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II. a second Wave of European Conquests

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Documents: Indian Responses to Empire

1. Noticing differences and changes: What different understandings of British colonial rule are reflected in these documents? In what ways did those understandings change over time? How might you account for those differences and changes?

• Documents 20.1 and 20.2 offer generally favorable views of British colonial rule, where British rulers are described in a flattering light and, in the case of Document 20.2, the British are viewed as the source of a positive, modernizing agenda.

• Document 20.3 offers an unfavorable view of British rule and calls for active violent rebellion against the oppressive regime.

• Document 20.4 offers a balanced and moderate view of British colonial rule, recognizing the positive impact of the regime with the reform of certain cultural practices and the establishment of peace and order, while also identifying its negative impact through blunders, the lack of Indian self-government, and the impoverishment of the nation.

• Document 20.5 offers a perspective on British rule that focuses on the civilization rather than political or economic influence, rejecting Western civilization as immoral, irreligious, and ultimately destructive while upholding traditional Indian civilization as moral, religious, and positive.

• Through time, views of British colonial rule evolve from generally favorable in Documents 20.1 and 20.2 to unfavorable in Documents 20.3 and 20.5 or, in Document 20.4, both favorable and unfavorable.

2. Describing alternative futures: What can you infer about the kind of future for India that the authors of these documents anticipate?

• Documents 20.1 and 20.2 anticipate a bright future under British colonial rule.

• Document 20.3 anticipates a bright future following the return of native Indian rule.

• Document 20.4 anticipates a bright future under British colonial rule once Indians secure a greater role in the system and several abuses are addressed by British authorities.

• Document 20.5 anticipates a bright future for India as long as it does not abandon its traditional civilization and embrace Western civilization.

3. Noticing what’s missing: What Indian voices are not represented in these documents? How might such people have articulated a different understanding of the colonial experience?

Possible answers:

• All of these sources were written by elite men. The voices of the urban poor, peasants, artisans, and women are not represented.

• The urban poor and peasants would likely define the experience of British colonial rule

primarily in terms of their own survival and material well-being, emphasizing such issues as recourse to the law, maintenance of law and order, and economic opportunities rather than education or the concerns of elite revolutionaries expressed in Document 20.3.

• Artisans would likely have raised more forcefully the problem of importing British manufactured goods, which put economic pressure on many artisans. They also would have shared an interest in the issues of the urban poor and peasants.

• Women would likely have noted the impact of Western conceptions of women on their lives, in particular how some British laws outlawed the custom of widows throwing themselves on their husband’s funeral pyre and the cultural taboo against remarriage of Hindu widows.

4. Responding to Gandhi: How might each of the other authors have responded to Gandhi’s analysis of British colonial role and his understanding of “civilization”? To what extent do you find Gandhi’s views relevant to the conditions of the early twenty-first century?

Possible answers:

• Nawab Muhabbat Khan might have recognized what Gandhi identified as modern Western civilization in Calcutta, but his generally very favorable description of Calcutta makes it unlikely that he would have recognized Gandhi’s assertion that the Western influences were immoral, irreligious, and potentially destructive.

• Ram Mohan Roy would likely have taken issue with Gandhi’s assertions, arguing instead that the cultural influence of Western civilization was the key to India’s development.

• The author of the Azamgarh Proclamation would likely have agreed with the central thrust of Gandhi’s message that the West and its civilization was a bad influence on India; however, the author would likely have emphasized the impact of British colonial rule as much as Western civilization.

• Dadabhai Naoroji would likely have rejected Gandhi’s assertion that the influence of Western civilization on India was bad; instead he would point to those favorable aspects of British influence that he placed in the categories of the “Cause of Humanity” and the “Cause of Civilization.” He would argue that the negative impact of British colonial rule primarily came from the denial of greater political participation by Indians in the colonial system and the economic exploitation of India by the British.

• Western civilization remains driven by materialism, so this aspect of Ghandi’s critique remains valid in the twenty-first century. It continues to amass great wealth and increasingly provides access to technology that allows anyone to publish their views.

• Ghandi’s assertion that prosperity in the West was reliant on technology still holds true.

