Phenomenon of the Anti-Colonialism


It is believed that public riots or community rebellion, activity boycotts and public marches are descriptive and even more apparent ways to express resistance. Also, any local forms of public expression as well as the media were believed to greatly initiate anti-colonial movements. The print media and literary culture in a great way successfully facilitated resistance and rebellion to the colonial powers.

Print capitalism on the other hand had serious implications as far as the anti-colonial movements were concerned. The expansion of Anderson’s theories on print capitalism suggests that the advancement and introduction of literary culture was geared towards inciting the competitive edges for all the contending groups among the resistance movements. In addition, the competitive nature as a consequence of reading the anti-colonial literature caused much division. Nationalism was therefore according to a key mobilizing factor of the anti-colonial movements.1

Historiography on Benedict Anderson’s imagined communities

Benedict Anderson is very popular for authoring the book imagined communities. The book has really described the factors that contributed to the existence of nationalism in entire world in the last three centuries.2 He has also deeply examined the increase of nationalism during those centuries. He urges that the main reason for emergence of nationalism and imagined communities is due to lack of opportunities to gain access to specific scripts authored in some languages, the need to get rid of the so called divine rule and most important the creation of printing press which appeared in form of capitalism.

He also argued that the emergence of state of European came into existence as a response to the rising nature of nationalism, hence concluded that the act of nation or state building was definitely an imitative step of action because the political entities newly emerging were copying the existing models. He further explained the role of the print literature, whereby according to him, the increase in nationalism was as a result of the increase in the printed books.

Apart from describing the origin of nationalism, he explained the main reason behind its development and the means in which people’s knowledge and understanding about what is nationalism changed. Therefore, in short Benedict Anderson’ work in imagine communities is a comprehensive explanation of the origin of nationalism, its function and also the power within it.

Anderson’s definition of nationalism

Many definition of the word nationalism have been given by different authors particularly to mean one’s identification with a particular ethnic group or society. However, Anderson in particular strongly believed that nationalism in short, was just a cultural setup that was created as a result of the convergence of some very discreet forces of historical origin in the beginning of the ninetieth century as well as the end of eighteenth century, which was later spread throughout the world as people all over the world became aware of the possibility that they can belong to a community through nationality.3 He argued that nationalism is only developed and also understood through cultural systems of production and not just through the political systems of power.

The role of nationalism in mobilizing anti-colonial movements

Nationalism largely influenced the emergence of anti-colonial movements which were basically formed for the purposes of rejection of rebellion against the colonial ruler ship. The colonialists were mainly purposed to introduce new believes and systems of ruler ship to the colonists. However, many colonists were very ready to defend their ethnicity and their collective natural culture which gives them an identity.

It was also discovered that due to the same, the colonist developed the urge to come up with an independent state.4 As an implication of their rejection to what the colonialists were offering, many formed group which emerged as anti colonial movements. For example, in the year 1857 the Indians rebelled against the increase in British rule enforcement which was highly interfering with their religious beliefs like the use of pig and cows fats to process some foods which was contrary to the religious beliefs of the Muslims and Hindus. As a result of such rules and many others, there rose a war in the year 1857. Then the British came up with an idea of incorporating some leaders of the community in 6th government.

However, that did not solve the problem with the Indians. Therefore, some social-religious groups like Arya Samay raised an alarm or dissatisfaction.5 Later these groups emerged as public movements. Therefore, nationalism was a key factor in the emergence of anti-colonialist movements, particularly with respect to the fact that indigenous people needed not just to be represented in the government by their own people but also they wanted to have a say in other important issues of their nation like lawmaking.6

The role of print capitalism in mobilizing nationalist sentiment

Print capitalism refers to mechanical production and reproduction of printed work in ethnic languages basically the language the entire community can understand. Print capitalism was basically the result of nationalism. This is because, due to nationalism in many countries there emerged a period of growth in the aspect of book printing, magazine writing and publishing. This is because there was great need for historic representation of people’s culture in written form.

Many nationalist felt the need to air their views as well as feelings as far as some things are concerned and so they went for the most convenient means on doing it which was print media. Therefore, rise of print capitalism was very central and key reason for the success of representing anti-colonial point of views or even sentiment. This is because; it clearly and deeply represented the nationalist sentiments. As a result, many people were able to gain access to the print media and in a language they best understood. This brought a state of being consciousness of nationalism as people intimately interacted with print media.

