Gayblack Canadian Man

Foreign Policy Analysis
Imperialism Narrated Lecture

Imperialism Narrated Lecture

Welcome to this lecture entitled
Imperialism, Europe and the World in the Nineteenth Century. We’re gonna talk a bit
about European Imperialism, in especially Africa and Asia. You’ve been asked to read
Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe. I hope that this lecture will give you
some context within which to understand the book and understand a very
important period in world history. How is Imperialism defined? Well, the standard definition
is that Imperialism is the expansion of European powers and their
conquest and colonization of African and Asian societies, mainly from the 16th
century through the 19th century. So the period that Achebe handles is the mid to late 19th century and European colonization of Africa. Now, who is involved in Empire building
in the 19th century, quite a few nations. The primary powers were Britain and
France. The British Empire stretched
all over the world, Africa, Asia, the same thing with France. The British had really the largest,
most impressive empire. The French sort of had a large empire,
in less desirable parts of the world. Germany was becoming a major imperial
power in the 1880s and 1890s. And the same with Japan and the United
States who remained regional powers. The United States primarily had
influence over the Caribbean and Central America, places in
the Caribbean like Puerto Rico and Cuba and
later the Dominican Republic and Haiti. And in central America places
like Nicaragua where we actually had troops stationed for a long time, we had troops stationed in Haiti
as well in the 1920s, and 1930s. And in places like Panama where we
built the Panama Canal which links the Caribbean with the Pacific. So the United States sphere of
influence has always been really limited to the Caribbean and
Central America. And beyond that, the Philippines was
the area outside of the Caribbean that the United States had
military bases for a long time. And the Japanese had carved
out an empire in Asia, which included piece of China and
Southeast Asia, etc. starting from the 1890s on. And the Japanese had become so powerful in Asia that by 1941 they
were at war with the United States. Okay, why did Western politicians
engage in empire building? If you take a look at the British and
the French, their reasons for
empire building were many. Historians believe that the biggest
reason why Imperialism happened, why these countries
began to build empires, was really to deflect social problems
at home through nationalism. Why were there social problems at home? Well, a lot of it had to do
with the industrial revolution that was happening in the 19th century,
right across Europe. And what we really had happening
was a lot of tension between this new working class and
the factories and the bosses and the economic elites in these places. And these problems were very intense. The animosity between people
making six cents an hour and people making $100,000.00 a year,
whatever, was very sharp. And you could actually distract
people from their problems, from their economic and
social woes by getting them to focus on the empire or places far away. So, deflecting social problems was very
much on the minds of politicians and nationalism was a very
very powerful component of European society in the 19th century. The idea that you belong to a superior
nation, better than others, and you have the best empire in
the world and strongest military and we can see politicians today
use that same kind of strategy. In 2003, when the economy was doing
poorly the war in Iraq started and all the bad economic news
went to the back page. And all the patriotic nationalistic fervor went right to page one. Secondly, Imperialism was important for Western politicians because it provided
working class and bourgeois classes. By bourgeois, I mean middle class
with employment opportunities. If you were a working class person,
a man particularly, and you wanted to get away from that slum you were living in
or that dead end job in a factory where you’re working a lot of hours for low pay,
you could join the Army or the Navy. And you could spend time traveling
the world on the government’s dime and you’d be guaranteed three square
meals a day and a clean uniform and if you spent enough time in the service
then maybe a small pension. So, it was very attractive outlet for
the working class. And for
the bourgeoisie it allowed middle class, educated people a chance to
work in the foreign service or to work as diplomats,
things of that nature. And finally, there was a need in Europe
in the 19th century to spread quote, superior, European culture to, quote,
less civilized, places in the world. There is a real sense in Europe
that because of their industry. Because of the power of their empires and
their economic wealth and military might, that they possess the superior
Christian culture that was much better than any other, quote, less civilized,
culture in Asia and Africa. So this is what historians
call cultural Imperialism. The idea that your going to spread
your culture, your Christianity. You’re gonna spread your values,
your values of materialism and economic progress etc.,
to other parts of the world. And this is what some historians
believe is the negative sort of side of the European
enlightenment that you can enlighten other people
of the world with your values. And it’s a very, very touchy thing and
we see it in Things Fall Apart, too. The idea that you’re gonna spread
these poor Africans your religion and your values,
because they’re less civilized than you. Now, if we look at the British Empire, there was a famous quote that people
often spoke of in the 19th Century. The sun never sets on the British Empire. And this means that, the British Empire
spread from Hong Kong and through China, to India, to parts of the Caribbean,
places like Jamaica, Canada. Places where they had a lot of influence,
if they were not outright colonizing. So, it really gave
the British a real advantage in terms of their naval supremacy and
also the ability of their merchants to travel the world and
refuel and carry on trade. If you have bases all over the world,
military bases, naval bases, it gives you a lot of power. So the British Empire was
envied by the French and the Germans who tried
to emulate the empire. And the French had Southeast Asia,
Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, were part of the French Empire. And the French were getting rubber,
tin, things of that nature, those resources from Southeast Asia,
rice, other stuff like that as well. And the French also had
parts of Africa that weren’t the most rich in terms of natural
resources like Algeria and North Africa, Algeria, Tunisia,
places like that, Morocco. The Germans had East Africa, you know and in little small kind of outpost in Africa. Nothing really Impressive by
imperialist standards to speak of. The crown jewel of the British Empire was
India, the British used Indian cotton for their factories and India was
a useful fueling station for ships. So, India was really the center
of the British Empire until 1948. When a peace movement
lead by Gandhi helped to essentially force the British to retreat
and leave India to its independence. So very, very important was India. Now the rush for colonies was a major
problem in the 19th and 20th centuries. And by 1914, it was,
really a major reason for World War I. That cannot be denied, that
the international tension caused by all of these European nations, the Americans and
the Japanese are really regional powers. They’re not really World powers yet. But the Europeans are still
very much in the driver’s seat in terms of international politics. And by 1914, it’s gonna be one of
the reasons why these nations go to war, really fighting over both
the honor of having an empire, and also the resources that
these empires provide. So that wraps up this short lecture. And you will need to understand
the lecture for the midterm and also hopefully it’ll give you some
context for Things Fall Apart.

4 comments on “Imperialism Narrated Lecture

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *