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Colonialism in philosophy

Table of contents
1 Colonialism: shock or meeting of cultures
2 History
3 Colonialism and art
4 Economy and colonization
5 Current Colonization
6 The engineer's point of view
7 Colonization and Religion
8 Politic in colonization:

Colonialism: shock or meeting of cultures

In each epoch, from the time man existed, his discoveries, his expansion and his domination motivated him and made him progress. Since prehistory, thought and visualization permitted man to beat stronger animals than himself for his own survival. Passing from antiquity to the Middle Ages, political and economical interests have motivated him towards colonization and conquest of new horizons.

Conquests have caused dissipation of settled people's richness and a part of their culture, but were also the cause of many benefits such as the establishment of education, medical or transportation infrastructure. Despite the bad sides of colonization, it is true that colonization helped man to evolve to modern living.


Colonization is the act of establishing colonies. The idea of colonization goes hand in hand in with the idea of superiority of the colonizer's country to the colonized people. Let's have a look at the colonization of Africa by the Europeans from a historical point of view. Before 1880, Europeans had only coastal implantation in Africa. Nevertheless, from 1870 to 1880, exploration was in progress and several expeditions had discovered interesting riches. These raked up Europeans' ambitions and longings. The colonization of Congo is one of the reasons of the conflict between Leopold II and other nations. In 1884, the Berlin conference shared Africa between Europeans by artificial frontier founded on the principle of territorial adjustment. However, they divided African's ethnic groups and kingdoms. Congo, which became Belgian Congo was given to Leopold II. The king rapidly set himself up as landlord of the country. He established a government of terror to take all the richness of the land.

Western people's certainty of being more advanced than the colonized was the source of several leeway such as the establishment of a "race scale" onwhich the colonist was higher than black people and even human zoos were build, in which colonized showed their ways of life behind bars. In parallel, we must mention that colonization permitted expansion in many sectors of the land, such as communication and education. Congo was a typical example of colonization.

Colonialism and art

It may be interesting to speak about colonialism from the point of view of feeding or art. First we'll analyze the influence of colonialism on feeding. We've already observed, for example, the difficulty of implantation of potatoes in French culture, before Parmentier, due to the vainglory of Europeans who weren't inclined to change their habit, because they were certain of the superiority of their way of life.

We can now analyze the influence of colonialism on western art. Several artists such as Pablo Picasso turned towards African Culture. A large range of canvas proved that for some artists, the meeting between two worlds caused a great change, but these artists were often misjudged.

From a musical point of view, we can't affirm that Africa's colonization is responsible of a real change in Europe. That is no long time that we hear speaking about African music of percussion in our countries. European reluctance to change and to accept different cultures induces a meeting of cultures instead of a shock.

From colonized's point of view, things were different. Western people's mentality discerned his own culture as superior, wanted to impose it to the autochthons. The cases of Africa and America are typical examples of the fact that European's vainglory changes the experience of colonization on a shock instead of a meeting. The same vainglory was primarily the meeting of cultures in Europe.

Economy and colonization

Before colonial epoch, economy in Africa was a local economy which wasn't very developed compared to European economy which was tending to industrialization. But colonial epoch changed the situation. An English jurist, Merignhac even said: "colonizing is taking contact with new countries to profit of their resources enhance those in national interest, and in the same time bringing to primitive local people who are deprived of the advantages of intellectual, social, scientific, moral, artistic, literary, commercial and industrial cultures which are apanage of advanced breed. Colonization is therefore an establishment founded in a new land by an advanced breed to realize both goals we've just shown." The confessed goal of colonization was to appropriate resources from the colonized land and to enhance local culture by the contribution of the arrogant European culture.

Historical examples don't miss, but one certain thing is that the Westerner's arrival forced colonized people to proceed to a brutal change of their ways of exchange and they ran from a local economy to a dictatorial capitalist economy whose goal was first the valorization of metropolis' capitals. This state of facts was to the origin of slavery to the common sense in a first time as well as economical slavery for ex-metropolis during decolonization's time which is the result of a need of a strong national building, adhesion of these nations at all the international organizations and the devlopment of bilateral relationships induced by the Cold War. Thus, colonialism was an economical shock where economical autonomous people became totally dependent of economical powers.

Current Colonization

The reason that encourages man to colonize countries is his imperialism, his will of spreading his territory, benefiting of new richness and increasing his power. Even if now, colonization has lost his common style, it takes now the sense of profit. The process of this new colonization is simple. It consists in using pretexts, justified or not, to control a country by military forces, in the journalistic goal of world's security (without saying the object of this security). Afterwards, freedom is given back to the country and a new "autonomous" government that must be economically beneficial to the neo-colonizer that is in the contemporary context, the USA This kind of conquest isn't directly orchestrated by the people but by economical lobbies. One consequence of this neo-colonization is that the whole production of the colonized land is insert on the world trade market. This event allows a real meeting of cultures. But this meeting is headed by the principle of rentability that distorts the meeting and changes it in shock. But this can be restrained by regulating agents and strategies to re-impose politic power that represents people instead of the economical power. There are two ways for these strategies: The independence of economy and state, as in America, or the control of economy by the state, as in Europe.

The engineer's point of view

Till now, we tried to show that colonization was first a shock that can be changed to a real meeting. To reach that, we must impose a context and limits. It's important to let talk the different actors of this meeting. By analogy, engineers are mostly induced to lead teams. This is similar to a little colonization. In this case, both, shock and meeting can appear. It depends on how the engineer run his team or his vainglory.

Colonization and Religion

Politic power has always thought that it must rest on spirituality. The same way of thought is present on colonial's history. In religious colonialism evolution, we can see that a numerous situations had common trajectories. It first involves a period in which the settler imposes new rules to colonized people. It's the shock. Secondly, there was a mutual assimilation step with sharing of various values, but it was progressive, because of the work of ethnologues and some good people on the place. Finally there is a reconstruction on new basis, Bible and ancestral culture.

Politic in colonization:

This section will especially treat the evolution of politic culture in colonized countries. In colonial epoch, colonization had for mediatic wager the elevation of foreign culture, but according to Claude Levi Strauss, cultures aren't unequal, they are only different. These dissimilarities are the result of a long and complex evolution. Politic cultures have a similar evolution.

During colonization, western people became dictators of colonized lands, in the goal of territory extension and the exploitation of natural resources of theses regions. This situation lasted seventy years before the de-colonization, that occurred when there weren't enough interests on place. After, democratic governments were established in each de-colonized country, to permit the westerners to control these lands from a far. Despite the will of establishing independent democracy, autochtons down on them that they are economically dependent on world because of bad decisions that are result of a lack of normal politic evolution, because of colonization.

To conclude, we can say that colonization was and is still a shock from colonized's point of view. From settler's point of view, we can't say that colonization was a shock as well as a meeting because of the definition of this word.