Sunshine Recorder

Link: Colin Calloway on Native Americans and Colonisers

Colin Calloway is Professor of Native American Studies at Dartmouth. He has written 15 books, and edited a further two, about early Native American history. His work has earned a Pulitzer Prize nomination and the best book award from the Organisation of American Historians. In 2011 Calloway won the American Indian History Lifetime Achievement Award.

As Americans celebrate Thanksgiving, the history professor tells us why there’s a lot more to the story of colonists and Native Americans than the tale of the first Thanksgiving taught in school 
How friendly were the Native Americans who met the Puritans? That sounds like an awful question, but I just want your help in demythologising the story of Squanto shaking hands with Puritans.

The word friendly is a little sketchy. We have to understand those first contacts in context. If we use the term “friendly” it gives this impression of a naive or simple people welcoming the English with open arms. When Squanto meets the Puritans, Squanto has already been to Europe, he’s been kidnapped, taken to Spain, and made his way back home where he found his people, the Patuxet people, essentially decimated by disease. So when the Puritans arrive, that area of New England is not a virgin wilderness – it’s a place that has already been ravaged by disease carried over on boats from England that came up the coast between 1616 and 1619. The impact of those diseases on that coast affected intertribal balances of power. If the Wampanoag people in Massachusetts suffered heavily from disease, other native powers further to the west suffered less so and so there’s a shifting going on in the balance of powers which makes the arrival of a new power, from across the Atlantic, something to be taken seriously. So it behoves the Wampanoag to embrace these people as allies.

Native societies on the east coast of North America have been dealing with other peoples for hundreds of years. Different Indian nations had their own foreign policies, their own sets of relationships, their own rituals for conducting trade, and their own protocols for establishing alliances. It’s important not to see these first contacts as Indian people reacting to English overtures alone. What you have is a multitribal, multinational world in which different Indian nations have their own agendas, their own experiences and their own sets of relations with other native people. Inject into that the presence of these new people. Different nations respond differently. Some incorporate the English into their diplomatic networks. This wasn’t a case of primitive Indians making naive gestures of friendliness.

The American West, 150 Years Ago: In the 1860s and 70s, photographer Timothy O’Sullivan created some of the best-known images in American History. After covering the U.S. Civil War, (many of his photos appear in this earlier series), O’Sullivan joined a number of expeditions organized by the federal government to help document the new frontiers in the American West. The teams were composed of soldiers, scientists, artists, and photographers, and tasked with discovering the best ways to take advantage of the region’s untapped natural resources. O’Sullivan brought an amazing eye and work ethic, composing photographs that evoked the vastness of the West. He also documented the Native American population as well as the pioneers who were already altering the landscape. Above all, O’Sullivan captured — for the first time on film — the natural beauty of the American West in a way that would later influence Ansel Adams and thousands more photographers to come. [34 photos]


Berlin Conference of 1884-1885 to Divide Africa
In 1884 at the request of Portugal, German Chancellor Otto von Bismark called together the major western powers of the world to negotiate questions and end confusion over the control of Africa. Bismark appreciated the opportunity to expand Germany’s sphere of influence over Africa and desired to force Germany’s rivals to struggle with one another for territory.
The Berlin Conference was Africa’s undoing in more ways than one. The colonial powers superimposed their domains on the African Continent. By the time Africa regained its independence after the late 1950s, the realm had acquired a legacy of political fragmentation that could neither be eliminated nor made to operate satisfactorily. The African politico-geographical map is thus a permanent liability that resulted from the three months of ignorant, greedy acquisitiveness during a period when Europe’s search for minerals and markets had become insatiable.
At the time of the conference, 80% of Africa remained under Native Traditional and local control.
Fourteen countries were represented by a plethora of ambassadors when the conference opened in Berlin on November 15, 1884 by the imperial chancellor and architect of the German Empire, Otto von Bismarck to settle the political partitioning of Africa. Bismarck wanted not only to expand German spheres of influence in Africa but also to play off Germany’s colonial rivals against one another to the Germans’ advantage. The countries represented at the time included Austria-Hungary, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Sweden-Norway (unified from 1814-1905), Turkey, and the United States of America. Of these fourteen nations, France, Germany, Great Britain, and Portugal were the major players in the conference, controlling most of colonial Africa at the time.
The initial task of the conference was to agree that the Congo River and Niger River mouths and basins would be considered neutral and open to trade. Despite its neutrality, part of the Kongo Basin became a personal Kingdom (private property) for Belgium’s King Leopold II and under his rule, over half of the region’s population died.
At the time of the conference, only the coastal areas of Africa were colonized by the European powers. At the Berlin Conference the European colonial powers scrambled to gain control over the Interior of the Continent. The conference lasted until February 26, 1885 - a three month period where colonial powers haggled over geometric boundaries in the interior of the continent, disregarding the cultural and linguistic boundaries already established by the Native Indigenous African population. What ultimately resulted was a hodgepodge of geometric boundaries that divided Africa into fifty irregular countries. This new map of the continent was superimposed over the one thousand Indigenous cultures and regions of Africa. The new countries lacked rhyme or reason and divided coherent groups of people and merged together disparate groups who really did not get along.
Following the conference, the give and take continued. By 1914, the conference participants had fully divided Africa among themselves into fifty unnatural and artificial States.

