Published Date

January 1, 2004

From Imperialism: European, American, and Japanese


Question One

What is imperialism? In your attempt to define imperialism, reflect on the political, economic, religious and other factors involved in the expansion of the industrial nations. How have intellectuals, politicians, and commentators defined it? What is new about the “new” imperialism?

Sources for Question One

John P. McKay, et al. A History of World Societies; 5th ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1999. Read Chapter 27, but pay special attention to pp. 841-853.

Also consult Gerald Rempel, “The New Imperialism.”

Ottoman Empire and European Expansion, 1500-1800:

Africa, Imperial Boundaries, 1914:

Japanese Sphere of Co-Prosperity, 1938:

Terms, Concepts, People

Define and identify the following:

  1. imperialism
  2. new imperialism
  3. colonialism
  4. White Man’s Burden
  5. Rudyard Kipling
  6. John Hobson
  7. Joseph Schumpeter
  8. Alfred T. Mahan
  9. Spanish-American War
  10. self-determination

Study Questions

  1. Explain John Hobson’s view of imperialism.
  2. How does Alfred Mahan’s account of sea power fit into late-nineteenth century global political calculations?
  3. To what extent does Rudyard Kipling’s poem, “White Man’s Burden,” reflect the attitude of the industrial world?

Theories of Imperialism


Ferry, Premier Jules. Le Tonkin et la mere-patrie: Temoignages et documents; translated by Robin Winks. Paris: Victor-Havard, 1890.

Hobson, John.  “Imperialism” (1902).

Lenin, V. I. Imperialism: The Highest State of Capitalism 1916


British Imperialistic Anthems

Blunt, Wilfred. “Britain’s Imperial Destiny” (1896-1899)

Mahan, A. T. The Influence of Sea Power Upon History, 1660-1783. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1890.

Program of the Pan-German League (1890-1898)

Prince Ukhtomskii. “Russia’s Imperial Destiny,” 1891


German political cartoon of 1890s indicating that German imperial order replaced African chaos.

Macaulay, Thomas. “On Empire and Education,” 1833

Kipling, Rudyard. “White Man’s Burden.” 1899

Schumpeter, Joseph. “The Sociology of Imperialism” 1918

Next section: Critiques of Imperialism