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Essay about European Justification of Colonization of Asia and Africa

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The principle justification offered by the Europeans for their colonization of Asia & Africa was the moral and technological superiority of the western world. As the Europeans saw it, the spread of the European way of life would substantially increase living standards for the colonized. While economic reasons were obviously the primary impetus for colonial expansion, the Europeans believed that they were not only improving the natives’ conditions, but they were saving their mortal souls by bringing Christianity to them. Over time, the technologically advanced way of life came to be associated with Europe, and with Europeans. This is the cause of the racist and social Darwinist undertones in the documents.

First, Europeans use religion as a justification for colonization. This has been used many times before, specifically when Spain colonized Latin and South America. In Document 6, Mr. Patton notes that some islands in the Pacific are Christianizing, and Britain ought to encourage that. Countries in Europe felt that it was their obligation to expose indigenous people to their religious system because it would give them salvation. Missionaries often went to islands with the sole purpose of religious indoctrination of the natives, but left a colonized and westernized island behind. Christian missionaries may have had benign motives, but the presence of missionaries was the first step to ‘opening’ a colony. Economic exploitation typically followed presence of missionaries. While religion isn’t mentioned frequently in the documents, religion underscores most justifications for colonization. For example, cartoon 4 indicates that it is ‘the white man’s burden’ to bring natives to school, in order to receive a proper educa...


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...heir lives.

Kipling’s poem then mentions how it is our duty, as the ‘higher race’ to make the lives of other people better. Kipling says that we can show the path to civilized life, by way of western concepts, most notably education. This point is also seen in document 4, which indicates that it is the burden of the white man to take barbarians to school, where they will learn how to be civilized, and hopefully spread that knowledge throughout their community. Jules Ferry’s writings in document 5 exemplify the point above. Ferry says that, ‘as men of a higher race, we have an obligation’ to make life better for the colonized. Ferry makes some important distinctions here. He says that the Spanish erred by introducing slavery into Central and South America. Ferry says that colonizers should embody good moral character, as to set an example for the colonized.


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