screwed by colonialism & imperalism

three great articles in the NY Times today illustrating how the hubris of the world’s superpowers have affected (and still affect) other, less powerful cultures:

*all articles are from the NY Times – if you don’t have a passwd:
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passwd: turtle*

An Old Journey Forged in Pain; A Remembrance Born to Heal

“For the past decade at his church, St. Paul Community Baptist Church in East New York, Brooklyn, Dr. Youngblood has held a commemoration, the Maafa, to express the grief of the catastrophe that befell his ancestors: the horrific journey of millions of black people from freedom in Africa to bondage in the New World. Churches around the nation now hold similar ceremonies.”

A Continuing Shame

“Native Americans came in great numbers to Washington last week, partly to celebrate, partly to correct a historic injustice. The occasion was the opening of the National Museum of the American Indian on the National Mall – a vivid reminder of the profound cultural and symbolic legacy of America’s indigenous peoples. In the background, however, was a continuing lawsuit, whose purpose is to restore to the Indians assets and revenues that are rightfully theirs.”

Shuttling Between Nations, Latino Gangs Confound the Law

“The authorities estimate there are 70,000 to 100,000 gang members across Central America and Mexico. In the last decade, gangs have killed thousands of people, sowing new fear in a region still struggling to overcome civil wars that ended just a decade ago. Gangs have replaced guerrillas as public enemy No. 1.

The presidents of Honduras and El Salvador have called the gangs as big a threat to national security as terrorism is to the United States. They have revived old counterinsurgency strategies and adopted zero-tolerance laws known as Mano Dura, which loosely translates as “firm hand,” that bypass basic rules of due process and allow them to send young men to prison for nothing more than a gang tattoo.

Instead of offering reassurance, official campaigns inflame public fear. And in the last year, human rights investigators have begun to report alarming increases in the numbers of young men killed by the police and vigilantes.”

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9 comments
  1. Anonymous said:

    Interesting articles. While not defending the practice of colonialism, I don’t think it’s a straight-line projection from former colony to disaster. I think a large part of it in part depends on the nature of the colonizer. For example, the British have left a surprisingly positive legacy in many of their former colonies.

    The French have generally been disasterous wherever they have gone (Haiti being but one example).

    There are also is a long list of examples where the the an absence of a controlling power has left the indigineous populations worse off. Sudan (former British colony) is a good example, so is the Balkans.

    Anyway, like I said, I’m not defending colonialism here. And by no means do I imply that colonialism was altruistic. However I don’t think that the issue of colonialism and its effects is black and white.

    One other comment, I don’t think gangs in Latin America can be attributed to either colonialism or imperialism.

  2. sarah said:

    while many colonialists countries may not have left the colonized country in apparent ruin, i do think there is something to be said for the loss of the culture of the former land. we can say that the process colonialism is a natural effect of a “shrinking” world, that as transportation and communication get better and faster, cultures will become more homogeneous, and while that may be true, there is always something lost. and i think that each of these articles speak to that loss, the rediscovery of ritual, of personal/cultural space the sometimes personal process of trying to discover where you fit in this new society, what role you can play that honors both the past and the future.

    This is especially difficult in countries and areas that have been ravaged, where the people are all poor, and where a sense of hopelessness can be pervasive.

    you’re right, to some degree about the latino gang issue may not be a direct result of colonialism/imperialism, however way that the gangs move from country to county, the way the various legal systems of those countries treat those who are prisoners, deporting some “back” to countries they may not have been to for decades, is interesting, in this context. and i also feel that the gang issue is in part a result of this cross-cultural loss – where the world of your parents, and elders is virtually non-existant and one must seek out an acceptable place in one’s own culture, especially in an area where it’s almost impossible to find legimitate work.

  3. Anonymous said:

    Agreed about the cultural issues, certainly even where there have been positive effects of colonialism, there have been negative as well.

