Colonisation and Colonialism Connection
Write a major essay about the connection between colonisation and colonialism and the effects of colonialism on Indigenous people
Colonialism in Australia: Past and Contemporary Implications on the Indigenous Populations
During the colonial era, the Europeans used the policy of colonialism and the practice of colonisation to exercise control over other territories. They used their power to gain partial or full control of the nations that they had an interest in mainly to exploit them economically. Literature indicates that the actions and policies imposed during the colonial era still have major impacts on the post-colonial states. For instance, the European policies concerning identity are still widely applicable in most post-colonial states. The Indigenous populations in Australia were hardly hit by colonialism, and the effects of the phenomenon largely impact the lives of all Indigenous populations in contemporary Australia (Pearson, 2016). Colonialism initiated the colonisation of Australia and propagated the assertion that the Europeans were superior to the indigenous Australian populations leading to the dispossession of land, a fact that has been fundamentally attributed to the injustices faced by the Indigenous populations both historically and contemporarily. This paper aims to explore the definitions of colonisation and colonialism, their connection and study the impacts of colonialism both in the pre-colonial and post-colonial Australia.
Defining Colonisation and Colonialism
Colonisation strictly refers to the migration of the colonial powers to the colonised territories (Reinhard, 2015). For instance, during the colonial period, the Europeans migrated from their countries and established settlements throughout Australia, displacing most of the Indigenous populations who had inhabited the country. Colonialism, on the other hand, refers to the act of a state controlling another territory mainly for economic benefits (Reinhard, 2015). For instance, the Europeans used their power to gain control over Australia. Colonisation is linked to the mass migration of the Europeans to other continents, such as the Australian and African continents. The Europeans eventually formed the majority populations in some of the territories that they settled in by driving away or even killing the Indigenous populations. Colonialism is the policy that was applied or is applied by states that seek to gain power over other territories. During the colonial period, for instance, the Europeans used the paternalistic view of the world to gain control over Australia. They presented themselves as a superior race and were able to execute their mission because they had more powerful weapons than the Indigenous Australian populations.
The Relationship Between Colonisation and Colonialism
The main connection between colonisation and colonialism is that the theory of colonialism leads to colonisation. Colonialism mainly advances the assertion that people from a particular territory are superior to those of other territories (Reinhard, 2015). This leads to the assumption that the supposedly superior people have a right to control the territories which are believed to have inferior populations for their own benefit. The belief that the people from certain territories are superior to others, in the colonial era, led to their migration into the other territories to establish their control through political and economic dominance. In the case of Australia, the Europeans believed that they were a superior race. As a result, they migrated into the continent, displaced the Indigenous populations, utilised their natural resources and drove the original owners of the continent into becoming a minority in the continent. Basically, colonialism is the philosophy or policy that drives colonisation.
During the colonial era, colonialism affected the Australian Indigenous populations economically, politically and socially. The Indigenous Australians were forced to work in settler farms for very little pay or no pay at all (Ziltener & Kunzler, 2013). The Europeans who settled in the Australian land seized large tracts of land which they utilised for farming. By doing so, the Europeans drained the land resources possessed by the Indigenous populations without any tangible compensation. The Indigenous populations in the continent were engaged in generating income for the settlers by working in their plantations (Ziltener & Kunzler, 2013). To gain more from the land that was originally inhabited by the Indigenous Australians, the Europeans pushed the populations into the reserves of the continent. Although colonialism in Australia led to many economic harms, it is attributable to some significant economic advancements made during the colonial era. Colonialism led to the building of some infrastructural amenities such as roads and the establishment of communication networks which facilitated the growth of the continent’s economy (Alam, 2012). They also introduced cash crops which helped in the expansion of the country’s economy. Overall, colonialism did more economic harm on the Indigenous Australian populations than good.
Politically, colonialism led to the introduction of a centralised form of government among the Indigenous Australian populations. Initially, the Indigenous populations lacked a centralised form of government and lived in groups. Colonialism introduced total domination of all the Indigenous groups. The Europeans exercised total control over the populations, and they had no voice in the ruling system. The Indigenous populations were left fully dependent on the colonial government (Ziltener & Kunzler, 2013). The European government mostly used manipulative procedures to ensure that the Indigenous populations retained very little power of their land. For instance, the Indigenous populations were imposed into signing treaties that allowed the Europeans greater powers. The Europeans also opened violence on the indigenous populations, which reduced their numbers significantly. The political power exercised by the Europeans over the Indigenous population was largely drawn from the supposition that they were a more civilised and a more superior race (Cassidy, 2003). The political domination which was encouraged by colonialism disempowered the Indigenous populations making them unable to develop policies for their well-being.
