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Colonialism And Neocolonialism

  Colonialism (from Latin colonia, ‘[farming] settlement of ex-soldiers in a foreign land’) is the doctrine and practice of colonialization, and is sometimes used as a synonym for imperialism. ‘Administrative colonialism’ is the control of a territory and its peoples by officials from an imperial or metropolitan centre. It may be combined with ‘settler colonialism’, the planting of settlers from the metropolis on the land of the native populations, as occurred, for example, in 17th-century Ulster and in 19th-century Algeria, and is presently occurring on the West Bank of the Jordan in Palestine. The practice of colonialism is as old as the first city-states. Colonialism is variously motivated by security considerations (settlers are planted to control strategic territories), economic avarice (exploiting the raw materials and labour of the native population), religious beliefs (spreading ‘the true faith’) and/or over-population (or unwanted population) in the metropolis.

The ‘colonial era’ describes the expansion of European states and peoples into the underdeveloped regions of the Americas, Africa and Asia from the late 15th century. European colonialists justified their projects through naked assertions of power, like the ‘manifest destiny’ proclaimed by the young USA and the dissemination of Western civilization to unfortunate heathens. Although the degree of empowerment of native peoples varied considerably, the underlying rationale behind much European colonial policy was to develop local administrations which facilitated the free flow of resources to the mother country, while developing internal markets to absorb the mother country\'s exports and provide opportunities for capital investment. However, there were extensive variations among the European powers in their patterns of administration and in the degree to which they exploited their colonies. The moral, political and economic justifications for colonialism dwindled, especially after 1945, when nationalist movements emerged and successfully challenged the legitimacy of imperialism.

An unexpected sidelight on colonialism is its relationship—often extremely fruitful—with the discipline of anthropology. It was, in fact, during the long period of European colonialism that anthropology first emerged as a scientific discipline, through the encounters with other cultures. In the Japanese colonization of Taiwan and Korea, anthropology was used fairly self-consciously as a means to manage its colonies. Anthropology has always had a strong presence in the countries which were colonized, while uncolonized communities have until recently been far less well-documented.

In British-ruled Africa during the 1930s, the government funded studies about the social structures of its subject people. These dealt with leadership, kinship, land usage and legal systems, all of which provided information which was ultimately helpful to colonial administrators. Anthropologists have been criticized for their unwitting complicity in allowing governments to gain a better understanding of how to rule native peoples. The crucial question is: for whom is anthropological knowledge produced? Today, even though indigenous anthropologists have been favoured in the former colonies, the central problem remains the ‘privileged’ position of the observer\'s point of view, arguably a form of ideological neocolonialism.

Since full-scale decolonization began at the end of World War I, a wider consideration of the power relations between anthropology and the subjects of its investigations has developed. This historical perspective has helped anthropologists to recognize similarities in present-day relationships between nations and the earlier colonial system. The neocolonialism system refers to relations between the West and many underdeveloped countries, which replicate earlier relations of political and economic exploitation and dependency.

The expression ‘neocolonialism’ is often used to describe the continuing political and economic dependence of some former colonies upon the powers which colonized them, as well as the increased economic control of allegedly sovereign states by economic powers such as the US and Japan. It is argued that the advanced industrialized states maintain this control through their leading economic position in world trade, and through the influence of large corporations operating on a global basis. By controlling the terms upon which trade is conducted Western countries perpetuate their privileged position. CL BO\'L

See also dependency theory; diffusionism; globalization; world system.Further reading T. Asad (ed.), Anthropology and the Colonial Encounter; , S.C. Easton, The Rise and Fall of Western Colonialism: a Historial Survey from the Early Nineteenth Century to the Present.



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