Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Development and Colonialism - places to go if you are struggling for ideas...

This is only going to be a short post but I thought, seeing as I got the impression that some were perhaps struggling with linking development and colonialism, that I would try and point you in the direction of a few resources that may help you form you own opinions on the topic.

"To what extent are the low levels of development in much of sub-Saharan Africa a result of European colonialism"

First up, I feel the need to clear up a bit of confusion that arised in my lesson on Monday and was a topic of much debate amongst a few in my class. Where is sub-Saharan Africa? So, for those of you who weren't quite sure, its the darker bit with all the labelled countries.....


Millie has started running these online workshop sessions on her blog on Tuesday evenings starting at 5:30pm. The first one was tonight and even if you missed it, like me, I would strongly recommend that you catch up on what she discussed. All you need to do is go along to her blog (if you look at the very end of this page, under the blogs I read bit, there will be a link directly to the relevant post unless she has written something since then!) and just listen to it and follow the text. It was very useful as an overview of the factors we will be expected to cover in our essay, she suggested some good case studies for us to research further, provided some links to places to look to for a basic introduction to colonialism and also covered structuring and essay writing technique for all A2 essays. It is definetly worth catching up on if you missed it - I really could not emphasise this enough!!!

Now I realise that I have not really written many relevant/useful posts about development over the holidays but my head has been filled with lots and lots of oceanography based stuff and pure physical geography and I suppose I have utilised this blog to expel some of my frustration about having to cut much of the wonderful and highly interesting science out of my EPQ - so I apologise, I will get back into the swing of blogging regularly once our lessons really get under way and I will try and write about lots more human geography stuff to balance it all out over the next few weeks as I realise that physical geography is perhaps not everyones favourite thing. Below will be a few links to some posts that are sort of relevant and should hopefully provide some extra knowledge:

Contemporary colonial carve-up???  This post is based on neo-colonialism, which is an issue that I suppose could be mentioned in up coming essay, and some of the impacts (both positive and negative) that it is having on countries at present are incredibly similar to those that colonialism had/has. There are a few references to the 'scramble for Africa' which is an issue that will have to be covered in the essay at some point! There are many other factors that have hindered development but I have mainly focused at the moment on climate....Is there a link between civil conflict and climate patterns? If I am being honest this post was an excuse to talk about a physical topic that really really interests me (ENSO) whilst also covering some human geography stuff and it is very relevant to the essay with a few case studies that could be mentioned. I don't think you really need to understand all the ENSO stuff and specifics of it but just the idea that climate has either helped or hindered development and, in the case of sub-Saharan Africa, greatly hindered it.  Climate plays/played a huge role in development and writing this post made me think back to the stuff we have learnt about the DTM and the Rostow Model of Development as for countries to move through the stages of both, therfore to develop, changes in agriculture are one of the first to happen as they help to generate an active and growing economy, reduce CDR by securing food supplies and provide employment etc. and in much of Africa, and other less developed nations, the climate does not allow for this to happen - an issue that can be seen the Horn of Africa at present, UN officially declares a famine in Somalia.

Books and films

I have a few book/film reviews to try and find the time to write over the next few weeks, to add to those that I have already written, and there are loads of great books/films out there to read/watch, based in Africa, that will allow you to gain so much more understanding of this topic.
- Blood River, Tim Butcher I have reviewed this one so follow the link if you want to know more but, in summary, this book is mainly set in DR Congo and is perhaps one of the best books I have read regarding this topic as the detrimental impacts that colonialism has had on this country and the way in which it has hindered development and, agruably, provoked the country to under-develop are very clear to see.
- The same guy has also written another book called Chasing the Devil, On Foot through Africa's Killing Fields which is based in Sierra Leone and Liberia. Again much of the above is covered but I havent got round to writing the review for it yet so the link is to one that I got online.
If I am being honest there are loads and loads of books that would be good if you got the chance to read so I don't think I really need to list them all but basically any book about an African country would give you an insight/understanding it their development - even a book I read for the energy module, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, would help you to understand factors effecting development.

I realise that this EPQ is probably taking up a lot of your time and involving a lot of reading so watching some related films may be a good way to ease yourself back into this Geography module and there quite a few out there..... some suggestions are (see links for my reviews along with links to this current module):
- Blood Diamond
- Darfur
- Invictus
- Goodby Bafana
- Cry Freedom
- Constant Gardener
I have yet to watch/ reading something that takes a more positive view to colonialism and development but there are some, which are often easy to forget! All of these are set in African countries and perhaps it is important to remember that other parts of the world were colonised too, with some case studies showing the benefits of colonialim, and so reading/watching stuff about them too could be quite a beneficial think to do.

The afore-mentioned are just a few things that I found really helped me extend my knowledge of the topic over the summer holidays; if you have any suggestions let me know!


  1. Thanks for the good review! It should now be simpler, there is a little widget installed abover the text, you just have to forgive how very nervous i sound! I think I need some music!
    I am goin g to get a display set up in the library for relevant films for this module! Great post, thanks vicki!

  2. It honestly was really good and will no doubt prove to be an excellent consolidation/revision tool that is, perhaps, one of the best ways to start to get students to interact more with the blog. You don't sound that nervous - surely it can't be much different to standing up in front of a class?!