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examples of colonialism today

examples of colonialism today

examples of colonialism today

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examples of colonialism today

In 2009, the Government of the United Kingdom (UK) suspended parts of the Constitution of the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI), a British Overseas Territory, in response to allegations of systemic corruption in the territory. Direct rule from London was imposed over the democratically elected local government. This unilateral, top-down action removed the constitutional right to trial by jury,

suspended the ministerial government and the House of Assembly, and charged a UK-appointed Governor with the administration of the islands.

A tentative period for elections has been given (fall 2012 at the earliest), but this is subject to the deliberation of the British government and tied to a series of specific milestones that must be met. These announcements provoked protests and demonstrations by the islanders.

The suspension of the TCI government over corruption allegations

seems to run contrary to the way in which financial and governance crises are handled around the world, including in the UK itself.

examples of colonialism today

How is it that these events have occurred in a world based on a system of supposedly equal sovereign states? The answer lies in the little known fact that colonial structures continue to exist even today in some parts of the world.

The wave of decolonization that swept around the world in the latter half of the 20th century was once heralded as one of the great liberating movements in history. Yet, few seem to realize that colonialism is still with us. As of 2012, 16 territories are deemed still to be under colonial rule and are labeled by the United Nations as “non-

self-governing territories (NSGTs)” — areas in which the population has not yet attained a full measure of self-government.

The 16 NSGTs, home to nearly 2 million people, are spread across the

globe. They remain under the tutelage of former colonial powers (currently referred to as “administering powers”), such as the UK, the USA and France.

examples of colonialism today
examples of colonialism today

examples of colonialism today

Though the traditional practice of colonialism has ended, over 2 million people in 17 “non-self-governing territories,” scattered around the globe continue to live under virtual colonial rule, according to the United Nations. Rather than being self-governed, the indigenous populations of these 17 areas remain under the protection and

authority of former colonial powers, such as the United Kingdom, France, and the United States.

For example, the Turks and Caicos Islands is a British Overseas Territory in the Atlantic Ocean midway between the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic. In 2009, the British government suspended the Islands’ 1976 constitution in response to reports of widespread corruption in the territory. Parliament imposed direct rule over the democratically elected local governments and removed the constitutional right to trial by jury. The territorial government was

disbanded and its elected premier was replaced by a British-appointed governor.

examples of colonialism today

While British authorities defended the action as essential to restoring honest government in the territory, the deposed former premier called it a coup d’etat that he said put Britain “on the wrong side of history.”

The years following World War II saw the rise of “neocolonialism,” a term describing the post-colonialism practice of using globalization,

economics, and the promise of financial aid to gain political influence in less-developed countries instead of the traditional methods of colonialism. Also referred to as “nation building,” neocolonialism resulted in colonial-like exploitation in regions like Latin America,

where direct foreign colonial rule had ended. For example, U.S. President Ronald Reagan was criticized for practicing neocolonialism in

the 1986 Iran-Contra affair involving the illegal sale of U.S. arms to

Iran in order to secretly fund the Contras, a group of rebels fighting to overthrow the Marxist government of Nicaragua.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said that the true eradication of colonialism remains an “unfinished process,” that has been with the global community for too long.

At its simplest, colonialism is a practice of acquiring full or partial control over another country, territory, or people, occupying it, sometimes with settlers, sometimes indirectly, and exploiting it economically. This definition is however too narrow to capture the full range of effects that are part of the structure of colonial relationships.

Colonialism is also a historical relationship by which Europe expanded its borders of control, fought wars by proxy, drained the wealth of other territories, established an often-violent system of rule to govern

those territories’ populations, instituted a global pattern of slavery and indentured servitude, and developed a rule of law that applied fully

only to Europeans themselves, but was taken up by the rest of the

world as a mandate for full human rights. Colonial rulers also deployed methods of scientific discovery that used the colonies as a laboratory and testing grounds for experimentation.

As Frantz Fanon argued in The Wretched of the Earth, “In concrete terms Europe has been bloated out of all proportions by the gold and raw materials from such colonial countries as Latin America, China, and Africa. …

examples of colonialism today
examples of colonialism today

History of colonialism

In antiquity, colonialism was practiced by empires such as Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, Ancient Egypt, and Phoenicia. These civilizations all extended their borders into surrounding and non-contiguous areas from about 1550 B.C. onward, and established

colonies that drew on the physical and population resources of the people they conquered in order to increase their own power.

