Post post-colonialist studies

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Milo
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Re: Post post-colonialist studies

Post by Milo » Fri Mar 24, 2017 9:41 am

cassowary wrote:
Fri Mar 24, 2017 12:08 am
Milo,

In Africa, it was the other way around. Europeans had no defence against African diseases. That is why more primitive Africa kept European colonizers at bay for far longer than more advanced Indian civilizations like the Incas and the Aztecs.
One can divide the African situation into north and south. The north was exposed to European influence from ancient times and separated from the south by an extremely hostile stretch of jungle / desert in the middle.

The situation you describe held in the middle to southern parts of Africa but not the north. The far south part actually had a similar but less severe situation to North America et al.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/History ... _epidemics

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SteveFoerster
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Re: Singapore's unusual early colonial experience

Post by SteveFoerster » Sat Mar 25, 2017 4:05 pm

cassowary wrote:
Thu Mar 23, 2017 1:35 am
I read complaints from ex-colonies, especially African ones, of European mistreatment. But I don't know of anybody here today who complains about British colonialism.
Primarily, I think complaints about colonialism have their roots in post-colonial governments who have failed their people and need someone else to blame. That's why you don't see that sort of kvetching in wealthy former/current colonies like Singapore, Bermuda, the Caymans, etc.
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cassowary
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Re: Singapore's unusual early colonial experience

Post by cassowary » Sun Mar 26, 2017 8:58 pm

SteveFoerster wrote:
Sat Mar 25, 2017 4:05 pm
cassowary wrote:
Thu Mar 23, 2017 1:35 am
I read complaints from ex-colonies, especially African ones, of European mistreatment. But I don't know of anybody here today who complains about British colonialism.
Primarily, I think complaints about colonialism have their roots in post-colonial governments who have failed their people and need someone else to blame. That's why you don't see that sort of kvetching in wealthy former/current colonies like Singapore, Bermuda, the Caymans, etc.
I agree with you. It is always a part of human nature to blame others for one's own failures. Look at the black community in the US who are always blaming racism for their failure to catch up.

But I suspect that a lot depends on the capability of the people the British and other European encountered. The British wanted to trade. If the people they met were capable of peaceful commerce and both grew wealthy in the exchange, the British were quite happy to leave you alone to make your own arrangements. There was no need for harsh treatment of their subjects.

British colonization of Singapore started in 1819 when Sir Stamford Raffles set up a trading post in Singapore for the East India Company. Singapore became a crown colony in 1867. During this period, Singapore had a lazziez faire economy where the British administration left you alone. In 1875, a British report to London wrote:

"We believe the vast majority of Chinamen who came to these settlements return to their country not knowing clearly whether there is a government in them or not." ... A History of Modern Singapore, page 93.

The majority of Chinese then did not even realize they were subjects of the Queen. The Chinese community lived according to their own customs and laws. Disputes were settled by the leading members of the community - the merchant princes.

An interesting but not well known fact is that the commercial community in Singapore (both Asian and British) pressed a reluctant London to expand British power into the Malay states. Wealthy Chinese merchants had tin mines in Malaya which was then ruled by Malay Sultans. These Sultans were incapable of providing a legal framework for peaceful industry.

Different mining companies (all Chinese controlled) fought bloody battles for control of the tin mines. This was clearly bad for business. British business interests wanted to set up a tin smelting company in Singapore which required a steady supply of tin ore which was not possible under the circumstances.

All these commercial interests combined to prod a reluctant London to expand their control into the Malay hinterland.

neverfail
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Re: Singapore's unusual early colonial experience

Post by neverfail » Mon Mar 27, 2017 1:32 am

Singapore was fortunate in that it was founded when Britain had largely outgrown mercantilism and was increasingly interested in free trade. This Britain was a much more self-confident nation than it would have been before the Napoleonic Wars. The growing triumph of liberal values manifest in a growing confidence in free markets.

Cassowary, I want to thank you for your essay outlining the expansion of the British sphere of influence from its base in Singapore. What you may not be aware of was that Raffles founded it as a naval base as well as a trading post. In the course of the 18th century Britain found its profitable trade with China repeatedly interrupted by closure of the Malacca Straits, sometimes for years on end, during the wars with France and its continental allies that peppered the history over that century, by Dutch East indies armed merchantmen. The Netherlands (based in present day Indonesia) always took side with the Franco-Spanish alliance during these conflicts. Raffles wanted to ensure that it would never happen again.

I have read that as a trading post Raffles had the ambition to at first target the Dutch East Indies to encourage native Indo smugglers to ferry their surplus peppers and other spices in praus to market them in Singapore rather than sell them at lower prices to the Dutch. The Dutch rulers of Indonesia of course took a very dim view of that and responded by imposing direct colonial rule on the archipelago. Prior to that the Dutch had been content to merely control a few dozen strategically placed trading posts on the Indonesian islands and control the sea lanes - leaving the native sultans rulers of their own sovereign domains. Now their policy was to progressively control the Indo landmass in order to continue to monopolise the lucrative export of spices.

This is likely also an important factor in causing the British in Singapore to turn their ambitions to the region to their north: peninsula Malaya and its tin (which the Dutch had previously shown little interest in).

Compared to the Dutch East Indies Malaya looks to me at first like a smaller second prize gained by the British. But when you consider the wealth of tin, rubber latex and palm oil with terrestrially small outpost of Empire subsequently yielded, I can only conclude that Malaya proved a very rich consolation prize.

