Decolonization

Unit 8: c. 1900-Present

Main Ideas:

  • Colonial desire for self-determination was unfulfilled after WW1; however, after WW2, increasing anti-imperialist sentiment → Collapse of empires & colonial independence

  • Nationalist leaders in colonies sought independence, and some negotiated their independence, while others got independence through armed conflict

  • After colonies got independence, regional movements challenged central rule & often advocated for autonomy, leading to the creation of additional new states

  • Governments took a strong role in the economy in newly independent states to promote economic development

  • Many former colonists migrated to the capitals of their colonizers → Maintained cultural & economic ties between the colony & colonizer

Causes of Decolonization

In the 30 Years After WW2, Nearly All European Colonies Got Independence 

Why did Colonial Empires Collapse?

Decline of European power

After the World Wars, European nations were economically devastated & lacked the resources to cater to the colonies

US & USSR as Superpowers

After WW2, the global balance of power shifted from Western Europe to US & USSR. Both these nations strongly opposed imperialism

Colonial Independence Movements

The spread of Enlightenment ideals to the colonies → Strong independence movements in the colonies

Due to the above reasons, nearly all the European colonies gained independence in the years after WW2

Events of Decolonization

Some Colonies Negotiated Independence, While Others Endured Armed Conflict 

Key Ideas:

  • The colonies had strong independence & nationalist movements

    • India had the anti-imperialist Indian National Congress

    • French Indochina had Ho Chi Minh, who led the Vietnamese communists against the French

    • Kwame Nkrumah was the leader of British Gold Coast (Ghana), the 1st independent African nation; Strong supporter of Pan-African nationalism

    • Organization for African Unity (Est. 1962) sought Pan-African nationalism, the idea that all of Africa is culturally united

    • Gamal Abdel Nasser was the nationalist leader of Egypt who sought pan-Arab nationalism, or the unity of all Arab states

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  • Some colonies peacefully negotiated their independence, while others got independence through armed conflict

    • India & the Gold Coast (Ghana) negotiated their independence from the British Empire

    • In 1960 (known as the "Year of Africa"), France peacefully gave independence to all of its West African colonies except Algeria

    • Algeria fought a long war (1954-62) against the French for independence

    • Angola also fought a huge war of independence (1961-74)

    • Vietnam got its independence from France in the First Indochina War (1946-54)

  • After colonies got independence, regional movements challenged central rule & often advocated for autonomy, leading to the creation of additional new states

    • In British India, the Muslims sought independence from India's Hindu majority → Partition of India & Creation of Pakistan (A Muslim nation within British India)

    • The Biafra region of Nigeria sought independence → Fought a civil war (1967-70) → Nigeria won

    • The Jews of Europe wanted their own state → Creation of Israel (1948) → Lots of conflict between Muslims & Jews in the Middle East

Effects of Decolonization

After Colonies Got Independence, How did the Colonies Develop Themselves? 

Key Ideas:

  • Governments took a strong role in the economy in newly independent states to promote economic development

    • In Egypt, president Gamal Abdel Nasser promoted economic development by building the Aswan Dam & promoting land reform

    • Indira Gandhi led the Green Revolution (an agricultural revolution that gave more food from the same amount of crops)

    • Julius Nyerere (President of Tanzania) promoted the economic policy of Ujamaa: This is collectivization of the economy, similar to communism

    • Sirimavo Bandaranaike (President of Sri Lanka) nationalized parts of the economy

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  • Many former colonists migrated to the capitals of their colonizers → Maintained cultural & economic ties between the colony & colonizer

    • Many South Asians migrated to Britain

    • Many West Africans migrated to France

    • Many Filipinos migrated to the US