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Colonial empires in 1898 , before the Spanish-American War , the Boxer Rebellion, and the Second Boer War
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  • As colonialism the occupation of foreign territories and the subjugation, expulsion or murder of local people referred by colonial rule. Colonists and colonized people are culturally alien to each other, which was associated with the colonial rulers in modern colonialism with the belief in a cultural superiority over the so-called "primitive peoples" and partly in their own racial superiority . This notion was supported by early theories of socio-cultural evolution . The colonization of the world by European nations contributed to the ideology ofEurocentrism Advancement. The actors involved were private individuals, companies and states, which initially mostly promoted or secured colonization. In the longer term, almost all of the established colonies came into state hands.

    In addition to the political issue of colonial rule, the term colonialism also describes a historical phase, the colonial era (age of colonialism) , which begins with the modern age : Since Christopher Columbus' trips to America at the end of the 15th century (1492 is sometimes considered the year of transition from Middle Ages to modern times) European powers formed colonial empires overseas, initially Spain and Portugal , soon also the Netherlands , Great Britain and France . Colonialism went hand in hand with European expansion . The end of the colonial era lies between the first declarations of sovereignty after the French Revolution (1797: USA, Haiti) and the end of World War II (1945) and the establishment of the UN as a concept of equal nations worldwide. However, the 19th century in particular was shaped by the late colonialism of new geopolitical actors, including former colonies. Finally, Belgium , Italy and Germany were also involved in the race for the colonial division of Africa in the 19th century ; in Asia, Russia in particular sought to expand; and at the turn of the 20th century, the USA and Japan became colonial powers. In addition to economic profit expectations and the safeguarding of future raw material bases, power rivalries and questions of prestige played an important role among the motives that promoted colonialism in the age of imperialism - of which colonialism is a part. The end of the colonial era is also referred to as postcolonial and an era of decolonization, especially in the middle of the 20th century, although imperialist aspirations continue to this day and even intensify again, which is why the term neocolonialism appears.

    Colonialism is conceptually and meaningfully closely related to colonization . For example, ancient Greek colonization in the Mediterranean area and medieval German colonization in the east are known from earlier times . Forms, dimensions and modes of action of modern colonialism appear in a wide range of different forms. Both in the political metropolises of colonial rule and in the periphery of the associated colonies, the individual colonial powers developed a broad spectrum of peculiarities with regard to organization and exercise of power, as well as the participation of colonized people in the apparatus of rule on the one hand and in the repression of the colonial peoples on the other. This also had an effect beyond the actual colonial period in the course and in the consequences of decolonization.

    Types and organizational forms of colonial rule

    Apart from common core features such as superiority and subordination between colonists and colonized or the unequal economic relationships between colonial powers and colonies, the historical manifestations of modern colonialism are extremely diverse. The following types of colonial ruling regimes and economic organization merely represent common denominators for even more specific forms in individual cases. Depending on the origin, structure and extent of the various historical special constellations, a distinction is made in the literature between ruling colonies, settlement colonies , integration colonies and base colonies.

    Loading of cotton bales off Lomé , Togo, 1885

    The control colony was mostly a military conquest by prior contact and pre-orientation is based. It was not settlers but colonial officials sent from the motherland who formed the ruling apparatus that enabled the colony to be exploited economically . The administrative authorities in the periphery were supervised by colonial authorities in the metropolis. Of this type were e.g. B. India as a British colony, Togo as a German, Taiwan as a Japanese and the Philippines as a colony of the USA.

    Settlement colonies emerged mainly as a result of massive individual migration , the carriers of which left their home areas with no intention of returning, often for economic reasons or hardships. The settlement colonists either drove out the resident population groups or submitted them and used them as workers. The settlers retained the culture they had brought with them and immediately took over political rule in their settlement area through self-government. The conditions for the exercise of economic power and resource development in settlement colonialism differed considerably. While the New England colonies , Canada , Australia , New Zealand , Argentina and Chile were displacing the indigenous populations that were considered unnecessary and useless, colonies in Africa remained dependent on local labor, for example in Algeria and South Africa . In Caribbean colonies, however, including Jamaica and Cuba , foreign labor slaves were imported after the ancestral populations were exterminated.

    Integration colonies combined elements of dominant and settlement colonies. The key positions in the administration were occupied by colonial officials from the motherland, who were based on a class of settlers operating with political participation rights and growing significantly through immigration and descendants, such as the Creoles in the Spanish colonies of South America. Its inhabitants had formally the same rights as the inhabitants of the mother country and enjoyed extensive local autonomy. One could base the colonial rule here economically on already existing efficient and taxable arable farming systems.

    Base colonies were initially created and protected by military means, which were not aimed at large-scale inland colonization, but rather at the commercial development of the respective hinterland. Where such base colonies were planned for the purpose of networking, they served to secure the trade hegemony of the respective mother countries. Examples of this were the Dutch and Portuguese bases in Africa and Asia. The global political ambitions of the then leading sea power Great Britain had led to the establishment of networked bases since the 18th century. It is no longer just a matter of protecting commercial interests; rather, the network of British colonies now acquired a weight of its own in global strategy. Significant “port colonies” such as Singapore and Hong Kong came to the naval bases from Gibraltar via Suez to Cape Town . In the long term, the only colony type capable of modernization has proven to be the military base, which points beyond the era of the gunboats to that of the tactical air force .

    Economic and social motives and characteristics

    Byzantines and Saracens ruled the Mediterranean until the 11th century . The fight against the Saracen threat, which operated extensively piracy , through Pisa and Genoa , ended their predominance. Later the Italians practiced piracy themselves, especially on the coasts of Asia Minor . Often pirate companies were founded to finance such ventures, and it was often impossible to distinguish between trade missions and piracy. For the inhabitants of Andalusia , too , the hijacking of Moorish ships and the landings on African coasts, which involved robbing and turning prisoners into slaves , was a lucrative business. By pushing back Arab-Syrian traders as part of the crusades , the Italian city-states were now also able to conduct direct trade with the Levant and the Orient . Especially the European population growth since around 1000 (peak around 1300) stimulated this long-distance trade .

    The crisis of the 14th century with plague and urban exodus also affected the nobility . As a result of the gradual decline of the feudal structures, the latter had concentrated on luxury goods as a sign of a lifestyle appropriate to their status in order to maintain their status. Due to the anarchic conditions during the Reconquista , the nobles were able to secure large donations of land from the Spanish king, especially in Castile . The regular incursions into the (still) remaining Moorish country of the Iberian Peninsula had also become important sources of income for them. The nobility also increasingly participated in economic ventures such as the tuna trade (which was just as important for nutrition and trade as the salted herring in northern Europe) and built up their own fleets for this purpose. In the European discovery of Guinea's gold coast , ships belonging to the nobility were involved from the very beginning. The colonization of islands in the Atlantic was also started by great vassals of the Spanish king; only later did the crown itself follow.

    Access to the luxury goods of the Orient (carpets, spices , dyes, etc.), which are coveted throughout Europe , could only be obtained through Arab intermediaries. So Egypt controlled the trade in Arab and Indian goods. European traders were welcome, but onward travel for foreigners beyond Cairo was prohibited. The so-called “Latin” trade route, which bypassed this “Muslim blockade”, had been closed since the end of the 14th century: After the collapse of the huge Mongol Empire founded by Genghis Khan , in particular through the conquests of Timur Lenk and the national revolution of the Ming -Dynasty in China, the "Mongolian Way" was closed to Italian merchant caravans . The advance of the Ottomans in the 15th century made the Asian trade of the Italians even more difficult. The Orient was thus locked for Europe.

    The starting position of the European overseas expansion, which heralded the age of colonialism, was thus partly determined by the endeavor to open up alternative trade routes to the long-distance trade networks ( India trade ) controlled by the Ottoman rulers and asserted against the access of the Europeans . Bartolomeu Dias opened the way to the Indian Ocean by circumnavigating the Cape of Good Hope in 1488 , which enabled Vasco da Gama to reach India by ship in 1498 . From their Indian base in Goa , the Portuguese managed to reach Malacca in 1509 and conquer it under Afonso de Albuquerque in 1511. The Atlantic crossing by Columbus in 1492 led to the beginning of the European development, conquest and settlement of America.

