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19th Century Colonialism and Racism

Colonialism and Racism in the 19th Century

Throughout a lot of the 19th century, European powers used their financial riches and technological developments to colonize much of Asia and almost the complete continent of Africa. Oftentimes the motivations were countrywide satisfaction and the acquisition of natural resources, but there was another very strong impetus behind Traditional western imperialism in the 19th century: racism. At a time when Charles Darwin had just recently exposed his theory of advancement, and much of the recently unchartered territory of the world was becoming known, the Western powers noticed themselves to be the superior race, because they thought these were the most civilized, or because they had the most advanced technology. This idea, known as social Darwinism, can take the natural theory of advancement and applies it to individuals races, positing that the societies and races that are "superior" than others tend to be "fit" to can be found and survive, and therefore they make take advantage of and exploit the other, inferior peoples who aren't as "fit" to survive. With this idea in mind, many Western power sent troops and resources around to globe to create colonies and imperialize other nations, often with no regard for the indigenous people. Although this significant influx of colonialism in the 19th century was driven by desire to have material wealth and national pride, racism also played out a substantial role.

In George Orwell's Burmese Times, he chronicles the daily life of a British gentleman's membership in upcountry Burma, part of the English colony of India. His consideration provides very telling sign of how the British citizens looked at the local individuals of Burma, and it reveals the racism that was at the heart of the imperial system. When the club is speaking about the suggestion to allow a Burmese man to become listed on, the Secretary of the membership says, "He's requesting us to break all our rules and have a dear little nigger-boy into this Membership. . . That might be a treat wouldn't it? Little pot-bellied niggers inhaling and exhaling garlic in your face within the bridge-table. Christ, to think of it!" (Reilly, 285). The usage of a derogatory racial slur obviously demonstrates the way the British gentlemen considered the locals, clearly as poor people. The usage of the term "nigger" has long been associated with people of African descent, but here the British Membership secretary uses it to refer to the neighborhood Burmese people, an obvious indication of racial hate and insult. Their hatred and racism go so far that one person in the club, a local company supervisor, says "I'll die in a ditch before I'll see a nigger in here" (Reilly, 286). The constant use of racial slurs and insulting remarks signify that the British users of the team were all highly racist towards the neighborhood people, a factor which definitely influenced the British isles colonization of India, and the treating the indigenous individuals.

In an identical portrayal of life in a imperialized region, Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness takes a close check out a steamboat journey deep into the heart and soul of the Congo, the captain of which was a white man. The first signals of racism turn out when he refers to the African people on his fishing boat as "cannibals", implying that these were savage and uncivilized, although there is absolutely no other evidence these people were in fact cannibals. These basic false assumptions are often seen in reports of imperial racism; White colonists are always quick to judge the neighborhood people as brutal savages without actually taking the time to understand their culture. However, the ship captain's racism goes much deeper than that, when he remarks "the men were. . . No these were no inhuman. Well, you know that was the most severe of it-this suspicion of the not being inhuman. It would come slowly to 1. They howled and leaped and spun and made horrid encounters, but what delighted you was just the very thought of their humanity-like yours" (Reilly, 296). His pain at knowing that he was linked to these people, through a common mankind, hurts him because they show up so untamed and savage to him that he would prefer to trust they were not human, but rather family pets or beasts. His Western european history makes him regard himself as superior than the local Africans, and in turn he sees them through racist eye, another important factor in the Traditional western colonization of Africa. Both these excerpts of colonial life in the 19th century demonstrate that the Westerners more often than not considered themselves superior to the local individuals. The European forces had convinced themselves that because they had the power and resources to create global empires, these were somehow inherently much better than the people these were conquering, and this frequently lead to the exploitation and degradation of indigenous peoples around the globe.

