The American Colonial State in the Philippines: Global Perspectives / Edition 1

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In 1898 the United States declared sovereignty over the Philippines, an archipelago of seven thousand islands inhabited by seven million people of various ethnicities. While it became a colonial power at the zenith of global imperialism, the United States nevertheless conceived of its rule as exceptional—an exercise in benevolence rather than in tyranny and exploitation. In this volume, Julian Go and Anne L. Foster untangle this peculiar self-fashioning and insist on the importance of studying U.S. colonial rule in the context of other imperialist ventures. A necessary expansion of critical focus, The American Colonial State in the Philippines is the first systematic attempt to examine the creation and administration of the American colonial state from comparative, global perspectives.

Written by social scientists and historians, these essays investigate various aspects of American colonial government through comparison with and contextualization within colonial regimes elsewhere in the world—from British Malaysia and Dutch Indonesia to Japanese Taiwan and America's other major overseas colony, Puerto Rico. Contributors explore the program of political education in the Philippines; constructions of nationalism, race, and religion; the regulation of opium; connections to politics on the U.S. mainland; and anticolonial resistance. Tracking the complex connections, circuits, and contests across, within, and between empires that shaped America's colonial regime, The American Colonial State in the Philippines sheds new light on the complexities of American imperialism and turn-of-the-century colonialism.

Patricio N. Abinales, Donna J. Amoroso, Paul Barclay, Vince Boudreau, Anne L. Foster, Julian Go, Paul A. Kramer

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“This superb collection of essays provides a necessary background for the stories that jump off today’s front pages—a supposedly wondrous American ‘empire,’ the hidden dilemmas of nation-building, drug-trafficking, colliding cultures, and a touching faith in American exceptionalism. As analyzed by some of our best younger scholars, we can now see clearly—and learn from—what happened to that earlier generation who set out to make the United States an imperial power.”—Walter LaFeber, Cornell University

"This is an important and distinctive work. As an earlier discourse for understanding the diffusion of modernizing influences, technology, and global exchange, imperialism is the most important precursor to today's globalized economy and culture. Yet there are few studies of imperialism (and particularly American imperialism) that are broadly comparative or contextual. Filling this blank spot on the map, The American Colonial State in the Philippines will be of interest to a wide audience."—Nick Cullather, author of Illusions of Influence: The Political Economy of United States–Philippines Relations, 1942–1960

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780822330998
  • Publisher: Duke University Press Books
  • Publication date: 5/28/2003
  • Series: American Encounters/Global Interactions Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 328
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Julian Go is Academy Scholar at the Academy for International and Area Studies of Harvard University and Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Anne L. Foster is Assistant Professor of History at Indiana State University.

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Read an Excerpt

The American colonial state in the Philippines

Global perspectives
By Julian Go

Duke University Press

ISBN: 0-8223-3099-7

Chapter One


Empires, Exceptions, and Anglo-Saxons: Race and Rule between the British and U.S. Empires, 1880-1910

* * *

Setting out to address The Problem of Asia and Its Effect upon International Policies in 1900, the year of the joint expedition against the Boxers and one year into the Philippine-American War, the American navalist Alfred Thayer Mahan observed that "it would be an interesting study ... to trace the genesis and evolution in the American people of the impulse towards expansion which has recently taken so decisive a stride." That study, he warned, "would be very imperfect if it failed clearly to recognize ... that it is but one phase of a sentiment that has swept over the whole civilized European world within the last few decades." Other builders of the U.S. empire would have agreed. Along different time lines, pursuing varied agendas, and mobilizing diverse discourses to defend them, Americans from varied political backgrounds came to recognize that the United States' new colonial empire-part of its much vaster commercial, territorial, and military empires-operated within a larger network of imperial thought and practice.

