Colonialism is the extension of a nation’s sovereignty over territory beyond its borders by the establishment of either settler colonies or administrative dependencies in which indigenous populations are directly ruled or displaced. Colonizing nations generally dominate the resources, labor, and markets of the colonial territory, and may also impose socio-cultural, religious and linguistic structures on the conquered population. Richer country takes control of a smaller, less powerful region or territory. Sometimes the words “colonialism” and “imperialism” are used to mean the same thing.
Oxford English Dictionary says, the policy or practice of acquiring full or partial political control over another country occupying it with settlers, and exploiting it economically
Collins English Dictionary describes colonialism as Colonialism is the practice by which a powerful country directly controls less powerful countries and uses their resources to increase its own power and wealth.
Some countries use colonialism to get more land for their people to live in. They helped settlers move to the new area. The local people living in the land or territories were usually moved away illegally by using force and violence from armies. To protect these settlers from the local residents who were pushed aside, colonial nations often set up a military fort or colonial police system. Other countries use colonialism to get more land so that they can use the land for farming or to extract resources such as trees (wood), coal, or metals. Furthermore, other countries use colonialism so that they can get workers from the poorer country to work in factories or farms (either in the richer country, or in the poorer country). In the past, powerful countries that were colonizing poorer countries or regions often forced the people from the poorer countries to work as slaves.
Throughout history, there have been two main approaches to establishing a colonial empire.
When people from one nation go off to live in another country, where they not only build settlements, till the soil, and harvest natural resources, but also strive to replace the indigenous people already living there. The colonists still remain subjects of the government in their native country.These colonies for example Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Hungry and Thailand these were established by large number of migrated people from other homelands. The basic motivation behind large scale immigration is political, economic and religious reasons.
The British colonists who made new homes in North America in the 1600s and Australia in the late 1700s were examples of settler colonialism. For those willing to take the risk of moving to a new country, it offered a chance for a fresh start and possibly a better life. The downside was that establishing a colony required a lot of people, and the land’s original inhabitants either had to be killed off or driven away to less desirable areas to make room.
In contrast, didn’t require as many colonists to emigrate, and the native people could be allowed to stay where they were especially if they could be pressed into service as workers. The goal was to exploit the weaker country’s natural resources and extract as much wealth as possible. These refer to the colonies where the colonizer were not immigrants but played the role of administrators over native people. The good example is Egypt, British and Japanese Empire. Here colonizers administrators focused on ingenious resources both for labour and material. Prior to the end of the slave trade and widespread abolition, when indigenous labor was unavailable, slaves were often imported to the Americas, first by the Portuguese Empire, and later by the Spanish, Dutch, French and British.
A prime example of exploitation colonialism was Belgian King Leopold II’s seizure of the Congo in the late 1800s. While he made a vast fortune in rubber and ivory, millions of the Congo’s inhabitants starved to death or died of disease or were killed by Leopold’s colonial overseers for not meeting work quotas.
Some political scientists have identified two other types of colonialism as well.
Acolonial power involves a settlement project supported by a colonial power, in which most of the settlers do not come from a same ethnic group as the ruling power.
The strongest part of a country might exploit other, less powerful regions or peoples. For instance in Sri Lanka, the Tamil population felt the Sinhalese majority oppressed them — hence the decades-long war between the Sri Lankan government and terrorist group the Tamil Tigers. Modern state globalcolonialism, or imperialism, began in the 15th century with the “Age of Discovery”led by Portuguese, and then by the Spanish exploration of the Americas, the coasts of Africa, the Middle East, Indiaand East Asia. The Portuguese and Spanish empires were the first global empires because they were the first to stretch across different continents, covering vast territories around the globe.
Discovery of America and a mass killing of indigenous people:
It’s known to all that Christopher Columbus was the discoverer of America. He was an Italian explorer who stumbled upon the Americas and whose journeys marked the beginning of centuries of transatlantic colonization. The explorer Christopher Columbus made four trips across the Atlantic Ocean from Spain: in 1492, 1493, 1498 and 1502. He was determined to find a direct water route west from Europe to Asia, but he never did. Instead, he accidentally stumbled upon the Americas. Though he did not really “discover” the New World! Millions of people already lived there. His journeys marked the beginning of centuries of transatlantic conquest and colonization.
Soon after the discovery of America, genocide began. As a lot of settlers from Europe began settling in America, Millions of indigenous Americans had already been living there but at the advent of new white people from Europe their life was in danger. It was a mass destruction of entire communities of indigenous people.
The concept of genocide was formulated by Raphael Lemkin in the mid-20th century, the earlier expansion of various European colonial powers such as the Spanish and British empires, and the subsequent establishment of colonies on indigenous territory, frequently involved acts of genocidal violence against indigenous groups in the Americas, Australia, Africa and Asia. According to Lemkin, colonization was in itself “intrinsically genocidal”. He saw this genocide as a two-stage process, the first being the destruction of the indigenous population’s way of life. In the second stage, the newcomers impose their way of life on the indigenous group. Lemkin, have argued that cultural genocide, sometimes called ethnocide, should also be recognized.
By 1900 the indigenous population in the Americas declined by more than 80% and by as much as 98% in some areas. The effects of diseases such as smallpox, measles and cholera during the first century of colonialism contributed greatly to the death toll, while violence, displacement and warfare by colonizers against the Indians contributed to the death toll in subsequent centuries.Indigenous people north and south were displaced, died of diseaseand were killed by Europeans through slavery, rape, and war. In 1491, about 145 million people lived in the western hemisphere. By 1691, the population of indigenous Americans had declined by 90-95 percent, or by around 130 million people.
It is estimated that during the initial Spanish conquest of the Americas up to eight million indigenous people died marking the first large-scale act of genocide of the modern era.
With the initial conquest of the Americas completed, the Spanish implemented the encomienda system. In theory, encomienda placed groups of indigenous peoples under Spanish oversight to foster cultural assimilation and conversion to Christianity but in practice led to the legally sanctioned exploitation of natural resources and forced labour under brutal conditions with a high death rate.
The process that has been described as the genocide of indigenous peoples in Brazilbegan with the Portuguese colonization of the Americas, when Pedro Álvares Cabral made landfall in what is now the country of Brazil in 1500. This started the process that led to the depopulation of the indigenous peoples in Brazil, because of disease and violent treatment by European settlers, and their gradual replacement with colonists from Europe and Africa. This process has been described as a genocide, and continues into the modern era with the ongoing destruction of indigenous peoples of the Amazonian region.
The Conquest of the Desertwas a military campaign directed mainly by General Julio Argentino Roca in the 1870s with the intent to establish Argentine dominance over Patagonia, which was inhabited by indigenous peoples. Under General Roca, the Conquest of the Desert extended Argentine power into Patagonia and ended the possibility of Chilean expansion there.Argentine troops killed more than a thousand enemy combatants and displaced over 15,000 more from their traditional lands. Ethnic European settlers developed the lands for agriculture, turning it into a breadbasket that made Argentina an agricultural superpower in the early 20th century.The conquest was paralleled by a similar campaign in Chile called the Occupation of Araucanía.
We’ve tried to see the true face of European colonialism in America and its brutal face as well. It indicates how brutal Europeans are in their manner. Their profit maximizing mentality made them crazy and let them do that heinous genocide over the America.
The author is a student of Department of Economics at University of Dhaka.