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Ethnocentrism and Cultural Relativity Cultural differences and UniversalsSubcultures and countercultures - Essay Example

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The shift from Colonialism to Post-Colonialism is a theoretical effort to differentiate between past concepts of imperialism that attempted to cast the colonial impulse as a religious or cultural quest to liberate undeveloped countries from the morass of incivility they apparently exhibited…
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Ethnocentrism and Cultural Relativity Cultural differences and UniversalsSubcultures and countercultures
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Download file to see previous pages By analyzing the major concerns of cultural interpretation through linguistics and the essential motivations for the British efforts, the colonial effort in India is shown to represent a universal impulse of the state that continues to exist in the contemporary world.
The history of the British in India dates back to the efforts of the English East India Trading Company to establish British economic interests in India in 1612. India operated merely as an economic trade-port until the Battle of Plassey in 1757. Considered a pivotal point in the colonization of South Asia, the battle occurred during the Seven Years War and pitted the English East India Trading Company against their French counterpart. The British victory resulted in the emergence of government authority in India and included an abundance of wealth from the Bengal Empire that flowed into Britain. The infusion of wealth helped British colonial efforts that expanded throughout the area for the next 200 years and established the British as the predominant colonial power of the 19th century. Chamberlain (1974) makes the point that -- although theorists make direct causal connections between the British and their impulses in India -- it's absurd to assume that over the 200 years of colonial expansion the British motivations remained static. Over the 200 year period the British passed from Tudor rule to Victorian, and as such British motivations need to be understood in relation to an ever-changing Empire.
The exact terms of the relationship between the British and the Indians seemed to remain highly ambivalent throughout the period of British occupation. One strand of thought on British control of India was that the Indian people were so uncivilized that if the British ceased occupation than the Indian economy would fall into shambles due to lawlessness; whereas, a strong contingent of Indians believed that British ethnocentrism was such that they merely used India as an economic means for British gain, resulting in a highly distorted economy that oppressed the Indian population. Conversely, it's argued that the British economy was equally distorted by relying too heavily on Indian production.
During their occupation of India, the British used a sense of cultural superiority to consistently avoid laws that would positively benefit Indian society. Speaking on the effects of this British ethnocentrism, Henry Verelst, former governor of Bengal, wrote:
It appeared that an exemption from duties had thrown the whole trade of the country into the hands of the English. This, however, was the least evil. The country government was destroyed by the violence of their agents; and individual tyranny succeeded to national arrangement. In the general confusion, all, who were disposed to plunder, assumed the authority of our name, usurped the sears of justice, carried on what they called a trade, by violence and oppression. (Chamberlain, p. 20, 1974)

While Indians seemed to favor the laws and structure the British government offered, they believed that the British presence in India operated as a means of exploiting their culture for profit. While a large amount of Colonial literature attempted to paint the British efforts as liberating, it's notable that from the onset British interests in India were directly related and expanded on economic means. A similar comparison can be made to Western efforts to bring a 'civilizing impulse' to Afghanistan and ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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