• Western civilization continues to impact other civilizations including India, which over the past several decades has increasingly embraced the global economic system.

• The impact of railways continues to shape India.

Visual Sources: The Scramble for Africa

1. Distinguishing Viewpoints: From what different perspectives do these visual sources represent the scramble for Africa? What criticisms of the scramble can you read in these images?

• Visual Source 20.1 offers a missionary perspective on Africa.

• Visual Source 20.2 offers the perspective of European expeditions into the interior of Africa that secured European claims to African territories.

• Visual Source 20.3 offers a British imperial perspective, in particular focusing on Rhodes’s grand plan to link the British imperial holdings in Africa.

• Visual Source 20.4 offers a negative interpretation of Rhodes’s efforts to crush the Boers in pursuit of British imperial hegemony in South Africa.

• Visual Source 20.5 represents the scramble from the perspective of a powerful African state intent on resisting European encroachments.

• There are few criticisms of the scramble; however, Visual Source 20.2 does allude, thorough the corpse in the foreground, to the blood that was spilled.

• Visual Source 20.1 alludes to blood spilled with the soldiers firing on Africans in the top right-hand portion of the board.

• Visual Source 20.3 indirectly alludes to blood spilled by showing the gun over Rhodes’s shoulder.

• Visual Source 20.4 represents the violence involved in the scramble for Africa through the depiction of the dead Boer settler.

• Visual Source 20.5 explicitly represents the violence involved in the scramble through the depiction of the Battle of Adowa between Ethiopian and Italian forces.

2. Portraying Africans and Europeans: Both Africans and Europeans are portrayed variously in these visual sources. What differences can you identify?

Possible answers:

• Africans and Europeans are depicted as victims of the scramble for Africa, although the depiction of the Boer in Visual Source 20.4 is more critical of the scramble than the images of African victims in Visual Sources 20.1, 20.2, or 20.5.

• Both Africans and Europeans are represented as soldiers in several of the images, although in Visual Source 20.2 it is clear that in this expedition, Europeans were the officers and Africans the common soldiers.

• Only Europeans are depicted as heroic figures in the scramble, as shown in Visual Source 20.2 and 20.3. The image of the Ethiopian king in Visual Source 20.5 depicts a reaction rather than leadership in the scramble.

3. Using Images…Selectively: In what ways might visual sources such as these be most useful to historians seeking to understand the “scramble for Africa”? For what kinds of questions about the scramble might they have little to offer?

Possible answers:

• The visual sources are useful because they indicate how Europeans presented the scramble to their own populations; how Europeans perceived Africa; how Europeans presented the imperial ambitions of rival European powers; and how Africans represented victories against European powers.

• The visual sources cannot, with the exception of Visual Source 20.5, shed light on Africans’ perceptions during the scramble for Africa.

4. Considering moral visions: How do these visual sources deal with issues of morality or visions of right and wrong?

Possible answers:

• Visual Source 20.4 deals directly with morality by negatively depicting British efforts to crush the Boers.

• Visual Sources 20.2 and 20.3 deal with issues of morality or right and wrong by framing the scramble in heroic terms, thereby placing such tragedies as the loss of life depicted in Visual Source 20.2 in the context of larger accomplishments.

• Visual Source 20.1 might be interpreted as containing an element of right and wrong from a European perspective because it contains a subtext of the spread of Christianity, as symbolized by the sun. This could represent Europeans notion of spreading a greater moral good through their contact with Africa.

Class Discussion for the Documents and Visual Sources Features

Critical Analysis (large or small groups): Gandhi’s critique of the West

An important theme in Part Five of the textbook is the impact of the Industrial Revolution on the West. Use Gandhi’s critique of Western civilization to return to this issue and ask what costs the West paid for the great material advances that accompanied the industrial revolution. Open by establishing the specific criticisms that Gandhi makes of the West in 1908 and ask students whether they think these criticisms are valid. Some further questions to consider include:

• Do Gandhi’s criticisms resonate regardless of what social position one occupies in the West?

• Is Gandhi in any way offering a romantic view of preindustrial society?