    Commander Bouët-Willaumez attacks insurgents near Grand-Bassam (Ivory Coast), engraving from 1890

    Fundraising for the costly voyages of discovery had become easier with advances in money and credit . The emergence of the first banks in northern Italian city-states made it easier to pool large amounts of money for expensive overseas ventures. Since the profit prospects were very vague, the state often paid the cost of the sea expeditions in order to reduce the high risk. The private companies mostly only took part in the loading of the ships with food and barter goods and received a fixed part of the profit from the voyages in return. The overseas voyages of discovery were made possible not least by the development of the new type of ship, the caravel . characterized by improved maneuverability under changing wind conditions.

    The development of the West African coast by the Portuguese was followed by imports of slaves and gold to Europe. The ruling house, which shared a fifth of the economic income of this type, remained interested in further expansion. What it was about is shown by names such as " Ivory Coast ", "Gold Coast" or " Slave Coast ".

    gold and silver

    The African gold trade was controlled by Muslim traders who brought the gold by caravan to the coasts of North Africa and thus also served European demand. In 1456 the Portuguese established the first trade connection to the African gold zones. From 1475, gold was shipped to Portugal in large quantities via Guinea in barter with sub-Saharan Africa, without going through Muslim traders. Because of the expensive purchase of oriental luxury items and costly European wars, there was still a net gold outflow from Europe for the time being.

    Columbus also tried to highlight the wealth of gold as a special feature on his voyage of discovery to Caribbean America. The territories conquered by the Spaniards became a supposed Eldorado in the gold rush that set in after Pizarro had extracted over 13,000 pounds of gold and 26,000 pounds of silver from the Inca ruler Atahualpa . The silver deposits in Bolivia and Mexico , which were discovered before 1550 and immediately shipped to Europe, meant that prices throughout Europe rose by 400 percent in the 16th century.

    Slave trade

    Depiction of a slave ship (19th century)

    Since the idea that Christians should not be made slaves has prevailed since the high Middle Ages , slaves became a scarce “commodity” in Europe in the course of advancing Christianization . From the 13th century onwards, the slave trade with the Levant was increasingly popular . Initially, the Muslim traders delivered these mainly from the Crimea , from the 15th century especially from the Balkans , where the Ottomans abducted Christians as prisoners of war and sold them to European, v. a. Italian traders were selling. Catalan slave traders, on the other hand, abducted their victims mostly from Asia Minor. The conquest of Constantinople by the Ottomans in 1453 then led to a decline in slave deliveries from the Levant and led to price increases in Italy. Europe then turned to slaves from sub-Saharan Africa who brought Muslim trade caravans to the North African coast.

    On the Caribbean islands, sugar cane cultivation became the linchpin of colonial rule. After the extinction of almost the entire indigenous population, large areas were available for this purpose; African slaves were now "imported" as labor on a large scale. Europeans, Africans and Arabs organized fishing and transport in cooperation. The mortality rate was between 25 and 40 percent just when the ship passed under unworthy conditions across the Atlantic. The daily work in mines and plantations , which was enforced with draconian punishments , only allowed a few slaves to live to be older than 35 years. The triangular trade flourished in the 17th and 18th centuries: European consumer products, often of poor quality, were exchanged for slaves in Africa; these are shipped in chains across the Atlantic, mostly to the Caribbean, from where the ships then carry colonial goods such as sugar, rum, indigo and others. m. returned to Europe laden.

    Colonial exploitation and cost-benefit relationships

    With the lowering of the Japanese flag on September 9, 1945 in front of the seat of the Governor General in Keijō , the official transfer of administration of the southern part of Korea (as the Japanese colonial province :
    Chōsen ) to the Americans is completed.

    Like the Spaniards and Portuguese, all later colonial powers - also with the division of Africa - tried to derive economic benefits from their colonial possessions. However, this was not preceded by a rational cost-benefit analysis. "Rather, after the acquisition of new territories, people were often at a loss as to what economic potential they had, how they should be administered and what benefits they could bring to the mother country." The conquest was usually followed by three to four decades of predatory economy. Barter trade and the overexploitation of resources dominated; There was hardly any investment in infrastructure .

    The currency union proved to be the strongest economic link within the colonial empires. France proceeded particularly consistently and thus created a monetarily unified colonial empire, which in Africa meant that the francophone states maintained their close currency relations with France even after their independence.

    While the colonial powers' own cost-benefit balance with regard to their areas of influence could turn out partly ambiguous and partly negative, the colonized were mainly exposed to plunder. The colonies and semi-colonies of the European powers in Asia and Africa remained poor and backward during the decades of intensive economic relations with their mother countries, as did the semi-colonies of the USA in Latin America, while developments in Europe and North America showed a rapid increase in social prosperity. Almost a quarter of French capital investments abroad went to Russia in 1914, while only just under 9 percent went to the French colonies. Germany’s foreign investments before the outbreak of the First World War only went to 2 percent in the colonial protected areas.

    The comparatively late colonial power Japan was the only one that planned to build up an industrial colonial economy in its sphere of influence, such as coal, iron and steel in Korea and Manchuria or cotton processing in Shanghai and northern China. The aim was to compensate for the scarcity of raw materials on the Japanese islands and to establish a labor-sharing Asian greater economic area under Japanese control. According to Osterhammel, it was the most repressive colonial regime in recent history; nevertheless it left important foundations for further industrial development in Korea, Taiwan and parts of China.

    States that were not colonial powers also benefited from colonialism. For example, Switzerland has never had its own colonies. However, thanks to the neutrality status and the good networking of the Swiss upper class, Swiss researchers, missionaries and traders were welcome by almost all colonial rulers. Swiss mercenaries served in the Congo Free State. Scientists made steep careers through colonial expeditions. They sent enormous quantities of found and stolen items to Switzerland, which became the basis of the ethnological and natural science collections of several museums. Swiss families amassed fortunes through the slave trade. African children and young people without names worked as lift boys in Switzerland . The colonial product cocoa became a blockbuster Swiss chocolate .

    Ideological-programmatic aspects of colonial regimes

    The colonial regimes of European powers since the 16th century required justification and compatibility, above all with the Christian religion, which connected the colonizing conquerors with their European sending metropolises. The doctrine of the “ just war ” against non-Christians, which was handed down from the Middle Ages, was able to form the basis for this when criticism arose of the Spanish conquests in Central and South America, which referred to the New Testament's prohibition of violence . With the papal bull Inter caetera in 1493 the Spaniards were granted the rights to new lands in America to which they were supposed to bring the Catholic faith.

    In the early modern period, the idea of ​​Europeans 'own cultural superiority over other cultures such as the Chinese, Japanese, Indian or Muslim cultures was still poorly developed, although the European colonizers in America also conveyed different accents and impressions than entire empires under the control of conquistadors' troops broke apart: “The Europeans with their white skin, their horses and shotguns appeared as gods. They began to feel like superhumans. "

    However, according to Osterhammel, a thoroughgoing European sense of mission towards the other established cultural areas of the world did not establish itself until the era of the transatlantic revolutions in the late 18th century, when “the West” was preparing to usher in a completely new age of freedom and equality and this was also the case connected with the economic dynamism of the industrial revolution that was underway , which not only affected Europe but also North America. Osterhammel names the basic elements of colonialist thought “in the mature late form” as follows: 1. the idea of ​​irreconcilable strangeness or “otherness” in connection with a relationship of superiority and inferiority; 2. belief in the mission in connection with the duty of guardianship; 3. the utopia of a colonial administration free of politics.

    Slave transport in Africa

    From the idea of ​​the anthropological "otherness" of the colonized, of their different physical and mental predispositions, their inability to do similar deeds and works to those produced by modern Europe was inferred. The presupposed difference was asserted for various fields as required: inter alia. as “pagan depravity”, as technological inferior competence in the control of nature, as a ( tropical ) climatically weakened human constitution, and finally as racially conditioned inferiority. The latter was largely unanimously accepted by Europeans and Americans, at least during the last three to four decades before the First World War.

    The assumed anthropological difference served to justify a guardianship obligation of Europeans or "whites" as the higher civilization or race (" the white man's burden "). Not exploitation, but reciprocal complementation of both sides was propagated. This included the notion, which has been widespread since the late 19th century, that the “developed” West not only has the right, but has a duty to develop the natural resources of the tropical countries; for since the natives are incapable of doing this, Europeans and Americans, by doing this, are doing a service not only to themselves but to all of humanity. A higher minority has a responsibility to the backward majority of the people. “Colonial rule was glorified as a gift and act of grace from civilization, as a kind of permanent humanitarian intervention. The burden of the task is so enormous that quick fulfillment is out of the question. "

    Since the Europeans viewed the conditions found in the colonial areas as chaotic, they viewed their actions on the ground not as arbitrary rule, but as creating order. In this perspective, however, colonial administration always remained susceptible to the suppressed “anarchy” and “instinctuality” among the colonized. Accordingly, one should not allow oneself to be weak, as otherwise troublemakers would be encouraged and even a "Negro uprising" could break out. From this point of view, western forms of politics are not suitable for colonial areas: "Nothing should disturb the calm of efficient administration."

