World History Essay Sample – Global Empires

History 121: Global Empires and Imperialism, 1500 to the Present Week 6 Worksheet
Chapter 12, “War and Revolution in a World of Empires: 1914 to 1945”
Using the assigned reading for this week (Burbank and Cooper Chapter 12), please answer the following questions. Write your answers in complete sentences in the space provided. This worksheet is due at 11:59 PM on Friday, August 18.
***Do not use outside sources for this assignment***
1. Describe the system of alliances formed in the two decades before the outbreak of World War I. Who was allied with whom? How did the relative strengths and weaknesses of empires contribute to the outbreak of war?
2. Name at least four new nations created following the dissolutions of the German, Austro-Hungarian, and Ottoman Empires. Why were some nations given full independence (at least on paper) while others were placed under the supervision of other countries?
***Extra credit (.5 points per nation named, no maximum): List additional nations beyond the four required by the question that are named in the textbook. You MUST provide the number of the page in which the country’s founding is mentioned (for example, Poland, pg. 381).***
3. Burbank and Cooper write that “the Bolsheviks produced an innovative answer to the tensions between centralization and difference and to the problem of finding loyal intermediaries” (pg. 395). Describe the system established by the Bolsheviks and explain how it mediated between centralization and respect for ethnic difference and how it created loyal intermediaries.

1. Start to think of your chosen work in terms of the previous document analysis assignment. How does this document reflect the state of the world during the 1950’s)?

2. If you accept that colonialism was in general a negative phenomenon, indicate where you disagree with the analysis of your chosen work. Draw on your own experiences of colonialism or postcolonialism, evidence drawn from the textbook and your own personal viewpoint of the relationship between the Imperialist and the colonial world.

3. You might want to try to argue that colonialism was not an entirely negative phenomenon. Perhaps some good things were exported to the colonized countries. There also seems to be some conscious efforts on the part of the developed nations to develop policies and strategies to deal with the “Third World Problem” (this unfortunately has only been alluded to in chapter 5 of the textbook).

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Sample Answer to the Question

The mechanisms of neo-colonialism by Kwame Nkurumah offers some insights on the state of the world during the period immediately after the second world war. While the world was experiencing some peace, particularly among the western nations, such as the United States, there were some emerging concerns as the majority of the colonies under the British and other colonizers were fighting for their freedom. Many regions within Asia, Latina America, and Africa were experiencing instability since the fight for freedom was culminating.

While the Second World War had just ended, there was increased struggle among the colonies. Nkrumah (1965) notes that there were many militants in the ex-colonial territories. Africa, Latin America, and Asia had the most militants, which caused immense struggle between the colonizers and their subjects. Because of this struggle, the need for changing their mode of operation arose, whereby they change tactics. As such, the colonizers switched to using neo-colonialism, rather than using direct force as was the case before. With neo-colonialism, they would still be able to exercise control over their subjects, although in a different manner. Therefore, while there were some developments, there was no true freedom for the colonies. The colonizers only stopped using brutal force to extend their agenda, and resorted to using other methods to control their colonies.

To highlight the shift towards neo-colonialism by nations such as the United States and the United Kingdom, Nkurumah (1965) states the way the colonizers claimed to give independence to their colonies, which was followed by aid for development. This aid, however, the motive for offering this aid was not to assist the former colonies but to keep them dependent on their former colonizers. Such tactics had been popular during the period. For instance, immediately after the Second World War, the United States offered aid to Europe through the Marshall Plan initiative. The motive of the plan, however, was to influence the political systems of the nations that it assisted, rather than just offering some form of aid for reconstruction. Nkurmah (1965) notes that under such phrases like aid, the former colonialists devised “innumerable ways to accomplish objectives formerly achieved by naked colonialism” (P. 2). He termed this approach as neo-colonialism, whereby colonialism was still being perpetuated by the same nations that were calling for increased freedom. Therefore, the paper tends to show the political environment that was being experienced during the period. While there were increased calls for freedom and independence, the colonialists still perpetuated colonialism, but through a different approach. Hence, there was more peace since the alternative approach used less violence compared to the use of force, as was the case before.

Nkurumah perceives colonialism, either directly or indirectly through neo-colonialism as having been a negative phenomenon. In the article, he makes various claims instances regarding the way it was detrimental to the former colonies. While detrimental, it also had some positives. Not all actions of the colonizers were negative, since there were some positives that can be seen even in the contemporary world. For instance, Nkurumah was of the view that colonists started a trap known as multilateral aid to maintain the control over their former colonies. He noted of the responsibility that international organizations, such as the World Bank and the international monetary fund have played in facilitating neocolonialism. His major concern was that these organizations had their major capital backing from the United States, thus enabling it to have the majority of the controlling interests (Nkrumah, 1965). For instance, he noted that these organizations forced some of the would-be borrowers to submit to certain conditions before they could get any form of assistance. Furthermore, the loans granted by these organizations had to be monitored.

