A. Education

1. getting a Western education created a new identity for many

a. the almost magical power of literacy

b. escape from obligations like forced labor

c. access to better jobs

d. social mobility and elite status

2. many people embraced European culture

a. created a cultural divide between them and the vast majority of the population

3. many of the Western-educated elite saw colonial rule as the path to a better future, at least at first

a. in India, they organized reform societies to renew Indian culture

b. hopes for renewal through colonial rule were disappointed

B. Religion

1. widespread conversion to Christianity in New Zealand, the Pacific islands, and non-Muslim Africa

a. around 10,000 missionaries had gone to Africa by 1910

b. by the 1960s, some 50 million Africans were Christian

2. Christianity was attractive to many in Africa

a. military defeat shook belief in the old gods

b. Christianity was associated with modern education

c. Christianity gave opportunities to the young, the poor, and many women

d. Christianity spread mostly through native Africans

3. Christianity was Africanized

a. continuing use of charms, medicine men

b. some simply demonized their old gods

c. wide array of “independent churches” was established

4. Christianity did not spread widely in India

a. but it led intellectuals and reformers to define Hinduism

b. Hindu leaders looked to offer spiritual support to the spiritually sick Western world

c. new definition of Hinduism helped a clearer sense of Muslims as a distinct community to emerge

C. “Race” and “Tribe”

1. notions of race and ethnicity were central to new ways of belonging

2. by 1900, some African thinkers began to define an “African identity”

a. united for the first time by the experience of colonial oppression

b. some argued that African culture and history had the characteristics valued by Europeans (complex political systems, etc.)

c. some praised the differences between Africa and Europe

3. in the twentieth century, such ideas reached a broader public

a. hundreds of thousands of Africans took part in World War I

b. some Africans traveled widely

4. for most Africans, the most important new sense of belonging was the idea of “tribe” or ethnic identity

a. ethnic groups were defined much more clearly, thanks to Europeans

b. Africans found ethnic identity useful

VI. Reflections: Who Makes History?

A. Winners don’t make history, at least not alone.

1. dominant groups are limited by the presence of subordinated peoples

B. A recent trend in historical study examines how subordinated peoples, even when oppressed, have been able to work for their own interests.

Lecture Strategies

Lecture 1: Creating a communication and transportation infrastructure

The intent of this lecture strategy is to explore the “sinews” of empire—how the Industrial Revolution and imperial dreams worked together to enable Europeans to control such an enormous proportion of the world. In particular, we recommend a lecture that focuses on the way the application of three inventions transformed the world: the steamship, the railroad, and the telegraph. Thus the objectives of this lecture strategy are straightforward:

• to consider the implications in world history of the invention of the steamship, the railroad, and the telegraph

• to help students to understand these inventions as products of the Industrial Revolution

• to investigate the process by which these new technologies were spread throughout the Western world and its colonies

• to examine what difference these inventions made in people’s lives

Begin with the famous 1869 photograph that shows the driving in of the Golden Spike, symbolizing the completion of the United States’ first transcontinental railroad. The photo shows clearly what a great event this was in U.S. history and can serve as a good starting point for a discussion of (1) the invention of the railroad, (2) what was actually involved in laying long distances of track, and (3) how the transcontinental railroad “opened up” the western United States to a hitherto unheard-of degree. From there, it is a simple step to consider the spread of railroad technology more generally, using examples from several parts of the world to consider what this new technology of access meant especially for inland regions.

Then move to a consideration of ships and the sea, and what a difference steam power made as steamships ended the age of sail. Again, students will probably be interested in hearing about early experiments with steamships and can easily be drawn into a discussion of the advantages of steam over sail. Any discussion should include some consideration of what real differences came about thanks to the greater speed and dependability of steamships.

Last, consider the case of the telegraph. The first message ever sent in a public demonstration of the telegraph was “What hath God wrought?”—a question that may well be asked when one considers the telegraph’s importance in world history. As with the other two great inventions in this lecture, it’s helpful to consider who invented the telegraph and why it was considered useful, as well as the challenges that had to be overcome to allow widespread use of the new means of communication. Emphasize that the telegraph, more than any other invention, allowed for a degree of centralization never before imagined. In accordance with the focus of this chapter, the emphasis should be on Europe’s colonial empires, but it is also helpful to consider other centralizations the telegraph enabled, including the nineteenth-century Roman Catholic Church under a series of ultramontane popes who understood the potential of the new technology.

Lecture 2: The scramble for Africa

The European imperialist takeover of Africa is one of the most exciting—and chilling—tales in world history. The purpose of this lecture strategy is to examine what happened when and why, thus providing a framework for the more thematic information contained in the chapter. Its objectives are:

• to consider the motivations and means of colonial powers

• to examine how they gained control of almost the entire continent of Africa in an astonishingly short time

• to investigate the effects of imperialism on the rulers as well as on their subjects

Begin by determining your main emphasis in this lecture, in order to keep from relying simply on narrative with little analysis. Areas you could focus on include:

• the high human cost of the scramble for Africa

• the scramble for Africa as an expression of European competition for power in the period preceding World War I

• the outpouring of European exuberance and talent that went into the scramble for Africa

• the scramble for Africa as a dark page in the history of racism

• the benefits of imperialism for the African people themselves

• the scramble for Africa as an interesting page in the history of warfare

Whatever your focus, you will find a great deal of material within this large topic. Be sure to include the following:

