Literature Review On Colonialism

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GL3101 Book Review Paper Name: Siew Hui Hui Constance Book: Mahoney, James. 2010. Colonialism and Postcolonial Development: Spanish America in Comparative Perspective. New York: Cambridge University Press. Word count without headers and footnotes: 1096 Total word count: 1056 Date: 25 September 2016 Introduction This paper will critically review Mahoney’s Colonialism and Postcolonial Development: Spanish America in Comparative Perspective. Mahoney’s research question is why and how different “modes of colonialism” arose within certain states, and how these modes contributed to differentiated socioeconomic outcomes for these states in the longrun. He hypothesizes that variations in the level of colonialism, both rooted in and in conjunction with…show more content…
While the former is not without its flaws, it is still considerably stabler than the latter two. Mahoney’s focus is on the historical factors that cause developmental differences to persist over time, and data regarding either absolute levels or rates tend to be rooted in shortterm factors, whereas relative levels of development point more at historically enduring factors. Limitations of Mahoney’s research design Counterfactuality and limited validity One of Mahoney’s hypotheses is that societies which have undergone low levels of colonisation under liberal colonial regimes tend to perform lower in global hierarchies of development over time. As some critics have mentioned however, countries like Costa Rica and Chile have outperformed in the period of postindependence as the “economic and social leaders in the region”, a fact which Mahoney attempts to explain away with a section on “interstate warfare”1. As critics have similarly mentioned, given how Mahoney himself prefers a pathdependent/ historicist approach, such occurrences should theoretically have…show more content…
4 See Fisher, J. (2012). Colonialism and postcolonial development: Spanish america in comparative perspective Duke University Press. colonised societies with mentalities of cultural and religious superiority, frequently interpreting cultural and institutional difference either as ignorance of the Other, degrading it or simply ignoring it. One of the book’s crucial independent variables however is the fit between the institutions of the host society and that of the coloniser’s, where the “institutional complexity of precolonial societies are crucial for understanding why European colonizers with similar political economies follow contrasting modes of colonization”. Given how central the author deems this variable, the onesidedness of the sources depicting the landscape of the host societies’ institutions calls into question the validity of his argument: firstly, there could have well been complex institutions in place in the precolonial societies, but they simply were not recorded. Particular nonacknowledged forms of complexity of institutions in these societies could well have been a source of significant confounding variables. This thus casts doubt on the strength of causality the supposed complexity of precolonial societies had on the type of colonial
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