Summary and Definitions

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Ziltener et al, 13 (Ziltener, Patrick, (University of Zurich, Switzerland) Künzler, Daniel(University of Fribourg, Switzerland), "Impact of Colonialism- A Research Survey",2013, American Sociological AssociationWEB, March 13, 2015, PDF, )

Colonialism is a form of temporally extended domination by people over other people and as such part of the historical universe of forms of intergroup domination, subjugation, oppression, and exploitation (cf. Horvath 1972). From a world-systems perspective, much of the history of the capitalist world-economy is a history of colonialism, consisting of repeated and more or less successful attempts by the core to create a periphery, to control it politically in order to exploit it economically (cf. Sanderson 2005: 186f). Both the capitalist and precapitalist world-systems have had colonial empires (Chase-Dunn/Hall 1997: 210). However, we are more specifically interested in the impact of European, American, and Japanese colonialism in its heyday between mid-19th and mid-20th century, what Bergesen and Schoenberg (1980) have identified as the second wave of colonial expansion and contraction (1826-1969).2 This is the period of extension and intensification of colonial domination during which “colonial economic development took a new direction. The extensive penetration of Western commodities, organization, and control ushered in the era of the export economy, during which colonialism reached its peak” (Birnberg and Resnick 1975: 3). Our sample is broadly defined as the parts of the modern world-system which were under colonial control in the 19th/20th century. It consists, as in the previous research mentioned above, of 83 countries of Africa and Asia, which contained around 90% of the population under colonial rule in 1920.3

Ziltener et al, 13 (Ziltener, Patrick, (University of Zurich, Switzerland) Künzler, Daniel(University of Fribourg, Switzerland), "Impact of Colonialism- A Research Survey",2013, American Sociological AssociationWEB, March 13, 2015, PDF, )