With Singapore and its port facilities so close to Johore province where the British established their plantations; it goes without saying that the growth of Malaya as a prodigious supplier of several valuable bulk commodities, Malaya fed the growth of Singapore.

Jim the Moron
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Re: Post post-colonialist studies

Post by Jim the Moron » Mon Mar 27, 2017 2:00 am

Yes, neverfail, Malaya "proved a very rich consolidation prize." But, as cassowary alluded to, Malaya was ruled by indolent Muslim Malay Sultans, who were happy to sit back and accept largesse. So while the ethnic Chinese and the British reaped the benefits of colonialism, the Muslim Malay masses did not.

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cassowary
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Re: Post post-colonialist studies

Post by cassowary » Mon Mar 27, 2017 2:05 am

Absolutely right Jim.

In fact, it was a Chinese who turned Kuala Lumpur, then a village into a major city. Today Kuala Lumpur is Malaysia's capital. The name of this merchant prince was Yap Ah Loy. The Malay Muslims are a lazy lot, by the admission of Dr Mahathir, former PM of Malaysia. Even their capital was built by the Chinese.

Yap Ah Loy fought rival Chinese groups for control of the tin mines in Malaya. His army controlled central Malaya. Besides tin mining, he also had opium farms, loan sharking, prostitution! On the other hand, he brought rule of law, built a prison, a school, bricklaying factory. He rebuilt the city a few times whenever natural calamity destroyed the city.

neverfail
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Re: Post post-colonialist studies

Post by neverfail » Mon Mar 27, 2017 3:04 am

Jim the Moron wrote:
Mon Mar 27, 2017 2:00 am
Yes, neverfail, Malaya "proved a very rich consolidation prize." But, as cassowary alluded to, Malaya was ruled by indolent Muslim Malay Sultans, who were happy to sit back and accept largesse. So while the ethnic Chinese and the British reaped the benefits of colonialism, the Muslim Malay masses did not.
"Six of one and half a dozen of the other" Jim. Had colonialism never taken place there the Malay masses would still have "missed out". The difference being that they would have been none the wiser.

Ignorance can be bliss! :)

neverfail
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Re: Post post-colonialist studies

Post by neverfail » Mon Mar 27, 2017 3:29 am

cassowary wrote:
Mon Mar 27, 2017 2:05 am
Absolutely right Jim.

In fact, it was a Chinese who turned Kuala Lumpur, then a village into a major city. Today Kuala Lumpur is Malaysia's capital. The name of this merchant prince was Yap Ah Loy. The Malay Muslims are a lazy lot, by the admission of Dr Mahathir, former PM of Malaysia. Even their capital was built by the Chinese.

Yap Ah Loy fought rival Chinese groups for control of the tin mines in Malaya. His army controlled central Malaya. Besides tin mining, he also had opium farms, loan sharking, prostitution! On the other hand, he brought rule of law, built a prison, a school, bricklaying factory. He rebuilt the city a few times whenever natural calamity destroyed the city.
I recall in 1976 visiting the Museum Negara (National Museum) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Included was a special room with a display of photographs and other memorabilia explaining the foundation of tin mining in the area and the emergence of Kuala Lumpur as a 19th century mining boom town.

I was especially struck by one photograph of a street scene in KL apparently taken sometime in the early 1990's. A muddy, unpaved street with wooden buildings fronting up to it. All the human figures in it were male. It reminded me of pictures I have repeatedly seen of the scores of mining settlements that mushroomed into existence here in Australia over the 2nd half of the 19th century in response to our various minerals rushes of that era; beginning with our 1850's gold rush.

With one difference. Instead of the somewhat angular, bearded European faces I would see in the Australian mining town scenes, the faces I saw in the 1890's Kuala Lumpur street scene were all beardless, rounded oriental ones.

Worldwide, regardless of who inhabits them, it seems that mining towns have the same basic look about them.

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SteveFoerster
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Re: Singapore's unusual early colonial experience

Post by SteveFoerster » Mon Mar 27, 2017 7:54 am

cassowary wrote:
Sun Mar 26, 2017 8:58 pm
But I suspect that a lot depends on the capability of the people the British and other European encountered. The British wanted to trade. If the people they met were capable of peaceful commerce and both grew wealthy in the exchange, the British were quite happy to leave you alone to make your own arrangements. There was no need for harsh treatment of their subjects.
Unless you didn't want to be subjugated, in which case they would kill you. Let's not pretend that colonialism was some sort of era of sweetness and light.
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neverfail
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Re: Singapore's unusual early colonial experience

Post by neverfail » Mon Mar 27, 2017 3:42 pm

SteveFoerster wrote:
Mon Mar 27, 2017 7:54 am
cassowary wrote:
Sun Mar 26, 2017 8:58 pm
But I suspect that a lot depends on the capability of the people the British and other European encountered. The British wanted to trade. If the people they met were capable of peaceful commerce and both grew wealthy in the exchange, the British were quite happy to leave you alone to make your own arrangements. There was no need for harsh treatment of their subjects.
Unless you didn't want to be subjugated, in which case they would kill you. Let's not pretend that colonialism was some sort of era of sweetness and light.
Cass is right Steve. As empire builders the British were quite flexible in "trimming their sails to suit the prevailing wind".

Unlike some of their Continental European peers they did not operate according to an inflexible master-plan template.

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