American imperialism, anthropology and racial taxonomy in the Philippines, 1898-1946
Mohamed Ariffin, Nur Dayana Binti
Racial classification and taxonomy of the population in the Philippines was formed primarily based on the colonial perception of race. In the time of the Spanish colonial era that spanned across three centuries, the population was segregated into the categories of Christians and the non-Christians. During the American occupation from 1898 to 1946 the American administration continued with the construction of racial categories in the Philippines propelled by Anglo-Saxon sentiments and based on anthropological theories and methods. A hierarchy of the population was formed, delineating first the Christians from the non-Christians, then further classifications were made based on ethnological characteristics. In this study, the racial taxonomy of the population in the Philippines is examined in three ways: First, I demonstrate that the archipelago was a focal point of imperial interactions, particularly in the exchanges of knowledge and ideas on race between Spain, Germany, Britain and the United States. Second, I analyse how American colonial institutions studied and governed different racial categories. Third, I amalgamate these discussions by looking at the censuses of the Philippines taken in the years 1903, 1918 and 1939 to demonstrate how racial classifications were standardised as a testament of colonial knowledge. The censuses illustrate how various institutional interactions influenced the categorisation of population, and how each census reflected anthropological knowledge and political currents in the Philippine islands. This thesis finds that racial taxonomy in the Philippines was not created in isolation, but a product of various interactions from imperial and institutional actors. Simultaneously, racial classifications, despite their ‘scientific’ conceptualisation, were also governed by the peculiarities of the inhabitants, environment and politics of the colonial entity.