Portal:Colonialism

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THE COLONIALISM PORTAL

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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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Streets of Hong Kong, 1865.

In the 19th century the British, Dutch, French, Indians and Americans saw Imperial China as the world's largest untapped market. In 1840 the British Empire launched their first and one of the most aggressive expeditionary forces to claim the territory that would later be known as Hong Kong. In a few decades, Hong Kong was transformed from rocky undeveloped mountainous terrain to a major entrepot for global trade. Through the First and Second Opium Wars and the series of treaties that followed, the British were able to legitimately claim the territory until 1997. Early social and economic problems existed in the colony, as there were drastic differences between Eastern and Western philosophy and culture. Nonetheless, Hong Kong seized the opportunity to become one of the first parts of East Asia to industrialise and modernise.

One observer summed up the decades as "politics, propaganda, panic, rumour, riot, revolution and refugees". The role of Hong Kong as a political safe haven for Chinese political refugees further cemented its status, and few serious attempts to revert its ownership were launched in the early 20th century. Both Chinese Communist and Nationalist agitators found refuge in the territory, when they did not actively participate in the turmoil in China. However, the dockworkers strikes in the 1920s and 1930s were widely attributed to the Communists by the authorities, and caused a backlash against them. A strike in 1920 was ended with a wage increase of HKD 32 cents.

When modern China began after the fall of the last dynasty, one of the first political statements made in Hong Kong was the immediate change from long queue hairstyles to short haircuts. In 1938, Guangzhou fell to the hands of the Japanese, Hong Kong was considered a strategic military outpost for all trades in the far east. Though Winston Churchill assured that Hong Kong was an "impregnable fortress", it was taken as a reality check response since the British Army actually stretched too thin to battle on two fronts.

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Selassie restored.jpg
Credit: American Colony (Jerusalem). Photo Dept., photographer.

Italy, upon invading Ethiopia, declared a new "Italian Empire". The League of Nations afforded Haile Selassie the opportunity to address the assembly, causing Italy to withdraw its League delegation, on 12 May 1936.

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All Saints Church

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Pedro Álvares Cabra

Pedro Álvares Cabral (c. 1467 or 1468 – c. 1520) was a Portuguese noble, military commander, navigator and explorer. Cabral conducted the first substantial exploration of the northeast coast of South America and claimed it for Portugal. While details of Cabral's early life are sketchy, it is known that he came from a minor noble family and received a fine education. He was appointed to head an expedition to India in 1500, following Vasco da Gama's newly opened route around Africa. The object of the undertaking was to return with valuable spices and to establish trade relations in India—bypassing the monopoly on the spice trade then in the hands of Arab, Turkish and Italian merchants. His fleet of 13 ships sailed far into the western Atlantic Ocean, perhaps intentionally, where he made landfall on what he initially assumed to be a large island. As the new land was within the Portuguese sphere according to the Treaty of Tordesillas, Cabral claimed it for the Portuguese Crown. He explored the coast, realizing that the large land mass was likely a continent, and dispatched a ship to notify King Manuel I of the new territory. The continent was South America, and the land he had claimed for Portugal later came to be known as Brazil. The fleet reprovisioned and then turned eastward to resume the journey to India. Cabral was later passed over, possibly as a result of a quarrel with Manuel I, when a new fleet was assembled to establish a more robust presence in India. Having lost favor with the King, he retired to a private life of which few records survive. His accomplishments slipped into obscurity for more than 300 years. Nevertheless, although he was overshadowed by contemporary explorers, Cabral today is regarded as a major figure of the Age of Discovery.

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

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

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