The factors that encouraged the overlap of empires were similar to those linking together the contemporary "Atlantic crossings" of welfare-stateideas and institutions recently described by Daniel T. Rodgers. Foremost was the growing productive and geographic scale of industrial capitalism in the Atlantic world and its imperial outposts. Intensifying transportation technologies did not simply make possible the aggressive military expansion of European and U.S. power in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. They also made the consolidating colonial regimes in Africa and Asia stages for interacting and overlapping empires of commerce and evangelism, which drew "inter-imperial" communities together around both common and competitive projects. But even within the formal limits of imperial state building, colonial empires penetrated one another. Despite multiple pressures that forced empires apart conceptually, inter-imperial crossings played a central role in state building throughout the colonial world. In organization, policymaking, and legitimation, the architects of colonial rule often turned to rival powers as allies, foils, mirrors, models, and exceptions.

Whereas many U.S. empire builders would have endorsed Mahan's anti-exceptionalism, most of that empire's historians have not. To be sure, there is enough that is truly different-if not exceptional-in the history of the United States to warrant contrasts between the U.S. empire and the British, French, Dutch, and German empires of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. First and foremost, there was the first U.S. empire, the long and contested incorporation of continental territory based on settlement colonialism. There was the commercial-industrial dominion that began with that first empire and, on its resources, projected itself as an informal empire of capital and goods throughout the world, especially in Europe, Latin America, the Pacific Islands, and East Asia. In land, population, and trade-if not in military and strategic terms-the U.S. overseas colonial empire would remain small, an annex to the informal empire.

* * *

But actual differences between the U.S. and European colonial empires do not explain the complete denial of U.S. colonialism in American culture or Americans' understanding of the United States not only as a non-empire, but as an anti-empire. Those actual differences inspired exceptionalist enthusiasms that were virtually absolute, erasing what the empires had in common, including the exchanges in which they engaged.

Some of the erasures are byproducts of the structure of historiography. Emerging from diplomatic history, the historiography of the U.S. empire has been notably state-centered and nation-bounded, its inter-imperial history exploring the interactions between bounded states but not the ideas and practices they circulated, borrowed, and shared. New historiographies have added methodological breadth, especially toward social and cultural history, and widened the range of actors recognized as engaged in U.S. "foreign relations." Recent works have done much to bring empire toward the center of U.S. history, providing rich and novel accounts of U.S. imperialism. But most nevertheless remain locked in metropole-colony dyads that neglect inter-imperial dynamics and connections. Ironically, while the emerging study of U.S. colonialism draws on theoretical insights developed in the critical study of other empires-notably postcolonial theory and history-the field has not yet explored the interconnections among empires.

This essay is an effort to chart one of the most significant inter-colonial connections: the complex invocations of the British Empire and of racial "Anglo-Saxonism" in the effort to legitimate U.S. colonialism during and after 1898. It takes as its focus debates regarding the Philippines-their annexation, conquest, and administration-partly because the British exerted influence in the Philippines and the surrounding region and partly because the Philippine annexation sparked debates over U.S. colonialism in which the British Empire was most commonly invoked. The first section argues that "Anglo-Saxon" racism developed as a self-conscious bond connecting Britons and Americans in the late nineteenth century, forged on their violent imperial frontiers and solidifying at points of elite Anglo-American social and intellectual contact. During and after 1898, American and British advocates of U.S. overseas colonialism enlisted Anglo-Saxonism as a racial-exceptionalist argument, leveled against claims of national exceptionalism. The second section explores the tensions within, and challenges to, Anglo-Saxonist racial exceptionalism emerging in the United States among national-exceptionalist "anti-imperialist" critics of the Philippine-American war, who opposed acquisition of overseas colonies but not all other forms of empire. Those tensions were exposed most sharply during the Anglo-Boer War, when many Americans came to identify with the enemies of their would-be Anglo-Saxon racial kin. The third section discusses the decline of the Anglo-Saxonist argument for colonialism and the triumph of a national-exceptionalist colonialism more suited to changing geopolitics, the increasing "racial" diversity of the United States, and the political realities of the postwar Philippines. It also describes the simultaneous development of inter-colonial policy dialogues that ran counter to the national-exceptionalist discourse.

This story is only part of the broader story of Anglo-American connections, along with rapprochement, geopolitical rivalry, economic nationalism, wartime alliances, and decolonization. Aspects of this essay, for example, were well explored by Stuart Anderson in Race and Rapprochement (1981), which foregrounds the role of Anglo-Saxonist racial ideology in organizing Anglo-American diplomatic and military cooperation at the turn of the century. Anderson's goal was to revisit diplomatic-historical questions with the tools of intellectual and cultural history, to show that ideas such as Anglo-Saxonism mattered in American geopolitics.

