The end of colonialism, in which one country develops and retains its dominance over, dependent terrains, is decolonization. How is Decolonization caused? What are its root causes? What are its aftereffects? Read the article to know more about decolonization.
Decolonization is defined as the end of colonialism or the demand for independence and self-determination by formerly colonised people. Independence movements in colonised territories contributed to decolonization in part.
Additionally, it was the outcome of a deliberate economic choice taken by colonial rulers.
For the European nations, the expense of maintaining colonial empires had started to outweigh their worth.
Decolonization is defined as “the departure of a colonial power from its colonies; the acquisition of political or economic independence by such colonies” in the Oxford English Dictionary.
What is Decolonization?
According to other experts, decolonization is the transition of a polity from a state of formal dependence or subordination to one of formal autonomy or sovereignty.
In current practice, it is typically assumed that the two civilizations are culturally distinct and that the regal or metropolitan centre is physically separate from the dependence.
Decolonization is the process by which western overseas empires are broken up and replaced with independent governments in the Americas, Asia, and Africa.
Politically (achieving independence, self-government, union with the metropole, or joining another state), culturally, or both (removal of pernicious colonial effects).
The term mostly alludes to the global colonial empires that had been built prior to World War I being destroyed in the years after that conflict.
The dissolution of the Spanish Empire in the 19th century, the collapse of the German, Austro-Hungarian, Ottoman, and Russian Empires after World War I, the collapse of the British, French, Japanese, Portuguese, Belgian, and Italian colonial empires after World War II, and the collapse of the Soviet Union (the successor to the Russian Empire) after the Cold War are a few examples.
Studies have demonstrated that decolonization refers to the capacity to observe and analyse non-Western civilizations from a neutral, non-Western perspective.
There are many different ways that decolonization might take place.
- The dependency most frequently develops into a new independent state, a political organization acknowledged in the international community as independent of other states and as having final control over a certain territory and population.
- Less frequently, decolonization might take place when a dependency is fully assimilated into an existing state and ceases to be independent and subordinate.
The relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States can be categorized as either one of colonial dependence or free association. Portugal asserted in the 1960s that it had no colonies and that only foreign areas had been constitutionally merged into a single Portuguese state.
And where political ties are not strained, it is difficult to determine whether independence has been attained because there is no overt fighting.
Important Factors in the decolonization process
Three main factors were extremely important in this decolonization process.
- First and foremost, the desire for independence among colonised peoples, followed by the Second World War’s demonstration of the vulnerability of colonial powers, and finally, the United Nations’ renewed emphasis on anti-colonialism.
- The release of Britain’s thirteen continental colonies under the name United States of America marked the beginning of the first wave of decolonization.
- The French colony of Saint Domingue became Haiti after a slave insurrection that was sparked by the French Revolution. After the Napoleonic Wars, which had cut off Latin America from the Iberian peninsula, Portuguese Brazil and Spanish Central and South America gained independence.
- While the initial phase of decolonization was only applicable to the Americas. Decolonization took place worldwide in the 20th century.
- Most of the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, Australasia, the Middle East, Africa, and the Caribbean were all included in its scope, as well as independence. Between the two world wars, a few of Britain’s colonial outposts and a few loosely governed protectorates attained full independence.
- Major Asian colonies including India, Indonesia, Indochina, and the Philippines attained independence following World War II. During the 1960s, when roughly all of Africa was decolonized, this transition accelerated quickly.
- Nearly every Western colony had achieved self-government or had been entirely assimilated into sovereign states by the 1980s.
- Who desired independence throughout each of the two stages of decolonization was a key distinction. Creole revolutions marked the early stages of American decolonization as the descendants of European settlers sought political independence from their motherland.
- Political revolutions, as opposed to social revolutions, were the American Revolution and the Spanish Wars for Independence. The only exception to the disgust of loyalists and creole nationalists abroad was the slave uprising in Haiti.
- Contrarily, as decolonization came to signify freedom from ethnically foreign domination, it was deeply based on aboriginal rather than creole campaigns for independence.
- After World War II, settler factions resisted decolonization because it would remove their privileged social, political, and economic status. A racialist minority administration only managed to survive decolonization in South Africa.
- The degree of violence engaged also differed significantly between the first and second effects of decolonization. Early American decolonization was achieved by armed conflict between colonial and imperial troops. In the thirteen continental colonies of Great Britain, in Spanish Central and South America, and in Haiti, wars for independence raged.
- Due to Brazil’s greater wealth and population than Portugal’s, only Portuguese Brazil was able to achieve independence without a fight.
- Protracted battles for independence were fought in Algeria, Angola, Indochina, and Indonesia during the 20th century. But these were rare instances.
- Without organised conflict between the imperial state and colonial nationalists, the majority of colonies achieved independence.
Impact On Economy
The economics of the recently constituted states have been significantly impacted by decolonization.
- Newly independent African states were found to need to upgrade their economic systems. Additionally, even though the former colonies were now legally independent, they remained largely reliant on the West for assistance in building their political and economic institutions. As a result, western corporations continued to exert considerable influence over the new states.
- In order to finance their own growth, newly independent republics borrowed money from Western nations, which led to the creation of a new debt system.
- Politically, many countries have been unable to pay off this debt for decades, therefore it still persists. Decolonization’s effects on broader ideas of international dominance or injustice are hotly debated. Dependency and world systems theorists envisioned decolonization as causing the change in the mere form, but not the content, of core-periphery connections.
