European Colonialism, Imperialism, and Cultural Superiority Essay

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European Imperialism and Cultural Superiority

Many factors contributed to the colonization of Africa by European powers between 1895 and 1905. Among these factors were the effects of European history, the growing capitalist economy, and the growing competition between European powers. Most important was the belief that European culture was superior to African culture. During the height of imperialism, the vast majority of the African continent was controlled by Europe (ìExtentî 19). It is important to understand what gave the momentum for European dominance at the time.

Imperialism is present in European history, beginning with the Roman Empire (Lenin). Lugard believes that Europeans inherited ìinstincts of
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Europeans found opportunity to create monopolies in the newly conquered lands (Lenin). It was also necessary to find new sources of raw materials, in order to keep production going (Hobson). This was largely a result of the Industrial Revolution (Hobson). Increased demand for raw materials led to increased demand for imperialism (Lenin). Cecil Rhodes, a British advocate for imperialism, believed it would solve Englandís domestic economic problems (Lenin). People who were likely to gain wealth from colonization further pushed the movement (Schumpeter).

The element of competition between European powers played a role in imperialism in Africa. When England was the only dominant economic power, imperialism was unnecessary (Hobson). When other nations began to gain power and become significant competition for each other, the argument developed that it was important to stop rivals from gaining the upper hand (Paton). Paton writes about the importance of keeping colonial gains for Britain (Paton). Countries felt that they had no choice in seeking colonies because they would not be able to compete economically if they didnít (Schumpeter).

Religion was a strong influence in pushing Europeans towards imperialism. They believed that it was important to teach Christian beliefs to the Africans (Lugard). Missionaries went to Africa, attempting to civilize
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