How does Césaire define colonialism in "Discourse on Colonialism"?

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Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

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One aspect of Cesaire's definition of colonialism includes the denunciation of colonialism as altruistic philanthropy and evangelicalism. He maintains that the colonial powers' prejudice and bigotry--which he heard resonating with a kindred chord in the writing of the poets and authors of the Harlem Renaissance--was apparent in racist language in the French Assembly.

what, fundamentally, is colonization? To agree on what it is not: neither evangelising, nor a philanthropic enterprise, nor a desire to push back the frontiers of ignorance, disease, and tyranny, nor a project undertaken for the greater glory of God, nor an attempt to extend the rule of law.

Another aspect of Césaire's definition of colonialism is that the motive behind regimes of colonization was a mercenary one predicated upon the enlargement of mercantilization. The intent and goal was to expand the coffers of their economic structure and enhance their own societies at the expense of the subjugated societies.

the gold digger and the merchant, appetite and force, and behind them, the baleful projected shadow of a form of civilization which, at a certain point in its history, finds itself obliged, for internal reasons, to extend to a world scale the competition of its antagonistic economies.

Additionally, Césaire defines colonialism as the dehumanization of the dominating, colonizing country. He asserts that colonization forces brutality upon the colonizer as the colonized societies protest, resist, and ultimately, rebel against their loss of autonomy and freedom.

colonization works to decivilize the colonizer, to brutalize him in the true sense of the word, to degrade him, to awaken him to buried instincts, to covetousness, violence, race hatred, and moral relativism;

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