||The establishment and maintenance of rule, for an extended period of time, by a sovereign power over a subordinate and alien people that is separate from the ruling power. Colonialism has been associated with colonization, which involves the physical settlement of people (i.e. settlers) from the imperial centre to the colonial periphery (for example the ancient Greek colonies, and British settlers in Kenya). Characteristic features of the colonial situation include political and legal domination over an alien society, relations of economic and political dependence and exploitation between imperial power and colony, and racial and cultural inequality (Fanon, 1966).
Colonialism is a variant of imperialism, the latter understood as unequal territorial relationships among states based on subordination and domination, and typically associated with a distinct forms of contemporary capitalism such as the emergence of monopolies and transnational corporations. As a form of territorial expansion, colonialism is intimately related to uneven development within a developing global capitalist system and with new configurations of the international division of labour (see development; globalization; Barratt-Brown, 1974). In the modern period (since 1870), colonialism emerged as a general description of the state of subjection of non-European societies as a result of specific forms of European, American and Japanese imperial expansion, organization and rule (Fieldhouse, 1981). Colonialism and anti-colonialism have been fundamental forces in the making of the Third World and in the shaping of the modern world system (cf. world-systems analysis).
Modern colonialisms can be classified according to the timing and the manner in which alien territories were incorporated, usually through violent conquest and plunder, into a world system. More precisely, variations in colonial experience arise from the specific combination of: (i) the form of capitalist political economy at specific moments in world time; (ii) different forms of colonial state and interests which they represented; and (iii) the diversity of pre-colonial societies upon which European domination was imposed. In the context of a geographical separation of colonizer and colonized, all colonialisms must confront the critical questions of how the colonies are to be administered, financed and made profitable. Colonial states were central to the establishment of conditions by which revenue could be raised (i.e. taxation, customs), labour regimes instituted to promote commodity production (based on various forms of free or servile labour), and political alliances sealed to maintain the fiction of local participation and yet ensure imperial hegemony.
The age of colonialism began in the fifteenth century with the European expansion in Africa, Asia and the New World. Led by Spain and Portugal, and secondarily other west European powers, colonialism expanded by violent conquest and settlement after a period of extensive exploration. The most ambitious colonial project was established under Spanish auspices in the \'New World\' involving complex forms of direct and indirect rule and administration, Spanish settlement through land and labour grants (the encomienda and the repartimiento system), and new forms of economic exploitation associated with plantations and haciendas, and labour-intensive mining for bullion (Wallerstein, 1974). This first phase of colonialism is usually assumed to reflect the search for wealth in the form of gold, ivory and slaves (see slavery) but the origins of European expansion also lie in the complex evolution of European mercantile competition, and in regional political developments associated with the crisis of European feudalism (Wolf, 1982). Colonialism emerged in the context of both limited technological capability (the colonies were often geographically distant from the imperial centre and hence relatively autonomous) and at a specific moment in world time (late feudalism). While early colonialism is often seen as mercantile in nature, promoted by European states through merchant companies, its impact on production and international political economy generally was not simply confined to the promotion of exchange. For example, millions of slaves were forcibly taken from Africa to work on plantations in the Caribbean and the US South while mining and ranching enterprises linked the New World into new circuits of international trade in mass commodities (Stavrianos, 1980).
The old colonial system erupted from the contradictions of European feudalism and lasted for three centuries. It was disrupted in the eighteenth century by the rapid advance of industrial capitalism in England and ushered in a second phase of colonialism, much shorter in duration and rooted in an expansionary world capitalism. The century between 1820 and the First World War (1914-18) saw the growth of a modern colonial order backed by complete European hegemony over world trade, finance and shipping and by new forms of political and military authority sustained by technology, applied science and information systems. Between 1870 and 1918, the colonial powers added an average of 240,000 sq. miles each year to their possessions; between 1875 and 1915 one-quarter of the globe\'s land surface was distributed or redistributed as colonies among half a dozen states (Hobsbawm, 1987) â€” Britain, France, and Germany increased their colonies by 4 million, 3.5 million, and 1 million sq. miles respectively; Belgium and Italy, and the USA and Japan, each increased their holdings by roughly 1 million and 100,000 square miles respectively. This phase of \'classical imperialism\' was no longer cast in terms of laissez faire and mercantilism but was rooted in a new phase of capitalist development and of inter-imperial rivalry (cf. mercantilist model).
