Pub. date: 2007 | Online Pub. Date: September 25, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952637 | Print ISBN: 9780761923879 | Online ISBN: 9781412952637 | Publisher:Sage Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Colonialism refers to one state controlling a dependent geographic area or group of people. Traditionally, the term referred to the European expansion beginning in the sixteenth century and its economic, political, and cultural domination over Asian, African, American, and Pacific territories. This relationship began to end with the American Revolution in North America in 1776, but independence became common only with the decolonization era of the second half of the twentieth century. Since the 1980s, sociolegal scholars have studied colonialism as a dimension of legal pluralism. Law played a central role in the European colonial system itself, for the imposition of European legislation and jurisdiction as well as for upholding certain native or “customary” jurisdiction. European legal institutions, such as courts and police, were the mechanisms through which Europeans implemented their domination over native populations. They also created special rules for landholding, which facilitated the dispossession of “tribes” over their ...