Many authors see the investment in the education and health sectors as the most positive impact of colonialism. According to the new estimations by Bolt and Bezemer (2009), ‘colonial human capital’ is the most important colonialism-related determinant of long-term growth in sub-Sahara Africa. However, it has to be kept in mind that education under the colonial government was not primarily meant to improve the knowledge of the indigenous population or to open the ways to European universities but to recruit and to train clerks/officials for the administration. Education policies were guided by the practical needs of colonial society. For instance, in Egypt, the British “attempted to confine the Westernized schools to the training of the future civil servants and to direct the bulk of primary school graduates into vocational institutes” (Cleveland 1994: 101); in Malaya, “it was considered unnecessary to offer higher levels since the government viewed education as means of equipping the population with the tools appropriate for their assigned lot” (Watson Andaya/Andaya 2001: 255). Rodney (1972: 264) argues that colonial schooling was “education for subordination, exploitation, the creation of mental confusion and the development of underdevelopment.” However, he sees differences within as well as between colonies, and assumes that British colonies offered more educational opportunities than French ones, largely due to the activities of the missionaries. The empirical data on enrollments at the end of the colonial period indeed show huge variations in sub-Saharan Africa (Künzler 2007: 74f.). Financial arguments played an important role: In Egypt, austerity measures under the rule of Lord Cromer (1883-1907) such as the closing of public schools and the increase of fees led to a decline of the primary and secondary enrollment rates (Cleveland 1994: 101). At the same time, independent schools were in many colonies forbidden or carefully observed in order to exclude the development of a potentially anti-colonial elite. Trocki (1999: 88) argues that the impact of schools was “far-reaching, since it had the effect of creating cultural allies for the colonial powers”. There was virtually no other option for school graduates than to work within a colonial structure (government, trade, mission), a situation that created what Wallerstein (1970: 410) called the “clerk between two worlds” where “[t]o concentrate on his psychological dilemmas […] is to miss the key factor, the structural bind in which this class found itself.” “Cultural allies” were also the parts of the population that converted to the religion of the colonizers. Missionary activities thus belonged to the repertory of the European colonizers from the beginning in 15th century, and in many places their collaborators and subjects accepted their religion as ‘superior’ – and/or for opportunistic motives. In many areas, missionaries came with the colonizers, in some before them. Colonization or semicolonial rule often brought religious freedom and the protection of missions for all kinds of Christian churches and sects. A relation too close with the colonizers could be a disadvantage for the mission. In India after independence, the Christian Church “has become free from the stigma that it was an ally of the ‘foreign’ rulers,’” while during the British colonial domination, it “was often looked upon as an ally of an alien imperialism” (World 1949: 150f). How far-reaching the change of life related to conversion to Christianity really was, beyond routines and rituals, is difficult to assess. Much depended on the distance between traditional life and the new religious instructions and standards – the new religion demanded not only exclusivity and renouncement of traditional practices such as ancestral worship and shamanistic health rituals as well as non-sedentary lifestyles, polygamy and open promiscuity. Missionary activities were especially successful where a process of selfChristianization could be set in motion. In these cases, local assistants successively took over the preaching and converting, and “native Churches” were built. In Africa, there was more African control over missionary activities where missions were established before colonial rule, while in the reverse case the dividing effects on African societies were more distinct (Iliffe 1969: 130). Among the consequences of Christian missionary work in Africa was also an age cleavage since it was above all the young who were attracted to the early missions, “so that acceptance of education and Christianity often appeared almost as a revolt of a whole generation against its elders” (Iliffe 1969: 128). There were also many other unintended consequences, such as Christianity-inspired, but anti-Western messianistic movements, “native Churches” that could inspire independence movements, or a dissolution of the traditional cultural value system followed by a complete breakdown of social structure. In Vietnam, the Cao Dai sect was founded in 1926, a case of “frankly fabricated traditionless syncretism” which mingled Confucianism, Buddhism, Taoism, spiritism, and freemasonry, among others, with a quasi-Catholic church organization (Osterhammel 1997: 99). The impact of missionary activities was big in areas which were not converted to one of the “high” or scriptoral religions (Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism etc.) already, i.e. mainly areas in south of the Sahel belt in Africa (with the exception of the East African coast), in Southeast Asia (in the Archipelago the Philippine and some Indonesian islands, on the continent the socalled “mountain tribes”) and in Oceania. Among the highly educated in stratified societies, missionaries argued in favor of Christianity by referring to the superiority of European 305 Journal of World-System Research knowledge, technology etc. The latter met usually open doors, but unrestrained missionary zeal put these exchanges at risk, again and again, as in the case of Vietnam (cf. Watson Andaya/Ishi 1999: 200). In Islamic areas, colonial missionary activities were especially unsuccessful. If this has to do with traditional animosities out of centuries-old religious competition or with the fact that apostasy is a crime punishable by death in Islamic law (Lewis 1995: 295), is not of importance here. As the World Christian Handbook summarizes: in the whole Moslem world, particularly in the homelands of Islam in the Near East, the number of converts from Islam to Christianity has always been very small and is still very small. The Christian churches consist of foreign residents and of people belonging to families which were never Moslem. (World Christian Handbook 1949: 76) In mainly Islamic areas, converts usually were followers of ancient Christian churches, which had survived in some parts of Western Asia. In many colonies, converts were given special tasks in administration and/or army, and they usually became “loyalists.” This had a lasting impact on interreligious relations, independently of their absolute numbers. The decolonization process brought many risks for converts, which were often – especially in cases of armed conflicts and wars of independence – met by emigration. Regarding health and life expectancy, colonialism had a mixed impact. On the one hand, medical centers were founded, typically with the purpose of lowering infant mortality and advancing disease prevention and vaccination campaigns. The limited impact of these measures has to do with the predominant orientation of “imperial medicine” (Elson 1999), which was “particularly interested in controlling, by medical research and eradication campaigns, the most spectacular manifestation of ill-health, epidemic sicknesses … The continued outbreak of such epidemics was an affront to Western dominance, moreover they had serious economic consequences because they killed so many labourers and rendered so many others incapable of work” (ibid. 177f). By ending or reducing traditional warfare – whose frequencies and character are hotly debated – in many regions, colonialism had a pacification effect which reduced economic disruptions and related famines. For Southeast Asia, Elson (1999: 160) argues that it was the significant reduction of mortality, not an increase of fertility, which led to a net population growth in colonial period. On the other hand, urbanization and the work in mines, plantations and on the big infrastructure construction sites favored the spread of diseases and increased dramatically the number of work-related accidents. In Southern Vietnam, one in twenty plantation workers died, which was double the overall mortality for the French colony (ibid., 157). In Africa, the establishment of plantation colonies had “a grossly disturbing effect on the African nutritional economy” (De Castro 1952: 179). In certain areas colonialism led to a drastic population decrease. In the Belgian Congo, the decrease was by 50 percent between 1879 and 1919; mainly due to forced labor and the atrocities linked to it (Hochschild 2000[1998]: 233). Furthermore, colonial investment in health facilities mainly benefited the colonialists, especially in settler colonies.

