Concluding Ironies

  • Harry G Gelber


‘Colony’ and ‘colonization’ have many meanings. Not all relate t human affairs: the word can mean a colony of bees or ants. Even in its narrower sense, colonization and decolonization, quasi-colonization and recolonization have occurred, in one form or another, since human societies began. The words can mean a group of humans set down in a void, like a colony in Antarctica or on the moon. Or there is colonization as settlement, meaning settlers becoming, over time, part of the local population, as with some invaders of China. Or it can mean the elimination or expulsion of the existing population: recently known as ‘ethnic cleansing’. This, too, is ancient and common. One thinks of Cromwell, encouraging large-scale English migration into a thinly populated Ireland, to make it English, or the expulsion of millions of Germans from Eastern and Central Europe after 1945, and the attempts by Tutsis and Hutus in Central Africa to get rid of one another. More commonly, however, colonization, especially by Europeans in Asia, has meant imposing political rule over the people and territory said to be colonized.


National Unity Central Ideology Dutch Colonialism Western Liberalism Formal Independence 
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Copyright information

© Harry G. Gelber 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Harry G Gelber
    • 1
  1. 1.Asia Research CentreLondon School of Economics and Political ScienceUK

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