NationalVOLUME 18 ISSUE # 39

The impact of colonization: Unveiling the Legacy

Colonization stands as a pivotal chapter in human history, marked by its profound and enduring impact on nations, cultures, economies, and societies around the world. From the 15th to the 20th century, European powers embarked on ambitious voyages of exploration, conquest, and domination, leaving an indelible mark on the course of history. The consequences of colonization are intricate, ranging from the positive influences of technology and cultural exchange to the deeply negative legacies of exploitation and disruption.

One of the most significant impacts of colonization was the economic exploitation of colonized regions. European powers often sought to extract valuable resources such as minerals, spices, and agricultural products from these territories, resulting in economic imbalances and unequal distribution of wealth. Native economies were often disrupted as traditional systems were replaced with extractive models tailored to the needs of the colonizers.

Colonization often led to cultural clashes and the erosion of indigenous traditions. European powers attempted to impose their own cultural norms, languages, and religions on native populations, often resulting in the suppression of local beliefs and practices. This cultural dominance had lasting effects on the identity of colonized peoples, creating a struggle to preserve their heritage amidst external pressures.

Despite its negative aspects, colonization also facilitated the exchange of technology and knowledge between regions. European powers introduced new agricultural techniques, medical advancements, and infrastructure development to colonized territories. While this exchange had its benefits, it was often overshadowed by the broader agenda of exploitation.

Colonization often created or exacerbated social hierarchies and power structures within societies. European colonizers frequently imposed their own ideas of race and superiority, leading to the marginalization and subjugation of indigenous populations. These hierarchies left a lasting impact on social dynamics, which in some cases still persist today.

The political boundaries established during colonization continue to shape modern nations. Colonizers often redrew maps to suit their own interests, leading to the amalgamation of different ethnic groups and cultures within newly created states. This often resulted in internal tensions, conflict, and struggles for self-determination post-independence.

The aftermath of colonization was marked by the struggle for independence. Colonized nations sought to regain their sovereignty and self-governance, leading to widespread movements for decolonization. While achieving independence was a crucial step, the post-colonial period presented its own challenges – from nation-building to addressing the legacies of economic exploitation and cultural suppression.

Acknowledging the impact of colonization is essential for building a more equitable and just world. Many nations have begun the process of reconciliation by addressing historical injustices, promoting cultural diversity, and working towards economic empowerment. Additionally, education plays a critical role in raising awareness about the complex consequences of colonization, fostering empathy, and promoting a more inclusive worldview.

In conclusion, the impact of colonization is a multifaceted narrative of both positive and negative repercussions. The legacy of colonization continues to influence the present day, shaping economies, cultures, and identities. By understanding the intricate layers of this legacy, societies can work towards healing historical wounds, promoting equality, and building a more harmonious global community.

The question ‘who is post-colonial’ has been answered by many literary theorists, but for our satiety, critics have used the terms ‘settlers, Afro American, hybrids, indigenes’, to settle the arguments raised after analyzing the core settlement of any civilization after becoming an independent state. Colonialization, in broader terms, has to deal with the ideologies, cultural diversity, implies reciprocal sects of religions, variety of sociolects among the generations, and the ‘power relations within them’. Other than these issues, racism and class exploitation, (once the definite influential features traced in the colonized), has given space to the colonizers to creep into our boundaries again. So we are read, (in literature), as the slaves chained in the norms and traditions of colonizers, namely Britishers and Hindu raj, with their man-made hierarchies and cultural sacred legitimacy.

In variety of narratives and written discourses of all sorts, we can readily reflect upon the built image of “inferiors” or “others”, “savagery, native, primitive” (as colonised) being subjugated by the “superiors” and “we” (as colonizers). This concept is scrutinized and churned by the post-colonial critics, and we can sense the practicality of these thematic notions among the descendants in the sub-continent after partition of 1947.  Then, a perception of ‘actual self’ has been diminished by dislocation, displacement or in the form of displaced societies, as oppressed, in post-colonial aura. Thus bringing forth alienated self because of unclear distinction between “master/slave, free/bonded, ruler/ruled”.

Narrowing down to the colonies/ states that emerged in the sub-continent after the demand for partition, we observe an economic and political crisis because of the pre-existing anti-liberal raj of English men, Hindu raj and Sikhism. Ania Loomba, in her book entitled Colonialism/ post colonialism, marks this as political penetration of some countries by others. To date, a simulacrum of English politics and an abrupt, though influencing, copy of Karl Marx’s base of capitalism, where hierarchies are set and dues are paid to the workers in an established state structure, with forgetful alms from internal monetary fund to run the state and with the adoption of their culture, language, politics, and settling economical superstructure has yet once again revived the customs of historical subjugated Muslim state of 1940s.

With this, our advancements, in the field of IT or other technologies, are also in the mercy of those who were once the masters of our bodies and we the slaves of their kingdom. However, with a subtle realization of an account of miscellaneous sacrifices of our ancestors we may gear up an “anti-western political activism” campaign.

Lastly, another factor that is stemming from the post-colonial era, is the ethnic values which are again the mirror image of the past cults and traditions of our mixed colonies of ancestors. It is indeed sad to know that our generation has somewhat subdued to the varieties offered such as class distinction, gender issues and racism. So, despite being out of slavery, we are still in the same pot, capsuled in a form which portrays, and is influenced by, the concept of “others” and “Third World” with “post-colonial intellect” that is criticized by “we” and “us”.

Overall, the cohesion and independence of our communication—namely, the way we use language—have the potential to bring about a revolution and strongly reject the oppressive system of slavery and detached objectivity. The writers of “The Empire Writes Back” succinctly capture the harsh essence of postcolonialism by defining it as encompassing “all the cultures influenced by the imperial process, starting from the time of colonization up to the present day.” This is rooted in the persistent themes that have remained constant throughout history, stemming from the outset of European imperial expansion.

The writer has done her Master in English and Postgraduate Diploma in English Language Teaching (PGD ELT) from University of the Punjab. She has taught the English language, literature, grammar, composition and communication courses, as a lecturer, to intermediate and undergraduates of Government College, Wahdat Colony, Lahore, and University of Management and Technology, Lahore (UMT). She can be reached at: [email protected]