- The major point of contention is that, even in the absence of explicit governmental controls, the interaction between more and less developed economies tends to accentuate the gap between them.
- Dependence on foreign money has been argued to impede long-term economic growth and, more broadly, to influence the social, political, and economic makeup of the dependent country.
- Despite these concerns, it is clear that decolonization entails a fundamental shift in the systems that govern international trade, particularly in the post-World War II era.
- Modern states have widely recognised rights to regulate economic activity within their borders, including the ability to nationalise industries with foreign ownership and renegotiate agreements with multinational businesses.
- Third-world countries rally around these rights, and when the bordering state is powerful, the detrimental effects of economic dependence appear to decrease.
Techniques and Phases involved
Techniques and Phases involved in decolonization are the following:
- Following the conclusion of World War I, decolonization became more popular around the world. The League of Nations, which was disbanded on April 20, 1946, was the first organisation on the international stage to make a concerted attempt to decolonize. The division of German colonies in Africa between France and Britain is one famous example of a mandate that was formed for this reason but was later viewed as a mere allocation of sovereignty over the former colonies to other colonial powers at the time.
- The colonial nations started moving toward decolonization on their own initiative after the devastation of World War II. There was little funding or enthusiasm for military action to hold into overseas regions against their will because they had other priorities, such as rebuilding their own countries.
- The dependent territories have made the decision to maintain their dependence through referendums, as was the case with Gibraltar and French Guiana. In response to the emergence of independence movements in the colonies, colonial powers have occasionally supported decolonization in order to free themselves of financial and military responsibilities.
- The transfer of control over foreign policy, security, and the pursuit of de jure recognition for the new sovereignty may be the primary goals of the final stage of decolonization. However, even after statehood is acknowledged, some continuity can be preserved through bilateral agreements between newly equal administrations, such as pacts for mutual defence and military training.
Decolonization Process After the Second World War
After the Second World War, the decolonization process quickened.
- As a result of enemy conquest, some colonial regions, like French Indochina, Dutch Indonesia, British Malaya, and Italian East Africa, were essentially cut off from their colonial masters.
- Vietnam and Indonesia both declared their independence from Dutch rule.
- The 1947 declaration of India’s independence is the most significant event. In different sections of the country, there were several peasant and tribal uprisings against British and local landlords, which helped to fuel the growth of a nationalist movement using Gandhi’s tools of nonviolence and non-cooperation.
- Of the former British colonies in Africa, only Nigeria and Ghana attained independence.
- In 1934, the Union of South Africa acquired dominion status and eventually developed into a sovereign independent state within the boundaries of the British empire. In 1961, it severed ties with the United Kingdom and left the Commonwealth to become a republic.
- The racist apartheid regime in South Africa deprived Africans of even the most fundamental human rights. The increased international pressure from the third world and the UN in the 1980s and early 1990s led the western countries to negotiate with African opposition. After the parliamentary elections, the black majority received power after all the discussions.
- After the League of Nations was replaced by the UN, South Africa asserted trusteeship over southwest Africa, extending the apartheid territory that the UN had deemed unconstitutional.
- The Namibian council was founded by the UN in 1967 to run the country. Namibia was created when South Africa gained its independence.
Decolonization’s root causes
- The emergence of modern nationalism shook colonial imperialism, and a sense of pride in one’s nation-state and affiliation with it led to the creation of national groups with the aim of upending the colonial system.
- The advent of European culture and authority disrupted traditional living, which eventually led to the psychological roots of nationalism and decolonization.
- The elite was impacted by missionary education and the principles of the French Revolution, which helped them internalise the virtues of democracy and freedom.
- Marxism, another ideology that strengthened nationalist movements in the colonies and steered them steadily in the direction of socialism.
- The imperialist powers were forced to leave their colonies as a result of the United Nations extensive involvement in the post-second World War period.
- Asiaticism: The centuries-long subjugation of Dutch and British colonial powers in India and Indonesia resulted in nationalist emotions among the populace, as well as a sense of shared identity.
- Pan-Africanism: Africans began to question European dominance by the end of the 19th century. Pan-Americanism served as a vehicle for the values and ambitions of the African people.
- After the First World War, the victorious powers, in an innovative move, subjected the colonial territories to the League of Nations’ mandatory system, which gradually liberated them.
- In certain nations, such as some of the former French colonies in Africa, such as Senegal and the Ivory Coast in West Africa, as well as some of the former British colonies, such as Nigeria and Ghana, the process was rather calm.
- International institutions like the League of Nations and the United Nations intervened to help some of the countries get independence. Some of them, like the liberation of Algeria, took a brutal turn.
- The nature of international interactions becomes really global.
- The colonial powers’ ruthless exploitation was reduced, and democracy and equality were established.
- The last nail was placed in the coffin of crimes against humanity like slavery and apartheid.
- New, independent nations appeared in Asia, Africa, and Latin America as a result of decolonization, and these regions became the scene of ideological conflict and the Cold War.
- As a strategy, decolonized countries adopted neutralism and adhered to nonalignment as a mark of respect and decency.
- The presence of Afro-Asian countries drastically altered how the UN operated and functioned.
- The third world was created as a result of decolonization.
To sum up, colonialism often involved the transfer of people to a new environment where they settled permanently while retaining political allegiance to their home nation. The practice of colonialism includes the subjugation of one person by another. The act of rejecting colonialism is called decolonization. Through this procedure, one country secures its independence from the state it had just emerged from and becomes self-governing.
Article Written By: Atheena Fathima Riyas