    Wherever military power was exercised in the colonies, there should also be internal peace by disarming the local population in the manner of the “ Pax Britannica ”. One sought to activate the colonized mainly through "education for work". For non-Europeans, however, this was often only a transparent cover-up of conditions of exploitation and had nothing to do with qualification for independence. Whenever this mentioned education seemed hopeless to the colonial authorities, the natives were often exposed to any form of arbitrary cruelty without protection. An extreme example is the extermination order of Lieutenant-General Lothar von Trotha against the people of the Herero and the subsequent procedure in German colonial troops in 1904 in German South West Africa .

    Colonial powers and their "peripheries"

    Colonization, 1492-2008

    Forms of origin and forms of colonial rule showed a multitude of specific characteristics, which depended on the one hand on the respective political conditions and main socio-economic interests of the individual colonial power, and on the other hand on the conditions encountered in the colonial rule area. Colonialism can therefore only be adequately captured in its entire historical and geographical range.

    Modern basic constellations

    Genoa and Venice

    Intensive economic relations between Genoa and Venice and the Byzantine Empire made it possible for both northern Italian city republics to develop trade monopolies. As a result, they ruled the entire Mediterranean region in the late Middle Ages . In the course of the Crusades they had succeeded in acquiring colonies and bases in the Aegean Sea , the Peloponnese , the Black Sea and the Levant . The competitive situation between the two city-states led to numerous sea wars, until Venice finally succeeded in gaining final supremacy in the Mediterranean at the Battle of Chioggia in 1380. With this defeat, Genoa was not completely eliminated from the Mediterranean trade, but was even able to hold some of its colonies into the 15th century. It was only with the expansion of the Ottoman Empire and the discovery of the New World at the beginning of modern times that Genoa and Venice lost their supremacy in trade to the new sea powers Portugal and Spain.

    Portugal and Spain

    South America around 1650

    After Portuguese explorers found the sea ​​route to India beyond the Cape of Good Hope and established bases mainly for the spice trade (including pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves), the ruling house expanded its own title at the turn of the 16th century: King of Portugal and the Algarve, Lord of Guinea and the conquest, shipping and trade of Ethiopia, Arabia, Persia and India . In South America, Portugal, as a colonial power rivaling Spain, was only able to gain a foothold in Brazil due to the Treaty of Tordesillas (1494) . When the Portuguese royal dynasty in 1580 became extinct, Portugal fell along with the colonial possessions in personal union to the Spanish Habsburg Philip II.

    Spain's colonial empire in Central and South America spanned three different types of indigenous societies. These were the high cultures of the Aztecs , Maya and Inca with central organization, secondly sparsely populated and less structured domains and thirdly nomadic peoples. While in the high cultures, after eliminating the hierarchical top, one could pull the middle class to the side of the conquerors and participate in the colonial administration, which was made easier by the existence of calendar orientation, a road network and a written culture, the indigenous people in the Caribbean were annihilated Ethnic groups for whom the diseases introduced and the ruthless exploitation by the conquerors became a deadly trap. On the other hand, the nomadic Indians living in the settlement areas of southern Argentina, southern Chile, northern Mexico and the rainforests, which are not very attractive for the Spaniards, were able to assert themselves in the struggle with the colonial power.

    The Christian-Catholic mission accompanying the conquest in the papal mandate was carried out in particular by the mendicant orders of the Franciscans and Dominicans . In their ranks, criticism of the atrocities perpetrated by the conquistadors against the locals was sometimes drastic. The indictments of a Bartolomé de Las Casas combined the goal of converting the faith of the indigenous population with the accusation of mortal sin against compatriots who were mad for conquering and with demands for protection for a humane existence for those to be converted.

    Since 1524, in addition to the royal council, there was a council for the overseas territories ( Consejo de Indias ) at the Spanish court , which was responsible for colonial economic, financial, military and church affairs. Initially , the administration was headed by two viceroys , one for New Spain in Mexico City and one for Peru in Lima . As a rule, they came from Spain and returned there after an average of 6 to 7 years, so they had an interest in their post paying off quickly, economically or in terms of their own careers. Formally, the Indians were under Spanish rule - unlike under that of other colonial powers - as subjects of equal rights to the Spanish crown. However, the language barrier often stood in the way of the possible representation of their interests in court.


    Small coin of the Dutch East India Company, 1744

    After the successful independence struggle of the Dutch against Spain, they rose to become an important trading and sea power and established themselves - especially at the expense of Portugal - as a new colonial power with bases, among other things. in South Africa , India and Southeast Asia . The carriers of Dutch colonial rule were the United Dutch East India Company (VOC) , which was merged from several individual companies in 1602, and the West India Company from 1621 . These were given extensive rights through state charter , which also included maintaining their own army. A company issued shares for the first time in 1606 to finance this , and the shareholders were accepted as partners . The dividend averaged 18% per year. Particularly profitable branches were the procurement of spices and other luxury items.

    In addition to Sumatra and Borneo , the Moluccas were particularly lucrative for the Dutch because of their access to nutmegs . When one in the Banda archipelago failed to conclude unilaterally advantageous contracts, the military arm of the VOC committed mass murder among the residents. The islands that were subsequently depopulated were taken over by Dutch plantation operators who employed imported slaves.

    In addition to the VOC base in Batavia , which was founded in 1621, the United India Company gained control of other important port cities and transshipment points such as Malacca (1641), Makassar (1669) and Banten (1682). This “base colonialism” was further developed in the 18th century: It was less the territorial control than the functioning network and the good integration into the regional system that were characteristic of it. Taking advantage of the political fractionation on Java , the VOC established a military-supported indirect territorial rule there by the end of the 18th century.

    The early Dutch colonialism in Southeast Asia was accompanied by the development of a mixed society and culture at the ruling level, in which Dutch ideas dominated but were permeated by elements of Indonesian culture. Because the Dutch men mostly came alone to the Asian colonial areas and there very often entered into connections with local women, so that they and their children became part of the ruling class. This mixed culture gained increasing influence in society as a whole and led to the development of its own architectural styles and art forms, as well as its own music and literature.

    England - Great Britain - British Empire

    Shortly before the Dutch came in 1600, the British had already founded an East India Company (BEIC), which was supposed to stimulate long-distance trade on a colonial basis. In the 17th century, which was to become the golden age of the Netherlands , the latter retained the upper hand, also because England had to do with revolution and civil war and did not prevail in the naval wars . With the navigation files in 1651, the outcome of the Glorious Revolution in 1689 and the creation of Great Britain through the Union of England with Scotland in 1707, the balance of power shifted in favor of the British in the 18th century.

    After the Dutch governor William of Orange became King of England as a result of the Glorious Revolution, the spheres of influence in Asia were divided between the two East Indian companies: while the Dutch concentrated on Indonesia , the British expanded their outposts in India, e.g. B. Madras , Bombay and Calcutta , to a permanent colonial rule.


    While English overseas trade in Asia initially targeted spices and especially pepper, the focus increasingly shifted to the import of cotton and tea. The BEIC did not use its own merchant fleet for the transport, but rented ships. On the other hand, they exercised control over their Indian territory also militarily with the help of local troops, the Sepoy , which were led by British officers. When numerous Indian principalities were included in British colonial rule, they showed themselves to be flexible with regard to the contractual details, which the BEIC concluded primarily for its own benefit. For the most part, it was a question of forms of indirect power organization. The enormous expansion of the Indian colonial area and the notorious shortage of personnel on the British side meant that only the top administrative posts were occupied by British employees, while most of the administrative tasks were carried out by Indian employees. At the advanced stage of British colonial rule over India, the trading company was transformed into an arm of the state administration.

    In the Caribbean and North America, too, numerous British colonies were established and expanded in the course of the 17th century. The British colonial regime also practiced plantation management with African slaves on the Caribbean islands of St. Lucia , Barbados and Nevis . The situation was completely different in the settlement colonies on the North American east coast, where inter alia. a New England emerged, mainly as a place of refuge and promise for Puritans and non-Anglicans , who were able to evade the pressure of the English state church . They acquired land and spread to the west, displacing the Indian population from their settlement areas. The colonists remained subjects of the English crown until they liberated themselves from it in the American War of Independence in the last quarter of the 18th century.