Conclude by fast-forwarding the clock to the early twenty-first century. Has a further century of industrialization addressed Gandhi’s concerns? In what specific ways have his concerns proven durable? In what specific ways have developments mitigated his critique?

Contextualization (large or small group): European Colonization Compared

Ask students to return to the Chapter 13 documents and the Chapter 14 visual sources, which explore European conquest and colonization of the Americas, and compare them to the documents and visual sources in Chapter 20. What similarities and differences in these European imperial enterprises can students identify? How do they account for the differences? What role does the types of primary sources play in how they understand these imperial enterprises? Conclude by looking at the documents in Chapter 19, which provide another account of European imperialism. How do these documents alter or add to students’ understanding of European imperialism?

Classroom Activities for the Documents and Visual Sources Features

Comparison (large or small groups): China, India, and the West

Ask students to reexamine, using the documents in this chapter and in Chapter 19, the encounters between the cultural traditions of China, India, and the West. How did Chinese and Indian writers draw on or reject indigenous cultural traditions when confronting the West? Some further questions to ask students include:

• What specific features of the authors’ cultural traditions shaped the encounter?

• Would Gandhi’s critique of the West have resonated with a Chinese audience?

• What specific aspects of the encounter with the West proved most troubling?

• Which aspects were seen as positive?

Conclude by asking whether India’s incorporation into the British empire and China’s continued independence shaped the authors’ experiences.

Map Exercise (large or small group): Imperialism on the Map

The knowledge of African geography among students is frequently poor. Use the map on page 927 to help students better contextualize the visual sources. Ask students to identify French colonial African possessions and where Marchand, the principle figure in Visual Source 20.2, faced off with British forces. What can this map and the visual source tell us of French ambitions? Were they achieved? Note you might point out French Somaliland in the context of this discussion. Then turn to Visual Sources 20.3 and 20.4: What can this map tell us about the success or failure of Rhodes’s vision? Finally, turn to Visual Source 20.5 and identify both Ethiopia and Adowa on the map. Does the map provide some indication of why the Italians wished to conquer Ethiopia and why Ethiopia was able to resist conquest?

Additional Resources for Chapter 20

Bedford/St. Martin’s Resources

Computerized Test Bank

This test bank provides over thirty exercises per chapter, including multiple-choice, fill-in-the-blank, short-answer, and full-length essay questions. Instructors can customize quizzes, add or edit both questions and answers, and export questions and answers to a variety of formats, including WebCT and Blackboard. The disc includes correct answers and essay outlines.

Instructor’s Resource CD-ROM

This disc provides instructors with ready-made and customizable PowerPoint multimedia presentations built around chapter outlines, as well as maps, figures, and images from the textbook, in both jpeg and PowerPoint formats:

• Map 20.1: Colonial Asia in the Early Twentieth Century (p. 926)

• Map 20.2: Conquest and Resistance in Colonial Africa (p. 927)

• Prelude to the Scramble (p. 961)

• Jean-Baptiste Marchand (p. 962)

• From the Cape to Cairo--Cecil Rhodes (p. 964)

• French Critique of the Boer War (p. 965)

• The Battle of Adowa (p. 966)

Documents and Essays from Worlds of History: A Comparative Reader, Third Edition (Volume 2)

The following documents, essays, and illustrations to accompany Chapter 20 are available in Volume 2, Chapter 8 of this reader by Kevin Reilly:

• Jurgen Osterhammel, from Colonialism

• George Orwell, from Burmese Days

• David Cannadine, from Ornamentalism

• Joseph Conrad, from Heart of Darkness

• Chinua Achebe, An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness

• Rudyard Kipling, The White Man’s Burden

Online Study Guide at

The Online Study Guide helps students synthesize the material from the textbook as well as practice the skills historians use to make sense of the past. Each chapter contains specific testing exercises, including a multiple-choice self-test that focuses on important conceptual ideas; an identification quiz that helps students remember key people, places, and events; a flashcard activity that tests students on their knowledge of key terms; and two interactive map activities intended to strengthen students’ geographic skills.

Instructors can monitor students’ progress through an online Quiz Gradebook or receive email updates.