    I think the gang issue has more to do with the spread of global culture, the urbanization of the world, and an increase in idle young men. The urbanization in particular is a major factor as you have the breakdown of familial or tribal links as more and more people emigrate to cities in the search for wealth.

    There’s a book called Warrior Politics that deals with some of these issues. You would probably disagree with the ideological bent of the author, but I think you’d probably find some of his observations accurate.

    BTW – The previous comment was from me (Mike). :)

  4. sarah said:

    i would agree that the present cause of the latino gang movement/culture is more of a result of globalization and urbanization, but i would argue that at the root level colonialism/imperialism created the systemic upheaval that allows the negative effects of globalization to take hold. this is not true in every case, a country with a weakend culture and economy will certainly respond more willingly to change that might have a more detrimental affect on their culture over time.

    when i have some time (HA!) i’ll try to check out that book! thanks for the reccommnedation

  5. Anonymous said:

    I guess I don’t know if I can make that root cause link. After all, the civilizations that ruled those regions prior to Western Conquest were colonialistic, culture assimulating cultures. I think a better link would be global capitalism and narcotics demand.

    Also, particularly in Central and South America, one has took look at the actions of the ruling (and often failed) states post colonialism. Of course post-colonialism does not mean then end of interference in those cultures/states. On the other hand one has to ask whether had there been no colonialism would the same problems exist? I don’t know if that can be definitively answered.

  6. Anonymous said:

    lidia is a crewer

  7. hereml1 said:

    Why is it that people continually go on and on about what colonialism did? What about the real issue, like the impact that the actions of the colonisers had on nations of indigenous peoples. I am sick of reading about all this other bullshit. Take for instance, the following quote:
    Intergenerational Postcolonial Stress Disorder explains the destructive behaviour patterns that are practiced and replicated through the generations in indigenous families. In its simplest form, IPCSD describes historical events that have caused trauma in the lives of indigenous peoples from generation to generation. Duran and Duran (1995) point to the loss of land, language, and culture as markers of initial trauma for the indigenous group, which is described as a holocaust type event such as that suffered by the Jewish population during the Second World War.
    (Kim Southey, University of Waikato 2002:161-164)

    Now this is the issue worth talking about!

  8. hereml1 said:

    Intergenerational Postcolonial Stress Disorder is the EFFECTS from colonialism. It involved millions and millions of indigenous people worldwide during the 1700s to 1800s which has had an effect on every generation since. We are now in the year 2006 and people are still talking about the bullshit of the nature of the colonizer or the controlling power or what happened back then but no one has the intelligence to discuss the real issues. The generational impact that colonialisation has had on people. Sure there are some good things that came out of colonialism – whooptee do – but no one wants to talk about the ongoing damage that colonialism has and stil is having on indigenous people. God created all mankind. What do you think He’s going to do with the colonisers? Intergenerational Postcolonial Stress Disorder is the reason why indigenous people end up in the gutter, in gangs, in prisons, participate in the underworld, are more likely to be criminals, fail in education, are likely to join street gangs, have poor health, have low incomes and shit jobs. The British and the Americans have lots to answer for when they meet their maker.

  9. Kim Southey said:

    Kia Ora,

    We dont tend to question the simple line between history and current behaviour when we watch scenes of genocide in African countries steeped in histories of power struggles and resource battles laced with ethnic difference. Yet when we examine our own, perhaps cleaner back yards with what we claim as superior environments with more obvious purety and seeminlgy less global violence (as opposed to specific) we afford ourselves the ignorant bliss of believing that our history is gone and doesnt (surely doesnt) impact on us because we dont have enough bodies lying in the street. An act of genocide is not a measure for whether or not historical events shape today. Each block is built on the other and there is no great mystery in that formula. Even individuals are shaped by parental history and in turn we will each go on to shape the next generation fuelled by behaviour created by the society we are raised in. Our gangs are shaped by the same unnatural selection as our scholars and presidents.

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