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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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Fish pond in Griessie, colonial period.

The Raid on Griessie was a British attack on the Dutch port of Griessie (later renamed Gresik) on Java in the Dutch East Indies in December 1807 during the Napoleonic Wars. The raid was the final action in a series of engagements fought by the British squadron based in the Indian Ocean against the Dutch naval forces in Java, and it completed the destruction of the Dutch squadron with the scuttling of two old ships of the line, the last Dutch warships in the region. The British squadron, under the command of Rear-Admiral Sir Edward Pellew, sought to eliminate the Dutch in an effort to safeguard the trade route with China, which ran through the Straits of Malacca and were in range of Dutch raiders operating from the principal Javan port of Batavia. In the summer of 1806, British frigates reconnoitred Javan waters and captured two Dutch frigates, encouraging Pellew to lead a major attack on Batavia that destroyed the last Dutch frigate and several smaller warships. On the morning of 5 December 1807, a second raiding squadron under Pellew appeared off Griessie and demanded that the Dutch squadron in the harbour surrender. The Dutch commander, Captain Cowell, refused, and seized the boat party that had carried the message. Pellew responded by advancing up the river and exchanging fire with a gun battery on Madura Island, at which point the governor in Sourabaya overruled Captain Cowell, released the seized boat party and agreed to surrender the ships at anchor in Griessie harbour. By the time Pellew reached the anchorage however, Cowell had scuttled all of the ships in shallow water, and Pellew was only able to set the wreckage on fire. Landing shore parties, the British destroyed all military supplies in the town and demolished the battery on Madura. With the destruction of the force in Griessie, the last of the Dutch naval forces in the Pacific were eliminated. British forces returned to the region in 1810 with a large scale expeditionary force that successfully invaded and captured Java in 1811, removing the last Dutch colony east of Africa.


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Selassie restored.jpg
Credit: American Colony (Jerusalem). Photo Dept., photographer.

Italy, upon invading Ethiopia, declared a new "Italian Empire". The League of Nations afforded Haile Selassie the opportunity to address the assembly, causing Italy to withdraw its League delegation, on 12 May 1936.

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Selected biography

Pieter Nuyts in Taiwan in 1629 (Japanese artist).

Pieter Nuyts (1598 – 11 December 1655) was a Dutch explorer, diplomat, and politician. He was part of a landmark expedition of the Dutch East India Company in 1626–27, which mapped the southern coast of Australia. He became the Dutch ambassador to Japan in 1627, and he was appointed Governor of Formosa in the same year. Later he became a controversial figure because of his disastrous handling of official duties, coupled with rumours about private indiscretions. Nuyts acquired some notoriety while Governor for apparently taking native women to his bed, and having a translator hide under the bed to interpret his pillow-talk. He was also accused of profiting from private trade, something which was forbidden under company rules. Some sources claim that he officially married a native Formosan woman during this time, but as he was still legally married to his first wife Cornelia, this seems unlikely. His handling of relations with the natives of Formosa too was a cause for concern, with the residents of Sinkan contrasting his harsh treatment with the "generous hospitality of the Japanese". Nuyts had a low opinion of the natives, writing that they were "a simple, ignorant people, who know neither good nor evil". He was disgraced, fined and imprisoned, before being made a scapegoat to ease strained Dutch relations with the Japanese. He returned to the Dutch Republic in 1637, where he became the mayor of Hulster Ambacht and of Hulst. He is chiefly remembered today in the place names of various points along the southern Australian coast, named for him after his voyage of 1626–27. During the early 20th century, he was vilified in Japanese school textbooks in Taiwan as an example of a "typical arrogant western bully".


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


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


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