Beginning in the 15th century, Portugal began looking for new trade routes and searching for civilizations outside of Europe. In 1415, Portuguese explorers conquered Ceuta,

a coastal town in North Africa, kicking off an empire that would last until 1999.

Soon the Portuguese had conquered and populated islands like Madeira and Cape Verde, and their rival nation, Spain,

decided to try exploration, too. In 1492, Christopher Columbus began looking for a western route to India and China. Instead, he landed in the Bahamas, kicking off the Spanish Empire. Spain and Portugal became locked in competition for new territories and took over indigenous lands in the Americas, India, Africa, and Asia.

England, the Netherlands, France, and Germany quickly began their own empire building overseas, fighting Spain and Portugal for the right to lands they had already conquered. Despite the growth of European colonies in the New World, most countries managed to gain independence during the 18th and 19th century, beginning with the American Revolution in 1776 and the Haitian Revolution in 1781. However, the Eastern Hemisphere continued to tempt European colonial powers.

Starting in the 1880s, European nations focused on taking over African lands, racing one another to coveted natural resources and establishing colonies they would hold until an international period of decolonization began around 1914, challenging European colonial empires up to 1975.

examples of colonialism today
examples of colonialism today

Types of colonialism

Majorly there are two types of colonialism: Settler colonialism and Exploitation colonialism. The Settler colonialism involves immigration at large scale as an outcome of religious, economic or political issues. Exploitation colonialism involves the trade and commerce like the export of goods or even the slave trade.

There’s also Surrogate colonialism and Internal Colonialism. The former is one in which the colonial power supports the settlement of immigrants. The latter is about the uneven structural power between different areas of the state.

Impact Colonialism

It had a lot of negative effects on the people and the society and left deep scars. There was enslavement, exploitation, a flood of diseases and problems of settlement again and again. The European colonization influenced the economic systems of many places.

“The Other” or “Othering” are terms used in reference to colonialism. It means creating separate entities of people or groups.

Settler Colonialism

Large numbers of settlers claim land and become the majority. Employing a “logic of elimination,” as Patrick Wolfe put it in the American Historical Review, they attempt to engineer the disappearance of the original inhabitants everywhere except in nostalgia.

Planter Colonialism

Colonizers institute mass production of a single crop, such as sugar, coffee, cotton, or rubber. Though a minority, members of the ruling class might belong to an empire that enables their political,

legal, and administrative control.

Exploitation colonialism

it involves fewer colonists and focuses on the exploitation of natural resources or labour to the benefit of the metropole. This category includes trading posts as well as larger colonies where colonists would constitute much of the political and economic administration.

examples of colonialism today
examples of colonialism today

Trade Colonialism

Trade Colonialism is a focus on control over the trading relationships of the colony. A good example of trade colonialism is the British trade coercion post-1842 Opium war in China forcing the opening of additional ports for foreign trade.

Postcolonial Colonialism

Former colonies cannot so easily shake off the colonial legacy. Economic dependency and entanglements continue, as do bonds of affinity. Fiji, nearly 100 years a British planter colony and independent since 1970, continues to bear the imprint of its colonial past in its multiethnic, multilingual citizenry; its unusual British-imposed, aboriginal-protectionist landholding regime; and the popularity of rugby among its people.

There are probably more than these 12 forms of colonialism. Adding to the complexity of colonial motivations and consequences are the

ways different forms of colonialism might coexist or morph into each other. In 1820s Hawai‘i, sandalwood traders, sailors,

and missionaries (extractive, transport, and missionary colonizers) sought distinct relationships with native Hawaiians that split the foreign community into acrimony. A generation or two later, the missionaries’ descendants spearheaded the islands’ shift to planter colonialism. Even though extractive and missionary colonizers had a use for native people, both forms of colonialism seemed to act as harbingers of settler or planter colonialism,

which did not. The many varieties of colonialism and their points of intersection suggest that historians could elaborate on the

trend started by settler colonial studies and more precisely investigate colonialization processes as multifaceted affairs that affected

colonizers, the colonized, landholding, labor, and migration in myriad ways.

Nancy Shoemaker is professor of history at the University of Connecticut. Her most recent book is Native American Whalemen and

the World: Indigenous Encounters and the Contingency of Race (Univ. of North Carolina Press, 2015). She thanks Sarah Knott, Jeffrey Ostler, and Scott Morgensen for crucially helpful conversations.


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