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Immigration: Public Policy

Bernard W S 1980 Immigration: history of US policy. In: Timmer A S, Williamson J G 1998 Immigration policy prior to
Thernstrom S (ed.) Harard Encyclopedia of American the 1930s: Labor markets, policy interactions, and globaliz-
Ethnic Groups. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, ation backlash. Population and Deelopment Reiew 24(4):
pp. 486–95 739–71
Bonacich E 1972 A theory of ethnic antagonism: The split labor Torpey J 2000 The Inention of the Passport: Sureillance,
market. American Sociological Reiew 37: 547–59 Citizenship, and the State. Cambridge University Press,
Bonacich E 1984 Asian labor in the development of California Cambridge, UK
and Hawaii. In: Cheng L, Bonacich E (eds.) Labor Im-
migration Under Capitalism. University of California Press, C. Hirschman
Berkeley, CA, pp. 130–85
Carter S, Sutch R 1998 Historical background to current
immigration issues. In: Smith J P, Edmonston B (eds.) The
Immigration Debate: Studies on the Economic, Demographic, Imperialism, History of
and Fiscal Effects of Immigration. National Research Council,
Washington, DC, pp. 289–366
Castles S, Miller M J 1998 The Age of Migration: International 1. Introduction: The Problem of a Definition
Population Moements in the Modern World, 2nd edn. ‘Imperialism is not a word for scholars,’ Sir Keith
Guilford Press, New York
Hancock remarked a long time ago, and he was right
Davis K 1974 The migrations of human populations. The
Human Population (A Scientific American Book). W. H.
(see Wesseling 1997, p. 74). Scholars have to make clear
Freeman, San Francisco, pp. 53–65 what they mean when they use certain concepts or
Daniels R 1977 The Politics of Prejudice: The Anti-Japanese terms, and therefore have to give definitions. This,
Moement in California and the Struggle for Japanese Ex- however, is impossible with the word ‘imperialism.’
clusion. Atheneum, New York The problem is not that there are no definitions of
Goldin C 1994 The political economy of immigration restriction imperialism, rather the contrary. There are about as
in the U.S., 1890 to 1921. In: Goldin C, Libecap G (eds.) The many definitions of imperialism as there are authors
Regulated Economy: A Historical Approach to Political Econ- who have written on the subject. They vary from those
omy. University of Chicago Press, Chicago that refer to one specific form of imperialism, mostly
Hatton T J, Williamson J G 1998 The Age of Mass Migration: Europe’s nineteenth century colonial expansion, to
Causes and Economic Impact. Oxford University Press, New others which give a very general meaning to the word,
York
Higham J 1988 Strangers in the Land: Patterns of American
such as the one in Webster’s Dictionary: ‘any extension
Natiism 1860–1925, 2nd edn. Rutgers University Press, New of power or authority or an advocacy of such
Brunswick, NJ extension.’ Clearly, such a definition can cover almost
Hobsbawm E J 1992 Nations and Nationalism Since 1780: any situation. Not surprisingly therefore, the word has
Programme, Myth and Reality, 2nd edn. Cambridge Uni- often simply been used as an invective in order to
versity Press, Cambridge, UK criticize the policy of another country.
Hutchinson E P 1981 Legislatie History of American Immi- So defined, imperialism is useless as a scholarly
gration Policy: 1798–1965. University of Pennsylvania Press, concept. However, in serious studies, the word has
Philadelphia, PA always had a more limited meaning. The problem is
Jones M A 1992 American Immigration, 2nd edn. University of exactly how limited its meaning should be. Some-
Chicago Press, Chicago times the word is used in a universal historical way in
Keely C 1979 U.S. Immigration: A Policy Analysis. The order to characterize the politics of a dominant power.
