IDSA01 Chapter 2 Notes.docx

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University of Toronto Scarborough
International Development Studies
Leslie Chan

IDSA01 Introduction to International Development Chapter 2-Imperialism and the Colonial Experience  the interactions between the Global North and South to exchange goods, ideas, people had been taking place through intermediaries, with merchants and traders, however this movement became routine in the fifteenth century with the “age of exploration” European Expansion and Conquest  the motives for expansion were born out of a competitive tension of Muslim neighbours with Southern Europe and from the economic desire of Europeans for more direct access to goods; the Portuguese and Spanish kingdoms had been established following the military reconquest of a territory Christian rulers seized from Muslim occupants and led to the discovery of the great wealth in Africa  the desire for direct trade with African and Asian societies, eliminating Muslim middlemen was fulfilled in the seaborne expansion in the sixteenth century, and Spain, Portugal, France, England and the Dutch leading to vast colonial possession in the Americas while increasing their holdings in Asia and Africa  arguable motives for burst of conquest and occupation towards end of nineteenth century:  the expansion of European empires was undertaken as part of a search for new markets, economic returns in Europe were dwindling and industrial capitalism had to search abroad for new investment opportunities and consumers  “Great Power” rivalry, especially Britain, France and Germany, drove Europe’s statesmen in a rush to seize territories as yet unclaimed in Southeast Asia and Africa  nationalist beliefs that all Europe countries held, a certain degree of prestige and sense of greatness that they believed was their due  “men on the spot” who made decisions to expand European activity and territorial claims even when such moves went beyond or ran counter to metropolitan policy  many definitions of imperialism but can be defined as: “a political and economic system by which wealthy and powerful states control the political and economic life of other societies,” also defined in common usage to “the era of European expansion that began in the sixteenth century, when first the Portuguese and the Spanish and then the English, French and Dutch created empires of trade in the Americas and Asia, and to a lesser extend, Africa”  Africa came under imperial control and colonization from the 1870s to 1914s in the period of “high imperialism”  neo-colonialism is by which the economies of formally independent countries remain subject to the control of others, often their former colonial rulers  similarly it is important to consider the context of colonialism in defining it, it is the “territorial conquest, occupation, and direct control of one country by another” Rival Empires of Trade  following the arrival of the Portuguese in South Asia, the English, Dutch and French followed in hopes to dislodge the Portuguese from the position of dominance they had established and created chartered companies (the Dutch and East India companies) in an effort to enlist private investment for expansionary activity  the rivals soon began to carve out areas of influence in different parts of the trade (actual goods versus regions) and the Mughal emperors (who were the recently risen rules of South Asia) benefited from this because the emperors could capitalize on the competition among them to demand better terms of trade  the Americas differed greatly from Asian, European arrival and imposed labour practices not only produced a staggering population collapse but diseases (such as smallpox) wiped out the Amerindian population who had to resistance to the virus  many Amerindian groups had a communitarian ethos and culture, which led at first at helping the European newcomers and their non-sedentary life and community organization led the Europeans to conclude the Amerindians were “uncivilized”  the Spanish enslaved indigenous people by thousands and worked them to death in mining gold and silver in their eagerness to acquire as much silver and gold bullion as possible and the death toll in some places resulted in near extinction  the Portuguese were meanwhile exporting and cultivating sugar and the exportation of African slaves (due to the decimated Amerindian population) to the Americas grew enormously for sugar production  contrastingly South Asian politics remained robust with interactions with agents of the European empire in both defense of local sovereignty and pursuit of economic interest, the Mughals accepted no challenge to their dominance on land limiting the outsiders’ rights to self-defense  the greater the number of European firms angling for access to Indian markets, the stronger the Indian negotiating position  however when Mughal power began to fade around the 18 century, the British and French sought to expand their influence with regionally based successor states that emerged, European trading companies allied and fought on behalf of rulers of Indian states that allowed them to secure valuable concessions  rivalries in the Bengal province (one of most productive Indian provinces) and the defeat of the Mughal army in Bengal allowed for locally financed European operations which were previously financed with gold bullions (from Amerindians)—the company exercised economic dominance and military fiscalism (raised local revenue to fund military practices)  the English East Company yielded great influence through its alliances with the princely rulers of individual states and was able to expand its military forces with Bengal’s revenues—elites saw it as a powerful partner that could secure their own interest and locally rooted royalties saw benefits from an alliance with the Company were most important that the consequences of such partnership for other parts of the subcontinent of overall balance of power  the Company reshaped regional economies in building an extensive rail network from hinterlands to ports while derailing the economy in building infrastructure only suitable for the export of high-bulk, low-value products  the English East Company had a monopoly on British trade in Asia and was granted extensive powers and autonomy from the state, its ability to outlast its European counterpart made it the sole Company to challenge India’s princely rulers  while it recognized the Mughal emperor as a symbol of Indian authority and left the princes on the thrones as the ruling public figure, the Company’s resident officers (men on the spot) controlled military forces, negotiated with other rulers and oversaw revenue collection ‘
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