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Lecture 6: Science, Technology and Imperialism

I. Science, Technology and Justifications for Colonization

A. The “civilizing” mission

    - justification for European conquest and dominance in 19th century
    - empire-building
    - paternalistic notion that it is the European’s “duty” to better the situation of the native who was not as “civilized”
    - bring peace and order to areas where there are wars, constant conflict
    - Europeans considered themselves to be best qualified for this mission because they were the most progressive and advanced civilization
    - evidence for this: scientific and technological achievements
    - example: firearms, machines and vast scientific knowledge are presented as proof of European superiority
    - belief that rational thought (i.e. science) would triumph over knowledge of cultures that were superstitious and ignorant
    - extremist position condoned the extermination of natives in countries considered “backward” in scientific and technical know-how
    - colonizers thus used idea of scientific and technological superiority as a) justification to govern colonized peoples and b) as a way to keep colonized people under control of administration
    - idea of bettering condition of humanity is today questioned as cover for exploitation of African and Asian peoples
    - moral arguments versus issues related to economic self interest and nationalist goals
    - example: in order to better their own economic standing, colonizers would provide manufactured goods and machinery to colonized in return for their constant supply of raw materials
    - by doing this, many native industries were destroyed; i.e. Indian shipbuilders, cotton manufacturers

B. Science and the Christian Missionary Movement

    - missionaries used idea of Western scientific and technological dominance as way to prove to the Non-western peoples that Christianity was superior religion
    - conversion would lead to their...

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