internal colonialism


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internal colonialism

the incorporation of culturally distinct groups by a dominant group into one national identity, centralized political rule and a national economy. In many analyses the process has similarities with external COLONIALISM, whereby one state subordinates another. In contemporary literature on this subject there are two main areas where the concept is at the centre of analysis. One is in Latin American scholarship, where the term has been used to analyse the relationship between Europeanized social groups and indigenous groups (often called Indians) with different languages, beliefs and ways of life. Stavenhagen (1975) argues that internal colonialism emerged in Latin American countries with independence from Spain and Portugal in the 19th century and with the development of capitalist economies. Indian communities lost their lands, were made to work for strangers, were integrated into a monetary economy and incorporated into national political structures. This led to a form of ethnic stratification which, in Stavenhagen's analysis, operates alongside changing social class relationships.

In Europe and the US, the concept has been used to discuss ethnic and race relations and the emergence of nationalist movements within established nation states. The term gained currency with the civil rights and black power movements in the US in the 1960s, when comparisons were drawn between the position of black people in the US and the situation in Africa, where European colonialism was giving way to independent states. Hechter (1975) produced one of the most influential academic formulations of the concept, and, by using it to analyse national development in the UK, widened the debate. Hechter used aspects of WORLD SYSTEMS analysis to argue that internal colonialism involves the subordination of peripheral cultural groups by core dominant groups partly as a result of the uneven industrialization of territories. Those groups in the most advanced regions achieve dominance over those groups in the less advanced. Later this may lead to the emergence of nationalist movements in those regions, as was the case in some European countries and Canada in the late 1960s. See also NATIONALISM, CENTRE AND PERIPHERY, IMPERIALISM.

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