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European Colonialism and Its Effects on Ethnic Groups.

  • Date Submitted: 09/08/2011 06:04 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 33.4 
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Roberta Edwards Lenkeit in the book Introducing Cultural Anthropology defines colonialism as the influence and domination of one nation over another for the purpose of exploiting resources. It involves the capture of territory, and subsequent political, economic, cultural and even religious subjugation. An ethnic group according to the Merriam Webster dictionary is a large group of people characterized by a common racial, national, tribal, religious, linguistic, or cultural origin or background.
Prior to the 15th century and before the spread of cities, peoples of different cultures and ethnicities came into contact briefly (if ever) for the purpose of trade. Their short meetings left their ways of life largely unaltered. Life continued as usual from generation to generation. Even with the increased military and economic activity which accompanied the growth of cities, captive and displaced peoples were allowed to retain their cultural identities.
The colonization of Africa, Asia, the Americas and the Pacific by European powers such as Spain, Portugal, France, Britain and Holland was different in many significant ways. It has been described by many Anthropologists and Historians as the most pervasive form of colonialism. The Europeans brought military, political, religious and cultural change for more than 5 centuries on a scale that was unprecedented. This domination of these newly “discovered” lands by European colonists brought about an ethnic awareness to groups that often were previously oblivious to the existence of others. In other words, ethnicity was created by the colonists.
              The subsequent review of political boundaries by the colonists lumped together groups which were antagonistic towards each other. Ethnic groups lost their political autonomy, giving rise to tribal conflicts many of which persist today.
The cultures and religious practices of the natives were treated as inferior and irrelevant. They were forced to learn the language...

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