Argumentative Paper on European Colonialism: Expansion and Demise

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Both the global magnitude of colonialism's expansion and its abrupt, fragmented demise place colonialism at a pivotal phase in human history. Colonialism normally refers to the conquest and direct control of other land and other people by Western capitalist entities intent on expanding processes of production and consumption. In this context, colonialism is situated within a history of imperialism best understood as the globalization of the capitalist mode of production. While colonialism as a formal political process managed through state entities began to unravel following World War II, the global expansion of capitalism continues as a process that informs and often structures national, corporate, and human entanglements on a global scale. Historically, colonialism is a term largely restricted to that period of European expansion lasting roughly from 1830 to 1930. By the early 20th century, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Spain, and Portugal together claimed control of nearly 84 percent of the earth's surface. The British alone ruled over one fourth of the world's land and one third of its population. European expansion did not begin, of course, in 1830. It was arguably the Iberian navigators of the 15th century, reaching the Americas in 1492 and India in 1498, who inaugurated the age of colonialism. Furthermore, other empires outside of Europe clearly rose (and fell) prior to the colonial period. By the 1830s, however, a new period of empire building had erupted, sparked by a volatile combination of technologies (of travel, production, and health) and ideologies (including liberalism, enlightenment, scientific racism, and capitalism) that entangled human relationships within the distinct and asymmetrical identifying categories of colonizer and colonized. Colonial expansion was related to technological advancements driven by the rise of industrialization. Processes of commodity production that required ever larger quantities...
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