Population Council, New York
Klein H S 1999 The Atlantic Slae Trade. Cambridge University
Thus, some historians have spoken of Roman or even
Press, Cambridge, UK Assyrian imperialism, but this is highly exceptional. In
Massey D S 1988 Economic development and international historical studies, imperialism generally refers to the
migration in comparative perspective. Population and De- policy of European countries, and primarily of the UK
elopment Reiew 14: 383–413 during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, aiming
Massey D S, Arnago J, Hugo G, Kouaouci A, Pellegrino A, at the expansion of their power and influence over
Taylor E J 1998 Worlds in Motion: Understanding Inter- other continents. It is in this context that the term
national Migration at the End of the Millennium. Clarendon imperialism originated and began to be used as a
Press, Oxford, UK political and historical concept. Historically speaking,
McNeil W H 1984 Human migration in historical perspective. the word imperialism is therefore obviously closely
Population and Deelopment Reiew 10: 1–18 associated with colonialism. While colonialism was
Price C A 1974 The Great White Walls Are Built: Restrictie
only used to refer to one specific form of alien rule,
Immigration to North America and Australasia 1836–1888.
Australian National University Press, Canberra, Australia
namely the colonial one, imperialism acquired a wider
Saxton A 1971 The Indispensable Enemy: Labor and the Anti- meaning and included various other forms of influence
Chinese Moement in California. University of California over alien nations and states. For example, the
Press, Berkeley, CA financial influence of France and Germany in the
Smith J P, Edmonston B (eds.) 1997 The New Americans: Russian and Ottoman Empires, or such things
Economic, Demographic, and Fiscal Effects of Immigration. as British ‘gunboat policy’ and American ‘dollar
National Academy Press, Washington, DC diplomacy.’

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After the end of the colonial empires the word radical but not a socialist, was deeply impressed by the
‘colonialism’ could only be used to refer to a phenom- South African War (1899–1902). In 1900 he published
enon from the past and thus fell out of use. ‘Imperi- a book on this subject, The War in South Africa. Its
alism’ however continued to be used, and from then Causes and Effects, in which he argued that power in
on also indicated those forms of domination that were South Africa had fallen into the hands of a small
formally different from, but factually comparable to, group of financiers ‘chiefly German in origin and
those formerly practiced by the colonial powers. For a Jewish in race’ (Hobson 1900, p. 189). In his famous
while the word ‘neocolonialism’ was also used for this book Imperialism. A Study he elaborated this vision
purpose, but somehow that term was less successful. into a general theory of imperialism, and used the term
By the end of the Second World War, America had imperialism to indicate the ‘expansion of Great Britain
become the new superpower. Accordingly, imperi- and of the chief continental Powers’ (Hobson 1938,
alism was now mainly applied to describe the foreign p. 27). The word expansion referred to the fact that over
policy of the USA vis-a' -vis other countries, in par- the previous thirty years a number of European
ticular in Latin America, Asia, and Africa. There was nations, Great Britain first and foremost, had ‘annexed
also an attempt to make the concept applicable to the or otherwise asserted political sway over vast portions
policy of the Soviet Union with regard to the Central of Africa and Asia, and over numerous islands in the
and Eastern European countries that came under its Pacific and elsewhere’ (Hobson 1938, p. 15). For
influence after 1945 (Seton-Watson 1961), but this was Hobson the meaning of the word imperialism was very
not very successful. The reason for this is that clear: it was the establishment of political control. He
historically speaking, imperialism has connotations was also explicit about the forces behind it. Various
with capitalism and not with communism, and with people such as an ‘ambitious statesman, a frontier
overseas possessions, and not with adjacent countries. soldier and an overzealous missionary’ might play
Although there clearly was a Soviet Empire, it was not some role in it, ‘but the final determination rests with
considered to be an example of imperialism but of the financial power’ (Hobson 1938, p. 59). Thus
traditional power politics. Only in its very general Hobson offered us a definition (imperialism is the
meaning as another word for all forms of power expansion of political power of European countries
policies or simply as an invective, was it also used to over the non-European world), a periodization (im
describe communist countries such as the Soviet Union perialism took place over the previous thirty years,
and China. After the end of the Cold War this use of thus between 1870 and 1900), and an explanation: it
the word imperialism lost much of its earlier attraction. was the result of the workings of the financial powers.
In this article imperialism is used in the sense of its In order to explain their behavior, Hobson argued
initial meaning, that is to say as a term to indicate the that, as a consequence of the capitalist system, the
extension of formal or informal, mostly European, British economy suffered from underconsumption. As
rule over Asian and African countries in the late a result of this, surplus capital could no longer be
nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as well as, invested profitably in England itself. Therefore, the
more generally, for some other forms of Western capitalists were ‘seeking foreign markets and foreign
predominance during and after the colonial period. investments to take off the goods and capital they
cannot sell or use at home’ (Hobson 1938, p. 85).
