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GGR240 Urban Historical Geography Of North America

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GGR240 Urban Historical Geography Of North America

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Course Code: GGR240
University: University Of Toronto

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Country: Canada


Key points from the previous class

The deadly geographies of the Atlantic Slave Trade in North America: From the ‘network’ itself to specific spaces such as plantations
The 17th-century transformation of Barbados into an island of terrible ‘materialism’ with a majority enslaved population working under brutal conditions
The inseparability of slavery and capitalism in the United States, particularly into the 19th century / Industrial Revolution
The Black Atlantic (Paul Gilroy) as an transnational cultural geography, forged amidst and as a result of slavery
Abolition and revolution: Haiti and new notions of human freedom

Railroad Time and Space

Railroads represented a radical break with physical geography – limiting the effects of weather and terrain, and creating new representations of space and distance (including from inside a rail-car)
They altered perceptions of time – seasonal time, but even daily time
They seemed to simplify the complexities of the world, regulating travel and promoting specialized economies


The great historical past of every nation elaborately brings forward a history of colonization. Colonization became almost a trend during the time period from 1776-1991. It has been a span of almost 15 years when countries have been colonized and they have fought for their rights to achieve decolonization. The current scenario that we have arrived at today is an impact of all these changes that have taken place over the years. United States of America stands out to be one of the major nations that have taken it position even after being an English colony for over a long period of time.  The end of the colonial empire is marked by some major revolutions all across the world. In order to understand this revolutionary outcome it is really essential to know about colonialism and then to judge it on the basis of decolonization. North America has been an easy spot for colonization process of the British Empire. There were a number of factors that initiated the process of colonization and some of them were like lesser indigenous population, safe from incurable diseases and immense scope of institutionalization. These all added to the creation of a scope of colonization. It is quite well known that every action of colonization has often been followed by decolonization and this too had no such difference. In this paper we would be trying to analyze the impact that anti-colonial resistance movement in North America had. Colonialism would at one point lead to revolution which may end in decolonization but does it always have the same impact.
Colonialism and Decolonization
Colonialism as it is known is the idea that led to the creation of several new colonies. It is this process that had a major impact on the nations that became colonies and even on the nation of the colonizers. The major impact was the creation of such societies which were completely distinct from the ones that were colonizing (Adas, 2012). The British tried to create a “colonial society” in North America but they failed to do so as it was quite less populated. This raised a different situation and people from the colonizers nation had to be called for so that they might settle down on these colonies. The creation of a colony is not only dependent on the population but also on things like the rate of diseases. Hence North America turned out to be a better part for colonization (Sium, Desai & Ritskes, 2012). The diseases that affected this place were quite benign and less harmful and hence life and institutions could easily flourish. North America has been a strong colony of the British and hence the process of decolonization and the attainment of independence has been a loss for Britain. It is often believed that both Colonialism and Decolonization both arises from the concept of Nationalism (Ashcroft, Griffiths & Tiffin, 2013). It is a revolution on both the ends; one begins to take away freedom while the other to attain that lost freedom.  Decolonization takes place when a nation which has once been a colony of another nation takes a step forward and attains its independence. When there is a mention about colonies the first name that appears is of Europe and within it, Great Britain stands out to be prominent (Lewis, 2012). The process of colonization was a part of the expanding conquest of Europe when they were trying to move beyond their continent through the creation of colonies. The process of decolonization got its first setback in the year 1776 with the attainment of independence by the United States.   
Decolonization in North America
It was almost for over a period of 50 years that the initial phase of decolonization existed.  It began in the year 1776 with the signing of the Declaration of Independence which resulted in the decolonization of a number of North and South American colonies. This period is defined as the “era of revolutions” as the entire Atlantic region rose in revolution against the colonialists and the previously accepted notions passed out. The revolutions continued in a pattern and it was termed as “transatlantic chain reaction” (Klose, 2014). This reaction weakened the relation between the metropolitans of Europe and those of the American colonies. The main reason behind the rise of the anti-colonial movements was a mutual misunderstanding. People from both Spain and England had moved to the new colonies as settlers. Both these governments tried to join hands through a number of reform treaties. The treaties were mainly signed so that the monetary condition of each of the nations could be made better (Acemoglu & Robinson, 2017). On the other hand, the citizens who had settled in these new colonies, now the United States, thought themselves to be separate on the basis of