UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Bullets, bolos, and the Moros : policing and anthropology in the colonial Philippines, 1901-1914 Murray, Hanna


This thesis utilizes extensive archival material from the University of Oregon to argue that the Philippine Constabulary, founded by the US government in 1901, conducted important anthropological research on the Islands during the early period of American colonial rule. While previous scholarship has examined the importance of anthropology and the Constabulary in the consolidation and operation of American overseas empire, no study has yet significantly considered the linkages between them and the impact that this partnership may have had on the nature of American colonial rule. This thesis argues that anthropology provided a framework through which the white, male, American officers of the Constabulary could understand their experiences leading and policing racial others, and this provided both guidance and justification for their actions as imperial agents. This thesis uses personal records and mementos left behind by Constabulary officers to uncover the ways in which these men engaged with and employed anthropological ideas daily in their work policing the Islands. As the colonial agents most frequently in contact with the inhabitants of the Islands, the anthropological work conducted by officers in many ways played a more crucial role in the day-to-day governance of the Islands than that done by colonial officials far removed from the peoples they governed. As such, this thesis brings to the forefront the integral role that early-twentieth-century science, through its alliance with colonial policing, played in not just justifying but in actually undertaking American empire. Through an examination of the beliefs and actions of the individual men who served as officers in the Philippine Constabulary, this thesis uncovers a hitherto understudied aspect of American empire in the Philippines and, in doing so, expands our understanding of exactly what American empire meant at the beginning of the twentieth century.

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