Prior to taking this class, I did not possess a great deal of knowledge on the topic of colonization. I am a pre-professional student, and have studied little beyond basic American History. When I began this class, I had a general idea of the concepts of colonization. I was well aware that not everything was positive or even close, but I had no understanding of how brutal and negative colonization could be on many different levels.
The overall theme of this class has been depressing for the most part. Although, this is true I can say that it has made me think about aspects of colonization that I would have never previously considered. The aspects of colonization that are most interesting to me are the ones that I found to be the most shocking and extreme. These mainly include the aspects of colonization that effect individuals as well as the colonized as group. The first of the terms that come to mind are dehumanization, assimilation, and hegemony.
Dehumanization is the process of making an individual or a group seem to be less than human. The idea of mistreating individuals for characteristics that are different is very prevalent. It is a concept that most individuals are very familiar with. People are discriminated against in our modern society for a variety of reasons. These reasons include race, sexual orientation, religion, and gender. It could be said that discrimination is one of the worst aspects of our society. Discrimination is a term that is often heard today. For this reason, when I first heard of dehumanization I automatically compared it to discrimination. Dehumanization goes beyond discrimination. It takes away all individuality and makes one group of people inferior to another on many levels. By putting them beneath oneself or one’s group, it gives justification to use and abuse the dehumanized. The dehumanized are not looked at as humans and sometimes considered of lesser value than animals or property.
Assimilation is the attempt of trying to incorporate one group into a different society. This is done by taking changing the way the assimilated live. They are expected to dress and act in ways of the dominating group. This in itself terrible, but the assimilated are never accepted as equals despite accepting the society, which they are forced to be a part.
Hegemony is the imposition of views and beliefs of the dominant cultural group. The ideas of the dominant group are considered to be normal and everything else is unacceptable. Hegemony causes further loss of individuality. Culture and history of the colonized are also impacted greatly due to hegemony. When the dominating groups ideals are imposed and enforced the others are lost.
These are the main terms I will be focusing on while doing my study because they are the ones that have had the biggest impact on my view of colonization thus far.