dawson and lange on the effects that different colonialisms have upon the prevalence (and measurability) of (postcolonial) violence
To test claims that postcolonial civil violence is a common legacy of colonialism, we create a dataset on the colonial heritage of 160 countries and explore whether a history of colonialism is related to indicators of inter-communal conflict, political rebellion and civil war in the years 1960-1999. The analysis provides evidence against sweeping claims that colonialism is a universal cause of civil violence but finds that some forms of colonialism increase the risk of some forms of civil violence. Specifically, the findings support claims that inter-communal violence is a common legacy of colonialism – especially of British colonialism and colonialism by minor colonial powers – but suggest that a history of colonialism has only a limited impact on political rebellion and civil war.
Our models on level of communal conflict provide strong support for the colonial hypothesis, as all but two of the variables measuring different aspects of colonialism are strongly and consistently related to level of communal conflict 1960-1999. The lone exceptions are the measures of European settlement, which are negatively and significantly related to communal conflict in one of three models and might be better measures of pre-colonial conditions than colonialism. Our findings therefore support claims that communal violence is a common legacy of colonialism, with settler colonialism being a potential exception.
[I]f one adds the number of non-natives living in British colonies at their respective dates of independence, nearly 27 million people of non-indigenous origins lived in the British Empire. Of these, nearly 13 million were of European origins, 3 million were descendants of African slaves, 4.5 million came from China, and more than 4 million migrated from the Indian sub-continent. And, communal violence between peoples of indigenous and non-indigenous origins has afflicted several former British colonies. Our findings, however, provide evidence that colonies with European settlement had levels of communal conflict that were either the same as or lower than non-colonies, thereby suggesting that European settlement does not explain relatively high levels of communal conflict among former British colonies. Similarly, communal conflict was relatively low in former British colonies with African migrants.
What an interesting article, which suggests – among many other things about the effects of nineteenth century imperialism – that violence in settler colonial locales is not only lower than other colonial places, but also that it is fairly unexceptional in comparison to non-colonial domains.
The data is fascinating, and the study is huge; though one can not help but think that pre-colonial population figures would need to play a bigger part in the statistics, and that population proportions within a particular colonial geography would help too. Of course, there are many potential determinants here that we might think about (like what makes a coloniser, and how many types of colonised were there in a single colonial space, and so on). That this article encourages us to do think about this stuff is surely a merit, not a blemish. But the topic could and should sustain many thousand pages.
Check it out as an entry point.
Filed under: Africa, Asia, Australia, Éire, Canada, Empire, Genocide, Hawaii, Israel/Palestine, Latin America, Scholarship and insights, Southern Africa, United States | 1 Comment