Topics: British Raj, East India Company, Indian Rebellion of 1857 Pages: 6 (1687 words) Published: February 26, 2014
Lecture 6: Science, Technology and Imperialism

I. Science, Technology and Justifications for Colonization

A. The “civilizing” mission

justification for European conquest and dominance in 19th century empire-building
paternalistic notion that it is the European’s “duty” to better the situation of the native who was not as “civilized” bring peace and order to areas where there are wars, constant conflict Europeans considered themselves to be best qualified for this mission because they were the most progressive and advanced civilization evidence for this: scientific and technological achievements example: firearms, machines and vast scientific knowledge are presented as proof of European superiority belief that rational thought (i.e. science) would triumph over knowledge of cultures that were superstitious and ignorant extremist position condoned the extermination of natives in countries considered “backward” in scientific and technical know-how colonizers thus used idea of scientific and technological superiority as a) justification to govern colonized peoples and b) as a way to keep colonized people under control of administration idea of bettering condition of humanity is today questioned as cover for exploitation of African and Asian peoples moral arguments versus issues related to economic self interest and nationalist goals example: in order to better their own economic standing, colonizers would provide manufactured goods and machinery to colonized in return for their constant supply of raw materials by doing this, many native industries were destroyed; i.e. Indian shipbuilders, cotton manufacturers

B. Science and the Christian Missionary Movement

missionaries used idea of Western scientific and technological dominance as way to prove to the Non-western peoples that Christianity was superior religion conversion would lead to their salvation

idea that Christian civilizations more scientifically and technically proficient and efficient that other “heathen” cultures missionaries would therefore try to teach Non-western people technical skills, ideas about cleanliness, hygiene, social discipline in hopes of civilizing these societies emphasis on idea that Christianity is foundation behind scientific and technological achievements; science and technology are “handmaidens” to religion lack of scientific and technical knowledge is used by missionaries as justification for their purpose of converting individuals technology itself (i.e. railroads and telegraphs) would aid in “breaking barriers” to conversion scientific knowledge is seen to simultaneously strengthen notion of powerful Christian God and weaken other religious deities Reverend John Cumming: “we can…upset the whole theology of the Hindu by predicting an eclipse” comparisons between the non-Western native and European peasant

C. Non-Western Attitudes towards Time, Work, and Nature

Non-western cultures had different timekeeping methods from Europeans; did not rely on “clock” time of Europeans they were seen time wasters; lazy and unpunctual when it came to “work” inability to create simple European timekeeping devices seen as evidence of their lack of mathematical or scientific aptitude Non-western ideas about nature also ridiculed

recall that Western thinkers increasingly see nature as something to be used and exploited for their own purposes; humans should “master” natural world to improve their lives this idea starts in 17th century (i.e. Bacon) but becomes more popular during Industrial Revolution as these ideas gain greater credibility with new scientific developments and technological innovations nature increasingly seen as object to be studied

human needs can be met by reshaping natural environment
human superiority over nature sees the individual assuming responsibility for “lower” beings; this metaphor then used to justify “taking care of” non-Western peoples these ideas contrary to cultures that...
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