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How far do you agree with the view that cultural imperialism was the main reason explaining the expansion of Britains Empire in Africa in the years 1870-1899?

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Introduction

How far do you agree with the view that cultural imperialism was the main reason explaining the expansion of Britain?s Empire in Africa in the years 1870-1899? By the end of the nineteenth century, 90 per cent of Africa was controlled by a small handful of European powers. Why these countries fought over this large continent, is open to debate, but it was not the land itself that was worthy of such rivalry, but the minerals, trade, and economic prospects that made Africa so desirable. I do not agree that cultural imperialism was the main reason behind the expansion of the Empire, instead, I think national rivalries is what mainly fuelled Britain?s hunger for Africa. However, the opposition was not solely responsible for the ?Scramble for Africa? ? it is closely intertwined with economic, strategic and other factors. In this essay, I will be exploring what drove Britain to annex Africa, and also, their motives behind this. Cultural imperialism certainly was a reason behind the expansion of the British Empire in Africa, however, in my opinion; there is not enough evidence to suggest that it was the main reason. The British seemed to think that they represented ?a superior form of civilisation?14 and therefore assumed that they were obliged to extend the benefits of the British rule to ?less developed societies?14. This may be a reason behind expansion, but personally, I think it is not enough to make the British want to acquire another continent. ...read more.

Middle

This is another example of the steps taken by the British to protect their interests in a certain area of Africa. This interest was fuelled by economic potential, and not cultural imperialism. As Pugh points out, the mere hope of finding wealth provided ?sufficient motive for some enthusiastic imperialist entrepreneurs?[5]. A classic example of this was Cecil Rhodes, who wrongly assumed there would be more gold and diamonds would be discovered in Transvaal. This shows that economic development opportunities and trade were a priority, and even the slightest potential economic gain was enough to spark interest in Africa. It shows that it was not cultural imperialism, but economic greed that even led the British to negotiate with rivals, and so, cultural imperialism was not the main reason behind colonisation. A more important factor was competition from other European rivals. Compared to the role played by cultural imperialism and economic potential, France, Germany and King Leopold of the Belgians all ?played much more prominent roles?2. Firstly, the British occupation of North Africa, i.e. Egypt, was primarily due to the fear of Ottoman possessions falling into the ?hands of rival European powers?[6], which in turn, would pose a threat to the British interest in Egypt. The British policy towards Egypt made clear that the British were greatly concerned about other European rivalry ? Lord Palmerston clarified that the British did not ?want to have Egypt?1, but wanted it to be ?attached to the Turkish Empire, which is security against it belonging to another European power?1. ...read more.

Conclusion

Also, I think economic factors were never more important to the British than rivalry, but it is important to note that they never ?flinched from defending British economic interests whenever and wherever they were felt to be threatened?[18], which clearly states that economic interests were never overlooked. All in all, I think the main factor is a balance between rivalry and strategic factors, closely followed by economic factors, and lastly, cultural imperialism. ________________ [1] RUDYARD KIMPLING, The White Man?s Burden, 1899 [2] SCRAMBLE FOR AFRICA RESOURCE BOOKLET, Page 11 [3] MARTIN PUGH, Britain since 1789 ? A Concise History. Macmillan 1999, Page 134 [4] FRANK MCDONOUGH, The British Empire 1815-1914. Hodder & Stoughton, Page 33 [5] MARTIN PUGH, Britain since 1789 ? A Concise History. Macmillan 1999, Page 133 [6]FRANK MCDONOUGH, The British Empire 1815-1914. Hodder & Stoughton, Page 29 [7] MARTIN PUGH, Britain since 1789 ? A Concise History. Macmillan 1999, Page 129 [8] MARTIN PUGH, Britain since 1789 ? A Concise History. Macmillan 1999, Page 132 [9] FRANK MCDONOUGH, The British Empire 1815-1914. Hodder & Stoughton, Page 32 [10] SCRAMBLE FOR AFRICA RESOURCE BOOKLET, Page 7 [11] MARTIN PUGH, Britain since 1789 ? A Concise History. Macmillan 1999, Page 130 [12] SCRAMBLE FOR AFRICA RESOURCE BOOKLET, Page 4 [13] DANE KENNEDY, Britain and Empire 1880-1945. Pearson Education Ltd, Page 16 [14] DANE KENNEDY, Britain and Empire 1880-1945. Pearson Education Ltd, Page 15 [15] DANE KENNEDY, Britain and Empire 1880-1945. Pearson Education Ltd, Page 13 [16] M.E. CHAMBERLAIN, The Scramble for Africa. Pearson Education Ltd, Page 96 [17] FRANK MCDONOUGH, The British Empire 1815-1914. Hodder & Stoughton, Page 30 [18] FRANK MCDONOUGH, The British Empire 1815-1914. Hodder & Stoughton, Page 44 ...read more.

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