their origin. They even felt that they were not being treated at par with those that were settled in their own lands (Veracini, 2013). This infuriated them and the decolonization movement took its shape. In addition to this there was one more factor that resulted in the initiation of the “American Revolution” and it was the deteriorating monetary condition. There are a number of theories that have been put forward with regards to decolonization. One of them that stand out to be prominent is a combination of a number of theories (Chrisman & Williams, 2015). The “metropolitan theory” states that it is the developments of the metropolitans that resulted in decolonization and then the “peripheral theory” adds that the previous theory instigated the process and influences from the peripheries fuelled the situation and finally it was international politics from the “international theory that helped in the culmination (Pratt et al., 2018).   
Impact of Anti-Colonial Resistance Movement
It was from 1775-1783 that the North American Revolution had its existence. This turned out to be the first phase of decolonization movement against British rule. It was North America that brought about the first resistance. All the other nations that had been under the colonial rule were influenced by this movement and later on came forward to organize such similar movements. It was in the year 1776, on the 4th of July that the Declaration of Independence was signed creating the most effective impact in history (Klose, 2014). It was through this declaration that the 13 colonies belonging to New England were freed from the British rule and these 13 colonies joined hands to form a new nation. It was the formation of the United States of America that was a result of the anti-colonial resistant movement. It was the Treaty of Paris which was signed in the year 1783 that recognized the United States of America as a state that was independent from external control. The continuous movements to remove colonialism by the natives of the New England colonies resulted in loss of Great Britain (Grove, 2017). It lost its hold on the North American States but at the same time this forced them to shift their concentration to some other country. Britain in turn shifted its focus so as to create some other colonies. The major effect that the “American Revolution” had was towards the development of the European metropolitans (Young, 2016). France had a major role to play in this revolution and it did that on behalf of the revolutionaries on the American side. The revolutions made the political scenario weak and unstable all at the same time (Keith & Pile, 2013). Colonialism had been effective in certain lands in creating a prosperous nation. This has remained in the same way even after the decolonization process had been completed. In the same way North America has offered the colonizers a scope to create such institutions which later on enhanced the level of prosperity in these nations after their independence.     
Colonization has existed for over years and this had been the reason behind several revolutionary conquests. Revolutions have been initiated over time because of a number of reasons. This should even be added that the revolutions that had taken place were not always organized by the colonized. It has often been the initiative of the colonizers as a difference of opinion has been created. We began with the question of the impact that anti-colonial resistance movement in North America had. Now that we have reached the end of the paper, we have been able to address this question well by deciphering its answer. Moreover, it has even revealed that colonization often results in a revolution that might lead to decolonization but the impact is solely dependent on the form of the revolution. The revolution in North America had led to the creation of the United States but at the same time it allowed the settlement of both English and Spanish people at the same time. This paper tries to address the major details about colonization and decolonization. Then it shifts its focus and concentrates only on the colonization of North America. The next shift takes place as we enter the main topic of the impact that these anti-colonial resistance had on the concerned nation and even on the colonizers. Colonies change and attain independence and it is only the revolution that remains within the pages of history.  
Acemoglu, D. & Robinson, J. (2017). The economic impact of colonialism. Retrieved from: https://voxeu.org/article/economic-impact-colonialism
Adas, M. (2012). Prophets of rebellion: Millenarian protest movements against the European colonial order. UNC Press Books.
Ashcroft, B., Griffiths, G., & Tiffin, H. (2013). Post-colonial studies: The key concepts. Routledge.
Chrisman, L., & Williams, P. (2015). Colonial discourse and post-colonial theory: A reader. Routledge.
Grove, R. H. (2017). Colonial conservation, ecological hegemony and popular resistance: towards a global synthesis. In Imperialism and the natural world. Manchester University Press.
Keith, M., & Pile, S. (Eds.). (2013). Geographies of resistance. Routledge.
Klose, F. (2014). Decolonization and Revolution. Retrieved from: https://ieg-ego.eu/en/threads/europe-and-the-world/european-overseas-rule/fabian-klose-decolonization-and-revolution
Lewis, A. G. (2012). Ethics, activism and the anti-colonial: Social movement research as resistance. Social Movement Studies, 11(2), 227-240.
Pratt, Y. P., Louie, D.W., Hanson, A.J. & Ottomann, J. (2018). Indigenous Education and Decolonization. Retrieved from: https://oxfordre.com/education/view/10.1093/acrefore/9780190264093.001.0001/acrefore-9780190264093-e-240
Sium, A., Desai, C., & Ritskes, E. (2012). Towards the’tangible unknown’: Decolonization and the Indigenous future. Decolonization: indigeneity, education & society, 1(1).
Veracini, L. (2013). ‘Settler colonialism’: Career of a concept. The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 41(2), 313-333.
Young, R. J. (2016). Postcolonialism: An historical introduction. John Wiley & Sons.

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