    The declaration of independence is presented to the Continental Congress. Painting by John Trumbull (around 1816)

    Not only religious dissidents and those in distress in search of a new economic existence had come to the North American colonies from England, but also convicts sentenced to forced labor: between 1718 and 1775 around 50,000 convicts were brought to the tobacco plantations in Virginia and Maryland alone . With the independence of the United States of America , this transfer point ceased to exist. But when James Cook came to the east coast of Australia on a research trip in 1770 and then took possession of the continent for the British crown, a convict colony was established there from 1788 . Australia and New Zealand became preferred destinations for British emigrants in the 19th century.

    When the colonial world reached its universal historical maximum in the 1920s, the lion's share went to the British Empire. The areas ruled by the United Kingdom covered an area of ​​over 37 million km² in 1921, about a quarter of the earth's surface. The total population was around 500 million (around a quarter of the world population at that time).


    The Napoleonic French Empire with occupied territories at the time of its greatest expansion in 1812

    The pioneers of French colonialism in North America were Jacques Cartier and Samuel de Champlain ; the latter founded New France . At the height of its expansion in 1712, this extended from Newfoundland to the Great Lakes and from Hudson Bay to the Gulf of Mexico . Some Caribbean islands and India were also early modern objects of French colonial policy. From the beginning there was a competitive relationship, especially with British colonialism, which was fought out in a series of armed conflicts, the French and Indian Wars . In the Peace of Paris in 1763 after the Seven Years' War , France had to cede most of its colonies to Great Britain. The remnants of the colonial possessions in North America were sold to the USA under Napoleon Bonaparte in 1803 .

    From 1830 onwards, French colonial policy took a fresh start, especially in Africa and, after the middle of the 19th century, in French Indochina . This made France the world's second largest colonial power after Great Britain. With recourse to the central ideas of the French Revolution , the French pursued a civilizing mission in the sense of the assimilation of the colonized, especially in the Maghreb . In view of the colonial population in Africa, which grew to over 25 million in the course of the advancing conquests during the 19th century, it was only a tiny minority of French subjects who were actually "emancipated" on an equal footing. And while Algeria, with a comparatively high percentage of French colonists, was finally organized administratively on the model of French départements , otherwise they contented themselves with organizing rule over a system of chiefs who presented themselves to the colonial rulers as sufficiently docile and suitable.

    Most of the European settlers in Algeria, as well as in the French protectorates of Tunisia and Morocco, were concentrated in the cities, with a good three-quarters of Algiers being inhabited by Europeans after 1880 and largely redesigned in the Parisian Haussmann style. The rural agrarian colonization of the Europeans with the support of the French state power was particularly fatal for the Muslim rural population; because through expropriations under all sorts of pretexts it was displaced onto smaller areas of land and poorer soils.

    Germany and Austria

    German colonies 1910 (contemporary map)
    German colonial ruler in Togo (approx. 1885), then a German colony, after the First World War a French mandate

    Under the sovereignty of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, Brandenburg-Prussia alone acquired notable overseas colonial possessions in the West African Groß Friedrichsburg (1683-1717) for trading purposes, for which a Brandenburg-African Company was founded . The Austrian Habsburg Monarchy also only developed colonial activities to a relatively small extent. After Trieste was declared a free port in 1771 , the ruling Archduchess Maria Theresa founded the Trieste East India Trade Company (1775–1785) under the command of the Dutchman William Bolts. In 1777 the ships of the trading company acquired a port in what is now Mozambique (1781 to Portugal) and in 1778 proclaimed four Nicobar Islands as an Austrian colony, which, however, fell back to Denmark in 1785 .

    Since the founding of the German Empire , the public has been calling for ever louder colonies. In 1882, for example, a German colonial association was founded with the aim of promoting a German colonial empire. Chancellor Otto von Bismarck rejected these ideas for both economic and security reasons. For various reasons, the so-called " Lüderitzland " was placed under the "protection" of the German Empire in April 1884 as the nucleus of what would later become German South West Africa . In German East Africa , Cameroon and Togo as well as in German New Guinea, too , the informal occupation gave way to formal colonial rule after a short period of time. In inaccessible regions such as North Cameroon or the later Rwanda-Urundi , however, indirect forms of rule were also practiced. The territorial expansion was largely ended with the so-called Heligoland-Zanzibar Treaty of 1890. Until 1914, only a few new foundations and territorial expansions followed ( Kiautschou , Micronesia , New Cameroon , eastern Salaga area , German Samoa ). With the exception of the Tsingtau naval base , these were more of a symbolic meaning. However, several major uprisings and colonial scandals also attracted attention and sometimes heated discussions in Germany.

    In particular, the Herero and Nama uprisings in South West Africa (1904–1907) and the Maji Maji uprising (1905–1908) in East Africa killed thousands and thousands of Africans. The policy under State Secretary Bernhard Dernburg was supposed to usher in a new form of German colonialism. Investments have now been made in colonial infrastructure, such as health, communications and transportation. Due to the outbreak of the First World War and the subsequent cession of the colonies, however, this development only had a rudimentary effect. As a colonial revisionism , colonialism remained an important trend in German politics even in the interwar period . During the Nazi era , the Colonial Political Office worked out plans for the return of German colonies. Since the Second World War, however, German colonialism has been less present in science and the media.


    Russian expansion between 1533 and 1896

    Russia's colonial aspirations were primarily directed towards Central Asia ; so from the establishment of the Moscow Empire and with the establishment of tsarism, the Russian state territory was expanded to the east via Siberia . In the middle of the 19th century it even reached as far as Alaska in North America . There were bases south as far as California . Since the era of Tsar Peter I , Russia saw itself as a major European power and began to get involved in the southern direction. There it encountered the spheres of interest of Great Britain ( British India ) and the Ottoman Empire ( Black Sea ). This led to the "Great Game" with Great Britain for supremacy in Central Asia. The Holy Alliance broke up in armed conflicts over the outskirts of the crumbling Ottoman Empire . After the Crimean War , Russia had to cede the Danube Delta and southern Bessarabia to the Principality of Moldova in the Peace of Paris of 1856 , as well as give up the protectorate over the Danube principalities that Russian troops had occupied in 1853. It also had to commit to demilitarizing the Black Sea and Åland Islands . In the Russo-Japanese War of 1904/1905 Russia tried in vain to take Japan's hegemony in Manchuria and Korea . His defeat was one of the precipitating factors in the Russian Revolution of 1905 .

    Soviet Union

    After the October Revolution of 1917, the Russian empire largely broke up in the civil war and was essentially limited to the greater Russian core area. Poland , Finland , the Baltic states and, for a short time, the Ukraine separated from Russia in 1918 and 1919 and became independent states. Russian inland colonies such as B. Armenia , Azerbaijan , Baltic states , Kazakhstan , Kyrgyzstan , Bessarabia , Tajikistan , Turkmenistan , Uzbekistan or Belarus usually achieved the status of an autonomous republic after the October Revolution. The background was the inclusion in the party program of the now ruling Bolsheviks of the point “ Right of peoples to self-determination up to secession and formation of an independent state” . The pre-national order of the tsarist empire should be replaced by a proletarian post-national order, whereby the phase of the nation-state should be skipped.

    The right of the peoples to self-determination was already used by Lenin as a “tactical weapon” in the sense of the Bolshevik retention of power and by Stalin , who headed the People's Commissariat for Nationality Issues until 1923 , handled it as required. For example, with the help of the Russian military, the Islamic government in Kokand, Uzbekistan , was eliminated in 1918 , as was the independence of Christian Georgia in 1921 . It was only after the collapse of the Soviet Union that many of the former Russian inland colonies and all of the successor states of the Soviet Union achieved state independence.

    Late forms and end of colonialism

    The race for Africa

    Colonies in Africa (1914)

    The race between the European colonial powers for territorial possession in Africa ( Scramble for Africa ), which began around 1880, is one of the manifestations characteristic of the age of imperialism . Before 1875, major European dominions existed only north of the Sahara and in South Africa. Otherwise, the European presence on this continent was essentially limited to trading bases near the coast. By the beginning of the First World War in 1914, the European powers expanded their colonial holdings by more than 23 million km². Apart from Ethiopia and Liberia , there were no longer any independent territories in Africa; instead, alongside British and French colonies, there were also German, Portuguese, Spanish, Italian and Belgian colonies. The motives that drove the race for Africa forward are multi-layered. In addition to economic, geopolitical and missionary interests, national prestige, thirst for research and thirst for adventure are used in different weightings to explain. The spreading ideology of racial superiority was underpinned by the now obsolete Hamite theory , which denied the ruled peoples the ability to govern themselves.