It then created what was referred to as “imagined community” that created the perception of horizontal solidarity. By creating a chance for visualization of others like the self through print, harnessing within them the spirit of nationalism, anti-colonial literature was able to utilize the themes of a shared culture and loss of sovereignty to the raise of ant-colonial sentiment among the masses.7

Although it is important to take into serious account the emergence of cultural movements of literature as far as the mobilization or emergence of nationalist sentiment is concerned, with reference to the issue of anti-colonialism, a conclusion can not be simply drawn to mean that the culture of print capitalism caused the unification or even the state of national communion of colonized population. It is imperative to understand that the consequences of colonization were felt differently among different people of society. The effect of colonization which led to emergence of a sense and feeling of colonial oppression acted as a common bond among people in the nation even though each group and class in that nation were impacted by the colonialism in a different way.8

The use of print capitalism (print media) in mobilizing anti-colonial movements in India, Vietnam, and Indonesia

Indonesia is one of the countries in which the print media technology emerged early. For instance, the first newspaper to be ever written was called Bengal Gazette way back in the year 1980 and other newspapers soon followed. Actually these newspapers contained mainly news about the areas particularly under the ruler ship of the British.9 These news papers were published in the language most Indonesians would understand; therefore most people would freely gain information on the discriminatory and oppressive actions that were focused against them. This issue brought about the spirit of unity among them.

For instance, Mr. Anderson who was a strong nationalist banned completely from the country Indonesia due to the way he perceived the materials written purposely on the subject of overthrowing some leaders. On gaining knowledge about what was happening in the country through the print media, people all over the country developed different sentiments all of which prompted solidarity against the colonial rule.10

India is one of the countries that started the publication of information in the language of the natives. The people of India are thoroughly trained in knowing their native language so production of print media was appropriate to them all. The people were in a position to communicate their issues in a language they could all understand. The emergence of the print media in the year 1780 was very important.11 The British, who had by then taken ruler ship of the nation, were using the indirect and direct control. It should be noted that by the year 1957, the people who were already aware of nationalism, had formed a group of army to rebel against that kind of ruler ship.

The rebellion group was purposely formed as a result of some great spread resentments due to discriminatory and oppressive policies put in place by the British people. To act against the colonial ruler ship, a very renowned anti-colonial movement known as Indian National Congress was formed in the year 1885, which was an elite party. This mass movement which was built up incorporated all sort of social groups. It was basically aimed at achieving independence for the people.12

Despite economic growth and modernization that was taking place by that time; most Indian societies were greatly displeased by the great British domination in the continent. For instance, their rule was so abusive and dispersive of the existing local customs like putting up parties within the mosques. All these things would be reported to the people an issue that stirred up different resentments. As a result they started rebelling against the rule. Therefore, ant colonial movement to fight against all that was formed.

The emergence of the anti-colonial movements in Vietnam, was associated with the wide spread French rule. The guerrilla groups were the leaders of those movements. The first Vietnam newspaper written in the language of Vietnamese-language was established in the year 1869. That was a language in which all people could communicate among themselves and freely understand. That form of print media was very important to especially the nationalist as well as the colonial leaders.

Much information was in a position to be relayed to people especially on the effects of the French rule. This of course brought a lot of problems in that many reporters and writers were jailed, while some even lost their lives. It was very hurting to the nationalists to know that any economic rule put up was only to benefit the French people. This is because most of them were deprived of their rights and benefits. All of this information was recorded and made available to the people of Vietnam to read.

As many people gathered to air and shared their sentiments on the same, there came up an anti- colonial movement. It should be noted that print media played a vital role in their establishment but their actual establishment was as a result of the French rule. Many Vietnam leaders therefore refused to collaborate with the French leaders. It is very evident that print media played a very important role in the formation of the ant-colonial movement. This is because through the publications, people were in a position to get information about what is happening within their nation.13

Specific analysis of Vietnamese literature: The role of the two newspapers, “Le militant” and “L’Avant Garde”. In hindering or boosting ant colonial anti-colonial success

The experiences as well as notions of the struggle for freedom, in different countries were different. The effect of being under the colonial government which led to emergence of a sense and feeling of colonial oppression acted as a common bond among people in the nation, even though it impacted groups and classes of people in a different way. Such a situation can be well explained or even be evident in the struggle for freedom in the country which involved the Vietnamese era of anti-colonial struggle. Two famous groups, namely; the Stalinists and the Trotskyists, in as far as the opposing perspectives or resentments or views or feelings on Vietnamese nationalism is concerned.

