The Impacts of Colonialism to the Developing World
Category : Colonialism
The Impacts of Colonialism to the Developing World
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Title Page 1
Table of Contents 2
Colonialism: defining its borders 4
Positive Impacts of Colonialism 6
Negative Impacts of Colonialism 8
The Impacts of Colonialism to the Developing World
The perception of colonialism is always subjected to ambivalent judgment particularly upon looking to its positive and negative impacts. It has been identified that colonialism is an old phenomenon that is mainly directed to the idea of expansion of one society. Looking on the world historical narratives, the literature of colonialism is as extensive as its occurrence during its highest point in time. Colonialism is either an ally or an enemy. It could be considered as ally when the processes and activities inherent are directly motivated by positive purposes and outcomes. Conversely, it could be deemed as an enemy in terms of negative intentions and applications. There have been numerous cases of modern colonialism particularly involving strong countries that of Europeans and Americans. However, ancient histories involve the Greeks, the Romans, the Moors, and the Ottomans who recorded most of colonialism’s notorious cases. Colonialism is not limited to particular point of time or place. With the introduction of technological innovations, the activity of colonialism was altered, turning it into something swifter and deliberate in its purposes and eventual effects.
This paper discusses the idea of what is colonialism – the colonizer and the colony and its people. Colonialism is differentiated from imperialism since it appears as the common problem in providing a comprehensive discussion of the concept. Also, it looks further into the positive and negative impacts on all areas affected. At the end of the paper, a position is taken to indicate understanding of principles of colonialism based on the discussion provided.
Colonialism: defining its borders
Providing a concrete definition of the term necessitates a comparative perspective on the concept of imperialism. According to (2006), the difficulty of defining colonialism is based on the synonymous usage with imperialism. Both terms are form of conquest but mainly differ in its individual nature. On this case, both colonialism and imperialism are evaluated yet special illumination is given toward the former.
Colonialism is derived from the Latin word colonus, which means “farmer”. (2006), in an entry to the Encyclopedia of Philosophy, states that it is a practice of ascendancy that primarily involves the conquest of one people to another. The Latin root word supports the idea of “transfer of population to a new territory, where the new arrivals lived as permanent settlers while maintaining political allegiance to their country of origin” ( 2006). A number of scholars also make distinction between “colonies for settlement” and “colonies for economic exploitation”. Others make use of the term in illustrating forms of dependencies that are directly governed by a foreign nation or control. For example, colonialism is seen on the cases of settlement of places such as North America, Australia, New Zealand, Algeria, and Brazil that were dominantly controlled by a large number of permanent European residents (2006). On early literature, colonialism is a relationship created when one nation establishes and maintains political domination over a geographically external political unit inhabited by people of any race and at any stage of cultural development (1958).
The motives of colonialism are rooted on the principles of nationalism, economy, and culture (God, gold, and glory) (1998). These motives are apparent in European colonizers (Spanish, Portuguese, French, and English) particularly on the case of missionaries spreading the teachings of Christianity (culture-God), acquisition of resources for European economies (economy-gold), and the belief of more colonies is equivalent to more powerful state (nationalism-glory). The general idea in colonialism is the presence of colony or a territory that is tied to a sovereign state. A colony has no foreign policy or military and at times internal affairs. The presence of a colony (dependent) and a colonizer (independent) wherein it enforces political, economic, and cultural system to the colony and may encourage settlement generally describe what colonialism is.
Imperialism, on the other hand, came from Latin word imperium that means “to command”. To (2006), “the term imperialism draws attention to the way that one country exercises power over another, whether through settlement, sovereignty, or indirect mechanisms of control”. Imperialism involves indirect forms of domination. For example, imperialism is seen on the circumstances of cases a foreign government who administers a territory without significant settlement such as the scramble for Africa in the late nineteenth century and the American domination of the Philippines and Puerto Rico (2006).
Not every “imperial” relationship is “colonial” (1958). Accordingly, both colonialism and imperialism involves political and economic power over a dependent territory. Today, the intellectual prevalence of colonialism (and post-colonialism) is becoming as quickly devalued as that of domination and resistance (2006). It is noted that colonies are those that consisted of settlers who set up autonomous governments (self-governing) but maintained commercial and cultural links to their mother governments or cities. All in all, colonialism is ended whenever the subject population becomes fully self-governing as an autonomous state, whether independent or as a voluntary associate within an imperial or commonwealth partnership from which it may withdraw at will like British colonies (1958). It is also terminated at any time when a subject population becomes assimilated into the political structure of the colonial power on equal terms, or when their political unit is thus assimilated like the cases of French and American and Portuguese. Eventually, one or the other of these terminal results is the goal of all liberal colonial programs. (2001) argues that colonialism has pervasive effects on political, psychological and moral aspects not only to the colonized area but to the colonizer as well.
Positive Impacts of Colonialism
Perceptions of colonialism remain paramount in the construction of contemporary identities (2006; 2001). The heated debates and argumentations among foreign policy experts in the impacts of colonialism pass on to various applications such as national identities, economies, infrastructures, medical and health progression, new institutions, and other forms of development.
Colonialism and development is often intertwined. The development part of colonialism is seen on its both appreciated and unappreciated circumstances and deliberate and accidental consequences (2003). Colonial development is characterized by three key uses namely: intentional; processual; and normative. The intentional use (intervention) caters on the development of resources and the means of management. This use is inherent to poor and underdeveloped countries (e.g. Sub-Saharan African regions), wherein interventions in the development of resources and its management (i.e. aid and relief system). It is also seen on the economic mechanisms where a colonial economy systematically manages goods and labor. Meanwhile, processual use is the development as social process flowing from colonial intervention ('underdevelopment'). This is the concept of collective inheritance on people and culture. Lastly, the normative use of development is directed to change for better principle or modernization. In reference to the current setting, the modern notion of development combines these three uses.
