Colonialism to Globalization
Colonialism is a relationship of domination between indigenous, or forcibly imported majority, and a minority of foreign invaders, in which the fundamental decisions affecting the lives of the colonized people are made and implemented by the colonial rulers (Colonialism pp). Globalization is the intensification of economic, political, social and cultural relations across borders (Colonialism pp). Third World countries, often colonies, are economically underdeveloped countries of Asia, Africa, Oceania, and Latin America, that share common characteristics, such as poverty, high birthrates, and economic dependence on the advanced countries (Colonialism pp).
Sverker Finnstrom discusses the theory of colonialism by citing, “it is now widely accepted that colonial regimes and their successor states invented, promoted, and exploited tribal differences and traditions (Finnstrom pp). According to Finnstrom, the quotation stresses the imagined or invented aspects of group identity and the abstract and universal hegemony of colonialism and imperialism as determinant of local traditions and identity formations (Finnstrom pp). The idea of the bounded cultural entity can be related to the concept of status groups: “the authoritative claim of a nation and the assertion of a right to sovereignty being two central aspects in defining the group” (Finnstrom pp).
Globalization refers to the process of the intensification of economic, political, social and cultural relations across international boundaries and is particularly aimed at the transcendental homogenization of political and socio-economic theory worldwide (Akindele pp). Moreover, it is aimed at “making global being present worldwide at the world stage or global arena,” and deals with the “increasing breakdown of trade barriers and the increasing integration of World market” (Akindele pp). It can be viewed as an evolution that is restructuring interactive phases among countries by diminishing barriers in areas of culture, commerce, and communication (Akindele pp).
Before globalization, there was colonization, which is the extension of political and economic control over an area by a state whose nationals occupy the area and generally possess organizational and technological superiority over the indigenous population (Colonization pp). Colonization may consist in a migration of nationals to the territory, or it may be the formal control over the area by the military and/or civil agents of the dominant power (Colonization pp). Factors that cause colonization include overpopulation, economic distress, social unrest, and religious persecution, however imperialism, aggressive humanitarianism, and the basic desire for adventure are also causes (Colonization pp). Before colonization can be effected, “the indigenous population must be subdued and assimilated or converted to the culture of the colonists; otherwise, a modus vivendi must be established by the imposition of a treaty or an alliance” (Colonization pp).
The Phoenicians during the tenth century B.C., established trading posts throughout the Mediterranean and eventually exercised political dominion over the commercial colonies (Colonization pp). The Greeks established colonies in Asia Minor and Italy, while the Romans sought to assimilate the native culture of their colonies into their own, and the Venetians and Genoese established commercial colonies along trade routes (Colonization pp). Portuguese colonization began with the establishment of trading ports in Africa and the East, while the Spanish concentrated most of their efforts in the Americas (Colonization pp). The Spanish and the Portuguese exercised strict governmental control over their colonies and used them mainly as a basis for rich commerce with the parent government, thus discouraging the indigenous population from becoming economically self-sufficient (Colonization pp).
Beginning in the late sixteenth century, the English, Dutch, and French began to undertake colonization through chartered companies, the greatest of these private trading companies was the British East India Company, which played a key role in the history of the British Empire (Colonization pp). The French adhered to mercantilist theory in establishing their colonies, using them basically for the economic advantage, however the English colonists in North America were “virtually independent of the parent country, the most serious restriction being the establishment of a trade monopoly by the home government through the Navigation Acts” (Colonization pp). North America was more suitable for settlement than exploitation, thus the British colonists became permanent (Colonization pp). As a result of the American Revolution, Great Britain lost most of its North American colonies, however other acquisitions, especially India, soon made it the greatest colonial power in the world (Colonization pp).
Modern colonization was exploitative and in the long run proved to drain the treasury of the home government (Colonization pp). After World War II, there was increasing agitation and violence in the European colonial empires as subject peoples demanded their independence, and most colonies were granted or won independence from the imperial powers (Colonization pp). There are only a few remnants of the colonial empires today, mainly as self-governing dependencies, such as Aruba, Bermuda, and French Guiana (Colonization pp).
The War for Independence in the North American was a struggle for freedom by the colonists who were subjected to colonial domination, taxed without a vote in Parliament, and their effort at self-government were squelched by an imperious monarch (Lyons pp). The colonists resistance to an oppressive, unresponsive system led unavoidably to rebellion (Lyons pp).
The war with France and its Native American allies impressed on Great Britain the high cost of securing and especially of expanding colonial settlements (Lyons pp). The British government imposed new taxes on the colonists, and to minimize conflict with Native Americans and reduce its costs, the government sought to check the colonies’ westward expansion (Lyons pp). The Proclamation of 1763 prohibited colonial settlement beyond the crest of the Appalachians, and the Quebec Act of 1774 invalidated the colonies’ claims to vast Native American lands by assigning territory north of the Ohio to Quebec (Lyons pp).
These policies became significant sources of conflict between the colonists and England, and one of the aims of colonial partisans of independence was to eliminate the British government’s limits on expropriation of Native American lands (Lyons pp). This helps explain why Native Americans sided mainly with the British against the rebellious colonists, just as they had mainly sided earlier with the French against the British and their colonists (Lyons pp). Independence for the British colonies in North America was inevitable, however the colonists were not native peoples, as many colonists who gained independence from imperial nations (Lyons pp).
Perhaps no other document in history has inspired freedom and independence as much as the Declaration of Independence (Basic pp). It actually represents the root of democracy, and illuminates the development of democratic ideas and institutions (Basic pp). The Declaration of Independence is more than simply an announcement that the English colonies declared themselves free of allegiance to Great Britain and to King George III (Basic pp).
Within this document is the very essence of freedom, of self-government, of mutual respect and responsibility among citizens and between citizens and their government in the effort to secure order and liberty (Basic pp).
There is no doubt that the American Revolution inspired many foreign colonies to strike for their own independence from imperial nations and attempt to create their own forms of government. Colonization is, for the most part, non-existent, but many believe it still exists in the form of globalization.
Akindele, S.T.; Gidado, T.O.; Olaopo, O.R. Globalization, Its Implications and Consequences for Africa. Department of Political Science, Obafemi Awolowo University. Retrieved October 19, 2005 from:
Basic Readings in U.S. Democracy. Retrieved October 19, 2005 from:
Colonialism to Globalization: Definitions. Retrieved October 19, 2005 from:
Colonization. The Columbia Encyclopedia. 2005. Retrieved October 19, 2005
from HighBeam Research Library Web site.
Finnstrom, Sverker. Postcoloniality and the Postcolony: Theories of the Global
and the Local. Retrieved October 19, 2005 from:
Lyons, David. The balance of injustice and the War of Independence. Monthly Review. April 01, 1994. Retrieved October 19, 2005 from HighBeam Research Library Web site.
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