The term colony comes from the Latin word colonus, meaning farmer. Colonialism is a practice of domination, involving the subjugation of one people by another, generally with the aim of economic dominance. In the process of colonisation, colonisers may impose their cultural practices, religion, labour conditions and language on indigenous peoples. The coloniser seeks to benefit from the colonised region’s people and resources. Colonialism is strongly associated with the European colonial period beginning in the 15th century. At first, European colonising countries followed policies of mercantilism, aiming to strengthen the home-nation economy, so agreements usually restricted the colonies to trading only with the colonising nation. However, by the mid-19th century, the British Empire gave up mercantilism and adopted the principle of free trade. Belgium controlled the Belgian Congo (today the Democratic Republic of Congo) from 1908 to 1960, and Ruanda-Urundi (Rwanda and Burundi) from 1922 to 1962. The Belgian Congo originated as the personal property of the king Leopold II, before sovereignty was transferred to the Belgian state in 1908. European slave traders, primarily the Portuguese, Spanish, British, Dutch and French empires brought large numbers of African slaves to the Americas. The European colonial system took between 10 to 12 million Africans to the Caribbean and to North and South America as slaves. Christian missionaries were active in most of the European-controlled colonies. It is estimated that by 1914, colonisers had gained control of 84% of the globe. Following the Second World War, colonial powers were forced to retreat, and between 1945–1975, nearly all colonies gained independence, entering into postcolonial relations.

Colonial Exhibitions and the Human Zoo
Exposition Internationale Coloniale, Maritime et d'Art Flamand, Antwerpen, 1930


Items View all

Actors View all

Ensembles View all