King Leopold s Ghost Response Paper

1444 Words May 7th, 2015 6 Pages
Abel Habte
HIS 323.001
Prof. Chakravartty
4/16/15
King Leopold’s Ghost Response Paper With an estimated death toll of ten million people, King Leopold’s conquest of the Congo is recognized as one of the bloodiest holocausts in human history. The sheer brutality of this gruesome process triggered the world’s first international human rights movement. However, unlike the holocaust of Jews committed by the Nazi regime in mid-twentieth century Germany, the Belgian extermination of the Congolese has gone largely forgotten. In King Leopold’s Ghost, Adam Hochschild seeks to revive the fervor and vehemence with which the world remembers this tragedy. Prior to reading this book, my own understanding of the genocide in the Congo was that of just
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With several overtly expressed themes, one can clearly see the consequences of imperialism, racism, and capitalism which explicitly addressed in the book. In this paper, I’d like to draw attention to an underlying theme which played many pivotal roles throughout the course of the conquest of the Congo: technology. Technology was a key component in both constructing King Leopold’s empire in the Congo and in dismantling it through the efforts of the international human rights movement led by E.D Morel and Roger Casement. Different technological instruments make their appearance subtly throughout the book but three specific innovations had major impacts on the development and disintegration of the Belgian Congo: river steamers, the telegraph, and photography. Without these inventions, Leopold’s detailed orchestration of the Congo conquest would’ve been an impossible venture. These instruments brought about improvements in exploration and communication which made Leopold’s covert manipulation and Stanley’s navigation through the Congo feasible.
The Congo river steamers differed in structure so as to navigate through narrow passages and tight turns. Another key difference was that they were made to sail as far as possible on the river until they reached an impasse at which point they could be take apart
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