Another exemplory case of the conflict between two ethnicities is shown regarding Ida Pruitt, in the book China's American Little girl by Marjorie Ruler. Growing up in an American family working as missionaries in a little town in China, Ida experience both local Chinese culture around her and the American means of her Religious missionary mom, who resents a lot of things about China. As her mom constantly tried out to convert Chinese language people into Christians, Ida witnessed the harmful ramifications of such colonial interactions. King creates that "As Ida became aware of the differences between the Chinese language and the Christian missionary civilizations, she resented Christianity's intrusion in the Chinese language culture" (King, 17). Even as a young lady, Ida is able to understand that the Western makes (her mom) are attempting to insert their own ways of life, faith, and culture into the Chinese language culture because she respect them as substandard. The religious component of this is particularly powerful, as much types of Christianity believe that it is their responsibility and duty to spread their religion and convert as many people as possible, no matter changing their earlier way of life and destroying the initial culture. The focus for the Westerners in colonial China was on taking good thing about the local people to be able to convert them and insert western culture as an alternative because of their own. Ida recognizes this, and "Ida respected her father's adaptation to Chinese language ways in order to help build genuine friendships between the Chinese and Westerners" (Ruler, 19). Her daddy operates as a model for a better, more common exchange of culture and ideas between the Chinese language and the Westerners, which can be an equal interaction between the two, not the domination of 1 above the other as Ida's Religious mother attempts to instigate.

Ida Pruitt's experience as an American in colonial China greatly differ from those of the Westerners in both Heart of Darkness and Burmese Days, as she actually recognizes more strongly with Chinese language culture than she does indeed with her original ethnic culture. Instead of approaching the neighborhood citizens as being inherently inferior or below her, Ida embraces their customs and culture, and in lots of ways finds the Chinese way of life better than the American the one which her mom works so hard to encourage. Especially because she resided in China at such a time, "Growing up in the halls and courtyards of the haunted house of Track Family Community, Ida believed herself to participate Chinese life stretching out back a large number of years" (King, 6). Instead of the British club official who uses racial slurs to insult the Burmese people, or the steamboat captain who observes the "wild" and "inhuman" people of the Congo, Ida grows up surrounded by the Chinese language culture, and she actually is able to compare it with the American tradition marketed by her mother. The racist people in the other accounts experienced life as a Westerner, and for that reason never were able to appreciate or value any other culture. This tenacious obsession with one's own culture resulted in their imperial racism towards the local peoples. With Ida, she was able to form her own social and racial identity while experiencing both European and Chinese life styles, which allowed her to really value and understand both, and in doing this she was able to remain linked to both cultures without having to racially reject or degrade one or the other.

Racism is however an inherent part of individual society, and it could be especially disastrous when it is used to guide politics and military services decisions, such as through the colonization of Africa and Asia in the 19th century. Many individuals were killed, exploited, or remaining in poverty exclusively as a result of racial hate of others. The European imperialism of the world, although predicated on many motivations, was partly based on racism, as confirmed in the excerpts from Joseph Conrad and George Orwell. However, not all interactions between ethnicities were negative, such as the circumstance of Ida Pruitt in China. She was able to disregard her mother's blind bias and figure out how to value and appreciate Chinese language culture, something that suggests the importance to be available minded and experiencing other ethnicities for oneself before judging. Perhaps if the English officers didn't think so lowly of the local people, they would have provided better things such as classes and libraries, which in turn would cause a better informed country and a better society. If the steamboat captain hadn't looked at the Africans as savages, maybe he wouldn't have been so focused on the material riches and financial gain that was possible in Africa, but in setting up secure governments and creating better infrastructure for all people. Although things didn't come out this way, we can study from earlier this and apply that knowledge to produce a better future. Ida Pruitt is a superb example for overcoming racism, by experiencing another culture for oneself and criticizing your own traditions, somewhat than stubbornly purporting the right path as the best in support of way, and hating all other civilizations and societies that will vary. Always racism may never go away, we can change lives by understanding the past and understanding how to appreciate the value of all individuals societies and races.

King, Marjorie. China's American Daughter: Ida Pruitt (1888-1985). Hong Kong: Chinese UP, 2006.

Reilly, Kevin. Worlds of Record: a Comparative Audience. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, 2007.

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