    After the French established a protectorate in Tunisia in 1881 and after the British occupation of Egypt in the course of the suppression of the Urabi uprising in 1882, the Congo became an object of colonial desires, which, in addition to the two established colonial powers, was particularly cherished by the Belgian King Leopold II . When the activities of France, Belgium and Portugal in the mouth of the Congo evoked the danger of war, Chancellor Otto von Bismarck offered to mediate at the Congo Conference in Berlin (1884/85). In the meantime, colonial interests (see above) in and in Africa had also arisen in the German Empire. The Berlin conference guaranteed freedom of trade in the Congo area for all 14 signatory powers and generally stipulated that only the power that actually took possession of it should have the right to acquire a colony (principle of effectiveness ). This decision formed the basis for the significantly accelerated division of Africa into colonies by the European powers in the years that followed.

    After the suppression of the Mahdi uprising in Sudan by the Anglo-Egyptian Nile Expeditionary Force under Horatio Herbert Kitchener , the Faschoda crisis in 1898 raised the risk of a military confrontation between the colonial powers France and Great Britain. Here French claims to the territory of Sudan collided - in order to establish a territorial connection to the Red Sea and thus to create an east-west belt from Djibouti to Dakar - with British efforts to control the Nile valley and the vision of a north-south -Connecting from Cairo to the Cape of Good Hope . With the Sudan Treaty of 1899, the two powers reconciled their colonial spheres of interest in Africa, which ended the race and opened the way to the subsequent Entente cordiale . Even after that there were critical tensions and disputes over colonial claims in Africa between Great Britain, Germany, France, Belgium and Portugal, which were no longer reflected in fundamental changes to the colonial borders until 1914.

    The First World War as a turning point

    Historical mandate areas in Africa and the Middle East:
    1. Syria (French),
    2. Lebanon (French),
    3. Palestine (British),
    4. Transjordan (British),
    5. Iraq (British),
    6. Togoland (British),
    7. Togoland (French),
    8th Cameroon (British),
    9th Cameroon (French),
    10th Rwanda-Urundi (Belgian),
    11th Tanganyika (British) and
    12th Southwest -Africa (South Africa).

    With the First World War there were shifts and new developments in colonial policy. Soon after the outbreak of war, the German Empire lost its non-defensible possessions in West and South West Africa to the Entente Powers and the South African Union allied with them . Only France deployed African soldiers - first volunteers, then also forcibly recruited in the colonies - to reinforce their own front against Germany throughout the war, often in particularly dangerous sections or in the front line when attacking heavily fortified German positions. In the Treaty of Versailles , the former German colonies were formally assigned to the victorious powers only as mandate areas of the League of Nations ; In fact, however, this regulation meant that France rounded off its West African colonial empire and Great Britain in East Africa now achieved the long-planned continuous north-south connection through its own colonial territory.

    One of the significant consequences of the First World War was that the United States, as a naval power, had caught up with Great Britain. But not only these World War allies, but also Japan, with its colonial ambitions, strived for the role of a first-rate sea power. A naval arms race, as before between Germany and Great Britain, was now avoided: In the Washington Agreement , the five main sea powers agreed maximum tonnage figures for their battleship construction, with the USA and Great Britain at the top, followed by Japan and France and Italy, who also had the same total tonnage . Above all, India as the center of British colonial interests appeared secure, especially since Hong Kong and Singapore were developed into fortresses as outposts.

    The independence of the British colonies, which were self-governing as Dominions and mostly populated by European settlers - including Canada, Australia and New Zealand - gained further ground in close military alliance with the mother country during the First World War, as stated in the Balfour Declaration of 1926 and in the Statute of Westminster in 1931 was also set down in writing. The prospect of such a Dominion status could also have contributed in India's struggle for independence under Mahatma Gandhi to carry out the resistance against the British colonial regime largely non-violently .

    The French colonialism of the interwar period in the 1920s and 1930s no longer propagated assimilation in the same way as it did in the 19th century. Since after the phase of colonial expansion there were almost as many yellow, brown and black "French" as white, a consequent assimilation now turned out to be utopian. As a consequence, the concept of assimilation was replaced by a politics of association , in which the colored colonized - apart from selected persons willing to adapt - but not as "citizens" ( Citoyens ), but as "subjects" ( subjects ).

    From an economic point of view, the colonial- political course was also set anew after the First World War. While colonialism for France and Great Britain before 1914 - despite the sometimes high profits of individual companies and speculators - was rather a losing business because of the costs of the military and administrative bureaucracy in the colonies, it now began due to investments in the colonial infrastructure, especially France undertook to pay for the mother countries. The major railroad construction was followed by the expansion of country roads, which also opened up remote areas for truck traffic and stimulated the local haulage business. At the same time, the foundations were laid for a new logistics system for securing colonial rule, as military units could be transported more quickly and easily to trouble spots. In addition, there were the new possibilities of aerial surveillance and air strikes. The fact that export production from the coastal regions extended further and further into the inland by means of new transport routes resulted in an increasingly profitable boom in the colonial export economy.

    As a new colonial power with-reaching ambitions sought in the interwar period , the fascist Italy to establish. Libya , which was annexed as a colony by Italy in 1911 but could not be held during the World War, was recaptured in years of fighting until 1932. In 1936, Ethiopia was conquered in an undisguised war of aggression using not only the tank and air force, but also poison gas . The North African colonies in Libya and Cyrenaica were mainly used by Mussolini as settlements for the Italian population surplus: By 1939, 120,000 Italians had settled there, mainly as agricultural colonists and wine growers.

    The end of the colonial era

    The era of colonialism in the narrower sense came to an end in the decades after the Second World War , when, according to Boris Barth, "destroyed and bled-out Europe" was no longer able to afford the restoration of colonial rule. The new constellations gradually emerged; for the British, French and Dutch had initially regained their possessions in Asia, which had been lost to Japan in the Pacific War , with the help of the USA , while they had maintained their positions in Africa and in the Middle East .

    Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Mahatma Gandhi , the main leaders of the Indian independence movement

    For Great Britain, whose "crown jewel" British India had already pushed for independence in the interwar period, large parts of its colonial empire were surrendered in the second half of the 1940s, when India, Pakistan and Burma gained independence - albeit around the The price of bloody confrontations and excesses of violence between Hindus and Muslims as a result of the division . The emancipation efforts of the British colonies in Africa in the 1950s and 1960s offered the prospect of self-governance coupled with economic and political stability and the possibility of remaining in the British Commonwealth of Nations . “Seen in this way,” wrote Franz Ansprenger , “after the Second World War England did not dismantle an empire, but rather established a new Commonwealth.” British retreat was associated with the idea of ​​heading towards a better and healthier world order and having the weaker European ones Colonial powers France, the Netherlands and Belgium were forced to act in this regard.

    The decolonization process that took place in the post-war decades nevertheless proceeded in a specific manner, depending on factors such as the strength and forms of action of the colonial liberation movements , the willingness of colonial regimes and settlers to use violence, the colonial economic interests and decisions in the metropolises and mother countries as well as the influence of outsiders , especially the now superpowers USA and USSR . For example, the long drawn-out British retreat in some places was less than the French one under pressure from national liberation movements that forced decisions.

    The Vietnamese flag flies over the French command bunker at Dien Bien Phu

    France's military engagement ( Indochina War ) to restore colonial rule in Indochina failed due to the strong resistance of the Vietnamese independence movement under the leadership of Hồ Chí Minh , which was supported by the USSR with arms supplies in the Indochina War and the French armed forces suffered a decisive defeat in the 1954 Battle of Điện Biên Phủ taught. France's role as a colonial power in Indochina came to an end; In his place as the opponent of the Việt Minh , the USA stepped up in continuation of its anti-communist containment policy , which later led to the Vietnam War .

    Only with the support of the USA could the Netherlands in Indonesia have successfully regained the colonial territory that had been lost to the Japanese and that had been in need of independence in the post-war period. The US now rejected conventional colonialism; After the capitulation of Japan, they renounced the restoration of their own colonial rule over the Philippines and demanded the same elsewhere. Under pressure from the United States and the United Nations , the Netherlands gave up its colonial restitution efforts by 1950, including New Guinea in 1962 .

    In the “African year” of 1960, 18 colonies in Africa, including 14 French, two British, one Italian and the Congo, which was under Belgian colonial rule, gained independence, the latter within only half a transitional year. The new government was formed after an election with a relatively high turnout (81.79%); the post-colonial Congo, however, already proved to be less stable and endangered by secession movements. Patrice Lumumba became the first prime minister; he was overthrown in a military coup on September 14, 1960 ( Congo crisis ) and murdered in January 1961.

