Colonial mentality  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

A colonial mentality is the attitude that colonized people feel themselves to be inferior to their colonizers based on the fact of colonization.


English-speaking societies

Indian subcontinent

Critics claimed that Rudyard Kipling's portrayals of Indian characters generally supported the colonialist view that colonized people were incapable of surviving without the help of Europeans, describing these portrayals as racist. Examples of this racism are mentioning "lesser breeds without the Law" in Recessional and referring to colonized people in general as "half-devil and half-child" in the poem The White Man's Burden.

The term "Macaulay's Children" refers to people of Indian ancestry who adopt European culture. The term is usually used in a derogatory fashion, connoting disloyalty to India. It derives from 19th century British historian and colonial administrator Thomas Macaulay, who regarded British culture as superior to Indian culture and who was the prime mover in replacing Indian languages/dialects with English as the medium of instruction. This process is often referred to as Macaulayism.

Spanish Empire

Spanish and other developed countries conquistadors, the first European settlers in the New World, divided the conquered lands among themselves and ruled as feudal lords, treating their Amerindian subjects as something between serfs and slaves.

Many Spaniards, however, objected to this encomienda system, notably Bartolomé de Las Casas, who insisted that the American indígenas (natives) were human beings with souls and rights and were, in the words of Queen Isabella I, "to be treated with justice and fairness". Serfs stayed to work the land and imported enslaved Africans were exported to the mines, where large numbers died. Largely due to the efforts of Bartolomé de Las Casas, the New Laws were adopted in 1542 to protect the Amerindians, but the abuses were not entirely or permanently abolished.

The Spaniards were committed to converting their Amerindian subjects to Roman Catholicism, and were quick to purge any native cultural practices that hindered this end. However, most initial attempts at this were only partially successful, as Amerindian groups simply blended Catholicism with their traditional beliefs. On the other hand, the Spaniards did not impose their language to the degree they did their religion, and the Roman Catholic Church even evangelized in Quechua, Nahuatl, Guarani, etc., contributing to the expansion of these Amerindian languages and equipping them with writing systems.


Prior to colonization by the Spanish (1565-1898), the Sulu Archipelago (located in southern Philippines) was a colony of the Majapahit Empire (1293–1527) based in Indonesia. The Americans were the last country to colonize the Philippines (1898–1946) and nationalists claim that it continues to act as a neo-colony of the US despite its formal independence in 1946.

In the Philippines colonial mentality is most evident in the preference for Filipino mestizos (primarily those of mixed native Filipino and white ancestry, but also mixed indigenous Filipino and Chinese, and other ethnic groups) in the entertainment industry and mass media, in which they have received extensive exposure despite constituting a small fraction of the population.

The Cádiz Constitution of 1812 automatically gave Spanish citizenship to all Filipinos regardless of race. The census of 1870 stated that at least one-third of the population of Luzon had partial Hispanic ancestry (from varying points of origin and ranging from Latin America to Spain).

The combined number of all types of white mestizos or Eurasians is 3.6%, according to a genetic study by Stanford University. This is contradicted by another genetic study done by California University which stated that Filipinos possess moderate amounts of European admixture.

Evidence suggests that fair skin was a characteristic of the cloistered binukot, who were often kept indoors from a very early age. In historical epics of the Philippines their fair skin was presented as a standard of beauty among the upper class.

Physical consequences

One of the more adverse physical consequences in the idealization and acceptance of colonial mentality can be seen in the high rate of consumer demand for skin bleaching products used by some indigenous women and a smaller percentage of indigenous men and dark-skinned mestizas and mestizos, in the Philippines. Skin-whitening creams are widely used in much of the Philippines for the lightening of the skin tones in order to achieve the so-called "Mestizo look".

Demand in the Philippines and in some other tropical countries continue to be widespread.

Latin America

Colonial mentality is present across Latin America. Around 36% of the population is white and over 50% of its population is of mixed race, either Mestizo (mixed white and Native American/Amerindian) or Mulatto (mixed white and black) or triracial (of mixed white, black and Native American). The percentages vary widely by country. Argentina, Uruguay, and Costa Rica have large white majorities, while Cuba and Chile are majority-white per some sources.

Many of mixed race in the middle and upper classes use skin whitening products and dye their hair. Some non-whites engage in similar practices, and/or enlarging their eye shapes and/or alter their noses to aquiline.

Racial forgery in Latin America is often accompanied by oral accounts of a Spanish ancestor and a Spanish surname. Most mixed-white and white people in Latin America have Spanish surnames inherited from Spanish ancestors, while most other Latin Americans who have Spanish names and surnames acquired them through Christianization and Hispanicization of the indigenous and African slave populations by Spanish friars, especially in order to ease record-keeping and tax collection, in the case of the Native Americans and Afro-Latin Americans.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Colonial mentality" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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