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)
author avatar
William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team)
William completed his Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts in 2013. He current serves as a lecturer, tutor and freelance writer. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, walking his dog and parasailing. Article last reviewed: 2022 | St. Rosemary Institution © 2010-2024 | Creative Commons 4.0

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