This essay draws on the literature of Anglo-American connections but approaches its themes from two different angles. First, it centers on the problem of empire rather than that of rapprochement and looks at how Anglo-Saxonism legitimated U.S. overseas colonialism rather than how it consolidated Anglo-American ties. The enlistment of race in turn-of-the-century Anglo-American geopolitics, I argue, involved not only recognizing racial identity and fashioning diplomatic cooperation from it but also debating the boundaries and characteristics of racial identities in relation to empire.

Second, this essay revisits the role of racial ideology in the history of U.S. foreign policy with an eye to its historical dynamism, contextual dependence, political contingency, and internal tensions. In traditional accounts of race and rapprochement, for example, racial systems such as Anglo-Saxonism are stable, coherent, and consensual tools of foreign policy. This essay, by contrast, explores tensions within Anglo-Saxonist ideology and its dynamic construction and reconstruction in light of specifically colonial politics. If race mattered for empire, empire also mattered for race. Although empire is often represented as a mere outlet for metropolitan racial tensions, a screen onto which prior, homegrown racial anxieties are projected, a well-defined crucible in which domestic racial identities are forged, none of those representations can fully account for the imperial dynamics of race making. This essay argues that both U.S. debates over empire and forces at work in colonial settings had a decisive impact on American racial ideology itself. More broadly, it argues that histories of U.S. race making, like histories of the United States in general, belong in a transnational frame from which they have long been isolated.


"England has suddenly become a guiding star to many of the American people," the anti-imperialist J. W. Martin noted with dismay in 1900. "Conquest, extension of territory, subjugation of semi-barbarous peoples, establishment of a Roman peace-all these have been common in the British experience. But to the United States they are fresh problems, perplexing and irritating, and already bringing battles in their train." The British Empire was not the only European empire that Americans imagined in seeking their place in the world in the late nineteenth century. Its predominance in American thinking was determined both by common language and deep and long-standing social and intellectual connections and by the vast, world-spanning scope of British commercial, naval, and colonial power. An empire with the sun perpetually over its shoulder could cast a long shadow across the imperial borders of its rivals. Even the architects of empires with a far longer history of anti-British antagonism and far fewer ties of language and culture to Britain than the U.S. empire had (such as the Spanish) set out in pursuit of the secrets of British imperial might.

But American enthusiasm for the British Empire often took a racial, Anglo-Saxon form that lent the weight of racial history and destiny to the controversial U.S. annexation of the Philippines. Anglo-Saxonism was, of course, far from the only type of racism to develop in the context of empire building. For the liberal English parliamentarian and political observer James Bryce, the aggressive, competitive racisms of the fin de siecle were themselves the product of geopolitical rivalries. Bryce wrote about "the race consciousness which the rivalry of other great races has produced, that ... pride in the occupation and development of the earth's surface which has grown with the keener competition of recent years." Others similarly identified dynamic, reciprocal connections between race making and empire. John Fleming had noted in 1891 that Anglo-Saxonism was merely the self-serving attempt by Great Britain to guarantee its hold on a fabricated "cousin" of increasing international power. "In proportion as the North American republic grows powerful and overshadowing," he wrote, "grows the anxiety of Englishmen to have it understood that this potent factor in the world's affairs is what they term Anglo-Saxon ... in race, feeling, and literature."

Anglo-Saxonism would reach the height of its explanatory power in foreign-policy arenas in the years immediately after 1898, when it helped to cement an Anglo-American accord and provide a historical and political rationale for a U.S. overseas colonial empire in the Philippines and the Caribbean Sea. The Anglo-Saxonist defense of U.S. overseas colonialism emerged from both England and the United States. Sir Edward Grey, the Liberal Party politician and future secretary of state for foreign affairs, confirmed Bryce's connections between empire building and race making when he hailed the Spanish-Cuban-American War: "the struggle in which the United States is engaged must be one to stir up our blood, and makes unconscious of the ties of language, origin, and race." With the aid of British Anglo-Saxonists such as Grey, American colonialists folded the controversial annexations into deep structures of history and destiny. "The entry of our country upon what appears to be a new policy of foreign conquest and colonization," wrote Frederick Chapman, "must evidently impart a doubled impetus to that active extension of Anglo-Saxon civilization for which the mother country alone has been in modern times so conspicuous."

