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date: 30 May 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The period 1914–45 represents the height of European overseas empire even as seeds were sown hastening imperialism’s demise. Colonies were ‘unfinished empires’ in the process of becoming, although frequent resorts to violence in the colonies indicated the limits of Europe’s grasp. Although many emerged from the First World War dubious about European so-called civilization, the civilizing mission survived and flourished, suggesting Europe’s enduring self-confidence. Development became a dominant discourse while the Great Depression quickened colonial exploitation. Emigration and settlement on expropriated lands slowed relative to Europe’s rapid expansion in the 1800s, yet formal colonialism proceeded apace, with few exceptions. Development and exploitation led to forced or voluntary migration of colonial subjects on a large scale. Cold War ideological competition was ‘exported’ to much of the colonial world. Non-Europeans used networks to claim their rights and attack European colonial rule, and they and the colonies influenced Europe, which developed various ‘colonial cultures’.

Keywords: empire, colonialism, imperialism, Great Depression, civilizing mission, development, violence, migration, Cold War, colonial culture

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