Modern colonialism took a variety of forms. A useful taxonomy employs the coordinates of forms of commodity production, labour regime and political rule (Hicks, 1969). In the case of Africa there are three broad forms (Amin, 1974): settler colonies (e.g. Kenya and Mozambique) in which direct rule by a settler class was associated with plantation-based export commodity production (for example cotton, tea, sugar); trade or trading post economies (e.g. Nigeria and Senegal) characterized by indirect rule (Britain\'s Dual Mandate) through local ruling classes, who acted as colonial bureaucrats, and peasant-based production of export commodities such as palm oil and peanuts; and mine concessions (e.g. South Africa) in which transnational capital dominated the national economy and migrant labour, recruited, often by direct compulsion in the first instance, from \'native reserves\' for work in the mines, overdetermined the shape of the local political economy.
Efforts to explain the origins and timing, and the character and consequences of modern colonialism has produced a vast literature. Colonialism has been seen as a benign force of economic modernization and social advancement (the so-called mission civilatrice) ensuring law and order, private property and contract, basic infrastructure and modern politico-legal institutions (Bauer, 1976). It has also been posited within the Marxist theoretical tradition as an instrument of wholesale destruction, dependency and systematic exploitation producing distorted economies, socio-psychological disorientation, massive poverty and neo-colonial dependency (Frank, 1969; Baran, 1957; Rodney, 1972). Some lines of neo-Marxist thinking have posited that colonial capitalism was \'progressive\', acting as a powerful engine of social change (Warren, 1980); other, equally controversial, Marxist research has posited a distinctive colonial mode of production (Alavi, 1975). What is clear, however, is that the shift from informal spheres of influence to formal colonial rule in the nineteenth century is rooted in a new phase of capitalist transformation (sometimes called the \'second\' industrial revolution) in which inter-capitalist rivalry and the growth of transnational forms of industrial and finance capital promoted a search for raw materials, new markets and new investment opportunities.
The colonial experience involved both resistance and adaptation to colonial rule. Western education and missionary activity, while introduced as a means to train lower-order civil servants and as the civilizing arm of the colonial state, had contradictory consequences. The first generation of anti-colonial nationalist leaders were often products of the civil service (clerks, teachers) and mission schools who continued their education beyond the limits set by their colonial teachers (see nationalism; self-determination). In the period after 1945, the rise of anti-colonial movements in the colonies and the economic crises within an ageing imperial system both contributed towards the rapid process of decolonization. The colonial system was found to be expensive by the imperial powers and increasingly ungovernable. Colonialism was politically and ideologically discredited by emergent nationalist movements, often actively supported by the United States as well as the Socialist bloc. Independence from colonial rule came quickly in the post-war period though white settler colonies were especially resistant to any notion of indigenous rule. Independence was only achieved in such cases through organized insurrection (e.g. Mau Mau in Kenya) or through a long guerrilla war of liberation (e.g. Mozambique, Angola and Zimbabwe). There is a general sense throughout much of the Third World that decolonization has not resulted in meaningful economic or political independence. The persistence of primary export production and of dependent political elites linked to former colonial powers suggests that colonialism has been transformed into perpetual Neo-colonialism (Abdel-Fadil, 1989).Â (MW)
References Abdel-Fadil, M. 1989: Colonialism. In J. Eatwell, M. Milgate, and P. Newmans, eds, Economic development. Oxford: Blackwell, 61-7.Â Alavi, H. 1975: India and the colonial mode of production. In R. Miliband, and J. Saville, eds, The socialist register. London: Merlin, 167-87.Â Amin, S. 1974: Accumulation on a World Scale. New York: Monthly Review PressÂ Baran, P. 1957: The political economy of growth. New York: Monthly Review.Â Barratt-Brown, M. 1974: The economics of imperialism. London: Penguin.Â Bauer, P.T. 1976: Dissent on Development. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Â Fanon, F. 1966: The wretched of the earth. Harmondsworth: Penguin.Â Fieldhouse, D. 1981: Colonialism 1870-1945. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson.Â Frank, A.G. 1969: Development and underdevelopment in Latin America. New York: Monthly Review Press.Â Hicks, J. 1969: A theory of economic history. Oxford: Clarendon.Â Hobsbawm, E. 1987: Age of Empire 1875-1914. New York: Pantheon.Â Rodney, W. 1972: How Europe underdeveloped Africa. London: Bogle.Â Stavrianos, G. 1980: Global rift. New York: Free Press.Â Wallerstein, I. 1974: The modern world-system. Volume 1. New York: Academic Press.Â Warren, B. 1980: Imperialism: pioneer of capitalism. London: Verso.Â Wolf, E. 1982: Europe and the people without history. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Suggested Reading Brewer, A. 1980: Marxist theories of imperialism. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.Â Etherington, N. 1984: Theories of imperialism. London: Croom Helm.