Berlin Conference of 1884-1885 to Divide Africa

In 1884 at the request of Portugal, German Chancellor Otto von Bismark called together the major western powers of the world to negotiate questions and end confusion over the control of Africa. Bismark appreciated the opportunity to expand Germany’s sphere of influence over Africa and desired to force Germany’s rivals to struggle with one another for territory.

The Berlin Conference was Africa’s undoing in more ways than one. The colonial powers superimposed their domains on the African Continent. By the time Africa regained its independence after the late 1950s, the realm had acquired a legacy of political fragmentation that could neither be eliminated nor made to operate satisfactorily. The African politico-geographical map is thus a permanent liability that resulted from the three months of ignorant, greedy acquisitiveness during a period when Europe’s search for minerals and markets had become insatiable.

At the time of the conference, 80% of Africa remained under Native Traditional and local control.

Fourteen countries were represented by a plethora of ambassadors when the conference opened in Berlin on November 15, 1884 by the imperial chancellor and architect of the German Empire, Otto von Bismarck to settle the political partitioning of Africa. Bismarck wanted not only to expand German spheres of influence in Africa but also to play off Germany’s colonial rivals against one another to the Germans’ advantage. The countries represented at the time included Austria-Hungary, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Sweden-Norway (unified from 1814-1905), Turkey, and the United States of America. Of these fourteen nations, France, Germany, Great Britain, and Portugal were the major players in the conference, controlling most of colonial Africa at the time.

The initial task of the conference was to agree that the Congo River and Niger River mouths and basins would be considered neutral and open to trade. Despite its neutrality, part of the Kongo Basin became a personal Kingdom (private property) for Belgium’s King Leopold II and under his rule, over half of the region’s population died.

At the time of the conference, only the coastal areas of Africa were colonized by the European powers. At the Berlin Conference the European colonial powers scrambled to gain control over the Interior of the Continent. The conference lasted until February 26, 1885 - a three month period where colonial powers haggled over geometric boundaries in the interior of the continent, disregarding the cultural and linguistic boundaries already established by the Native Indigenous African population. What ultimately resulted was a hodgepodge of geometric boundaries that divided Africa into fifty irregular countries. This new map of the continent was superimposed over the one thousand Indigenous cultures and regions of Africa. The new countries lacked rhyme or reason and divided coherent groups of people and merged together disparate groups who really did not get along.

Following the conference, the give and take continued. By 1914, the conference participants had fully divided Africa among themselves into fifty unnatural and artificial States.

(via pieceinthepuzzlehumanity-deacti)

Link: How Empire Ruled the World

Compared with the six hundred years of the Ottoman Empire and two millennia of (intermittent) Chinese imperial rule, the nation-state is a blip on the historical horizon. The transition from empire has lessons for the present, and maybe the future

Why, in 2011, think about empires? We live in a world of nation-states — over 200 of them, each with their seat in the UN, their flag, postage stamps and governmental institutions. Yet the nation-state is an ideal of recent origin and uncertain future and, for many, devastating consequences.

Empire did not give way to a secure world of nations with the end of Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian, Romanov or German rule after the first world war or, in the 1940s-1970s, with decolonisation (by the French, British, Dutch, Belgian and Portuguese). Many recent conflicts — Rwanda, Iraq, Israel, Afghanistan, ex-Yugoslavia, Sri Lanka, the Congo, the Caucasus, Libya, etc — emerged from failures to find viable alternatives to imperial regimes, after 1918, 1945 and 1989.

It is not a question of sinking into imperial nostalgia: sentimental evocations of the British Raj or French Indochina have nothing to offer to our present political thinking. Similarly, imperial name-calling — invoking “empire” or “colonialism” to discredit US, French or other interventions — cannot help us analyse or improve today’s world. But an exploration of the histories of empires, old and new, can expand our understanding of how the world came to be what it is, and the organisation of political power in the past, the present and even the future.