    Barricades in Algiers; the banner reads “Vive Massu ”, January 1960

    The decolonization of Algeria, which was considered an integral part of France, was particularly contested and protracted . The 1954 started Algerian war ended only in 1962 with the Algerian from the National Liberation Front (FLN) - with high numbers of casualties, especially on the part of the Algerians - acquired independence, while Morocco and Tunisia had acquired in 1956 independence from France. Since then there have been half a million French soldiers in Algeria, and with them the majority of the French army. The political upheavals associated with the Algerian war brought about the end of the Fourth French Republic and the renewed appointment of Charles de Gaulle to the head of state, who worked towards a mutually acceptable Algérie Algérienne over a period of several years .

    The early colonial powers Portugal and Spain had already lost or given up their Latin American colonial possessions in the 19th century. The end of traditional colonialism is also linked to Portugal, which gave up its African colonies and East Timor after the 1974 Carnation Revolution . The British colony of Hong Kong in 1997 and the Portuguese colony of Macau in 1999 were the last stragglers to be released from European colonial rule.

    An overview of the countries involved and affected

    Colonial powers of the late Middle Ages

    Colonial powers of the colonial era

    Classic European colonial powers with non-European colonies:

    Other colonial powers of the colonial era:

    Semi-colonial powers of the colonial era

    European nations that tried in vain to acquire (except) European colonies permanently:

    Half-colonies of the colonial era

    Some non-European countries and regions were only partially or only for a short time (some not at all) subject to colonial rule. In addition to direct colonial rule, colonial powers also took advantage of “unequal contracts” that were imposed and resulted in a form of indirect rule. This affected z. B .:

    Historical-political classification

    2006 Congolese polling station under Finnish guard.

    What differentiated early modern European colonialism from other historical forms of expansion and forms of empire formation was the resulting global network that, as the expansion progressed, extended across all continents and with the world system of conquest at the same time a world system - albeit with very different regional structures of commerce. While the Europeans initially only assumed the role of a junior partner with niches in the context of developed trade in Asian trade, Africa, America and, most recently, Australia and New Zealand, each with less well-trained trade networks, became all the more dependent on European trade interests.

    Before and after the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, the colonial competition between the great powers reached its climax. One truth, but not the whole, according to Ansprenger, was expressed by Lenin in 1916 in the book “ Imperialism as the highest stage of capitalism ” in Chapter VI: “The more developed capitalism, the more tangible the shortage of raw materials, the more pronounced it is Competition and the hunt for raw material sources all over the world are, the more bitter the struggle for the acquisition of colonies is. "

    According to Osterhammel, the decolonization in the 20th century was part of the transition to a new world state system, which until the "great upheaval" 1989–1991 was characterized by 1. the global confrontation of the Eastern Bloc and the states of the Western Alliance , 2. the turning back of the ( Western) European great powers on their European concerns, 3. the emergence of many post-colonial states, which turned either to the western or the eastern camp, 4. relative strengthening of international organizations, especially the UN , 5. ideological ostracism of colonialism (in the case of international partly persistent racial discrimination ).

    Modern colonial features

    The colonialist relationships of dependency were generally determined by the claim of the colonists or colonial powers to rule over the colonized. From the claim of superiority, the colonial rulers derived the right to bring “ civilization ” to the culturally “backward” peoples . While the British spoke of civilizing mission , the French term was mission civilisatrice and the German culture mission . Basically the same thing was meant: "Human happiness through the European model of civilization." So what was done was adaptation to the norms and customs of Europeans. With the centuries of the European slave trade and the keeping of slaves, according to Götz Großklaus , the white perpetrators have “impressed a multitude of racist behavior and judgment stereotypes”, while the black victims have “the trauma of their deportation, their social and mental 'placelessness'”. burned into the collective memory. It is disastrous "not to take note of the power of the collective memory of 'the damned of this earth' and not to take it into account in political action - not even if an ever-present virulent racism should make it necessary."

    In contrast to the Greek colonization in Hellenism , for example , European colonialism was far from favoring a cultural synthesis . Even the earliest Spanish and English colonial theorists stylized the conquests as a heathen - proselytizing as part of a divine plan of salvation or the "civilization" of the " barbarians ". The later American and Japanese colonialism also made use of such broadcast ideological rhetoric . Other high cultures , such as B. also the Chinese , were also convinced of their superiority, but did not go over to impose it on their neighbors. Whether Zionism can be viewed as a form of colonialism is a highly controversial and politically charged question that comes up again and again in the context of the Middle East conflict .

    Not every foreign rule was seen as illegitimate . The Ottoman rule over Egypt between 1517 and 1798 was recognized by large parts of the native, Arabic-speaking population. The foreignness of the language was less decisive than the common belief and the associated binding force of Islamic rules of the just government. The Coptic population did not care what non-Christian power ruled over them - for the Copts, the original Mamluk rulers were just as illegitimate as the Ottomans.

    Entanglement with imperialism

    Since the 19th century, a discussion about the necessity of border colonization towards the neighboring Slavs has been held, especially in Prussia , in which the south-east to the Black Sea came into a “Greater German” field of vision via Austria (see German border colonialism ). Forced colonialism and imperialism went hand in hand at times, quite clearly in the race to divide Africa . In this context, colonial politics became an associated factor in world politics , and colonies became objects of negotiation in the power play of the rival great powers. In addition, imperial powers (such as the British Empire of the 19th and 20th centuries) had an economic and political influence that sometimes extended far beyond their own colonies . One of the far-reaching global consequences of colonialism was not least the spread of the European concept of the state, sometimes combined with absurd side effects. In French colonies, for example, Africans were allowed to repeat phrases like: "My ancestors, the Gauls ..."

    Eduard Bernstein 1895

    The workers' parties in the industrialized countries of the West were almost unanimously skeptical or even strictly negative about colonialism. The social democrat Rudolf Hilferding classified it as a consequence of developed monopoly capitalism , which was aimed at the creation of extensive economic and exploitation areas. With the inevitable clash of capitalist interests among the rival states, the historic hour of the proletariat and the workers' movement strikes . Even Rosa Luxembourg sat out that the collapse of capitalism and the existing social order will only be delayed by non-capitalist societies would be exploited using excess capital. In contrast to this, Eduard Bernstein advocated the idea that colonial powers should export democracy and progress to underdeveloped countries. Although Bernstein also rejected capitalist colonial policy in his work The Prerequisites for Socialism , published in 1899 , he advocated the thesis that a socialist society should also have colonies, albeit under the premise that the colonies would develop through the then socialist and democratic colonial states. Similarly, Karl Kautsky made a distinction between colonies of exploitation that were to be rejected and colonies that were more desirable in the sense of socialist work organization. Within the British Labor Party , George Bernard Shaw, under the influence of the Boer Wars at the beginning of the 20th century, took the view that if Britain annexed the Boer republics as a democratically developed nation it would serve to protect the black indigenous population from the white Boers .

    The western acculturation offers were accepted on various occasions by parts of the subjugated population groups . An English-speaking educated class developed in Bengal within a few decades. Merchants from the colonial population often adapted to international business practices out of their own interest in order to gain a foothold in new markets. Since the 19th century there has been “self-civilization” on a Western basis by non-European reform elites, who thus worked towards the preconditions for equality with European “model states” such as Great Britain and France.

    The poor broad masses, on the other hand, saw from afar “the glimmer of the dynamic colonial economic enclaves with their regular wage payments, cinemas and cars for the whites, bicycles for the colored ones,” says Ansprenger. “They saw this clearly enough to hope for positive social change for themselves too; but this hope never materialized. "

    Continuing impact on world history

    Many former colonies are now part of the so-called Third World : As developing countries , they have a significantly lower standard of living than the emerging and industrialized countries , some of which are also former colonies, for example Canada , Australia or South Korea . In contrast, other developing countries such as Liberia or Ethiopia were never colonies or were only colonies for a short time. There is no consensus in research about the connection between the development deficit and the colonial past. On the one hand, reference is made to the state of economic dependence on their former colonizers, in which many former colonies found themselves even after their independence. On the other hand, causes in the socio-political organization of these societies before their colonization can also be proven. Due to the definition of borders on the drawing board by the former colonial powers, tensions and armed conflicts arose again and again in Africa and the Middle East , as these borderlines had taken too little account of ethnic and religious-cultural contexts. The dependency theory sees the continued dependency of the former colonies as a main cause of the widespread poverty in them. Other development theories, on the other hand, see the causes in their mostly unfavorable geographical location ( geodeterminism ) or their failure in the formation of inclusive political and economic institutions designed for the benefit of the broadest possible sections of the population . According to the American political scientists Daron Acemoğlu and James A. Robinson, after decolonization , the new elites took over the extractive institutions of the colonial rulers, i.e. those aimed at exploiting the population, and channeled their returns into their own pockets, so that nothing changed about the poverty of the population.

