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🚀  Thematic Guides

✈️  Unit 9: Globalization

👉  Introduction to AP World

6.1 Rationales for Imperialism




⏱️  2 min read

written by

Eric Beckman

eric beckman

June 23, 2020

Imperialist countries developed rationales for what they were doing. Meaning, they gave reasons why they were building empires by taking control over other places. These rationales were an effect of imperialism, but they also inspired even more expansion, especially as countries such as Germany, France, and Britain competed against each other to build bigger empires. 💪🏼

As the 1800s went on and Europeans began taking over more territory in Africa and Asia these rationales became more racist. The publication of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species had effects beyond biology. Some imperialists adopted ideas called Social Darwinism

Social Darwinists believed that people and countries were more or less successful based on their biological qualities. They saw international relationships as contests in which the fittest survived. This justified imperialism, because imperialists told themselves that their conquests were natural.

Social Darwinism also encouraged imperialism, as nations wanted to prove that they were the fittest by taking over other places. Similarly, another idea that imperialists used to justify their idea was called phrenology. It was a racial 'science' that argued that racial superiority of certain ethnic groups depended on the size and shape of their skull.

Social Darwinism was a racist rationale for imperialism, but other rationales were more cultural. European and American imperialists sometimes justified their expansion as helping others by spreading Christianity. French imperialists claimed that their conquests were part of a civilizing mission, mission civilisatrice in French ⚔️

🎥Watch: WHAP - Modern Imperialism

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