Portal:Colonialism

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About colonialism

William Blake, Europe Supported By Africa and America, 1796

Colonialism is the process of expansion and dominance in which a metropole builds and maintains colonies in another territory. Although the form of colonies themselves are influenced by local features and histories, the metropole typically claims full ownership and sovereignty over the social structure, government and economics within the colony. This produces a set of unequal relationships between metropole and colony as well as between colonists and the indigenous population.

The most common use of the term refers to a historical period from the 15th to the 20th century when people from Europe established colonies in the Americas, Africa, Oceania, Asia. The process was typically violent and involved population displacement and the institution of race-based categories of rule. The types of expansion and overseas colonization took many forms, including exploitation colonies to gain natural resources, areas of European population settlement, and smaller maritime enclaves based around trade. Motives for colonialism were also diverse, and included the promise of monetary gain, the desire to expand the power and influence of the metropole, efforts to escape persecution, as well as the wish to spread religious and political philosophies. People, states, and societies that were displaced or destroyed resisted and accommodated the imposition of colonial rule in a variety of ways, ultimately leading to a wave of decolonization in the mid twentieth century through which most (although not all) colonies gained national independence.

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Map of the Jaffna kingdom circa 1619

The Portuguese conquest of the Jaffna kingdom occurred after Portuguese traders arrived at the rival Kotte Kingdom in the southwest of modern Sri Lanka in 1505. The initial forays were against the southwestern coastal Kotte kingdom, which enjoyed a lucrative monopoly on the spice trade, which was also of interest to the Portuguese. Many kings of Jaffna, such as Cankili I, initially confronted the Portuguese in their attempts at converting the locals to Roman Catholicism, but eventually made peace with them. By 1591, the king of Jaffna Ethirimanna Cinkam was installed by the Portuguese. Although he was nominally a client, he resisted missionary activities and helped the interior Kandyan kingdom in its quest to get military help from South India. Eventually, a usurper named Cankili II, resisted Portuguese overlordship only to find himself ousted and hanged by Phillippe de Oliveira in 1619. The subsequent rule by the Portuguese saw the population convert to Roman Catholicism. Over the next forty years, starting from 1619 until the Dutch capture of Jaffna fort in 1658, there were three rebellions against Portuguese rule. Two were led by Migapulle Arachchi, during that period, Portuguese destroyed every Hindu temple and the Saraswathy Mahal library in Nallur, the royal repository of all literary output of the kingdom. Due to excessive taxation, population decreased and many people moved to Ramanathapuram in India and the Vanni Districts further south. External commerce was negatively impacted, though elephants, Jaffna's principal export, were traded for saltpetre with various kingdoms in India and sent to Lisbon. Thus, decline in trade made it difficult to pay for essential imports, and such items ceased to be imported. In the words of Fernão De Queirós, the principal chronicler of Portuguese colonial exploits in Sri Lanka, the people of Jaffna were "reduced to the uttermost misery" during the Portuguese colonial era.

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Tropenmuseum Royal Tropical Institute Objectnumber 3444-7 Begrafenis bij plantageslaven2.jpg
Credit: Th. Bray

Funeral at slave plantation during Dutch colonial rule, Suriname. Colored lithograph printed circa 1840–1850.

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John Horden

Selected biography

Dr. Hendrik P. N. Muller

Hendrik Pieter Nicolaas Muller (2 April 1859 in Rotterdam - 11 August 1941 in The Hague, Netherlands) was a Dutch businessman, diplomat, world traveller, publicist, and philanthropist. Muller started his career as a businessman, trading with East and West Africa. In his mid-twenties he travelled to Zanzibar, Mozambique, and South Africa for business purposes, but showed himself a keen ethnographer as well, collecting ethnographic artifacts and writing reports about the societies and people he encountered on his way. In 1890, Muller retired from business for personal reasons, and went to Germany to study ethnography and geography. He graduated with a Ph.D. dissertation four years later. In 1896 he was first appointed consul and later consul general for the Orange Free State. Muller held this position all through the Second Boer War and his high-profiled performance as European representative for this Boer republic won him considerable fame and notoriety, which lasted all his life. After the Treaty of Vereeniging was signed in 1902 Muller retired to a life of travelling and writing for some years, making Muller a household name with his travelbooks. In 1919 the Dutch government appointed him envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary to Romania, and later to Czechoslovakia, where he retired in 1932. Muller was a prolific writer. Over the course of his life he published well over two hundred articles, brochures, and books about his travels through the world, about South Africa and the Boers, and about Dutch foreign policy and diplomacy, apart from a range of other subjects. Muller gathered a large fortune with well appointed private investments. He bequeathed his considerable wealth to a private fund in support of academic research and cultural heritage.

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Colonialism's rise and fall over the past 500 years.

Colonisation2.gif

This map shows Colonization's rise and fall over the past 500 years.

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