As Hobson’s theory implied a criticism of capi-
talism, it had a certain attraction for Marxist thinkers.
2. Imperialism: The History of a Concept As a result of this, a new Marxist theory of imperialism
was born. While originally Marx and Engels had
Like ‘colonialism,’ which was probably first used in considered colonialism as an ‘objective’ progressive
the title of a book of a French socialist critic of the force (Avineri 1968), now Marxist theorists such as
phenomenon, Paul Louis’ Le Colonialisme from 1905, Karl Hilferding and Rosa Luxemburg scorned late
‘imperialism’ was originally a French word. It was nineteenth century imperialism as a form of exploit-
from the 1830s onwards that the terms impeT rialiste and ation and suppression. The Marxist theory of
impeT rialisme came into use in France. They referred to imperialism became very influential when it was
the empire of Napoleon and to the imperial pretentions appropriated by a man who was not only a theorist but
of his nephew Louis Napoleon, later known as Napo- also a practical politician, Lenin. In 1916 he published
leon III. The colonial connotation only came after the his famous brochure Imperialism. The Highest Stage
word had begun to be used in the UK in the 1860s. of Capitalism (Lenin 1916).
Then, of course, the empire it referred to was no longer Lenin’s ideas were mostly based on the work of the
the continental one of France but the overseas empire previous-mentioned Marxist authors, who in turn had
of Great Britain (Koebner and Schmidt 1964). been inspired by Hobson’s theory. It was therefore
Although the word imperialism was already used in understandable that a direct link was seen between
the UK in the 1860s, the historical concept only Hobson’s and Lenin’s theories, so much so that it
appeared in 1902 with the publication of J. A. Hob- became fashionable to speak of the ‘Hobson–Lenin
son’s Imperialism. A Study (Hobson 1938). Hobson, a thesis.’ There are, however, two important differences

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between Hobson and Lenin. First, for Hobson the form of imperialism, and not even the most important
flight of capital from the metropolis to the overseas one. The mid-Victorian empire was comparable to the
world was a consequence of the development of informal American empire that came into being after
capitalism, but not a necessary consequence. The 1945. It worked with informal means because that was
origin of the problem was underconsumption. There- the best way of doing things. The maxim of British
fore, theoretically, it should also be possible to solve policy makers was: informal empire if possible, formal
the problem by increasing the purchasing power of the only if necessary. Due to foreign competition and
working classes. Indeed, Hobson remarked: ‘If the rivalry, however, the late Victorians were forced to
consuming public in this country [Great Britain] formalize their Empire, and they did so, willy-nilly.
raised its standard of consumption to keep pace with While Gallagher and Robinson discovered im-
every rise of productive powers, there could be no perialism before empire, other theorists also dis-
excess of goods or capital clamorous to use Imperi- covered imperialism after empire. This resulted not so
alism in order to find markets’ (Hobson 1938, p. 81). much from a reflection on the rise of the American
Second, and more importantly, Hobson and Lenin empire, but from a reassessment of decolonization.
tried to explain two different things. Hobson, who While after the First World War the European powers
wrote his book during the South African War, wanted had increased their territorial possessions—for exam-
to explain the division of the world, and more speci- ple, by the division of parts of the Ottoman empire—
fically of Africa, in the late nineteenth century. Lenin, and stabilized their colonial rule, the situation was
who wrote in 1916, tried to explain the redivision of very different after the Second World War. In Asia, the
the world of which the First World War was the most process of decolonization started immediately after
spectacular outcome. The word Africa hardly appears the war and was followed later in Africa. Thus, in the
at all in Lenin’s brochure. The period he referred to 1960s, most of the former colonies had become
was also different from the one dealt with by Hobson: independent politically. But political independence
not 1870–1900 but thereafter. He wrote explicitly did not automatically bring an end to the social
about this: ‘I have tried to show in my pamphlet that problems, nor to the economic dependency of the ex-
it [imperialism] was born in 1898–1900, not earlier’ colonies. Some of the new states became even more
(see Stokes 1969, p. 289). Thus Lenin parted ways with dependent on the Western-dominated world system
Kautsky and Luxemburg, for whom imperialism was than they had been before. For many observers it was
little more than another word for colonialism (Stokes clear that the end of empire was not at the same time
1969, p. 297). For Lenin it was something else: not the also the end of imperialism. Some theorists worked
highest stage of colonialism but of capitalism. this out in the theory of dependency. According to the
Although the capitalist theory of imperialism was dependencianistas, imperialism was not only the exten-
not generally accepted, and alternative interpretations sion of political control, but it also included the
were launched and had some influence, some form of dependency of less developed parts of the world on the
economic interpretation became the standard expla- industrial powers. Empire was only one form of
nation of imperialism during the 1920s and 1930s. imperialism, one stage in the history of Western
Imperialism was considered as having originated from dominance.
