Edited by Kyle Bruce
Chapter 11: The commercial practices of the crown and the state: locating British trade with, and commercial imperialism in, Africa, in the geopolitics of Europe
This chapter explores the antecedents to colonization and empire, central to the story of Britain’s relationship with Africa from the first century to the mid-twentieth century. The earliest relationships with Africa emerge from encounters between the British Isles and the foreign powers that invaded them: the Romans, Vikings and Normans. Further, how these foreign powers (as crown/state) administered the British Isles had an enduring influence on the character of British venturing and colonizastion. Moreover, on-going rivalries with European nations further shaped Britain’s crown/state policy towards trade, then imperialism, in Africa. Commercial venturing, and eventually military expedition-based venturing companies, were key to the Britain’s economic colonial and economic presence in Africa. We therefore explore the role of crown/state sponsorship of merchants and venturers. This evolution and dynamics of encounters between Britain and Africa can be captured theoretically through Michel Foucault’s concept of the heterotopia. As a final counter point to the often positive mid-twentieth accounts of the legacies of colonialism, the losses, from the perspective of Africans, is understood through Amartya Sen’s historical analysis of the contemporaneous and enduring negative impacts of colonialism.
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