IMPERIALISM

What is imperialism?

Imperialism

An unequal human and territorial relationship, usually in the form of an empire, based on ideas of superiority and practices of dominance, and involving the extension of authority and control of one state or people over another.

It is often considered in a negative light, as merely the exploitation of native people in order to enrich a small handful. The Age of Imperialism was a time period beginning around 1700 when modern, relatively developed nations were taking over less developed areas, colonizing them, or influencing them in order to expand their own power.

Imperialism has been the most powerful force in world history over the last four or five centuries, carving up whole continents while oppressing indigenous peoples and obliterating entire civilizations. Yet, it is seldom accorded any serious attention by our academics, media commentators, and political leaders. When not ignored outright, the subject of imperialism has been sanitized, so that empires become “commonwealths,” and colonies become “territories” or “dominions” (or, as in the case of Puerto Rico, “commonwealths” too). Imperialist military interventions become matters of “national defense,” “national security,” and maintaining “stability” in one or another region.

EUROPEAN IMPERIALISM IN AFRICA

European Imperialization In Africa

Between 1450 and 1750 Europeans traded with Africa, but they set up very few colonies. By 1850, only a few colonies existed along African coastlines, such as Algeria (French), the Cape Colony (Great Britain,) and Angola (Portugal). Instead, free African states continued, and after the end of the slave trade in the early 1800s, a lively exchange took place between Europeans and African states, such as the Sokoto Caliphate in western Africa and Egypt and Ethiopia in northeast Africa. They traded manufactured goods for gold, ivory, palm oil (a substance used in soap, candles, and lubricants). Under the leadership of Muhammad Ali¸ and his grandson Ismail¸ Egypt grew to be the strongest Muslim state of the 19th century, producing cotton for export and employing western technology and business methods. They benefited from the American Civil War, when cotton shipments from the southern U.S. were cut off, but the Egyptian cotton market collapsed after American shipments resumed after the Civil War was over.