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A Brief History of International Relations

The World Made Easy

Kathleen Brush

The world does not need to be complex and confusing. It can be made simpler so that the business, political, social, and economic implications of global news briefs beaming across televisions and electronic devices can be easily grasped. Key to this is knowing that a five-hundred-year competition for global supremacy between the Chinese, European, Islamic, and Russian empires only ended in 1945. When it did, the world had 57 independent nations. After all empires were dissolved in 1991, there were 193, and each nation carried histories of empires in the form of conquest, religions followed, languages practiced, diversified populations, repressive rule, and histories of discrimination. A Brief History of International Relations: The World Made Easy explores this history of global conflict to contextualize and simplify the often perplexing relations between nations and empires.

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Chapter 10. Borders—Increasing Diversity: Aftermaths of Empire


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Aftermaths of Empire

Before the Era of Empire, there were thousands of relatively small polities with homogenous populations living within borders as permanent as their ability to defend them. Colonies were different. They were created during a competition for global supremacy when it was indispensable to have a landmass and population that was large enough to provide a defense against conquest. It was also highly desirable to have economically self-sustaining colonies, and this too meant broad areas. The empires commonly achieved size by defining borders that contained diverse ethnolinguistic groups.

Borders for the sub-Saharan colonies of European empires often encircled very diverse populations. Nigeria’s borders enclosed more than 240 distinct ethnic groups. Borders for several sub-Saharan nations, including Nigeria had a Muslim-majority population in the north and mostly Christian and indigenous religious populations in the south. For more than a thousand years Muslims had been enslaving non-Muslims in this region, and now they lived as fellow colonials.

When the British partitioned British India into India and Pakistan (1947) they were trying to reduce the deep-seated potential for conflict between Hindus and Muslims. India would be a Hindu-majority secular nation that protected religious freedoms for its diverse religious populations. Created as a nation for Muslims, Pakistan was also to be secular. ← 103 | 104 →

The announcement of the partition triggered a cross-border migration of millions of Hindus and Muslims, that seemingly took most...

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