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Paul Hendrix

on 13 June 2015

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How and why did the European colonial empires collapse after WWII?
What nations replaced these empires?
Case 1: Decolonization in Asia
Case 2: Decolonization in Africa
Case 3: Decolonization in the Middle East
What were the political, economic and military consequences of global decolonization?

British, French, Dutch, Portuguese, Belgian and Italians had created colonial empires in Asia, Africa and the Middle East from 15th century.
Scramble for Africa.
Main goal was economic gain:
natural resources
slave trade
Subjugation of indigenous people justified through:
Social Darwinism
The White Man's Burden.

Decolonization in Asia
From 1757 onwards, the British had ruled India, to dominate trade.
Although many Indians were poorly treated, the British also brought improvements in infrastructure and education.
British Indian Army
From 1920's onward, Mahatma Gandhi and Muhammad Ali Jinnah emerged as leaders in the independence movement.
Gandhi non-violent approach.
India and Pakistan became independent dominions on August 15th, 1947.
Large scale violence between the region's Hindu and Muslim populations broke out as mass migration occurred. Ghandi tried to stop this by fasting.
Ghandi killed by Hindu nationalist in 1948.
East Pakistan became Bangladesh in 1971.
From 1500 onwards, the Dutch increasingly controlled the Dutch East Indies. Main purpose was trade.
During WWII the Dutch were overpowered by Japan and placed in concentration camps.
Meanwhile, Indonesian nationalist leaders like Sukarno were given prominent positions by the Japanese.
When the Allies defeated the Japanese, the Dutch wanted to re-assume power.
A violent guerrilla struggle for power broke out which lasted five years.
"Police actions" vs. "National Revolution". 100.000 killed.
Indonesian independence was recognized December 27th, 1949.
First French influences in French Indochina took place in the 17th century. Trade and religious purposes.
Sino-French war lead to French Indochina 1887.
During WWII under Japanese occupation.
From 1941, Ho Chi Minh lead the communist Viet Minh in a revolt against Japan. Independence declared in August 1945.
First Indochina War: French fought the Viet Minh from 1946 to 1954. Gradually escalated into the Vietnam war.
The Scamble for Africa
In the centuries before 1880, there had been some European exploration in the African Continent. Its main aim at the time was to provide the America's with a steady stream of slave labor.
1881 - 1914: the Scramble for Africa.
Invasion, occupation, colonization and annexation of African territory by European Powers.
Continent was divided between the European Powers in a mathematical fashion.
Main aim was to get hold of the continent's raw resources (copper, cotton, rubber, palm oil, cocoa, diamonds, tea).
Indigenous population were exploited and suffered greatly (as in Belgian Congo).
Majority of infrastructure that was built served only to extract and export resources.
Decolonization of Africa
Many citizens of African colonies fought in British and French regiments during WWII, in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and on the Western Front.
The Atlantic Charter promoted self-determination.
During the thirties, local nationalist political elites were developing in these colonies.
From the 1950's onwards, bloody wars for independence broke out in the Congo, Kenya, Algeria, Angola, Mozambique.
Other nations saw less violent transitions to independence.
Because of the lack of political infrastructure, new nations struggled to form stable or democratic governments. Many dictators.
Colonial borders did not do justice to ethnic realities.
Poverty, repression, corruption and civil wars plagued the nation for decades.
Class assignment
Analyze the transition to independence in India, the Pacific or Africa.
Identify what went wrong either in terms of politics, economy or social geography.
Suggest measures that could have been taken by the newly independent countries or by the international community to prevent these problems.
Work in pairs, and hand in your written solutions (150-250 words).
Further suggested viewing
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