Impact of Colonialism and Colonization

1. The impacts of colonization are immense and pervasive.

2. Various effects, both immediate and protracted, include the spread of virulent diseases, the establishment of unequal social relations, exploitation, enslavement, medical advances, and the creation of new institutions, abolitionism, improved infrastructure, and technological progress.

3. Colonial practices also spur the spread of languages, literature, and cultural institutions. The native cultures of the colonized peoples can also have a powerful influence on the imperial country.


Trade and commerce

1. Economic expansion has accompanied imperial expansion since ancient times. Greek trade-networks spread throughout the Mediterranean region, while Roman trade expanded with the main goal of directing tribute from the colonized areas towards the Roman metropole.

2. According to Strabo, by the time of Emperor Augustus, up to 120 Roman ships would set sail every year from Myos Hormos in Roman Egypt to India.

3. With the development of trade routes under the Ottoman Empire, Gujarati Hindus, Syrian Muslims, Jews, Armenians, Christians from the south and central Europe operated trading routes that supplied Persian and Arab horses to the armies of all three empires, Mocha coffee to Delhi and Belgrade, Persian silk to India and Istanbul.

4. On the other hand, European colonial empires sometimes attempted to channel, restrict and impede trade involving their colonies, funneling activity through the Metropole and taxing accordingly.


Slaves and indentured servants

1. European nations entered their imperial projects with the goal of enriching the European metropole.

2. Exploitation of non-Europeans and other Europeans to support imperial goals was acceptable to the colonizers.

3. Two outgrowths of this imperial agenda were slavery and indentured servitude. In the 17th century, nearly two-thirds of English settlers came to North America as indentured servants.

4. African slavery had existed long before Europeans discovered it as an exploitable means of creating an inexpensive labor force for the colonies.

5. Europeans brought transportation technology to the practice, bringing large numbers of African slaves to the Americas by sail.

6. Spain and Portugal had brought African slaves to work at African colonies such as Cape Verde and the Azores, and then Latin America, by the 16th century.

7. The British, French, and Dutch joined in the slave trade in subsequent centuries. Ultimately, around 11 million Africans were taken to the Caribbean and North and South America as slaves by European colonizers.

8. Abolitionists in Europe and America protested the inhumane treatment of African slaves, which led to the elimination of the slave trade by the late 18th century.

9. The labor shortage that resulted inspired European colonizers to develop a new source of labor, using a system of indentured servitude. Indentured servants consented to a contract with the European colonizers.

10. Under their contract, the servant would work for an employer for a term of at least a year, while the employer agreed to pay for the servant’s voyage to the colony, possibly pay for the return to the country of origin, and pay the employee a wage as well.

11. The employee was “indentured” to the employer because they owed debt back to the employer for their travel expense to the colony, which they were expected to pay through their wages.

12. In practice, indentured servants were exploited through terrible working conditions and burdensome debts created by the employers, with whom the servants had no means of negotiating the debt once they arrived in the colony.

13. India and China were the largest sources of indentured servants during the colonial era.

14. Indentured servants from India traveled to British colonies in Asia, Africa and the Caribbean, and also to French and Portuguese colonies, while Chinese servants traveled to British and Dutch colonies. Between 1830 and 1930, around 30 million indentured servants migrated from India, and 24 million returned to India.

15. China sent more indentured servants to European colonies, and around the same proportion returned to China.

16. Following the Scramble for Africa, an early but secondary focus for most colonial regimes were the suppression of slavery and the slave trade.

17. By the end of the colonial period they were mostly successful in this aim, though slavery is still very active in Africa.


Military innovation

1. Imperial expansion follows military conquest in most instances. Imperial armies therefore have a long history of military innovation in order to gain an advantage over the armies of the people, they aim to conquer.

2. Greeks developed the phalanx system, which enabled their military units to present themselves to their enemies as a wall, with foot soldiers using shields to cover one another during their advance on the battlefield.

3. Under Philip II of Macedon, they were able to organize thousands of soldiers into a formidable battle force, bringing together carefully trained infantry and cavalry regiments.

4. Alexander the Great exploited this military foundation further during his conquests.


The end of the empire

1. The populations of some colonial territories, such as Canada, enjoyed relative peace and prosperity as part of European power, at least among the majority; however, minority populations such as First Nations peoples and French-Canadians experienced marginalization and resented colonial practices.

2. Francophone residents of Quebec, for example, were vocal in opposing conscription into the armed services to fight on behalf of Britain during World War I, resulting in The conscription crisis of 1917.

3. Other European colonies had a much more pronounced conflict between European settlers and the local population. Rebellions broke out in the latter decades of the imperial era, such as India’s Sepoy Rebellion.

4. The territorial boundaries imposed by European colonizers, notably in central Africa and South Asia defied the existing boundaries of native populations that had previously interacted little with one another.

5. European colonizers disregarded native political and cultural animosities, imposing peace upon people under their military control.

6. Native populations were relocated at the will of the colonial administrators.

7. Once independence from European control was achieved, civil war erupted in some former colonies, as native populations fought to capture territory for their own ethnic, cultural or political group.


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