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Q3. What is New Imperialism and summarize the reasons for same? Explore the different phases of Colonization.


During the initial period of Industrial Revolution, the pursuit of colonies had slowed down. Between 1775 and 1875, Europeans lost more territory than they acquired in North America and Latin America, because of successful revolutions. Spanish colonial rule from Mexico to Argentina was overturned.

The 1870s and 1880s witnessed a retreat from the free market and a return to state intervention in economic affairs. The foreign counterpart to this phenomenon was the New Imperialism. The Great Powers of Europe suddenly shook off almost a century of apathy toward overseas colonies and, in the space of 20 years, partitioned almost the entire un-colonized portion of the globe.

There was a widespread feeling in Europe that colonies were more trouble than they were worth and the sooner or later colonies would revolt and fight for independence. Benjamin Disraeli said “These wretched colonies will all be independent in a few years and are millstones around our necks.

However, the pursuits and rivalries re-emerged in the last quarter of the 19th century. This new face of imperialism (1875-1914) is often described as the new imperialism. New imperialism resulted because of the economic system that had developed as a result of Industrial Revolution.

During this phase a few industrialized capitalist countries established their political and economic control and domination over the rest of the world. The form of domination and control included direct colonial rule, sphere of influence and various types of commercial and economic agreements.

New imperialist countries emerged viz. Germany, Italy, Belgium, USA and Japan, while Britain and France continued to be powerful and expanded their colonial empire. In this period powers of Spain and Portugal declined.

Sometimes reasons to colonize was to protect economic interests, as when the British occupied Egypt in 1882, but more often it was for strategic reasons or in pursuit of national prestige. One necessary condition for the New Imperialism, often overlooked, is technological. Prior to the 1870s Europeans could overawe native peoples along the coasts of Africa and Asia but lacked the firepower, mobility, and communications that would have been needed to pacify the interior. (India was the exception, where the British East India Company exploited an anarchic situation and allied itself with selected Indian rulers against others.). The correlation of forces between Europe and the colonized world shifted, however, with the invention of the steamship and telegraph, the repeater rifle and Maxim gun, and the discovery (in India) that quinine is an effective prophylactic against malaria. By 1880 small groups of European regulars, armed with modern weapons and exercising fire discipline, could overwhelm many times their number of native troops.


Explore the different phases of Colonization.

Trading Stations: Colonies were mainly trading stations in the first stage. Forts along the coastline of Africa and Asia were made to protect trade. As the colonial trade became more competitive, trading stations grew into colonies of settlement.

Colonies of settlement: European countries sent settlers to inhabit and control large areas of land by force and imposed European laws. Many of the indigenous inhabitants were killed in violent wars or through disease. Colonies of exploitation: Small numbers of Europeans went to these colonies mainly to seek employment as planters, administrators, merchants or military officers. The colonisers used force to crush resistance and maintain control, local population was used as labour. E.g. Indonesia, Malaya Nigeria and Ghana.

Contested settlement colonies: A large number of Europeans permanently settled in the colony, started their own government and cut ties with their country of origin. The indigenous population was virtually wiped out and slave labour had to be imported to do the work. E.g. USA

Informal empires: Europeans had influence over the rulers of the country without taking control of it and  were called sphere of influence. E.g. China had different spheres of influence of various European countries.


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