Colonialism, Violence, Religion, Struggle for Liberation, Etc. In South Africa Research Paper

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South Africa

Colonialism, Racism, and Violence: The History of the Struggle for Liberation in South Africa

The colonialism that began to take over the world in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries and that still arguably exists in certain economic as well as overtly political schemas today has had an enormous impact on the cultural and political development of much of the world. Colonial powers, generally European or "Western" in origin, have instilled systems of racial, religious, ethnic, and gender-based distinctions in countries that did not know this type of institutional prejudice prior to colonial periods, often making the native inhabitants of countries "others" in the span of a few generations. When the culture that is actually tied to a piece of land and the people that have occupied it for millennia suddenly becomes the minority culture, and/or is perceived as the inferior and improper culture, that culture and the people associated with it will necessarily warp and likely chafe.

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When the chaffing gets bad enough, revolutions result, and this is precisely what occurred in many African countries in the decades following the Second World War. The history of South Africa and its struggle for liberation makes for an especially interesting examination, given the many perspectives and groups that ultimately had stakes in the country's future. Different groups of European colonialists that didn't get along with each other, and much less with the black natives of the country, made for a long and complex struggle for true liberation that has only recently begun to demonstrate true signs of success.

Colonial Influence

Research Paper on Colonialism, Violence, Religion, Struggle for Liberation, Etc. In South Africa Assignment

The impact of colonialism on the cultures in South Africa is all but impossible to overstate. Certain native populations were decimated by successive waves of colonial conquerors and encroachers, or were relegated to mere shadows of what they once were and forced to live a life completely alien to that of a generation prior (USDOS 2011; Boddy-Evans 2011). Violence was an extremely common, vicious, and long-running part of colonialism and its resonating forces in the country that is now South Africa, comprised of an area that combines the ancestral homelands of a number of different peoples and cultures (USDOS 2011). As Frantz Fanon asserts in his book the Wretched of the Earth (2004), violence can have a unifying effect on otherwise disparate groups of people, and this occurred in South Africa to some extent up until the middle of the twentieth century (Boddy-Evans 2011).

Fanon's (2004) concept of "cultural violence," or the automatic presumption of inferiority on the part of African peoples and cultures, also played a major role in the development of South Africa and the ultimate ongoing struggle for liberation in the country. First by what became the Afrikaans population and then by the English imperial forces, the black natives of the country were relegated to ever-lower classes in the dominant society and culture in the region (USD. This culminated in the extremes of apartheid that explicitly and systematically relegated black individuals to impoverished communities, low-paying jobs, and a full social and political underclass (Boddy-Evans 2011).

At the same time, the situation in South Africa was not as simple as a black-and-white issue. In many nations, the conflict that led from colonization to liberation was typified by a binary opposition between native and imperial forces, which automatically broke along racial lines as well (Pontecorvo 1966). In South Africa, however, the first wave of colonial forces -- the French, Dutch, and German settlers that became the group known as the Afrikaners -- were ultimately oppressed, subjugated, and pushed out of their settlements by the British in a fashion that was similar in some respects to the treatment of black natives upon Europeans' first arrival in the region (USDOS 2011). This created a more complex class system that further diminished the social and political roles of native Africans and made their problems not even secondary but rather tertiary in South… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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