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Colonialism: the assumption of political power for economic purposes.

Periods of European Colonialism in Africa:

Mercantile Colonialism (1415-1850): Bibliography: Ethnicity in Africa, 1700-1850,

Industrial Colonialism (1850-1950): Scramble for Africa

Neo-colonialism (1950- ): Indigenous People's Rights in Africa, Africa Development, Toxic Colonialism

Mansa Musa of Mali - 1375

Ancient Empires and Peoples of Africa

Later Empires and Peoples of Africa

Contemporary States and Peoples of Africa

(above maps were from: Maps of Africa and Ghana

from Jeff Gaydish's page
from Matthew White's Africa in the Early Twentieth Century


"A process of social change resulting from the DIFFUSION and adoption of the characteristics of expansive and apparently more advanced societies through societies which are apparently less advanced. Modernization involves social mobilization, the growth of a more effective and centralized apparatus of political and social control, the acceptance of scientifically rational norms and the transformation of social relations (see MODE OF PRODUCTION) and aesthetic form."

From Dictionary of Human Geography ed. R. J. Johnston, Derek Gregory, and David Smith Cambridge: Blackwell Press 1994.

Representation of the other:

Lord Milverton (Sir Arthur Richards), a former colonial Governor of Nigeria and one of the archangels of British imperialism in Africa, had this to say: " . . . The African has had self-government. Until about fifty years ago he had had it for countless centuries, and all it brought him was blood-stained chaos, a brief, insecure life, haunted by fear, in which evil tradition and custom held him enslaved to superstition, hunger, disease, squalor, and ruthless cruelty, even to his family and friends. For countless centures, while all the pageant of history swept by, the African remain unmoved--in primitive savagery" (African Opportunity).

Sir Philip Mitchell, in Africa and the West in Historical Perspective, maintained that until the period of European colonisation, Africans were living in the Stone Age, and that they were members of "the only race which has contributed nothing to humanity."

Sir Arthur Kirby, Commissioner for British East Africa in London, said in 1958, that "in the last sixty years . . . East Africa has developed from a completely primitive country, in many ways more backward than the Stone Age . . ."

In David Hume's opinion, pre-European African Negroes could boast of "no ingenious manufactures among them, no arts, no sciences."

"Examples of this kind of gross misrepresentation of Negro history by prejudiced European writers can be multiples ad nauseam."

The Importance of African History Today:

Jarosz, Lucy 1992 "Constructing the Dark Continent: Metaphor as Geographic Representation of Africa" by Geografiska Annaler 74B (2):105-115

"The metaphor of Africa as the Dark Continent . . . identifies and incorporates an entire continent as Other in a way that reaffirms Western dominance and reveals hostile and racist valuations of Africa and Africans . . ."

Jarosz, Lucy 1994 "Agents of Power, Landscapes of Fear: The Vampires and Heart Thieves of Madagascar" Environment and Planning D: Society and Space vol 12, pp. 421-436

Dr. Lucy Jarosz is a Professor in the Department of Geography at the University of Washington.

Deforestation in Madagascar from the Sustainable Development/Economics Homepage

Additional resources:
African History sourcebook:
An A-Z of African Studies on the Internet
Extent of colonialism in statistics
Leo Africanus: Description of Timbuktu
Colonial Africa - map
Africa early 20th c.
Africa Maps
Maps of African Countries (small files)
Historical Maps of Africa
Africa - Multimedia Archives
Colonialism links