Imperialism has been thrown around in my social studies classes for many years now. New ideas about it are presented every class, but it is the same for all intensive purposes. The simplest definition that I learned was that imperialism was simply having colonies. Now, as with every concept that we have been presented with in this political geography course, I am humbled by all that I have not understood or grasped about this concept.
While I may never have been taught explicitly different, the book immediately launches into some myths, if you will, surrounding European imperialism. Being born of the same political, cultural, and technological foundations and principles that European society is founded on, it is quite natural for us as Americans to view them as being the superior civilization prior to the United States of America’s existence. However, the book is quick to point out that there is no basis for the idea that European nations conquered other civilizations during the time of imperialism due to the fact that they were an advanced society. All societies across the world were advanced in their own rights, but being as the cultural and political atmosphere of the civilizations was starkly different from that of European countries, they took it easily upon themselves to put themselves in a superior position. The Native Americans, for example, when discovered by Europeans after the discovery of America were very quickly put into the category of uncivilized savages. Why” Maybe because their clothing was so different or their language perhaps. However, it is easy to come up with a list of thing that they had developed in their societies that put them in an advanced position over European countries. Looking back through history, it is very easy- and humbling- to see the European civilizations as arrogant, brutal, and greedy cultures.
It is interesting to bring u p the considerable amount of new knowledge that was circulating the world during imperialism. The effects of this knowledge sharing are easily seen in societies across the world to this day. There is an obvious affect on languages, but there is also an effect on how societies operate. The knowledge of agriculture was given to European cultures through the Native Americans, and today farming is an integral part of how our society operates. There is also an obvious knowledge exchange in the world of the militaries around the globe; not only the general makeup of said militaries, but rather the need and desire for a military. Greed and hunger for power were also contagious it seems, as this also plays a key part in civilizations around the world.