Experiment 14: Africa Map (1102)


In addition to Industrialization, the second colonial movement was the most significant world historical change during the 19th century. The first colonial movement saw European and Native Americans encountering and engaging each other, and ended as almost all of the Americas expelled the European colonial powers (Spain, England, Portugal, France) in the period of revolutions that lasted from 1776–1825. In the course of 50 years almost all North, Central, and South America became independent states.

Following this earlier period of rapid colonial land loss, imperial powers looked to other areas of the world for economic exploitation. The second colonial movement focussed on Africa and Asia. In 1858 the British formally take control of India from the British East India Trading Company (which had controlled it since 1757). In 1885, 13 European countries, the U.S. and the Otttoman empire met to divide African peoples into countries that had no basis in the history of the originating societies. As well, most European powers push for greater access and rights in China and Southeast Asia.

The push by empires to conquer and rule other peoples comes at a time when the rhetoric of self-rule and democracy emerged out of the successful American revolutions of the late–18th, early 19th centuries. The primary argument made by colonialists was that native groups could not develop fast enough to be stable civilizations or lacked the advanced culture necessary to rule themselves in the 19th century. In short, colonialists told their subjects “You’re too stupid and economically backwards to be allowed to have your own government. One day maybe, but for now, we’re running things.” Historians debate if greed, white supremacy, or nationalism was the primary motivator for the second colonialism. Likely it was some combination.

We’re going to look at colonialism through the tool of historical global information systems.

Global information systesm (or GIS) are digital maps that allow us to ask questions about the past based on data we or others have created. http://worldmap.harvard.edu/africamap/ is one such GIS project. It incorporates a variety of data, including the Slave Trade database you’ve already worked on, into different “layers” of information which can be placed on top of accurate world maps. The difference between historical GIS and modern GIS is that modern geographers often go looking for existing data to create their maps (say a spreadsheet with all the locations of campsites in Minnesota) whereas historical GIS often has to create by hand that data.

Learning goals:

By the end of this assignment, students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate the ability to work within the historical GIS tool AfricaMap.

  2. Successfully add or remove layers to the GIS.

  3. Draw historical conclusions based on the use of the AfricaMap.

  4. Tie conclusions from the AfricaMap to the secondary source readings for this week.

Start: Navigate to http://worldmap.harvard.edu/africamap/

Learning goals:
Learning goals:

Make sure the “Language Family” and “Trade Route” are unchecked.

You should see a blank map.