West African Colonialism and the History of Imperialism

  • John D. Hargreaves


Europeans of the early twentieth century commonly regarded the establishment of colonial rule in regions like West Africa as the natural climax of historical interaction; political control, shared among the nation-states of western Europe in rough proportion to their political vitality, seemed to have become the necessary means for the extension of civilization, for the penetration of archaic economies by modernizing capitalism. The living nations, in a memorable phrase by Salisbury,1 would inevitably encroach upon the dying nations; the important questions concerned the effects of this process on relations among themselves. For the ideologues of colonial empire — as also for its critics — partition and conquest were so clearly a product of the logic of history that it seemed hardly worth subjecting the details to close scrutiny.


Colonial Rule Colonial Control European Government Armed Resistance African History 
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  1. 2.
    J. Bouvier, R. Girault, J. Thobie, La France Impériale, 1880–1914 (1982) pp. 168–9.Google Scholar
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    G. N. Sanderson, “The European Partition of Africa”, in E. F. Penrose (ed.), European Imperialism and the Partition of Africa (1975).Google Scholar
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    A. G. Hopkins, An Economic History of West Africa (1973) pp. 164–6.Google Scholar
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    R. Ross Johnston, Sovereignty and Protection: a Study of British Jurisdictional Imperialism in the late Nineteenth Century (Durham NC, 1973).Google Scholar
  5. cf C. H. Alexandrowicz, “The Partition of Africa by Treaty” in K. Ingham (ed.), Foreign Relations of African States (1974).Google Scholar
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    H. Labouret, Monteil (1937) p. 282.Google Scholar
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    J. Gallagher, The Decline, Revival and Fall of the British Empire (Cambridge, 1982) pp. xiii, 80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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© John D. Hargreaves 1985

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  • John D. Hargreaves

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