(2001) affirms that “our political consciousness was shaped by a central assumption: we were convinced that the impact of colonialism on our societies was mainly economic”. The economic influences of colonial economy are manifested on the exchange of crops and innovative cultivation methods; introduction to various forms of economies such as plantation, mining, peasant or labor; development of infrastructure (e.g. roads, railways, bridges, communications, etc.); transformation from forced labour to market mechanisms ('education to higher needs' - 'civilizing mission'); and emphasis on human infrastructure. In European context, some global effects of colonialism are the creation of the Eurocentric global economy as well as international system based on states (1993). The creation of the Eurocentric global economy includes increased world trade, new international division of labour (industrial vs. primary goods), and new economic and social dynamics. Further, the creation of the international system based on states emphasizes on all the parts of the globe into direct contact with Europe resulting to independent versus colonial states then eventually transforming into ‘modern’ states.
Colonialism triggered off novel processes and new social dynamics. It opened an avenue for diffusion of language and religion, distinctive metropolitan plan or architectures, and wealth to mother countries. Colonialism means a presence of an ally that can help a colony in times of needs and challenges. For African setting, outside help is needed although this does not mean Africa’s problems cannot be solved by Africans themselves (2005). This is a matter or reinforcement or aid. On the recent times, it is argued that excessive dependency (in terms of aid) on special cases may result to exploitation (i.e. economic, cultural, political, etc). It is then suggested that control over interventions should be carefully managed.
Negative Impacts of Colonialism
The negative impacts of colonialism on the developing world particularly among the Third World include de-industrialization, cultural erosion, population growth, and other issues associated with marginal, subordinated races, cultures, economic groups, and sexualities ( 1996). For example, the de-industrialization of cotton industries in India, Africa and other cotton-producing nations signify decline or disappearance of core products. In reverse effect, the de-industrialization revives other crafts, thus increasing economic challenges among economic and market stakeholders. Patterns of land ownership are standardized wherein plantations are concentrated to ‘superior’ individuals (e.g. White versus African Blacks).
The issue of cultural erosion is argued in reference to the amalgamation of home versus foreign cultures. On the case of African minorities, cultural oppression materialized on new (or restored) iconography in replacement to the existing culture. Cultural issues extend beyond conflict due to resentment of favored minorities (2006). It is somewhat ironic that cultural erosion is among the drawbacks of colonialism yet multiculturalism emerges as something useful in some special circumstances. Yet, deeper implication on the cultural impact of colonialism reflects national identity on what is originally owned or taken and assimilated (1994). For example, the case of South Korea and Japan looks on the issue of physical and human legacies of colonialism constituted a major and enduring ‘inheritance’ elicits a clear ambivalence on the issue (1999).
On the issue of population, colonialism increases fertility and decrease mortality (1997). Historically, the transgression of population records 1 billion in 1825, 3 billion in 1955, and 6 billion in 1999, and mostly evident in developing countries (except China). Although, population growth is now slowing down in which the peak in 2070 will be estimated 9 billion, it is still significantly large. There is also forced migration of slave populations. The issue of population is also connected on the concept of miscegenation or the boosting of low populations and guaranteed successful settlement. In this process, excessive miscegenation result to unalleviated number of people thus occupying a limited space in the settlement area.
Colonialism is the root of inequality, abuse, and other social issues (i.e. discriminatory social relations like slavery, racism, exploitation, spread of virulent diseases, and others). As stated, colonialism is a precursor of slavery or slave trade in Africa. In European reference for the past 400 years, some 12 to 15 million Africans are enslaved due to the growing demand on world market (1993). Most slaves originated from the Western and Southwestern coastal areas and they do not reproduce as evident in their low birth rates. It is also established that there is differential impact of slave trade on African societies: some perished altogether; others suffered but survived (Angola); many are temporarily involved (Yoruba and Wolof); several are involved but not restructured (); and few benefited () (2004).
On African perspective, the negative influences of colonialism are seen on the damage on the continent’s geography, people, culture and others. The modern-day problems of Africa are referred to originate in the past or during colonization periods in their history (2005). For example, the process of colonialism, according to radio journalist Andrew Mwenda, is related to debt and aid relief that makes African governments and their people to be dependent and futile resulting to “fostering a culture of irresponsibility by encouraging economic behaviour” ( 2005). It is also the root of conflict (2005) and poor tribal leadership system (2005). Although colonialism refers to ‘humanitarian’ intervention to the regions, it still argued that some exploitation and cases of negative colonial process exist.
Colonialism is as complicated as providing its comprehensive definition. However, the full understanding lies on the main idea that it is with the presence of a colony, a colonizer, with political, economical, cultural, and other means of control, and complete subjugation that defines colonialism. The positive as well as negative impacts of colonialism are either intentional or not. Its impact is also relative and should be evaluated in relation to fundamental historical considerations. Looking on the case of the developing world, it primarily directs each participant towards the process of development. Colonialism practices in the past decades are often characterized as politically motivated and oriented towards eventual acquisition of territories and expansion of power. Today’s circumstances dictate that colonialism is not as primitive as its history and development, instead, it mainly focuses on the positivistic approach in which both colony and colonizer derives beneficial effects. Colonizers in the past generations are described as enemies instead of allies due to their selfish personal and political intentions. The lessons of colonialism are used as guidelines in foreign policy decision making. Due to the confederation of the world and its countries, colonialism is no longer as formidable as before because of the given importance on international commitment and cooperation towards international peace, security, and development.