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Economies and Empire

Colonialism and the Clash of National Visions

Responses to Colonization: Africa and India

Learning Targets

  • I can identify similar themes found in photographs.
  • I can use photographs to identify responses to colonization.
  • I can use photographs to compare and contrast responses to colonization.
  • I can explain how photographs can be used to promote a specific ideology.
  • I can write persuasively to support a claim.


After World War II Britain and France, weakened economically and militarily, had fewer resources with which to operate their colonies and diminished strength for suppressing colonial revolts. These European powers, ever more eager for financial gain, intensified exploitation of colonies such as India and Algeria, fueling the flames of nationalism. Ultimately, the colonizers would be ousted. India gained its independence 1947 and Algeria in 1962.

In Algeria, people of European origin constituted a minority of about 15 percent of the population, and fiercely opposed the idea of Algerian independence. France considered the territory to be more than merely a dependent colony, but a permanent part of France. There was a large economic and social disparity between the privileged, mostly city-dwelling European minority and the Muslim population of peasants and urban workers. Therefore, the French government refused to follow a majority rule. As a consequence, there were eight years of violent war. The National Liberation Front (FLN) demanded a sovereign, democratic, and socialist Algeria founded on Islamic ideals. Facing a very expensive fight, France began negotiations with the FLN in 1960, and independence was gained in 1962. Untold thousands of Muslim civilians were killed by French attacks and bombing raids, and more than 2 million Algerians were forced to relocate to French concentration camps or to flee to surrounding countries, where many thousands more died of starvation and disease.

For additional background on Algeria and India, see the activity called Using Photographs to Support a Claim. See also References and Further Reading.

Begin the Activity

Part 1: If Pictures Could Talk
Students may work either individually or in groups. Hand out copies of the images or project them. Tell students that they will translate the photo(s) into a narrative interview. Decide which character(s) in the photo(s) will be interviewed, and what they might say. The script should contain questions from the reporter, and responses from the character(s) being interviewed. Have students consider the following questions:

Questions to Consider

  • What clues can I detect in the photographs that indicate a specific response to colonialism?
  • How do these photographs contribute effectively to this response?
  • How could these photographs be used to promote a specific ideology?
  • Who would create these photographs and for what purposes?

Part 2: Compare and Contrast
Students may work either individually or in groups. Hand out copies of the images or project them. Ask students to describe what they see. Have them take notes on what they notice in the photographs, and then identify clues that might suggest differing responses to seeking independence from colonialism.

Grade Level

High School


Social Studies
World History


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Photographs in This Activity

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