Having spent most of my life in Eastern Europe, I observe that a lot of people have at least some nostalgic feelings toward the era of Soviet occupation. Of course, personal freedom, free speech etc. was suppressed, you could have ended up arrested and beaten by police for possessing the wrong book, listening to the wrong radio station, or telling the wrong joke while your neighbor tattled on you... but if you were not interested in political freedom, you could have a nice and carefree life. Eating meat, getting fuel for your car, etc. were rare luxuries, but everyone had a job, when graduating you could be 100% sure you can get a job which will last until your retirement, everyone had access to free education, health-care, and retirement, so, in general, you had increased safety in exchange for reduced liberty, in comparison to the current situation. High corruption and economic crises now tend to make people feel nostalgic for the bygone era.

Are there similar effects in countries in Africa and South-East Asia which gained independence during the 20th century? In many of these countries there is famine, crime, poverty, high political corruption and sometimes even civil war. For example, by saying like "well, under the British or the French, we had less freedom but at least they imposed order, built roads and hospitals which are now falling apart because the current government doesn't care, etc." I'm not talking about wanting the occupiers back, because also in Eastern Europe the nostalgia is not about bringing back the Soviet military occupation and the gulags, but about some advantages of the past system which they miss today. Even some of the Biblical Jews wanted to return to Egypt where they were slaves but had roofs above their heads, compared with being free but having to wander around in the wastelands.

Searching for the term "colonial nostalgia" leads mostly to discussions about people in the colonial powers being nostalgic, not people of the colonies.

Are there such nostalgic tendencies in those countries, and how much significance do they have?

  • 1
    Asking about "feelings" is off-topic because it is subjective/matter of opinion, among other reasons. Unfortunately, there is no sociology.stackexchange.com. – Tyler Durden May 6 '15 at 20:12
  • 1
    @TylerDurden : it can be expressed as in how prominently it is featured in the media, if there are politicians or activists discussing the topic, there can be surveys or articles written about it etc., maybe my wording was not the best, but if there is a general "pro-something" or "anti-something" sentiment in the population, it gets recorded and can be studied. Many questions on this site imply whether the population of some countries liked or supported certain people or ideas. – vsz May 6 '15 at 20:17
  • 1
    I think it interesting but off-topic (asks about current situation) and too broad ("how many people would have to be nostalgic for it to be representative?" and "I would not expect the same results from countries as diverse as Angola, Argelia, Vietnam, Siria, Irak and Kenya"). For example, they had different cultures to begin with, some got independence pacifically while others had to suffer bloody wars, and the type and intensity of colonization was different, too. – SJuan76 May 6 '15 at 21:52
  • This is very interesting, but I wouldn't call it history. Sure, the roots are back in history, but this is more about the current situation, so not history. – o0'. May 7 '15 at 9:16
  • People do not miss communism in Eastern Europe because they had fuel and meat. They didn't. This is why very 10 years there were strikes, Warsaw Pact invasions etc. People miss times when they did not have to work and everything was for free - it was common property, so in fact nobody's, so one could take (ie. steal) what they wanted (like bricks, furniture and so on). People wanted to escape this paradise not to gain free speech in the USA or West Berlin, but to get real money and real goods. Now the goods are available but one has to work, make useful work. – Voitcus May 7 '15 at 9:27

It is difficult to give a definitive answer to such question. I can only tell you my experience. The university where I teach (in the US) has a lot of Indian students, and I discussed these questions with them. Of course they were born after the liberation. Many of them recognize the substantial contribution that the British made in the development of India. All of them speak perfect English, btw, better than many Americans:-) None of them denies that the British introduced the "modern civilization", and science, and built infrastructure, and made a lot for bringing the country to its modern sate. (Ghandi and Neru were also British-educated, as you know). I would not call this "nostalgia" because none of them said that s/he would like a return of the British rule. And everyone understands the drawbacks of this rule. But the general assessment they made was that it had a positive impact overall.

Of course, I understand that our students are not average Indians. They come from the Middle class some of them have several generations of ancestors educated in English language and science. But this is not an indicator of what Indian peasants think.

| improve this answer | |

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.