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Colonialism: A Theoretical Overview Paperback – 28 Feb 1997


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Paperback, 28 Feb 1997
£25.61 £3.99

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  • Paperback: 146 pages
  • Publisher: Markus Wiener Publishing Inc (28 Feb. 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1558761306
  • ISBN-13: 978-1558761308
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 15.2 x 22.9 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,197,406 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"A conviction of imperial cultural superiority gave modern colonialism an aggressive turn. The result was ethnic and social stratification in the colonial society, even when colonists took over the pre-colonial administration and society as the British did in India." - Midwest Book Review" --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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These days, cultural critics and political polemicists often refer to a "colonization" of human life by bureaucracy and technology or a "colonization" of society by political parties. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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10 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Interesting, but... 5 Oct. 2003
By events3 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Osterhammel's book may well have been intended to provide "a theoretical and historical overview of colonialism with a minimum of value judgments" which, according to the JOURNAL OF WORLD HISTORY, is "[a] concise conceptual framework of the fundamental phenomenon of colonialism", but I am far from certain he succeeded.
There are, of course, a number of good things about this book:
(1) it provides a clear definition (and distinction) of the terms colony, colonization and colonialism as those words are generally understood by that branch of academia most concerned with such concepts; (2) it provides a simple, easy-to-understand outline for each of these concepts; and (3) it is comprehensive (as regards colonialism and its related concepts).
Unfortunately, the system seems to suffer from some problems:
(1) by attempting to create a simple, comprehensive system which takes into account the 3 basic concepts of "colony", colonization" ["a process of territorial acquisition"] and "colonialism" as generally used by political sociologists, Osterhammel is forced to link them together by stipulating that all three involve "the notion of expansion of a society beyond its original habitat." Unfortunately, of these only colonization is, strictly speaking, a process by the definitions he provides; yet he then gives us various FORMS OF (the processes of) EXPANSIONS. The first two ["total migration" and "individual mass migration"] do not even involve "expansion", except as provided within certain specific limits, whereas the category of "Empire-building wars of conquest" is generally "colonial rule" without "colonization" [the only "process" with which he provides us].
(2) Osterhammel's distinction between "border colonization" and "overseas settlement colonization" leaves no room for the possibility of subservient overland settlement colonization which is not merely a frontier extension of the border.
(3) In his distinction between the 3 sub-types of settlement colonies / colonization he provides the "NEW ENGLAND" type as "displacement and even annihilation of the economically dispensable indigenious population" and, of course associates this with colonial New England. Unfortunately, had the author read James Drake's KING PHILIP'S WAR, Jill Lepore's THE NAME OF WAR or Yasuhide Kawashima's IGNITING KING PHILIP'S WAR, Osterhammel might have been aware of the involvement of "Christian Indians", such as Sassamon, in the early colonies as well as of the use of Native Americans as servants and slaves. Indeed, it was only after King Philip's War that the colonists became convinced that they had to move natives out of the areas surrounding the colonial towns.
(4)The rather superfluous mention of "informal empires" (which in no way deals with colonialism - the title of the book, colonies or colonization). Indeed, the only apparent reason for the inclusion of this term is to pay homage to the idea of the United States as an "empire."
(5) the work is highly Eurocentric. Periodically, we see the word "white" used for colonial masters regardless of the use of specific examples. Similarly, only rarely (and almost never in considering "modern" examples) do non-European actions come under examination. Therefore such actions as the Vietnamese expansions into Champa- and Khymer-controlled territories [indeed, "foreign" - i.e., European - "encroachment on continental Southeast Asia", as our author tells us, began after about 1820], total migrations of sub-branches of the Dene peoples (in this case, the apaches and the apaches de Navajo), Mandan migrations eastward, the Dahomey conquest of Whydah (as well as other African conquests) never get mentioned. Of course, by the careful (but often imprecise and subjective) usage of definitions (e.g., "a minority of foreign invaders", "in a distant metropolis" or "alien rulers" each of which put limitations on the possible characteristics of the "invaders"), the author may have decided he could safely ignore such non-European examples.
All in all, then, if one wants a clear and precise introduction to modern thought on colonialism, this is an ideal text; however, if one wants "a theoretical and historical overview of colonialism with a minimum of value judgments" then this book is not the best choice.
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