economic problems in Europe that were characteristic However, why one form of imperialism was replaced
of the late nineteenth century, in particular the need by another remained a question, an answer to which
to guarantee the flow of raw materials to the indus- was also given by Gallagher and Robinson in their
trialized countries, and the protection of overseas famous book on the partition of Africa: Africa and the
markets for the sale of their industrial products. This Victorians (Gallagher and Robinson 1961). Here they
consensus broke down after the Second World War argued that changes in the periphery, that is in the
under the influence of decolonization and the rise of overseas world rather than in the mother countries,
the American empire. The new world political situ- were responsible for the changes in the ways and
ation also had an impact on the theory of imperialism. means of imperialist control. Although Africa and the
In a famous article, ‘The Imperialism of Free Trade,’ Victorians dealt primarily with British policy, the
two Cambridge historians, Jack Gallagher and theories developed here had a wider meaning. While
Ronald Robinson, developed the concept of ‘informal the theory of the imperialism of free trade was typically
empire’ (Gallagher and Robinson 1953). They argued a theory about British imperialism, the peripheral
that the real zenith of the British Empire was not to be theory was applicable to the imperialist activities of
found in the late nineteenth century but rather in the other nations as well. In many cases, changes in the
mid-Victorian period of informal British economic non-Western world were decisive in determining
hegemony. For Britain, the entire nineteenth century imperialist action. Egypt’s financial problems, for
was one of expansion. It was an imperial century. example, led to increasing foreign interference, and
Britain’s imperial expansion manifested itself in vari- this, in turn, to a ‘nationalistic,’ or rather proto-
ous forms: emigration, trade, overseas investments, nationalistic, reaction which plunged Egypt into an
the establishment of naval bases, etc. The extension of internal political crisis led again to foreign intervention
political authority over foreign people was only one and occupation. The discovery of minerals in South

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Africa, to give another example, led to a complete In 1984, an important study by Jacques Marseille,
change in the balance of power in that part of the based on an extensive data bank on French colonial
continent. trade, threw new light on the question of economic
Ronald Robinson later elaborated this interpret- interest. His conclusion was that in the beginning the
ation into a more general theory based on the colonies were useful to French industry from an
observation of the important role of the African and economic point of view, but subsequently they became
Asian partners of the imperialist rulers. In this so- a burden (Marseille 1984).
called ‘collaborationist theory,’ imperialism is con- There was also a strong connection between imperi-
ceived of as a system of collaboration between Euro- alism and nationalism, but it is not altogether clear to
pean and non-European forces before, during, and what extent imperialism was a result of nationalism.
