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Political Science
POLI 227
Rex Brynen

JANUARY 30, 2012  Decolonization in Asia and Africa: Unlike in the Americas, where Europeanized populations led the struggle for independence, nationalist movements rooted in changed in local society were hastened by colonialism.  Anti-colonialism was in rural areas of Africa and Asia and supported by elites and peasants. Elites might lend support to anti-colonial reasons b/c their power was undermined by colonialism, they were excluded from power, they wanted to regain power, they wanted political power to equal their economic power, etc. (scholarly gentry of Vietnam, for example, were against French colonialism). They also could be co-opted elites (who benefited from colonialism), whether they were traditional or new elites. Peasant populations may support anti-colonial movements because they were harmed by colonial taxation policy, they may be upset at being marginalized, etc. Peasants don’t revolt easily (“they are busy surviving”) and may have a weaker sense of national identity because their economy, family, life are so tied to locality.  To have a successful revolt, mass resistance is required and the support of the peasants in important.  Anti-colonialism was also driven by alienated rural migrants, a small but growing working class, students, civil servants, professionals, petit bourgeoisie, and the bourgeoisie. These groups are often a result of the colonial rule (this is not the pre- colonial society→ it has been re-shaped by the colonial experience, especially in the cities where there is not education etc.)  Urbanization is also associated with an increased sense of national identity (people from many different backgrounds come together in one space, creates a new identity). That being said, not all anti-colonial movements were nationalist.  The upward mobility of the middle classes may cause anti-colonial tendencies (because they can rise so far in the working world→ no matter their skill level, Europeans are favoured and the indigenous people can never become part of the colonial administration).  This led to exposure to education and ideas, other social groups, technology, communication, organization, and the strengths and weaknesses of colonialism (ex. weaknesses→ they were arming the local population and recruiting to be part of the militia/army, they recruited minorities so they would be more willing to use force against the majority), and caused “linkage politics.”  Linkage politics→ taking different groups with different grievances (marginalized rural elite who want power, urban migrants who see the weakness of colonial rule, etc.) and trying to link them. This gave the anti-colonial movements a benefit because it was far easier to mobilize under the greater ideology of getting rid of foreigners (colonial rule) and self-determination. But when the colonial power leaves, they lose their common link).  Transitions to Independence: Protests Strikes Riots War of national liberation  Transitions to independence can be peaceful (left side of spectrum), which works best when the population has far greater numbers than the colonists (ex. India). On the other end of the spectrum, it can be very violent (ex. South Yemen against the British, Mozambique and Angola against the Portuguese→ which resulted in civil war in both countries, Vietnam and Algeria against the French). If it went as far as an uprising against the colonial power, the colonized group rarely wins, but the colonial usually realizes that the cost-benefit is changed and it isn’t worth it to be in the colony anymore. They weren’t won on the
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