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Showcased content about colonialism

The Pith helmet (in this case, of the Second French Empire) is an iconic representation of colonialism.

Colonialism is the building and maintaining of colonies in one territory by people from another territory. Colonialism is a process whereby sovereignty over the colony is claimed by the metropole and social structure, government and economics within the territory of the colony are changed by the colonists. Colonialism is a certain set of unequal relationships, between metropole and colony and between colonists and the indigenous population.

Colonialism normally refers to a period of history from the 15th to the 20th century when people from Europe established colonies on other continents. The reasons for the practice of colonialism at this time include:

Some colonists also felt they were helping the indigenous population by bringing them civilization. However, the reality was often subjugation, displacement or death. Colonialism and imperialism were ideologically linked with mercantilism.

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The Island of Formosa.

The Dutch pacification campaign on Formosa was a series of military actions and diplomatic moves undertaken in 1635 and 1636 by Dutch colonial authorities in Formosa (modern-day Taiwan), aimed at subduing hostile aboriginal villages in the south-western region of the island. Prior to the campaign the Dutch had been in Formosa for eleven years, but did not control much of the island beyond their principal fortress at Tayouan, and an alliance with the town of Sinkan. The other aboriginal villages in the area conducted numerous attacks on the Dutch and their allies, with the chief belligerents being the village of Mattau, who in 1629 ambushed and slaughtered a group of sixty Dutch soldiers. After receiving reinforcements from the colonial headquarters at Batavia, the Dutch launched an attack in 1635 and were able to crush opposition and bring the area around present-day Tainan fully under their control. After seeing Mattau and Soulang, the most powerful villages in the area, defeated so comprehensively, many other villages in the surrounding area came to the Dutch to seek peace and surrender sovereignty to the Europeans. Thus the Dutch were able to dramatically expand the extent of their territorial control in a short space of time, and avoid the need for further fighting. The end of the campaign came in February 1636, when representatives from twenty-eight villages attended a ceremony in Tayouan to cement Dutch sovereignty. The expanded territory provided fertile land, which the Dutch used imported Chinese labour to farm. The aboriginal villages also provided warriors to aid the Dutch in times of trouble, notably in the Lamey Island Massacre of 1636, the Dutch defeat of the Spanish in 1642 and the Guo Huaiyi Rebellion in 1652. The allied villages also provided opportunities for the Dutch missionaries to spread their faith. The pacification campaign is considered the foundation stone on which the later success of the colony was built.


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Filipino casualties on the first day of war.jpg
Credit: United States ARCWEB Archives

Filipino casualties on the first day of the Philippine-American War. Opposition to the war inspired Mark Twain to found the Anti-Imperialist League on 15 June 1898.

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Selected biography

The Ryukyu Islands, where explorers were sent by Andrade.

Captain Fernão Pires de Andrade (died September 1523) was a Portuguese merchant, pharmacist, and official diplomat under the explorer and Malacca governor Afonso de Albuquerque. His encounter with the Ming Dynasty in 1517—after initial contacts by Jorge Álvares and Rafael Perestrello in 1513 and 1516, respectively—marked the beginning of direct European commercial and diplomatic contact with China (following medieval trade communities and Marco Polo's travels). Although the mission was initially a success that led the embassy all the way to Beijing, relations were soon soiled by culminating events that led to an extremely negative impression of the Portuguese in China. This included acts of his brother Simão that enraged the Chinese, false reports of the Portuguese being cannibals of kidnapped Chinese children and true reports of their conquest of Malacca, a loyal Ming tributary vassal state. Normalized trade and relations between Portugal and the Ming Dynasty would not resume until the late 1540s and the 1557 establishment of Portuguese rule over Macau.

Andrade was referred to as a "Folangji" (佛郎機) in Ming dynastic archives. Folangji comes from Franques or Franks, which was a generic name the Muslims called Europeans since the Crusades, and which spawned the Indian-Southeast Asian term ferengi. The Chinese adopted the convention when they first thought the Portuguese were related to those Muslim guides and interpreters during Fernão's first encounter and before Europeans directly convened with Chinese.


Colonialism's rise and fall over the past 500 years.


This map shows Colonization's rise and fall over the past 500 years.


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