after colonial rule. The changing forms of imperialism This is because the decision to found a German
are considered as changing forms of collaboration that colonial empire was very much the decision of one
resulted from changes in the bargaining positions of man, Chancellor Bismarck. Therefore, in Germany,
the various parties (Robinson, in Owen and Sutcliffe the discussion on imperialism has always been concen-
1972, pp. 117–42). trated on Bismarck and his motives. There were two
The Gallagher and Robinson theories were followed main interpretations, a foreign political one (imperi-
by a greater number of studies on the economic alism as a move in Germany’s international relations)
significance of the British Empire and the role of and one in terms of domestic policy, like electoral
economic factors in British imperialism (Davis and success, financial pressure groups, etc. The discussion
Huttenback 1986, Cain and Hopkins 1993a, 1993b). was reopened when H.-U. Wehler (1969) added new
The important place of Britain in the debate on elements to this debate. Although he stressed the
imperialism is understandable, because Britain was economic background of imperialism, he agreed that,
the imperial power par excellence. But for that very as in the case of France, the German colonial empire
reason Britain was not the most typical imperial had not been very profitable. In his view, the link
power. Rather, it was atypical and therefore the between economics and empire must be sought on a
discussions in other European countries on im- different level. He emphasized the social problems of
perialism have followed different lines and focused on the Reich (its lack of legitimation because of its
different questions. Chronologically speaking, howe- creation on oben, by force) and considered Bismarck’s
ver, the European revisionist theories were developed bid for colonies as a shrewd political move intended
in the same years as the British: the debate started in both as part of a general, more-or-less anti-cyclical,
the 1960s and continued well into the 1980s. economic policy, and of a social policy seeking to unite
the Germans around issues of foreign policy, and thus
to overcome internal tensions. Thus Wehler’s em-
phasis was more on the domestic than on the diplo-
matic motives of German imperialism under Bismarck
3. National Articulations (Wehler 1969). Here, the debate on German imperi-
alism touched upon a wider discussion, the one on the
In France, Henri Brunschwig’s Mythes et ReT aliteT s de problem of continuity and discontinuity in German
l’ImpeT rialisme Colonial Francm ais, 1871–1914, which ap- foreign policy, the so-called German Sonderweg, and
peared in 1960, set the tone for the debate on French the place of national socialism in German history.
imperialism (Brunschwig 1960). According to Italian imperialism was also studied from a special
Brunschwig, the causes of French imperialism were perspective. It was not very successful during the
not to be found in economic demands but in the classical period of imperialism but it continued during
development of French nationalism after the defeat in the interwar years, under the influence of fascism. The
the Franco-Prussian war of 1870. The protectionist French historian Jean-Louis Mie' ge has emphasized
factor was a myth, political factors were decisive. not only the demographic factor in Italian imperi-
Given the specific intellectual climate that existed in alism, but also its political and ideological dimen-
France after the Second World War, and in which sions—the nationalistic reaction to the loss of
Marxism played such an important role, it was to be population as a consequence of emigration—com-
expected that Brunschwig’s book would lead to great paring it in this respect to Spanish imperialism (Mie' ge
controversy, as it did. But the Marxists could hardly 1968). The interpretation of Portuguese imperialism
deny the fact that the French colonial empire had been was long dominated by Hammond’s theory of an
of little economic importance in France. In order to ‘uneconomic,’ that is to say a primarily nationalistic,
rescue the Marxist theory of imperialism, they there- form of imperialism. Gervase Clarence-Smith later
fore argued that French imperialism was not to be challenged this view by making a strong case for an
found in the French colonies but elsewhere, in the economic interpretation of Portuguese imperialism.
Russian and Ottoman empires. They argued that He argued that economic motives went hand in hand
French colonialism was not imperialist, and French with other ones such as missionary zeal, nationalism,
imperialism not colonial (Bouvier and Girault 1976). and others (Clarence-Smith 1985).

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The case of Belgium is very special, because in the the twentieth century, with the Spanish–American war
nineteenth century, Belgium was an anticolonialist of 1898 and the American take-over of Cuba and the
country, but in spite of this, it was eventually to Philippines from Spain.
acquire one of the biggest European colonies in Africa,
the Belgian Congo (later called Zaire, now Congo
again). That this happened was due to the extra-
ordinary zeal, tenacity, ruse, and ruthlessness of one
3.1 Explanation: Moties and Means
man, King Leopold II. Jean Stengers has analyzed the
singular nature of the king’s imperialism which was The rich literature on imperialism that has been
one of old-fashioned economic exploitation and in published from the 1960s onwards has led to a revision
this respect inspired by the example of The Nether- of the traditional views on the origins and meaning of
lands (Stengers, in Owen and Sutcliffe 1972, pp. late nineteenth century imperialism. Transformations
248–76). in Europe, but also in the overseas world, have
In the Netherlands the historical discussion on received attention as factors that can explain the new
imperialism began rather late. The most important imperialist attitude. The main distinction is between
contribution to the debate came from a book by European interpretations on the one hand, which
Maarten Kuitenbrouwer (Kuitenbrouwer 1991). In underline economic, political, strategic, and ideologi-
this he argued that the Dutch case was roughly cal motives, and peripheral interpretations which give
analogous to others, and that the Netherlands fol- special attention to activities and developments in the
lowed more or less the general pattern. It has also been overseas world and in particular to the ‘frontiers’ of
noted, however, that Dutch imperialism was defensive European influence. The new research has also given
rather than offensive, reluctant rather than enthusi- attention to such topics as the ecological aspects of
astic. In this respect it was comparable to that of imperialism (Crosby 1986), cultural imperialism (Said
Britain. In both cases there was more continuity than 1978, 1993), the impact of imperialism on the sciences
discontinuity, and what discontinuity there was, deri- (Petitjean et al. 1992), etc.
