The Critique of Colonialism

As a reminder from week 2, colonialism is an example of domination where one nation or group exerts economic and political control over another nation. Colonialism has been a common practice that can be found in a multitude of examples throughout history. However, the terms “colonialism” and “imperialism” are often used interchangeably. The root of colonialism is “colony”, a Latin word meaning farmer. Therefore, colonialism is often linked to a transfer of people to a new territory. “Imperium” is another Latin word that means, “command” and may include the means at how a nation exerts control over another nation. The practice of colonialism is often critiqued, and this critique may occur due to the way that colonialism can easily shift into a practice of imperialism.

The colonizer often exerts their beliefs, morals, and values onto the colonized nation and its population. The Colonial powers often attempt to justify their actions and values based on a belief that these ideals should be used in order to provide better education and civilization to the colony. However, certain attitudes of cultural, religious, and racial ideals are viewed negatively.  For example, European colonialism in Africa can be argued to be have yielded very negative effects that are still seen in Africa today. The Europeans came to Africa in search of slaves that they could provide for the trans-Atlantic slave trade. The domination that the Europeans exerted over the individuals in Africa could be equated to extreme violence.

However, in an attempt to justify their actions, Europeans sought to claim that these measures were necessary in order to bring order to higher civilization and education among society. One viewpoint indicates that, “colonialism is predicated quintessentially on race” (Ndobegang, 633). The idea that race is the apparent reason for one nation to exert control over another nation is why colonialism can be viewed so negatively. Equating race to status and role in society leaves a society to be solely based on discrimination, violence, and inequality. The Europeans came to Africa in search of finding slaves that they believed would bring a better quality of life to the populations that relied on slaves for labor. As they encroached on Africa’s territory, it brought along a justification for the violence and racial injustices that followed.


Works Cited:

S. D. Fomin & Michael M. Ndobegang(2006)African Slavery Artifacts and European Colonialism: The Cameroon Grassfields from 1600 to 1950, The European Legacy, 11:6, 633-646,

Kohn, Margaret, and Kavita Reddy. “Colonialism.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Stanford University, 29 Aug. 2017,

Omolewa, Michael. “THE HISTORY OF COLONIALISM IN AFRICA–REVISITED.” The Journal of African American History, vol. 94, no. 2, 2009, p. 248+. Gale Academic Onefile,



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