MSA 180 SQ 2013
Analytic paper two
Colonial Modernity and Human Differences
Colonization is the process through which one nation asserts its sovereignty over another for the following reasons. This process is both a mental and physical process that affects both the colonizer and the colonized. The first reason mentioned here for a nation to pursue a policy of colonialism is economic incentive. The imperial state could require more resources to continue its growth. Military incentives are another reason for nations to establish a colony as was observed during the peak of colonization, where matters of national security were paramount and it was a race to gain resources of all types to display a states might and power. The last reason for imperialism stated here is social incentives. In the social sphere of colonialism, colonizers claimed to bring modernity or “civilization” to the so-called “savages” through political technologies, missionaries, educators and etc. I define colonial modernity here as the colonizer’s policy of using a combination of rational thought, european liberalism, capitalism and technology to enact reforms in the traditional,so-called barbaric and unenlightened states of pre-colonial India, Algeria, and Egypt. Despite the colonizer’s claim to bring freedom, equality and rational thought to their South Asian and the Middle Eastern colonies I argue that colonial modernity was based on the exploitation of human differences such as age, gender, race, caste, class and tradition through the colonizers establishment of new social, political, and economic hierarchies that clashed with the pre-existing traditional socio-cultural structure of order. The cases I will use to support this claim in South Asia are British India’s issue of the land-tenure system that established a new class hierarchy of landowner and tenant and the British handling of the controversial Hindu religious tradition of Sati that classified women as a weaker gender in comparison to the Hindu men, . In regards to the Middle East, I will first use the issue of the Egyptian Islamic school of learning that in comparison to the static, uniform and disciplined European education system was labelled as barbaric and ineffective due to its traditional cultural focus on repetition and movement. The next case study I will use to support my argument is the Israeli claim that Yemeni Jews are “Natural workers” due to their docility and unargumentative nature . The final case i will use to support my claim is the transformation of male and female gender roles in French Algeria . The examination of these new labels and categories will help us understand the effects imperialism had on the colonized .
The British attempted to push colonial modernity onto their Indian subjects through attempts to divide their loyalties between neighboring tribes and chiefdoms, removing their independence and etc. For example, Kaushik Ghosh states in his publication, “This relationship between the hills and the plains started to change with early British attempts...at destroying the autonomy of the hill polities ...through the employment of a variety of factors, including conquests...by a well-organized colonial army, efforts at creating divided loyalties among the hill chiefs, and the rapid transformation of the hill societies through the enforcement of vastly alien land tenure systems...”. As this quote shows, the British desired the division of the diverse mountain people of India into groupings that were new and unknown to them to sow discord and confusion among various mountain peoples leaving no room for an organized effort to resist the British and their attempts to bring “modernity” to them. This had the intended effect of slowly degrading the pre-existing social structure and traditional economic system established by the chiefdoms and made way for capitalism as Ghosh states in his article that this land-tenure system had the effect...
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