ved from a change in circumstances, not in policy Much of the debate on imperialism concerned the
(Wesseling 1997). motives of the imperialists. In order to understand the
The historical debate on imperialism was mainly origins of imperialism, however, attention has also to
about the traditional colonial powers of Western be given to another aspect, not the motives but the
Europe but observations have also been made about means. The development of imperialism cannot be
other countries. Russian imperialism poses interesting understood by looking only at transformations in
questions and offers paradoxical aspects because, on Europe and the overseas world, and the incentives for
the one hand, Russia was an object of Western imperialist actions that were created by these. What
European financial imperialism, but on the other also was necessary for such action was the disposal of
it was itself also acting as an expansionist power by the necessary means (Headrick 1981, 1988). It had
extending its empire to the East and eventually to the always been virtually impossible for Europeans to
shores of the Pacific (Geyer 1977, Le Donne 1997). survive in the environmental conditions of tropical
The case of Japan is particularly interesting, because it Africa. New developments in the medical sciences,
is the only Asian nation which became an imperial such as the prophylactic use of quinine (as from the
power. Like other Asian countries it was first con- 1840s), made it possible for Europeans not only to live,
fronted with Western influence but it reacted in a very but also to work and even to fight under such
different way to this challenge. After having been conditions. The development of new means of tran-
forced to ‘open’ the country in 1853, it accepted sportation (steamships, railways), the opening of new
Western notions and techniques very rapidly, so much sea routes (like the one via the Suez Canal), the
so that already by the 1890s it had started its expansion revolution in the means of communication (the tele-
into China. Japanese imperialism was continued in the graph, and later on the telephone and wireless
1930s and of course during the Second World War. communication) made the extension of imperial rule
Some analysts have also considered Japan’s economic possible. Finally, but perhaps most importantly, the
expansion after 1945 as a form of informal imperialism development of new weapons, and in particular of the
(Mommsen and Osterhammel, 1986, pp. 53–82). machine gun, gave the Europeans an enormous
The concept of American imperialism is a very advantage in their battles with non-European nations.
complicated one. Of course America has been con- Colonial wars became successful almost by definition
sidered as the main imperialist power since 1945, but and the European colonial armies became ‘ever vic-
how this was related to its earlier expansion is unclear. torious’ armies. Entire continents could be conquered
While some authors consider the Russian expansion to at very small cost to the conquerors.
the East as a form of imperialism, the American Thus the great technological superiority of the
conquest of the West has hardly ever been interpreted Europeans came into existence during the latter part
in this way. Traditionally, one has observed that of the nineteenth century due to the so-called Second
American imperialism only came about at the turn of Industrial Revolution which took place in Western

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Jours. Socie! te! d’e! dition d’enseignement supe! rieur, Paris
Mommsen W J, Osterhammel J (eds.) 1986 Imperialism and
See also: African Studies: History; Antiquity, History After. Continuities and Discontinuities. Allen & Unwin,
London
of; Capitalism; Colonialism, Anthropology of; Owen R, Sutcliffe B (eds.) 1972 Studies in the Theory of
Colonialism: Political Aspects; Colonization and Imperialism. Longman, London
Colonialism, History of; International Relations, Petitjean P, Jani C, Moulin A M (eds.) 1992 Science and Empires.
History of; Spirit Possession, Anthropology of; Historical Studies about Scientific Deelopments and European
Structuralism Expansion. Kluwer, Dordrecht, The Netherlands

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Said E W 1978 Orientalism. Routledge & Kegan Paul, London emerge that creates a relationship of imperialism.