As a discourse, Anglo-Saxonism was an echoing cavern of banalities out of which even a well-lit historian might never emerge. By the late nineteenth century, it was a racism built against a multitude of opponents on innumerable violent frontiers. British Anglo-Saxons had contended with Normans, colonized Celts, enslaved Africans, conquered Indians, and challenged Latins for world dominance. American Anglo-Saxons had defended African slavery, conquered Native Americans, confronted Latin empires, wrenched land away from Mexicans, and struggled to fend off waves of immigrants. Having begun as a British defense of the superiority of the Anglican church and having early confronted Catholic "others"-the "Celtic" race in Ireland and the "Latin" in Spain-Anglo-Saxonism was closely allied to Protestantism and was often said to share its virtues.

Anglo-Saxonism was a nested or branching racism: Anglo-Saxons were frequently depicted as having split off from older racial groups, usually "Teutons"; Teutons themselves were sometimes traced back to a still larger and more ancient group of "Aryans." Anglo-Saxonism was also directional, its historical development moving in space. Its rise in England was identified as only one stage in a relentless Western movement that had begun in India, had stretched into the German forests, and was playing itself out in the United States and in the British Empire's settlement colonies. While Anglo-Saxonism hailed ancient Aryan ancestors, its rhetorical age was youthful and vigorous; while women could claim its virtues, its gender was often distinctly masculine, tied to tasks of struggle and conquest. While used as a shorthand for racial purity, Anglo-Saxonism featured a contained hybridity. No other late-nineteenth- century racism wore so prominent a hyphen. Anglo-Saxonism represented the alloy of superior but distinct racial elements. Although it was sharply delimited, that hybridity-and the theoretical possibility of future assimilations-lent porousness to Anglo-Saxonism's boundaries in race, culture, and destiny.

But if, as Alexander Saxton observed, racism is a theory of history, it is also a theory of politics. Anglo-Saxons were said to be the possessors and progenitors of unique, "free" political values and institutions. At their most inward-looking, Anglo-Saxons were a consistently liberated people, although the sources of oppression that had bound them varied; when they looked outward, Anglo-Saxons often liberated others. Throughout much of its history, Anglo-Saxon freedom radiated from racial diaspora itself: Only Anglo-Saxon bodies could carry the germs of liberty across space and time. But especially from the mid-nineteenth century onward-with the Mexican War and the mid-century British imperial crises in India and Jamaica-Anglo-Saxons were also described in a language of order, force, and power. Uniquely adept at extending and sustaining vast empires, they efficiently exploited the lands they overtook, inevitably extirpated the weaker races with whom they came into contact, or administered them with stern but evenhanded law. Even here, however, the language of liberty flourished, with lands freed from neglect, trade emancipated from tariff barriers, and conquered peoples liberated from ignorance and savagery. Wherever and however they conquered, Anglo-Saxons were racially destined to spread empires of liberty.


Excerpted from The American colonial state in the Philippines by Julian Go Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Global Perspectives on the U.S. Colonial State in the Philippines 1
Empires, Exceptions, and Anglo-Saxons: Race and Rule between the British and U.S. Empires, 1880-1910 43
Models for Governing: Opium and Colonial Policies in Southeast Asia, 1898-1910 92
Inheriting the "Moro Problem": Muslim Authority and Colonial Rule in British Malaya and the Philippines 118
Progressive-Machine Conflict in Early-Twentieth-Century U.S. Politics and Colonial-State Building in the Philippines 148
The Chains of Empire: State Building and "Political Education" in Puerto Rico and the Philippines 182
"They Have for the Coast Dwellers a Traditional Hatred": Governing Igorots in Northern Luzon and Central Taiwan, 1895-1915 217
Methods of Domination and Modes of Resistance: The U.S. Colonial State and Philippine Mobilization in Comparative Perspective 256
Contributors 291
Index 293
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