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Contents About. By: G. Pages: i—xviii.

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Pages: 67— Pages: — Biographical Note Georg Lehner , Ph. His research and publications focus on the history of Sino-Western relations and on European conceptions of China. He also draws on a vast amount of secondary material spread across many disciplines and geographical areads; readers of different backgrounds and intersts are sure to find a wealth of useful information in these pages. Published The Continuum encyclopedia of British literature. The Continuum encyclopedia of American literature. Encyclopedia of German literature.

The Continuum encyclopedia of children's literature. The Oxford encyclopedia of children's literature.

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Gale contextual encyclopedia of world literature. Encyclopedia of feminist literature.

Concise encyclopedia of Latin American literature. Before the impact of the Industrial Revolution, European activities in the rest of the world were largely confined to: 1 occupying areas that supplied precious metals, slaves, and tropical products then in large demand; 2 establishing white-settler colonies along the coast of North America; and 3 setting up trading posts and forts and applying superior military strength to achieve the transfer to European merchants of as much existing world trade as was feasible. However disruptive these changes may have been to the societies of Africa, South America , and the isolated plantation and white-settler colonies, the social systems over most of the Earth outside Europe nevertheless remained much the same as they had been for centuries in some places for millennia.

These societies, with their largely self-sufficient small communities based on subsistence agriculture and home industry, provided poor markets for the mass-produced goods flowing from the factories of the technologically advancing countries; nor were the existing social systems flexible enough to introduce and rapidly expand the commercial agriculture and, later, mineral extraction required to supply the food and raw material needs of the empire builders.

The adaptation of the nonindustrialized parts of the world to become more profitable adjuncts of the industrializing nations embraced, among other things: 1 overhaul of existing land and property arrangements, including the introduction of private property in land where it did not previously exist, as well as the expropriation of land for use by white settlers or for plantation agriculture; 2 creation of a labour supply for commercial agriculture and mining by means of direct forced labour and indirect measures aimed at generating a body of wage-seeking labourers; 3 spread of the use of money and exchange of commodities by imposing money payments for taxes and land rent and by inducing a decline of home industry; and 4 where the precolonial society already had a developed industry, curtailment of production and exports by native producers.

The classic illustration of this last policy is found in India.


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For centuries India had been an exporter of cotton goods, to such an extent that Great Britain for a long period imposed stiff tariff duties to protect its domestic manufacturers from Indian competition. Yet, by the middle of the 19th century, India was receiving one-fourth of all British exports of cotton piece goods and had lost its own export markets.

Clearly, such significant transformations could not get very far in the absence of appropriate political changes, such as the development of a sufficiently cooperative local elite, effective administrative techniques, and peace-keeping instruments that would assure social stability and environments conducive to the radical social changes imposed by a foreign power.

Consistent with these purposes was the installation of new, or amendments of old, legal systems that would facilitate the operation of a money, business, and private land economy.

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Tying it all together was the imposition of the culture and language of the dominant power. The changing nature of the relations between centres of empire and their colonies, under the impact of the unfolding Industrial Revolution, was also reflected in new trends in colonial acquisitions. While in preceding centuries colonies, trading posts, and settlements were in the main, except for South America, located along the coastline or on smaller islands, the expansions of the late 18th century and especially of the 19th century were distinguished by the spread of the colonizing powers, or of their emigrants, into the interior of continents.

Such continental extensions, in general, took one of two forms, or some combination of the two: 1 the removal of the indigenous peoples by killing them off or forcing them into specially reserved areas, thus providing room for settlers from western Europe who then developed the agriculture and industry of these lands under the social system imported from the mother countries, or 2 the conquest of the indigenous peoples and the transformation of their existing societies to suit the changing needs of the more powerful militarily and technically advanced nations.


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At the heart of Western expansionism was the growing disparity in technologies between those of the leading European nations and those of the rest of the world. Differences between the level of technology in Europe and some of the regions on other continents were not especially great in the early part of the 18th century.

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In fact, some of the crucial technical knowledge used in Europe at that time came originally from Asia. During the 18th century, however, and at an accelerating pace in the 19th and 20th centuries, the gap between the technologically advanced countries and technologically backward regions kept on increasing despite the diffusion of modern technology by the colonial powers. The most important aspect of this disparity was the technical superiority of Western armaments, for this superiority enabled the West to impose its will on the much larger colonial populations.