I-Chun Wang, Asun López-Varela
Pages 7-16
DOI: 10.5840/cultura20151211


Originating from the Latin word imperium, the concept and practice of imperialism, like that of empire, is a bio-political production (Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, 2001: 29) that refers to the “polity of extend- ing a country’s power and influence through colonization, use of military force, or other means” (Oxford English Dictionary, 1998: 877). Although since the 18th century, European expansion has been at the center of de- bates on imperialism and colonialism, the imposition of foreign control over other territories is a practice that has always existed. The prototype of imperialism can be referred back to the Roman Empire, which set up coloniae in many areas, of the conquests of Genghis Khan and the Mon- gol Empire, the Persian and the Egyptian Empires, the Aztec the Incan Empires, and many others all over the world. Geographical extension, dynamics of rule, as well as exploitation, and even extermination of cer- tain groups, are among the hegemonic and coercive socio-political struc- tures put forth by empires within their conquered territories. In the case of the Romans, for instance, they established tribute systems, degraded heterogeneous groups to the condition of the slaves, and sent military forces to cripple and humiliate those beyond their borders, regulating their rights “with the most scrupulous exactness,” and showing “neither mercy nor justice for foreigners” (Hardt and Negri, 2001: 38).