The nineteenth century was Europe's colonial century. At the beginning of the period, the only colonial empire that existed was the British Empire. By the end of the century the situation was completely different and Europe's colonial possessions had come to constitute a large part of the world. The French had acquired an immense colonial empire and the Dutch had extended their control over Indonesia. Germany and Italy, unified only in the latter half of the century, had claimed their place under the sun. Even the tiny Kingdom of Belgium had acquired a huge colonial territory in Africa: the Belgian Congo.
This is the first book to describe the whole process of colonization from conquest to pacification, and to analyze it in the light of administrative, cultural and economic developments. The European Colonial Empires discusses a uniquely long period instead of merely focussing on the shorter, accepted age of classical imperialism. Wesseling argues that European colonial expansion can be understood only by putting it into this long-term perspective and by comparing the differences between the colonies in Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Caribbean.
This book redresses the balance that privileges the British colonial and imperial experience. It emphasizes the continental European experience while relating developments to the British enterprise.
Table of Contents
PREFACE. CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION: THE EXPANSION OF EUROPE, 1492-1815. CHAPTER 2
LONG-TERM DEVELOPMENTS, 1815-1919. CHAPTER 3 THE FIRST HALF OF THE NINETEENTH CENTURY, 1815-70. CHAPTER 4 MODERN IMPERIALISM, 1870-1914: GENERAL ASPECTS. CHAPTER 5 EUROPEAN IMPERIALISM IN AFRICA. CHAPTER 6 MODERN IMPERIALISM IN ASIA AND THE PACIFIC. CHAPTER 7 THE FIRST WORLD WAR AND THE COLONIES. CHAPTER 8
CONCLUSION. BIBLIOGRAPHY. SYNCHRONISTIC TABLE. INDEX.
H. L. Wesseling is Emeritus Professor of Contemporary History at the University of Leiden and was the founder and first director of its Centre for the History of European Expansion.
His previous titles include Divide and Rule: The Partition of Africa (1996) and Imperialism and Colonialism: Essays on the History of European Expansion (1997).
'Henk Wesseling has spent years leading one of the world's best historical research teams. But it is his personal touch that makes this work special. He combines all the qualities an historian needs to write a perfect book: a flawless sense of evidence, unfailing clarity of exposition, unerring judgement, free-wheeling breadth of culture, a talent for balancing narrative with analysis, and an enviable ability to cram comprehensive coverage into manageable space, without sacrifice of detail.
He also has an eye for vivid material, which can entertain as well as instruct and a subtle, endlessly enjoyable sense of humour enlivens his pages. No book on this subject unites so much material, on so many regions and empires, with greater dispassion, superior judgement, or equal command of the facts.'
Felipe Fernández-Armesto, Notre Dame, USA