The methods used to rebel against colonization and the ideology of using newspapers to act as a platform in their agenda to accomplish public campaign. The Trotskyist’s who are also known as the “Tia Sang”, the “Le Militant”, and also the Stalinist’s or rather the “L’Avant-Garde” opted to divide the nationalist movement which existed by then into two main sects, a factor that created a domestic stage for what can be bets described as antagonism. Moreover, it was targeted at French.

The growth and advancement of the print media or culture activated articulation of anti-colonialism. It is very funny that though in such a society filled with uniformity in terms of classes, language, lifestyle, religion and ideas among others, literary culture definitely would have really contributed to the very ultimate success and breakthrough of the anti-colonial movements. Unfortunately, this was not the outcome of the colonized countries of Southeast Asia in which differences in the caste systems, orientation economically; religious beliefs, ideas, traditions, cultural practices and lifestyles ribbed their society.

When closely considering that the most development as well as reform initiatives were founded actually in some specific castes, communities, religious collectivities, especially for the purposes of political, social and economic gain; then the advancement and popularity of any literature or even print media was caught up in the game of competition. A very good example was the Stalinist- Trotskyist which is societies found in Vietnam. This issue greatly initiated the colonial strategies of divide and rule. As a result, the media print specifically “Le militant” and “L’Avant Garde”; responsible to enlighten the people formed some sectored, national and communal ideologies as far as the anti-colonial movements were concerned. Often this propaganda was said for very different reasons.

These two newspapers would totally contradict each other in their reported news even if the issue being reported had the same root. This was because they were competing with each other in as far as popularity is concerned. Some very delicate issues were then misreported to the people. At times it was a message particularly meant to bring harmony between the people and the anti-colonists or even the nationalists. As a result, there was a great gap due to misreporting effects.14


Print capitalism, therefore being a mechanical production and reproduction of printed work in ethnic languages basically the language the entire community can understand was a one definite cause of nationalism. This is because, after the emergence and growth of book printing, magazine writing and publishing historic representation of people’s culture in written form was done. Also common problems experienced by people were shared among themselves. Many nationalist felt the need to air their views as well as feelings as far as some things are concerned and so they went for the most convenient means on doing it which was print media.


Adrian, Vickers. 2005. History of modern Indonesia. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Benedict, Anderson. 1991. Imagined communities: Reflections on the origin and spread of nationalism. Oxford: university of oxford.

Harnik, Deol. 2000. Religion and nationalism in India. Chicago: University of Chicago.

Joost, Cote. 1995. Colonialism and Islam in Indonesia. Oxford: Oxford University.

Karatzo, Gianni. 2004. The politics of cyber conflict. Chicago: University of Chicago.

Mabee, Bay. 2004. Discourses of empire: The US “empire”, globalizations and international relations. London: George Bell & sons.

Ray, Young. 2001. Post colonialism: A historical introduction. Oxford: University of oxford.

Raju, Thomas. 2006. Encyclopedia of India. Oxford: university of oxford.

Ricklefs, Mike. 1991. A modern history of Indonesia. London: Macmillan.

Witton, Patrick. 2003. Indonesia. Chicago: University of Chicago.


  1. Karatzo, Gianni, The politics of cyber conflict (Chicago: University of Chicago, 2004), 64.
  2. Benedict, Anderson, Imagined communities: Reflections on the origin and spread of nationalism (Oxford: university of oxford, 1991), 21.
  3. Benedict, Anderson, Imagined communities: Reflections on the origin and spread of nationalism (Oxford: university of oxford, 1991), 27.
  4. Joost, Cote, Colonialism and Islam in Indonesia (Oxford: Oxford University, 1995), 57.
  5. Mabee, Bay, Discourses of empire: The US “empire”, globalizations and international relations, (London: George Bell & sons, 2004), 39.
  6. Harnik, Deol, Religion and nationalism in India (Chicago: University of Chicago, 2000), 27.
  7. Ray, Young, Post colonialism: A historical introduction (Oxford: University of oxford, 2001), 29.
  8. Ricklefs, Mike, A modern history of Indonesia (London: Macmillan, 1991), 16.
  9. Witton, Patrick, Indonesia (Chicago: University of Chicago, 2003), 37.
  10. Adrian, Vickers, History of modern Indonesia (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 65.
  11. Raju, Thomas, Encyclopedia of India (Oxford: university of oxford, 2006), 39.
  12. Raju, Thomas, Encyclopedia of India (Oxford: university of oxford, 2006), 28.
  13. Joost, Cote, Colonialism and Islam in Indonesia (Oxford: Oxford University, 1995), 67.
  14. Adrian, Vickers, History of modern Indonesia (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 63.

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