    Aspects of today's culture and politics of former colonies and colonial countries that are related to the colonial past are summarized under the term post-colonialism . An essential finding of postcolonialism research is that the postcolonial situation not only shapes the culture, politics and everyday life of the former colonies, but that it is also reflected in the former colonial countries - e. B. with regard to immigration from former colonies in metropolitan areas such as London , Paris or Brussels .

    More recent efforts to create colonialist power structures are known as neocolonialism . According to Jürgen Osterhammel, manifestations of this do not appear today in connection with Europe, but primarily within the Third World. Examples of this are China's “almost flawless colonial policy” in Tibet - including settler invasion and broadcast ideological justification - and Morocco's policy in the Western Sahara . The comparative theory of colonialism and imperialism is facing its greatest challenge in the historical interpretation of the former multi-ethnic state of the Soviet Union with regard to the concepts of colonization and decolonization.

    Anti-colonialism refers to both criticism of (neo) colonialism and resistance to (neo) colonialism.

    The resistance against colonialism as a striving for liberation by the government of the imperial powers over the conquered, subjugated and exploited colonies can be regarded as successfully concluded, because the " colonies " formerly affected by the European, later also North American and Japanese expansion have been largely " state " since 1990 at the latest independent ", in the political sense" decolonized ". Likewise, decisive criticism of colonialist thinking and acting, e.g. B. on condescending colonial attitudes or on racist and imperialist practices nowadays general consensus. Insofar as this criticism was and is mostly presented by intellectuals (ethnologists, anthropologists, sociologists, theologians, historians) of the (formerly) colonizing countries, it often remains trapped in ethnocentric, especially Eurocentric values.

    The most important and topical thing to consider is the anti-colonialist criticism of the colonized themselves. It was and above all: it is at the same time practiced resistance. Today this resistance applies on the one hand to active neo-colonialism: neo-colonialism means the control of resources and markets, but also of e.g. B. Media and culture as they are currently not only, but still, operated by foreign state powers. In particular, the expansive China is joining the state "colonial powers" with new practices of colonization. After the Second World War and even more so in the 21st century, the colonizing or neo-colonialist forces in different regions each have their own highly complex dynamics. B. in the Arab world with the spread of Islamist totalitarianism supported by competing states , or in the world of the post-Soviet states , where, for example, in the Ukraine the EU and Russia can be perceived as competing " hegemonic " state powers.

    From a Western perspective , neocolonialist control is operated by modern economic powers, especially by large corporations and global economic institutions (e.g. IMF, World Bank, WTO) more than by states and is not necessarily linked to the former colonial powers, but mostly works directly with them domestic elites together. In this case in particular, the resistance of the colonized must already be adapted to the basic economic and social conditions, which in turn are neo-colonialist. But even in general, “pre-colonial” resistance against neocolonialism is hardly conceivable today.

    On the other hand , anti-colonial criticism and resistance of the colonized is directed at the latent systemic consequences of colonialism. For colonialism does not only continue to work actively and economically as neocolonialism through state and economic powers. Despite the long-standing successful decolonization, it also works passively and subtly as a systemic influence on culture and social structure, as a colonization of the living environment and environment, e.g. B. through (sometimes just continuing) enforcement of capitalist structures or Eurocentric (Christian or Enlightenment or humanistic) values ​​or through racist prejudices or through the dominant establishment of technical advances and Western education or even through ecological imperialism . This globally extremely diverse systemic continued effect of colonization in lifeworlds, cultures and societies, which is researched and described in sociology under terms such as modernization or westernization , requires more complex answers with regard to the possibilities and realities of anti-colonialist resistance. Such answers are given, among other things, in the discourse on post-colonialism and cultural imperialism . Opportunities for “pre-colonial” resistance are also seen, e. B. Refusal attitudes that can be based on the pre-colonial world. Erwin Aschenbrenner , for example, with his attempt to explicitly formulate “elements of an anti-colonialist cultural theory”, refers to the “enabling space” of traditional culture and education, which can enable colonized people and societies to resist and refuse attitudes.

    See also


    Web links

    Commons : Colonial Atlas  - album with pictures, videos and audio files
    Wiktionary: Colonialism  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
    Wiktionary: Colonial times  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
    Wikisource: Colonialism  - Sources and Full Texts

