Richard J. Evans--Empire: The Rise and Fall, from the 16th to the 20th Century

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source: GreshamCollege      2011年9月22日
Empire has been the defining world experience of the modern era. Already in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, European powers put their stamp on the Americas. After the decline of the old pre-industrial empires in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, new empires arose, as Europe raced ahead of the rest of the world in terms of economic and military power. In 1800, Europe and its colonies and ex-colonies covered just over half the land surface of the world; by 1914 this proportion had increased to nearly 85 per cent. By the Second World War, the only major inhabited areas of the world that had never been under European rule were China, Ethiopia, Japan, Mongolia, Persia, Siam, and Tibet. Yet within little more than thirty years, these great global empires had almost all collapsed, and by the end of the twentieth century, all that was left were a few isolated and fragmentary colonial possessions. This series of six lectures examines the rise and fall of the great European empires in a transnational and comparative framework, taking in not only the British and French experience but also that of other major and minor European colonial powers such as Germany, Holland, Italy, Portugal, Russia and Spain. The lectures conclude with a discussion of the impact of empire and imperialism in the twenty-first century. For access to all of Gresham College's 1,000 online archive of free public lectures, please visit the Gresham College website: http://www.gresham.ac.uk
The transcript and downloadable versions of the lectures are available from the Gresham College website: http://www.gresham.ac.uk/lectures-and...

1:01:20 Empire In The Pre-Industrial World 
The first lecture in the series looks at the initial expansion of Europe, from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century.
It explores the great empires established by the British, Dutch, French, Ottomans, Portuguese, Russians and Spanish, and looks at their origins, their growth, and their mutual rivalries. It examines how these empires were ruled, the role of slavery in their establishment and administration, and their impact on the peoples they colonized.
To a degree these were 'mercantilist empires', extending European patterns of control to overseas territories and confining them to a particular, limited role as recipients of European manufactures and providers of raw materials on which to base it. Trade restrictions imposed by the colonizing powers were increasingly resented by emerging colonial elites.
Most of the pre-industrial European empires collapsed with startling suddenness in the half-century from the mid-1770s to the mid-1820s, and the lecture concludes with a discussion of why this happened, and what remained afterwards.
56:48 Formal and Informal Empire in the 19th Century  
From the end of the Napoleonic Wars to the 1880s, British industrial might and British command of the oceans underpinned the 'imperialism of free trade', in which economic interests of various kinds were paramount. In the industrial era, the major non-European empires, notably the Chinese, Japanese and Mughal states, failed to keep pace with this expansion of European influence, and the lecture discusses the reasons for this failure.  New European empires emerged following the collapse of the old, and gradually European states found themselves intentionally or otherwise involved in converting economic and trading interests into imperial administration. Existing centres of European settlement and economic penetration, from Canada and South Africa to India and Algeria, generated a further impetus towards imperial expansion, driven by settlers' interests in trade, labour exploitation or security.
58:53 The Scramble for Africa  
In the early 1880s, informal imperial expansion gave way to formal imperial acquisitions. Between this point and the outbreak of the First World War, more colonial territory was acquired by European states than in the previous three-quarters of a century. New states entered the business of imperialism, notably Belgium, Germany and Italy. So fierce was the competition that in 1884 an international congress was held in Berlin to establish demarcation lines between the new colonial possessions. The 'Scramble for Africa' extended in fact to other parts of the globe and brought in new possessions in Asia, North Africa and the Pacific. Many explanations have been advanced for this sudden expansion of empire, ranging from changes in the European economy to the rise of European nationalism, from the need perceived by some European statesmen to provide an outlet for popular discontent at home to the exploitation of colonial issues by Bismarck for diplomatic purposes. This lecture analyses the process of partition and assesses the best way to explain it.
55:47 Empire: From Conquest to Control  
From the 1880s through to the First World War, European empires slowly imposed their control on the territories that in many cases existed merely on paper. This lecture asks how and why European powers embarked on this trajectory.
Often, occupation became effective through a long series of colonial wars and conflicts. Sometimes, as in the case of the German war against the Herero in South-west Africa in 1905-06, imperial violence reached genocidal proportions. In others, as in the British wars with the Maori in New Zealand, or the Italian invasion of Ethiopia in 1896, the colonizing power was unable to impose full control or was even repulsed by military defeat.
Different varieties of colony emerged, ranging from those where European settlement overwhelmed indigenous societies, as in Australia, to those where a small number of European traders, missionaries and administrators attempted to rule a vastly greater number of indigenous inhabitants, as in India or the colonies of West Africa.
1:00:28 The History of Empire: Exploitation And Resistance  
This lecture looks at the impact of empire on the colonizers and the colonized.
In Europe, ideologies of imperialism emerged, increasingly mingled with racism. These had a material effect on the attitudes of political elites that helped push Europe towards war in 1914.
Critics of imperialism argued that colonies were crucial mainly to ensure the continued existence of capitalist economies. Economic exploitation was indeed a key part of imperial rule, as settlers grabbed land to farm, merchants, traders and planters sought profits in commodities such as rubber and coffee, and state administrators tried to minimize the costs of running the colonies by turning them into profitable enterprises. In many cases, notoriously the Belgian Congo, this led to horrific acts of cruelty against indigenous people conscripted as labourers.
At the same time, economic imperatives led to attempts to develop the colonies, to provide a transport infrastructure, and to train and educate indigenous elites to meet modern economic needs. This sowed the seeds of later movements of national resistance and liberation.
1:00:21 Decolonization: The End of Empire?
European empires, re-divided after the defeat of Germany in 1918, continued to expand after the First World War, reaching their greatest extent in the early 1940s. The imperial ambitions of Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany created new empires that turned out to be very short-lived. With the emergence of the Cold War came a bipolar world dominated by two anti-colonial powers, the USA and USSR. Nationalism in the colonies grew apace, spurred by the loss of imperial legitimacy through the genocidal rule of Nazi Germany in Eastern Europe. Other European powers now began to feel that empire was unjustifiable following an immensely costly war that ended with human rights being enshrined in the United Nations Charter. Japanese rule over many European colonies in the Pacific severed ties with the imperial power and destroyed the legitimacy of empire. Once one major colony, such as India, gained independence, the momentum for others to follow became unstoppable. The lecture concludes by examining the legacy of empire in a post-colonial world. Have we escaped its influence or is it still with us?

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