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Chapter Thirty-Two. Colonialism

Trutz Von Trotha

Subject Imperial, Colonial, and Postcolonial History » Colonial History

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1800-1899

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405113205.2006.00036.x


“Globalization” is undisputedly the key concept of the present. The term implies the view that we have only recently entered the “Age of Globalization,” with its worldwide networks, concentration, and dynamism of politics, economy, and culture. From the perspective of contemporaries of the turn of the sixteenth century, however, things look quite different. For them, the beginning of globalization was marked by two precise dates: October 12, 1492 and May 18, 1498. On that date in October, Christopher Columbus came ashore on an island in the West Indies that its inhabitants called Guanahani and which he promptly renamed as San Salvador, claiming it for Spain. And the May date marks the day when Vasco da Gama reached Calicut, ten months and ten days after he had set sail from Lisbon and crossed the Indian Ocean, guided by an Arab pilot. Contemporaries of the European Renaissance were correct in believing that on these two days the European horizon was extended infinitely and previously undreamed of possibilities became conceivable. Between these two dates lies the signing of the Treaty of Tordesillas on June 7, 1494, in which Spain and Portugal divided up the world among themselves. Cast into the form of an international treaty, this took the notion that the world as a whole lay within the grasp of Europe and added to it a missionary claim of domination and civilization that encompassed ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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