ABSTRACT

Although kingdoms and countries have long jostled for territory and invaded distant lands, European colonialism represented a new form of imperialism. For the first time, political expansion took place on a global scale, as relatively small European countries managed to dominate far larger civilizations. The story of colonialism is often told as an Atlantic story, as European powers sailed south around Africa and west to populate the Americas. This chapter provides an overview of European colonialism with an emphasis on the Pacific Basin. After all, the entire point of sailing beyond Europe was to capture markets and spices in Asia. This chapter also stresses the multiple meanings and forms of colonialism. Although we tend to speak of European colonialism in the singular, the differences between early and late colonialism, as well as colonialism as settlement or as control, demand that we speak in terms of colonialisms, in the plural.