Said E W 1993 Culture and Imperialism. Chatto & Windus, Without the possession of a distinct political identity,
London however, class conflict or unequal political opportun-
Seton-Watson H 1961 The New Imperialism. Bodley Head,
ities may exist but not imperialism. Second, the colony
London
Stokes E 1969 Late nineteenth-century colonial expansion lacks an international political ‘personality’; that is,
and the attack on the theory of economic imperialism: A while it possesses an identity as a distinct polity, it does
case of mistaken identity. Historical Journal 12: 285–301 not interact with other states as a sovereign equal.
Wehler H-U 1969 Bismarck und der Imperialismus. Kiepenheuer Finally, exploitation of the weak by the strong is not
& Witsch, Cologne, Germany essential to imperialism, but it is an often natural
Wesseling H L 1997 Imperialism and Colonialism. Essays on the outgrowth of effective domination. The affinity be-
History of European Expansion. Greenwood Press, Westport tween domination and exploitation explains the
CT typically pejorative status of the term.
Imperialism is an extreme form of international
H. L. Wesseling hierarchy in which the colony is, in principle, a subject
of the dominant state. If imperialism forms one end of
Copyright # 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. a continuum of international hierarchies, and ‘an-
All rights reserved. archic’ relations between sovereign equals forms the
other, we can identity a range of increasingly hi-
Imperialism: Political Aspects erarchical relationships. In spheres-of-influence, the
subordinate members remain independent but are
Imperialism is a form of international hierarchy in constrained by dominant powers from forming rela-
which one political unit, or polity, effectively governs tionships such as alliances with other great powers.
or controls another polity. It is one of the oldest Latin America under the Monroe doctrine is a classic
known political institutions, characterizing relations example. In protectorates, subordinate states yield
between peoples in ancient Mesopotamia, China, and control over their foreign and defense policies to
Rome through modern Europe. It includes both rule dominant powers; although subordinates remain in-
within relatively contiguous areas—as in the Habsburg dependent, they transfer control over specific areas of
and Ottoman Empires—and the overseas colonies policy to other states. With continuing responsibility
held by various European states after the age of for their defense, the United States today retains
discovery. protectorates over the Federated States of Micronesia
The term has a long and tortured history. It was and the Republic of the Marshall Islands. In informal
apparently first used as an invective against the empires, subordinates are subject to imperial states
expansionist policies of Napoleon I, and has been across wide ranges of policy but retain their inter-
employed most frequently to refer to the colonial national personalities and interact with third parties
practices of the European states in the late nineteenth on the basis of sovereign equality. Eastern Europe
and early twentieth centuries, attempts to revise the under the Soviet Union is a particularly clear example.
international territorial status quo, and the economic Protectorates and informal empires are often grouped
domination of one country by another (also referred with formal empires as forms of imperialism.
to as ‘neo-colonialism,’ see below). Used as a tool of Neocolonialism is a hierarchy produced through the
political rhetoric, the term is highly malleable and functioning of an impersonal international market. In
often devoid of any general meaning. this variant, the dominant state need not intend to
As an analytic concept, imperialism refers to the control the subordinate but the latter is sufficiently
effective domination of one political community by dependent upon the former economically that it has
another. According to Michael Doyle (1986, p. 19), little choice other than to comply with (and even
‘(e)mpires are relationships of political control im- anticipate) the metropole’s desires. In this case, econ-
posed by some political societies over the effective omic dependence produces political dominance—the
sovereignty of other political societies … . Imperialism core of imperialism—but the mechanism of control is
is the process of establishing and maintaining an indirect. For some, this is a virulent form of modern
empire.’ By domination we mean the ability of the imperialism. For others, the absence of intent negates
dominant polity, the metropole, to decide policy for the political relationship. Neocolonialism remains a
the subordinate policy, the colony. This ability may contested concept.
entail substantial delegation of decision-making auth-
ority to elite members of the colony, but the metropole
retains the power to decide what gets delegated and
how, and when this authority is revoked. 1. Theories of Imperialism
Three corollaries are important. First, imperialism
occurs only where distinct political communities exist. The major explanations for imperialism can be
Subordinate communities may have a prior history of grouped into three general categories. Metrocentric
independence or a new political consciousness may theories focus on the dispositions or internal charac-

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International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences ISBN: 0-08-043076-7