European Imperialism in Africa.docx

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15 Apr 2012

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January 18
European Imperialism in Africa
Known as the period of new imperialism because supposedly imperialism
becomes newly popular in this era
Africa was still largely not colonized in 1880, except for coastal regions
Fast forward to the eve of WWI and Africa is nearly completely colonized and
overrun by Europeans
Intellectual, Scientific, and Technological Origins
Darwin’s biological determinism marks an increasing belief that your biology
defines who you are and your potential
Very crude reasoning taking place through all aspects of European life
If you were to look at the academic discipline of criminology and its father,
Cesare Lombroso, you would find that criminology was seen as a result of
Just looking at someone’s physical characteristics, particularly their
physiognomy (large jaw, high cheekbones, flat nose, large chin, fleshy lips,
shifty eyes, pain insensitivity, long arms, etc.) could connote a criminal
Characteristics largely mirrored characteristics of what they deemed
‘inferior races’ such as Jews or Africans
The discovery of quinine as a prophylactic for malaria (could kill Europeans
at a rate of 50-60%) and the invention of the Maxim Gun made the conquest
of African societies much easier
In the Battle of Omdurman between British/Egyptian forces against
Sudanese, 25 000 Brits defeat Sudanese 60 000
o 11 000 Sudanese die, just 48 casualties for Brits/Egyptians
European Origins
Crisis of overproduction throughout highly industrialized Europe
o Drives down prices, lowers demand, and factories aren’t profitable
o Europeans end up looking for new markets to return to the
mercantilism that was found in the Americas in earlier centuries
Investments made into building infrastructure to drain colonies
Increased European rivalry may have been played out in Africa (e.g. the
Franco-Prussian War and the French loss of Alsace-Lorraine)
o French are constantly looking for some way to get these provinces
back (revanchism) right up to WWI
o French are not quite strong enough to challenge Germans in Europe,
so they channel nationalistic energies into Africa
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