Title

The Racial Vectors of Empire: Classification and Competing Master Narratives in the Colonial Philippines

Abstract

This paper examines the role of racial ideology in shaping U.S. colonial policy in the Philippines during the early years of American rule in the islands c. 1898–1905. The first section of the essay focuses on congressional debates between pro- and anti-imperialist lawmakers regarding the annexation and governance of the Philippines. The imperialist lobby advocated a paternalistic racial ideology to advance their case for American annexation, citing “the White man's burden” to civilize Filipinos as their rationale for colonizing the islands. The anti-imperialists, on the other hand, employed an ideology of aversive racism to oppose the incorporation of the Philippines, suggesting that annexation would unleash a flood of Filipino immigrants into the United States, thus creating a “race problem” for White citizens. Frequent unfavorable comparisons with Blacks, Chinese, and “Indians” were employed to produce racial knowledge about Filipinos who were unfamiliar to most Americans. This knowledge served as the basis for excluding Filipinos from American citizenship on racial grounds. The second section of the article traces the implementation of an institutionalized racial order in the Philippines, examining a series of population surveys conducted by colonial officials during the first years of American rule. These surveys employed American-style racial classifications that ranked and evaluated the various races and “tribes” that were identified in the islands. This project culminated in the first official census of the islands in 1905, which formally institutionalized racial categories as an organizing principle of Philippine society.

Publisher

Cambridge University Press

Publication Date

1-1-2008

Publication Title

Du Bois Review: Social Science Research On Race.

Department

Sociology

Document Type

Article

DOI

10.1017/S1742058X08080089

Language

English

Format

text

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