    Individual evidence

    1. Osterhammel 1995, pp. 19-21.
    2. Hans Köchler: Democracy and the new world order: ideological claim and power-political reality of a regulatory discourse. AG Science and Politics, 1992, pp. 9, 26.
    3. Pelizaeus 2008, p. 20; Osterhammel 1995, p. 14.
    4. Osterhammel 1995, p. 9.
    5. Pelizaeus 2008, p. 21.
    6. Pelizaeus 2008, p. 20; Osterhammel 1995, pp. 11 and 14.
    7. Osterhammel 1995, p. 15; Pelizaeus 2008, p. 20 f.
    8. Pelizaeus 2008, pp. 40 and 42 f.
    9. Pelizaeus 2008, p. 122 f.
    10. Pelizaeus 2008, pp. 132-138.
    11. Christian Koller: The race for Africa. Economic and political motives in dividing the continent. In: Boris Barth et al .: The Age of Colonialism. Stuttgart 2007, p. 76.
    12. Koller 2007, ibid.
    13. Osterhammel 1995, p. 80.
    14. Significant in this context is the word of D'Estournelles de Constant in the French parliament in 1899: "Il ya deux choses dans la politique coloniale: d'abord la joie des conquêtes et ensuite la carte à payer." Franz Ansprenger: Dissolution of the colonial empires (=  dtv world history of the 20th century , vol. 13), dtv, 4th edition, Munich 1981, p. 22 f.
    15. ^ Franz Ansprenger: Dissolution of the Colonial Empires , dtv, 4th edition, Munich, pp. 22 f. And 26.
    16. Osterhammel 1995, p. 88.
    17. Hans Werner Debrunner: Swiss in colonial Africa. Basler Afrika Bibliographien, Basel 1991, ISBN 3-905141-51-5 .
    18. Maya Brändli: How two zoologists from Basel brought colonial treasures to Switzerland. In: Swiss Radio and Television (SRF). March 26, 2014, accessed October 5, 2016 .
    19. Anneliese Tenisch: The black side of Neuchâtel. Swiss Radio and Television SRF, November 1, 2013, accessed on October 5, 2016 .
    20. Maya Brändli: Swiss Colonial History: Searching for Traces in the Troublesome. In: Swiss Radio and Television (SRF). March 16, 2015, accessed October 5, 2016 .
    21. Jürgen Osterhammel: On dealing with the "other". Civilization missions - in Europe and beyond. In: Boris Barth et al .: The Age of Colonialism. Stuttgart 2007, p. 45.
    22. Jürgen Osterhammel: On dealing with the "other". Civilization missions - in Europe and beyond. In: Boris Barth et al .: The Age of Colonialism. Stuttgart 2007, p. 47.
    23. ^ Franz Ansprenger: Dissolution of the Colonial Empires , dtv, Munich 1981, p. 8.
    24. Jürgen Osterhammel: On dealing with the "other". Civilization missions - in Europe and beyond. In: Boris Barth et al .: The Age of Colonialism. Stuttgart 2007, p. 47 f.
    25. Osterhammel 1995, p. 113.
    26. Jürgen Osterhammel: On dealing with the "other". Civilization missions - in Europe and beyond. In: Boris Barth et al .: The Age of Colonialism. Stuttgart 2007, p. 46.
    27. Osterhammel 1995, p. 115 f.
    28. Osterhammel 1995, p. 116.
    29. Jürgen Osterhammel: On dealing with the "other". Civilization missions - in Europe and beyond. In: Boris Barth et al .: The Age of Colonialism. Stuttgart 2007, pp. 50 and 52.
    30. See: Peter Feldbauer: Mediterranean Colonialism. Magnus-Verlag, Essen 2005, ISBN 3-88400-600-2 .
    31. Pelizaeus 2008, p. 65.
    32. Pelizaeus 2008, p. 83 f.
    33. Pelizaeus 2008, p. 102 ff.
    34. Pelizaeus 2008, p. 114.
    35. ^ The oldest share in the world: VOC 1606. In: Retrieved March 1, 2015 .
    36. Jürgen G. Nagel: suicide on Bali. A chapter of colonial history from the Dutch East Indies. In: Boris Barth et al .: The Age of Colonialism. Stuttgart 2007, p. 78.
    37. Nagel ibid, p. 79.
    38. Jürgen G. Nagel: suicide on Bali. A chapter of colonial history from the Dutch East Indies. In: Boris Barth et al .: The Age of Colonialism. Stuttgart 2007, p. 82.
    39. Pelizaeus 2008, p. 76 f.
    40. Michael Mann : Imperial style of rule. British India in the age of imperialism. In: Boris Barth et al .: The Age of Colonialism. Stuttgart 2007, p. 13.
    41. Pelizaeus 2008, p. 142.
    42. Osterhammel 1995, p. 42.
    43. Alexander Keese / Christian Windler : A large French family? Colonial ideology versus practice of domination - France in Africa. In: Boris Barth et al .: The Age of Colonialism. Stuttgart 2007, p. 21 f.
    44. Pelizaeus 2008, p. 218; Alexander Keese / Christian Windler: A large French family? Colonial ideology versus practice of domination - France in Africa. In: Boris Barth et al .: The Age of Colonialism. Stuttgart 2007, p. 23.
    45. Alexander Keese / Christian Windler: A large French family? Colonial ideology versus practice of domination - France in Africa. In: Boris Barth et al .: The Age of Colonialism. Stuttgart 2007, p. 24.
    46. Michael Fröhlich: Imperialism. German colonial and world politics 1880–1914 . dtv, Munich 1994, pp. 20-36.
    47. For the debate on Bismarck's motives, see Michael Stürmer : The restless Reich. Germany 1866-1918 . Siedler, Berlin 1994, p. 230 ff; Michael Fröhlich: Imperialism. German colonial and world politics 1880–1914 . dtv, Munich 1994, p. 38 f .; Hans-Ulrich Wehler : German history of society, Vol. 3: From the "German double revolution" to the beginning of the First World War 1845 / 49-1914 . CH Beck, Munich 1995, pp. 980-990; Winfried Speitkamp : German colonial history . Reclam, Stuttgart 2005, p. 23 ff.
    48. ^ Sebastian Conrad: German colonial history . Munich: CH Beck, 2008, ISBN 978-3-406-56248-8 .
    49. Winfried Speitkamp: German Colonial History . Stuttgart: Reclam, 2005, ISBN 3-15-017047-8 .
    50. Horst founder: History of the German colonies . UTB, Stuttgart 2012, ISBN 978-3-8252-3639-7 .
    51. Dominic Johnson speaks of a "colonial amnesia " of the Germans. (Dominic Johnson: Colonial Amnesia. Die Tageszeitung , January 17-18, 2004. p. 11.)
    52. ^ Andreas Kappeler, Russia as a multi-ethnic state , Munich 2001, p. 300.
    53. “In Russian Asia, only the formal independence of some Soviet republics remained of the promised right to self-determination, which was prudently divided according to 'tribalistic' principles; plus a bit of cultural autonomy to make the political and social supremacy of the Russians more palatable. ”Franz Ansprenger: Dissolution of the colonial empires . dtv, Munich 1981, p. 142 f.
    54. Christian Koller : The race for Africa. Economic and political motives in dividing the continent. In: Boris Barth et al .: The Age of Colonialism. Stuttgart 2007, p. 69 f.
    55. Christian Koller: The race for Africa. Economic and political motives in dividing the continent. In: Boris Barth et al .: The Age of Colonialism. Stuttgart 2007, p. 74.
    56. Boris Barth: The turning point of the First World War. Wedding and decolonization of the colonial empires. In: Ders. Et al .: The Age of Colonialism. Stuttgart 2007, p. 113.
    57. ^ Franz Ansprenger: Dissolution of the colonial empires . dtv, Munich 1981, p. 37.
    58. ^ Franz Ansprenger: Dissolution of the colonial empires. dtv, Munich 1981, p. 42 ff.
    59. ^ Franz Ansprenger: Dissolution of the colonial empires . dtv, Munich 1981, p. 82.
    60. Boris Barth: The turning point of the First World War. Wedding and decolonization of the colonial empires. In: Ders. Et al .: The Age of Colonialism. Stuttgart 2007, p. 115.
    61. Osterhammel 1995, p. 43.
    62. ^ Franz Ansprenger: Dissolution of the colonial empires . dtv, Munich 1981, pp. 122-129.
    63. Boris Barth: The turning point of the First World War. Wedding and decolonization of the colonial empires. In: Ders. Et al .: The Age of Colonialism. Stuttgart 2007, p. 117.
    64. Osterhammel 1995, p. 120.
    65. ^ Franz Ansprenger: Dissolution of the colonial empires . dtv, Munich 1981, p. 162.
    66. Jürgen Osterhammel 1995, p. 119 f.
    67. Franz Ansprenger: Dissolution of the Colonial Empire , dtv, 4th ed. 1981, pp. 259–263; Boris Barth: The turning point of the First World War. Wedding and decolonization of the colonial empires. In: Ders. Et al .: The Age of Colonialism. Stuttgart 2007, p. 118.
    68. ^ Franz Ansprenger: Dissolution of the colonial empires. dtv, 4th edition, 1981, p. 270 f.
    69. ^ Franz Ansprenger: Dissolution of the Colonial Empires , dtv, 4th edition, 1981, p. 236 f.
    70. ^ Franz Ansprenger: Dissolution of the Colonial Empire Munich , 4th edition, 1981, p. 247; Boris Barth: The turning point of the First World War. Wedding and decolonization of the colonial empires. In: Ders. Et al .: The Age of Colonialism. Stuttgart 2007, p. 120 f.
    71. "Colonialism as an expression of European world domination ended its historical cycle in the third quarter of the 20th century," says Osterhammel. ( Jürgen Osterhammel 1995, p. 124)
    72. Pelizaeus 2008, p. 11 f.
    73. Quotation from Franz Ansprenger: Dissolution of the Colonial Empires Munich , 4th edition, 1981, p. 13.
    74. Osterhammel 1995: p. 120 f.
    75. Jürgen Osterhammel: On dealing with the "other". Civilization missions - in Europe and beyond. In: Boris Barth et al .: The Age of Colonialism. Stuttgart 2007, p. 46.
    76. Großklaus 2017, pp. 191 and 202.
    77. Osterhammel 1995: p. 20.
    78. Here Osterhammel sees features of colonialism for the areas occupied by Israel in 1967 with a Palestinian majority, but not "fully developed systems" of colonial rule. (Osterhammel 1995: p. 123)
    79. See Osterhammel 1995, p. 19.
    80. Marlene P. Hiller in the foreword to: Boris Barth et al .: The Age of Colonialism. Stuttgart 2007, p. 7.
    81. Christian Koller: The race for Africa. Economic and political motives in dividing the continent. In: Boris Barth et al .: The Age of Colonialism. Stuttgart 2007, p. 70.
    82. ^ Karl Kautsky: Socialist colonial policy. Die Neue Zeit No. 28/1909, pp. 33–43.
    83. ^ Bernard Shaw: Fabianism and the Empire. A Manifest by the Fabian Society, London 1900.
    84. Jürgen Osterhammel: On dealing with the "other". Civilization missions - in Europe and beyond. In: Boris Barth et al .: The Age of Colonialism. Stuttgart 2007, p. 52 f.
    85. ^ Franz Ansprenger: Dissolution of the Colonial Empires Munich , 4th edition, 1981, p. 27.
    86. ^ Hans-Peter Müller et al .: Atlas of Pre-Colonial Societies
    87. Andreas Boeckh: Development Theories . In: Dieter Nohlen (Ed.): Lexicon of Politics, Volume 1: Political Theories. Directmedia, Berlin 2004, p. 70 ff.
    88. Daron Acemoğlu and James A. Robinson: Why Nations Fail . The origins of power, wealth and poverty . S. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 2013, pp. 118–125.
    89. Osterhammel 1995, p. 122 f.
    90. Erwin Aschenbrenner : Culture - Colonialism - Creative Denial: Elements of an anti-colonialist cultural theory . Breitenbach, Saarbrücken / Fort Lauderdale 1990, ISBN 3-88156-467-5 ( table of contents [PDF; 184 kB ; accessed on April 18, 2021] plus dissertation, University of Regensburg).