Colonialism and its consequences

          Colonialism is the political-economic practice of invading and fully (or partially) acquiring control of an external territory. The occupation is accompanied by exploitation of resources such as raw materials and labour, as well as an invasion of the colony’s culture, institutions and interests by the colonizer’s own. Declared motivations behind colonization consist of a ‘civilizing mission’ that involves bringing the colonies’ populations to a certain intellectual, social and economic standard to enable them to catch up to western advancements and ‘modernize them’. Less manifested justifications include growing western industrial and military needs, therefore the mostly indigenous, ‘primitive’, weaponless populations were accessible exploits. Modern colonialism began in the 1500s and was mainly lead by Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, French and English empires. Over-exploitation, imposed civilization, slavery and genocide are undeniably horrific and shameful acts of barbarism, however colonialism did provide fundamental grounds for the long-term development of many colonies. The current economic and social prosperity of nations such as India or South Africa suggest that the productive (railways, roads and factories), social (‘western’ norms and values) and political bases (democracy or liberalism) that the colonisers provided were fundamental to these achievements. Growing ties from cooperative alliances like the Commonwealth reinforce this development. However, other countries from Sub-Saharan Africa or Central and Southeast Asia experience high levels of poverty, economic insufficiency and general under-development.

 

Advertisements

Key Concepts and Issues of Development

Development is an event or state of change, composed of cumulative processes of economic, political and societal structural reforms. These can include productive, demographic, social and institutional changes. It is a concept that enables us to produce a long-term outlook on the effects of these domains in a given context. It is a qualitative notion that studies the long-term evolution of nations and people and seeks to improve the general well-being of people. Economic growth is not synonym of improvement of the well-being of populations, thus the notion of development was created to address this issue. The United Nations Development Program states that «human development aims at increasing human capacities and widening choices and opportunities so that each individual may live, in every respect, a life worthy of its name» (Human Development Report 2000). Several deviations were created from this concept including Human Development and Durable Development. Several indicators claim to measure development including the Gross Domestic Product per Capita, the Human Development Index (combining life expectancy, level of education and the standard of living) and the Human Poverty Index. These indicators are however limited in accuracy because of their statistical approach to evaluating a qualitative subject, the quality of life.