Our research survey shows that there are differences between the socio-economic development in colonized and non-colonized areas/countries. The (few) non-colonized areas in Africa/Asia experienced less intensive modes of integration into the world economy, a slower disruption and disintegration of the traditional social structures, all in all a slower pace of change compared to colonial economies (cf. Dixon 1999b: 57f). Although some Asian countries, e.g. Vietnam, Indonesia and especially South Asia (former British-India, Burma, Ceylon) did experience colonial domination with far-reaching consequences, the political impact of colonialism has been widest in sub-Saharan Africa, in areas where a lesser degree or the absence of traditional state- and empire-building opened opportunities for significant political transformations. The economic impact of colonialism varied greatly, both in Asia and Africa. Many regions have been transformed through the development of plantations, mining booms and settler economies, others have been tied to empires through colonial policies as in the case of the French mercantilism or Japan’s highly interventionist colonialism. Other areas have remained untouched or only superficially changed through colonialism, such as neglected land-locked regions in Africa as well as highly developed traditional economies in East or West Asia. Regarding social transformation, the difference between Africa and Asia is most pronounced. With few exceptions (French-Indochina, Fiji, Malaysia), all countries which experienced a profound colonially-induced social transformation through immigration, proselytization and partition are located in Africa south of the Sahara. In most heavily-populated areas with traditional states and empires as well as dominant scriptoral religions, this was not possible, not necessary or not desirable for the respective colonial power. However, the impact of colonialism should not be overestimated. As demonstrated in many analyses, it is one important determinant of the socio-economic development of Africa/Asia in the 19th -20th century, but not the only one and in many cases not the most important one. On the Arab Peninsula, for instance, the decline of the demand for pearls in the 1920s and the large-scale production of petroleum are considered to have changed societies much more than British indirect rule and related investment, which was promoted by indigenous elites (Owen and Pamuk 1999: 76ff). In many cases, colonies were annexed before their geopolitical or economic value to the Imperial Empire was even assessed: “One consequence was that, once colonies were seized, the imperialist powers were frequently content to permit local economic activities to stagnate rather than to allow a rival metropolitan state administration to assume either formal or informal control. This 'benign neglect' – in addition to the discovery and subsequent exploitation of natural resources in other colonies – produced a heterogeneous pattern of capitalist economic development throughout the colonial world (Murray 1980: 13). We therefore conclude that caution is justified regarding the supposedly transformatory effects of colonialism. While for some areas, it is obvious that profound changes in economy and social structure can be traced back to colonial measures, others remained almost untouched, sometimes even conserved. To deal with the impact of colonialism by dummyvariables (“colonized/not-colonized,” French/British, etc.) is clearly inadequate. The challenge is to identify the main dimensions of colonial transformation and to find indicators to measure the factual, real levels of impact. The next level of the project aims at developing a multidimensional measure of the impact of colonialism in order to open up new avenues for comparative research, qualitative as well as quantitative.
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