What is NBDP in maritime terms


Sebastian Conrad

To person

Dr. phil., born 1966; Professor of Modern History at the Free University of Berlin, Friedrich Meinecke Institute, Koserstraße 20, Room A 355, 14195 Berlin. [email protected]

It is widely believed that the colonial era ended in the early 1960s when most of the colonized nations were granted state independence. Nevertheless, interest in the phenomenon of colonialism is growing steadily. On the one hand, it is becoming increasingly clear that colonial relationships of domination and exploitation have been an important part of the development of the modern world. [1] The history of capitalism or globalization was closely linked to the colonial order. On the other hand, colonial relationships have not completely disappeared even in the present, as the talk of a US American or a Chinese "empire" makes clear. Colonialism is therefore very topical in this twofold respect.

So what is colonialism? The conventional definitions emphasize three things: first, a territorially determined relationship of domination - this distinguishes colonialism from the broader concept of imperialism, which also includes forms of informal control without claims to territorial domination; second, foreign rule, which is characterized by the fact that colonizing and colonized societies have different social orders and each look back on their own history; thirdly, the colonizers' notion that the two societies are separated from one another by a different level of development.

For the analysis of colonial empires, Jürgen Osterhammel's description remains a helpful starting point (box). However, the search for a definition that is as precise and generally applicable as possible must not obscure the fact that colonial reality was to a large extent complex and heterogeneous. Modern colonialism since the 15th century went through different phases and produced an enormous variety of manifestations. The maritime empires of the Portuguese and Dutch in the 16th and 17th centuries, which were based on the control of individual trade bases, were categorically different from the British settler colonies in Canada or Australia or the bureaucratic rule of Japan in Korea. Urban colonies such as Hong Kong or Macau had little in common with rural regions in East Africa, where an officer's illness could paralyze administrative activities for months. The climatic and geographical conditions, the structures of the indigenous societies, the mechanisms of economic integration, the demands and objectives of the colonizers as well as the reactions of the local societies were often so different that one should rather speak of colonialisms.



"Colonialism is a relationship of domination between collectives, in which the fundamental decisions about the lifestyle of the colonized are made and actually enforced by a culturally different and hardly adaptable minority of colonial rulers, taking external interests into account which are based on the conviction of the colonial rulers of their own cultural superiority. "

Jürgen Osterhammel, colonialism. History, Forms, Consequences, Munich 1995, p. 21.

In view of this great heterogeneity, it is clear that definitions are always provisional and can only be an ideal-typical aid. This becomes clear, for example, if you take a closer look at two common forms of demarcation: geographical distance and territorial rule.

Colonial rule is usually described as a dependence on a distant center; the geographical separation as a constituent part of colonies was even included in the resolution of the United Nations in the decolonization year 1960. This so-called saltwater test was also politically motivated and was intended to prevent separatist movements from selling their independence efforts as decolonization. However, the distance criterion is too rigid as an analytical determination. Many historical forms that are particularly interesting as borderline cases for a colonial-historical analysis would already be excluded in principle: British rule in Ireland, the Japanese incorporation of Okinawa and Hokkaido, the administration of the Polish-speaking areas of the German Empire, the Italian modernization policy in the Mezzogiorno and many more.

On the other hand, the neat separation of informal (imperialist) and formal rule is not always relevant. Egypt, for example, was officially ruled by the Khedives until 1914 and was nominally under the suzerainty of the Ottoman sultan. But even if the constellation is like a prime example of the informal empire appears, since the British Consul General, who was formally only advisory, was the actual ruler of the country after 1882 - endowed with a wealth of power that hardly any of the governors of the colonies possessed. The transitions from formal territorial rule to various forms of indirect rule, economic control and imperialist infiltration were often fluid.

These examples show that the understanding of colonial relationships must be based on the specific conditions. At the same time, however, it is also important not to expand the term in such a way that it is overstretched and analytically worthless. If almost all forms of asymmetrical relationships have "colonial" aspects, the term loses its specificity and hardly differs from general concepts of domination or power.

The height of the colonial world order

It makes sense to capture the specifics of colonial epochs and situations as precisely as possible. This also applies to the heyday of the colonial world order between around 1880 and 1960, the structural effects of which still reach into the present and is particularly strongly present in public memory. In many ways, this phase followed on from earlier epochs; In British India, in French Algeria, in Dutch Indonesia and in many other places, colonial rule was not new, and the mechanisms of control, migration and economic exploitation also drew on practices and patterns, some of them longstanding. In addition, there were also great differences between different colonial arenas in the epoch commonly referred to as "high imperialism". But if one ignores these differentiations, one can speak of an independent epoch in the history of colonialism - in five respects.

First the consolidation of the colonial empires and the division of Africa coincided with the abolition of the slave trade and slavery, and promised to make up for the resulting shortage through direct access to local labor. Secondly colonial penetration was brought about by already industrialized societies at the end of the 19th century. The industrialization of the means of power - from the steamship to the machine gun - increased the asymmetry between the colonized and the colonized; At the same time, industrial production in the metropolises - not capital cities, but colonizing societies in general - intensified the demand for raw materials in the colonies, which were now increasingly integrated into the world market through the construction of the railways.

This connection to transnational economic contexts, third, was not fundamentally new, but was now dominated by the global integration of markets. Fourth the colonialism of the late 19th century was related to the formation of nation states in Europe, the Americas and East Asia. This gave the colonial project - not least as a prestige undertaking - an additional dynamic; on the other hand, it has also been politically undermined by the adoption of national discourses by colonized elites. Fifth after all, the modern epoch of colonialism was characterized by ideological legitimacy that appealed to the values ​​of the Enlightenment, formulated with universal claims, as well as the ostensibly objective principles of modern science. It culminated in the civilizing mission, which in many cases was able to hope for recognition even among leading representatives of colonial societies. [2] This gave the colonial rule an appearance of naturalness, which made the formation of resistance difficult for a long time.

Colonial relations have been an integral part of the international order since the second half of the 19th century, if not before. However, it is important to realize that colonialism was a broad phenomenon, the importance of which went well beyond the level of domination. The different forms of cross-border exchange were shaped by colonialism: the world economy was based on the asymmetrical inclusion of raw materials, labor and buying interests of non-European societies.

Colonialism was a condition and central ingredient of the world's political order, but also of the legal and ideological legitimation of this order. A large part of the migration movements and settlement projects took place under colonial conditions. And the cultural order of the world - including the world exhibitions, missionary work, but also the ideas of modernization and "development" - had colonial connotations. The interdependence of the world took place in the late 19th and early 20th centuries under colonial conditions. Historians have therefore also emphasized the connection between colonialism and the early history of globalization. Above all, the British Empire, in which, according to contemporary beliefs, "the sun never set", already implemented structures in the 19th century - such as political hegemony, telegraph cables, dominance in the financial markets, the superiority of the British navy, the ideology of free trade - within which many cross-border exchange processes took place.