Colonialism led to a significant decline in the identity of the Indigenous populations and inhibited social development in areas such as education and health. The Europeans disoriented the cultural identity of the Indigenous Australians through both land dispossession and forced assimilation attempts (Cassidy, 2003). The Indigenous populations were not allowed to practice their culture freely. The Europeans viewed their cultures as uncivilised and wanted to absorb them into their culture. However, the assimilation of the Indigenous Australians into European cultures did not guarantee them equal privileges (Cassidy, 2003). The Indigenous Australians had great connections with their land, and this relationship formed a section of their identity. Land dispossession, therefore, impacted their practice of traditions and ultimately their identity. The Indigenous populations had no access to the education and the health facilities during the colonial era as they were preserved for the “superior race”. The Indigenous Australians faced numerous social injustices which inhibited their social growth at a similar rate with that of the colonisers.
Over two centuries since the attainment of independence, the Indigenous Australians still suffer immense effects of the impact caused by colonialism. Economically, there is still a huge gap between the employment rates and levels of income between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations (Cassidy, 2003). The inequality, which is currently evident in the economic arena, was systematically shaped by colonialism. In 2016, the employment rates of the Indigenous populations in Australia were found to be 46.6 per cent compared to the non-indigenous employment rates, which were 72 per cent (AIHW a, 2019). This gap is largely attributable to the low-income rates among the Indigenous Australians, whose median is $623 compared to $935 for the non-Indigenous Australians (AIHW a, 2019). Unlike during the colonial days when colonialism was more overt, contemporary colonialism has been institutionalised making the marginalisation of the Indigenous populations less visible. The Indigenous populations are no longer being forced into unpaid labour or driven away from their land. Quite often, Indigenous Australians are evicted from their land to pave the way for development or resource extraction (Cassidy, 2003). These practices are currently used in Australia to marginalise the Indigenous populations further.
Politically, Indigenous Australians are underrepresented in the government, which inhibits their ability to make significant political changes. The contemporary Indigenous policy in Australia changes quite often and has failed to deliver what its meant to. The relationship between Indigenous Australians and the Australian government remains very complex and highly contested (Cassidy, 2003). The current political conflict implies that the state institutions and processes are still very much inclined. The Australian government is still oppressive towards the Indigenous populations and in many occasions, fails to put their interests into consideration. Unlike in the colonial era, when the Indigenous populations were out rightly dominated by the settler race, in present Australia, the government is so slow to implement policies that favour the interests of the Indigenous Australians.
Most Indigenous societies in the present day Australia have limited access to basic social amenities such as education and health. Education-wise, the Indigenous populations still lag in academic achievement. The attainment of year 12 or equivalent in 2016 for the Indigenous Australians was 65 per cent compared to 89 per cent of the non-Indigenous Australians (AIHW b, 2019). In the health sector, the Aboriginal Australians have to cover miles, in some regions to access standard health care (Pearson, 2016). Additionally, only a few facilities offer care guided by the Indigenous healthcare provisions. The gaps in the two major social sectors imply that colonialism is still existent and thriving in Australia. During the colonial era, Indigenous Australians were denied access to these social amenities. In contemporary Australia, the efforts to develop Indigenous-friendly social amenities have not been fully supported (Pearson, 2016). Lack of adequate support has been very instrumental in ensuring that the other Indigenous populations remain marginalised in their own land.
Although it might be said that there have been significant efforts to attain equal rights and justice for the Indigenous Australians, it would be inaccurate to say that the impact of colonialism in Australia faded following the attainment of independence. The impacts of colonialism continue to haunt the Indigenous Australians though in a different form. While the colonialism in the colonial era was more overt, it has been normalised in present-day Australia, and the voice of the Indigenous Australians is hardly heard. The existing institutions and policies exclude the opinion of the Indigenous Australians and prioritise the ideas of colonialism.
AIHW a. (2019, September 11). Indigenous income and finance. Retrieved from Australian Institute of Health and Welfare: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/australias-welfare/indigenous-income-and-finance
AIHW b. (2019, September 11). Indigenous education and skills. Retrieved from Australian Institute of Health and Welfare: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/australias-welfare/indigenous-education-and-skills
Alam, M. S. (2012). Economic Impact of Colonialism, 1800-1950.
Cassidy, J. (2003). The Legacy of Colonialism. The American Journal of Comparative Law, 51(2), 409-455.
Pearson, L. (2016, April 1). Broadcaster Kyle Sandilands says ‘get over it, it’s 200 years ago’, but it’s everything that has happened since that is the real problem. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/commentisfree/2016/apr/02/dont-tell-me-to-get-over-a-colonialism-that-is-still-being-implemented-today
Reinhard, W. (2015). Colonisation and Colonialism, History of. International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioural Sciences, 223-227.
Ziltener, P., & Kunzler, D. (2013). Impacts of Colonialism – A Research Survey 1. Journal of World-Systems Research, 19(2), 291-311.