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The claim maybe be perceived as inaccurate or based on his perceptions towards the United States. In most instances, multilateral aid has been beneficial to many developing nations. Furthermore, his concerns, such as the capital backing by the United States, reflect the nation’s willingness to assist the development in other nations. Additionally, the majority of these international organizations operate based on elements such as voting rights, and not just the decisions of a single state. While the United States may have been the largest contributor, it did not have the exclusive rights to determine the operations of the organizations (Loomba, 2007). Major decisions are made once an agreement is reached among the various member nations. Additionally, ensuring that there is some form on supervision on the borrowed funds may be perceived as beneficial, in that they are utilized in the way that they were intended. The majority of the developing nations, for instance, are characterized by immense corruption. Therefore, without monitoring such funds, they would easily be misused.

Additionally, Kwameh (1965) appears to have negative attitudes towards anything that the former colonists may have left behind, even when it would have been beneficial to the former colonies. One of the elements that he raises issues with is the various perceived privileges that the departing colonialists enjoy. Among the chief concerns is the setting up of military bases, stationing troops, or offering some form of advisory services to the former colonies. While he depicts some of these privileges as negative, some of them are even more beneficial to the former colonies. Perhaps, much of his negative attitude was because of his perceptions towards the western nations. For instance, setting of military bases was in a way beneficial to the former colonies as long as these bases would not interfere with their operations. The military of the former colonies would benefit from the sharing of technical knowhow, besides the economical benefits that the former colonies would stand to benefit  (Nkrumah, 1965). Besides, the supply of advisory services was also beneficial, in that the former colonies were free to make the decisions that they would consider most appropriate based on the advice that they would get.

Interesting read: The Hindenburg Disaster

Furthermore, it is worth noting that colonization was beneficial in some ways and not just a negative phenomenal. The benefits that the former colonies derived from colonization could be termed as economical, political, social, and technological ones. From an economic perspective, the economies of the majority of the former colonies expanded greatly because of the increased demand for African products in the international markets. There was a demand for products such as tea, coffee, and minerals, which tended to benefit the former colonies. Besides, production increased since there were better production technologies as well as skills that were learned from the former colonizers (Loomba, 2007). These enabled industries to emerge within the former colonies. Additionally, the standard of living for the majority of the subjects improved, considering the economic opportunities that emerged. Besides, the citizens of the former colonies learned new and better business practices, thus enabling them to produce more efficiently.

Politically, the former colonies learned about forming more organized governments, rather than just having tribal chiefs, as had been the case before the colonizers. Besides, there was increased awareness regarding democracy, while also institutions such as judicial systems emerged. Additionally, the colonialists assisted in enabling peace between the various tribes. In continents such as Africa, there were constant wars between the different tribes, yet the colonizers were able to unite them (Cesaire, 2000). In return, the reduced tribal conflicts enhanced the quality of life within the region.

The technological impacts from colonization included better and more enhanced agricultural practices, which made the majority of the former colonies to have better agricultural yields, thus enhancing their food security. Furthermore, colonization led to the need for the development of many cures. For instance, when Europeans first visited Africa, diseases such as Malaria, which prompted researchers to find a cure, affected them. In return, such developments benefited even the colonies, and not just the colonialists (Loomba, 2007). Moreover, aspects such as sanitation improved, which led to increased life expectancy rates because of the better hygiene. Industrialization also increased, ultimately enhancing the way of life in the majority of the former colonies (Loomba, 2007).

Besides, colonization also had various social benefits, the most notable being the creation of more missions, particularly through Christianity. These played a crucial role in enhancing social order in these former colonies. Furthermore, colonization led to the spread of education in the former colonies. In continents such as Africa, for instance, European education led to the creation of leaders who were more capable of fighting for independence for their countries, such as Kwameh Nkurumah (Loomba, 2007). Another political social benefit included the learning of international languages, such as English, which enabled many of the former colonies to be more proactive on global issues. In addition, literature, arts, and education, thrived immensely because of the ideologies borrowed from the colonizers (Loomba, 2007). One may also argue that colonization brought some regions, such as Africa, closer to the world, in that some myths regarding the continent were dispelled.

Therefore, some of Nkurumah’s perspectives on colonialism may have been inaccurate. He never considered the benefits that the former colonies could derive from international organizations such as the World Bank. He only focused on the negatives, some of which were implied. However, he offers insights on the state of the world during the period immediately after the Second World War. The period was characterized by increased global peace since even many of the colonizers were taking a different approach to control their subjects, rather than just using force. Many of the colonizers were using Neo-colonialism, disguised as aid, which led Nkuramah to object some of the initiatives by the United States. However, he did not reflect on the positive aspects regarding colonization. For instance, it led to the establishment of educational institutions, industries, and development of cures to illnesses that were unique to the African continent. Therefore, while colonization maybe perceived as having been a negative phenomenon, it also had positive aspects, some of which are evident even in the contemporary world.


Nkrumah, K. (1966). Neo-Colonialism: The Last Stage of Imperialism. 1965. New York: International.

Loomba, A. (2007). Colonialism/postcolonialism. United Kingdom: Routledge.

Césaire, A. (2000). Discourse on colonialism. New York, NY: NYU Press.

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