• the great explorers (such as David Livingstone, Serpa Pinto, and Richard Burton)

• the African products desired by the

• the amazing story of Cecil Rhodes and Rhodesia

• some of the specifics of European technological (especially military) superiority

• the digging of the Suez Canal

• Otto von Bismarck’s “World Politics” after German unification

• the American colony of Liberia

• the Berlin Conference of 1884–1885

• the Boer Wars

• British occupation of Egypt

• the rise of West African Muslim holy men to prominence

• the “Mad Mahdi” of the Sudan and the “gallant Gordon”

• the sack of Benin

• the Herero and Namaka genocide

• “ethnological spectacles,” at which caged Africans were shown to European and American audience under zoolike conditions

It may be useful to refer to the chapter’s Visual Sources feature during your lecture.

Lecture 3: The Raj

“Raj” is the Sanskrit word for “rule,” and is a term commonly used for British rule of India from 1858 to 1947. This lecture strategy is intended to investigate how that rule worked, with an emphasis on administrative structures and the Britons who went to India to govern this important part of the British Empire. Its objectives are:

• to help students imagine how colonial rule actually worked

• to investigate what it meant to Great Britain to rule India

• to consider what it meant to Indians to be ruled by Great Britain

• to explore the effects, both good and ill, of the colonial period

Begin with a consideration of India in the 1850s, before direct British rule began. Discuss the rule of the British East India Company and how it established ascendancy over the princely states of India. Also be sure to point out the lack of internal unity (political, religious, or linguistic) within the subcontinent.

From there, go on to a discussion of the Indian Rebellion of 1857–1858—why it happened, what the rebels did, and what the results were in British policymaking. After the establishment of the Raj, there are many ways to approach a lecture. Some points you should consider including in any lecture are:

• British efforts at social reform (such as bans on suttee) and evangelization and how these interventions were limited after 1857

• the powers vested in the British viceroy of India

• how many Britons in an average year were actually present in India in administrative or other positions

• the extent to which the British applied economic force in the matter of imports and exports

• British playing off of Muslim/Hindu rivalries, and whether it was done intentionally or unintentionally

• how many Indians were employed in skilled positions

• the use of Indians as the rank and file in police departments and armies

• British steps toward self-government (the appointment of Indian councilors for the viceroy, the creation of municipal corporations, etc.)

• possible benefits of the Raj for India

It may be useful to refer to the chapter’s Documents feature during your lecture.

Things to Do in the Classroom

Discussion Topics

1. Comparison (large or small group). “Asia or Africa—which suffered the most?” For this exercise, ask students to cull material from the textbook about the conditions of colonial subjects in both Asia and Africa, sorting the material into two columns. It might also be useful to encourage brief Internet searches for more information about European colonialism on the two continents (focusing on direct colonies, rather than regions that retained their own government). Then encourage students to compare the colonial experience in the two regions. Taken as a whole, was the experience of one continent worse than that of the other? If the answer is yes, why?

2. Contextualization (large or small group). “A Passage to India.” To help students imagine the conditions of life in colonial India, show a clip from the 1984 movie A Passage to India, which is set in British India in 1928. The scene at the Caves, when something happens to destroy the Hindu/English friendship that had developed, is particularly spectacular. Then ask students to discuss the following questions:

• How much can or should we trust Hollywood to be true to history?

• How can we test the accuracy of scenes like the one we have just seen?

• Does the film’s presentation of colonial life in India agree or disagree with the textbook’s presentation of colonial societies?

• What is the most striking thing that this clip can teach us about life under the Raj?

3. Misconception/Difficult Topic (large or small group). “The deep corruption of colonial rule.” This discussion topic is not a misconception, but rather a difficulty for many students to fathom: how could Europeans, many of them from the middle or upper classes and nearly all of them professing Christianity, have perpetrated horrors like King Leopold’s genocidal control of the Congo? Ask students to discuss this issue, encouraging them to draw information from other courses (such as psychology, sociology, and economics) to help them come up with a list of possible reasons for large-scale colonial atrocities. Be sure to remind them that there is rarely one right answer to big questions—and also remind them that a simple response that “they were evil” isn’t a very satisfying historical explanation.

Classroom Activities

1. Map-analysis exercise (large or small group). “Scrambling for Africa.” Display a map of Africa. If you have a Promethean Board available (or similar technology that will allow you to draw over an image), a map of modern Africa or a physical map would be interesting; otherwise, try to find a map of Africa ca. 1900.

Begin by identifying which regions came under the control of which European power. From there, discuss the reasons why each European nation came to control the region it did, emphasizing as much as possible geographical reasoning in which your students can take part (e.g., Britain’s takeover of South Africa from the Boers makes sense in light of the vast quantity of British shipping to India that had to round the Cape).

2. Close-reading exercise (small group). “The White Man’s Burden.” Distribute to the class copies of Rudyard Kipling’s 1899 poem “The White Man’s Burden” (a copy is available online at Ask students to read it carefully and then list the important assumptions the author makes about Europe and Europeans on one hand and about colonial subjects on the other. Then encourage a discussion of the themes the students have identified.

3. Clicker question. Which was worse, the first or the second wave of European colonialism?

Key Terms
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