The generation between 1880 and 1914 witnessed a unprecedented outburst of European empire building

  • USA was a part of it too
  • A period of highly competitive colonization
  • 4/5ths of Earth’s surface was under European or USA control
  • A few cases of successful resistance, but they were scattered and very few
  • By 1914, the domination of the white race over the world was so extensive that many Europeans and Americans saw this as just as natural as the earth’s revolution around the sun

–         Empires were not new, and weren’t always centred in Europe

  • 1900, Ottoman and Chinese empires were reminders that non-white peoples had dominated large portions of the globe
  • But this was the farthest they had extended

–         The Scramble for Africa

  • By 1914, disputes over who could claim was colony had brought many rival European nations to the brink of war
  • In 1870, only 1/10 of Africa was in European hands
  • By 1914, all but 1/10 of Africa was in European hands

–         New interpretations of the “new imperialism” – what explanations are there for this new and sudden outburst of imperialism?

  • The economic argument = colonies provide a safe place for investment, a reliable source of raw materials, and a protected market
    • Also provided new home and labour markets for emigrants,
    • Marxists support this view; see colonies as an outlet for funds countries deny their home-workers and sale outlets for products that have already saturated home-markets
  • the moral argument = we’re on a civilizing mission
    • mission was to teach backward peoples the white man’s improving ways
  • patriotic argument = if international relations means survival, than a countries status depends on having the largest empire

–         the harsh realities of colonialism

  • huge population declines in colonized nations
  • most of the native population still illiterate and on the brink of starvation (India)
  • good farming land in hands of white settlers (Kenya)

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