Further Reading

Cannadine, David. Ornamentalism: How the British Saw Their Empire. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001. A highly original and interesting study that argues that, for the British, class was more important than race in defining relations with subjects.

Casahistoria: Imperialism, http://www.casahistoria .net/imperialism.htm. A good site to find out more about both historical and contemporary imperialism.

Chamberlain, M. E. The Scramble for Africa. 2nd ed. London: Longman, 1999. A short and useful overview of the subject.

Headrick, Daniel R. The Tools of Empire: Technology and European Imperialism in the Nineteenth Century. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1981. A short, concise study of a very important topic.

Hochschild, Adam. King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1998. An excellent study not only of Leopold of Belgium’s horrifying domination of the Congo but also of the human rights movement that came into creation in response to Leopold’s atrocities.

Porter, Andrew, ed. The Oxford History of the British Empire. Volume 3, The Nineteenth Century. 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001. A major resource for the history of the British Empire around the world.

Samson, Jane. Race and Empire. London: Longman, 2005. An excellent comparative study of racism and imperialism.

Wesseling, H. L. The European Colonial Empires, 1815–1919. London: Longman, 2004. Perhaps the best overarching study of the imperial phenomenon in the nineteenth century.


Beames, John. Memoirs of a Bengal Civilian. 2nd ed. London: Eland, 2004. A firsthand account of life in British India after the Indian Rebellion.

Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness and Other Tales. Rev. ed. Oxford: Oxford World’s Classics, 2003. The four stories in this volume are set in Africa, Malaysia, and the East and explore colonial corruption and obsession.

Forster, E. M. A Passage to India. Orlando: Harcourt Brace & Co., 1952. A 1924 novel that explores the possibility of friendship between English newcomers in India and Indians.

Haggard, H. Rider. King Solomon’s Mines. 2nd ed. New York: Modern Library, 2002. A gripping adventure tale, written in 1885, that gives a good sense of European fascination with Africa.

Halsall, Paul, ed. Internet Modern History Sourcebook: Imperialism. modsbook34.html. An interesting collection of short readings on the topic of imperialism.

Hayford, J. E. Casley. Ethiopia Unbound: Studies in Race Emancipation. London: Routledge, 1969. Written in 1911 by an African nationalist, this work combines fiction and political polemic to tell readers exactly what the author thinks of European exploitation.

Kipling, Rudyard. Kim. London: Penguin, 1987. An English vision of India (though the hero is actually Irish).

Orwell, George. Burmese Days. San Diego: Harcourt Brace & Co., 1962. A truly vivid portrait of life in colonial Burma.

Schreiner, Olive. The Story of an African Farm. 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford World’s Classics, 1999. Don’t let the name fool you; this is a very rich book about the oppression of women and the injustices of imperialism in South Africa.

Tagore, Rabindranath. Gitanjali. Chennai: Macmillan India Ltd., 1974. This brief but moving collection of prose poems, originally published in 1913, was the first work by an Asian author to win the Nobel Prize for Literature.


The Empire of Good Intentions, 1830–1925. BBC Home Video, 2000. 59 minutes. Simon Schama’s well-produced account of the British Empire from Ireland to India during the empire’s height and early decline.

The End of Empires. Films for the Humanities and Sciences, 1995. 49 minutes. A wide-ranging exploration of the end of European empires in Africa and Asia, including segments concerned with European empires at their height.

India: From Moghuls to Independence. Films for the Humanities and Sciences, 1993. 42 minutes. A survey of Indian history that includes important segments on British rule of India.

The Paths of Colonialism. Films for the Humanities and Sciences, 1991. 17 minutes. Places nineteenth-century colonialism in a long-term context stretching from the Spanish conquest of the Americas through Mussolini’s invasion of Ethiopia.

The Scramble for Africa. Insight Media, 1986. 30 minutes. Examines the European partition of Africa between 1875 and 1900 and the motivations behind it.

The Wrong Empire, 1750–1800.BBC Home Video, 2000. 59 minutes. Simon Schama’s well-produced account of the emergence of the British colonial empire.

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