Using the four features of New Imperialism discussed in Lesson 2 of this issue

Answer the following in 2 well-developed paragraphs (about 400 words total):

Using the four features of New Imperialism discussed in Lesson 2 of this issue, find and discuss examples of these features in the Congo: White King, Red Rubber, Black Death documentary.

When referring to a specific episode in the documentary, make sure to include a time stamp in parentheses. For example: “Despite the history of violence in the Congo, Leopold is still considered to be a great king in Belgium (12:06).”

lesson 2:

In our last lesson, you have learned about the transformative effects of the Industrial Revolution on Britain (other European countries were similarly transformed by their Industrial Revolutions, too). As industrialization continued, it provided Western European nations and, slightly later, the United States with economic, technological, and cultural ability to expand and conquer those parts of the world that were not industrialized and were previously unavailable for conquest (like most of Africa, for example).

One of the lasting effects of the Industrial Revolution in the West was the beginning of a new age of imperialism or New Imperialism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. You may ask, what was so new about it? After all, European empires have been busy colonizing various parts of the world for centuries.

Unlike previous colonial endeavors, New Imperialism had four distinctive features shaped by industrialization:

Economic Role. While “old imperialism” (think Spanish conquest of Central and South America or the British conquest in North America) was often aimed at extracting natural resources or raw materials (silver, sugar, furs and so on), New Imperialism continued this practice but added another component to it. In addition to using the new colonies for their resources, these colonies were also used as additional markets for European manufactured goods. This created exploitation in two acts: first, European empires extracted cheap resources, then they turned these resources into manufactured goods and sold them at a mark-up back to the colonies.
Speed and Technology. The industrial-era technology enabled Western empires to conquer new land with remarkable speed. Steamships and railroads allowed fast movement for the European armies. Powerful automatic weapons (including machine guns) made European forces virtually indefeasible in any part of the world against anything the local people could muster. A somewhat tongue-in-cheek poem popular during this time went: “Whatever happens / We have got / The Maxim gun/ And they do not.” Finally, new medical knowledge allowed European to survive in hot, tropical climates where they previously were vulnerable to various diseases. You may remember how Captain Phillips, a slave trader whose account you read in Issue 1, knew better than to venture away from the ocean shore for fear of disease. Now Europeans had a better chance of surviving in Africa and South-East Asia than ever before.
The Civilizing Mission. If early imperial conquests were often driven, at least in part, by the desire to spread Christianity, by the 19th-century religion became less important. Instead, a lot of colonizing was done in the name of civilizing the local population. By “civilizing” Europeans meant, of course, forcing the locals to be more like the Europeans, although contemporary racist ideas about the people who lived in the colonies, also meant that the colonized will never be allowed to be truly equal to their colonizers. Some of you may have read British poet Rudyard Kipling’s poem White Man’s Burden. It was written to congratulate the United States on conquering the Philippines from Spain and making the islands an American colony. One of the key ideas in the poem is that the people of Europe and North America have a duty to take over the “ungrateful” people in the colonies, described by Kipling as “half-devil and half-child,” to show them the light of Civilization.
Imperial Competition. By the late 19th century, the Industrial Revolution was in full swing not only in Britain but also in France, Germany and the US (and to a lesser extent in other European countries). Economic competition translated into competition for new markets (see the 1st feature of this list above). By conquering more land, each empire hoped to strengthen its economy and weaken the economy of its rivals. It was a bit like a game of RISK on a real-life global scale. As a result, constant competition forced European conquest even of those parts of the world that had little resources. For example, France conquered most of the Sahara Desert just to make sure the British do not get it. New imperial powers, like Italy, Belgium and Germany, were trying to do the same. In the Far East, modernization and westernization in Japan inspired its rulers to behave like the European empires and conquer the surrounding lands. Eventually, such uncontrolled rivalry will lead to WWI, when the imperial ambitions and industrialized military technologies came to haunt Europe in a brutal, bloody and more-or-less pointless conflict with 40 million casualties worldwide.
In this lesson, you will learn about New Imperialism through a short video and two primary sources (combined in one file, “Ideologies of New Imperialism (late 19th c.)”). The first reading is an excerpt from a speech by Jules Ferry, a French statesman and politician. Ferry delivered this speech before French Constitutional Assembly (parliament) in 1884, justifying his country’s colonial expansion. The second excerpt is by Cecil Rhodes (1853-1902), a mining magnate in British South Africa, businessman and politician. He wrote this statement of his ideas about British superiority and imperialism on June 2, 1877, when he was only 23 years old and a student in Oxford. What do these readings can tell us about Rhodes’ and Ferry’ views on race, progress, and imperialism?

The Scramble for Africa (Andrew Chater,, 2009)


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Using the four features of New Imperialism discussed in Lesson 2 of this issue


440 words

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