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Topic section: Imperial expansion – not a visit but a takeover
TOPIC SECTION:
Imperial expansion – not a visit but a takeover
More than any other form of cultural exchange, colonialism brings the imposition of new ideas, industries and technologies in its wake.
Picture: 01_1983-5236_F02747.jpg
Three Imperial soldiers, 1937.
Credit: NMPFT
 When the Japanese colonised the Ainu, they managed to impose their ideas and values so successfully that Ainu culture has now been sidelined into a sightseeing attraction.In Mexico and Peru, the Spanish completely overthrew two advanced civilisations and destroyed nearly all traces of their culture, leaving only their awe-inspiring ruins for tourists to photograph.

Superior technology is at the heart of most successful takeovers. The British Empire used its own version of the knowledge economy to both lethal and beneficial effect. By mobilising a variety of methods, including the educational system and the media, the colonising culture usually systematically undermined the indigenous culture. Under British
Picture: 01_1985-5107.jpg
Young Woman, Ceylon, about 1877.
Credit: NMPFT
rule, Indian art was for generations reviled as grotesque. The Benin bronzes, acquired by the British Museum as a result of a punitive expedition in 1897, were widely regarded by European curators as Egyptian or Portuguese in origin because they found it difficult to accept that sub-Saharan Africans were capable of such exquisite craftsmanship.

The legacy of colonialism continues to resonate to this day. The British a
The legacy of colonialism continues to resonate to this day.
re proud of the railway infrastructure they left in countries like India and Pakistan, but arguably it is English itself, acting as a common language, that has has created new opportunities, both cultural and technological. Some of the best creative writing in English today comes from former colonies such as India, the Caribbean and Africa. Having English as a second language has also enabled scientists from Commonwealth countries to operate within an international context.

Picture: 01_1990-5036_6032_0026.jpg

Europeans photographing an Asian man, about 1925.
Credit: NMPFT

 

 

Because of its largely American origins, the IT industry uses English as its main language. This has allowed districts within India, such as Bangalore and Hyderabad, to produce expertise and skills that are widely in demand in the West in the twenty-first century. However, the influecne of English has not always been beneficial. Half of the 200 indigenous languages of Australia that existed when the British arrived two centuries ago have already been lost. Furthermore, it is reckoned that only 20 of the surviving Aboriginal languages have a long-term future.



 
 
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Topic section: The New Commonwealth: over here because you were over there
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In 2001 almost one in eight NHS hospital doctors had been trained in the Indian subcontinent. Restaurant cuisine and popular music have been transformed by migrants into Britain. However, as well as enriching migrant and host country alike, does globalisation challenge the special qualities of cultures?  > more

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Topic section: Asylum seekers – entrepreneurs or scroungers?
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Past seekers of asylum in Britain have ranged from the seventeenth-century French Protestant ancestor, founder of the Courtaulds textile company, to such refugees as Sigmund Freud. However, today, thousands of applicants a year, the concept of asylum and its limitations continue to challenge.  > more
 
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