- Transitions and Quotes
This is an impressive book. At 442 pages of text and over 500 pages with footnotes, it is certainly one of the longest books published in recent memory on the relationship between the United States and the Philippines. Not only is its size impressive but also the way Kramer has brought together the literature and original research in a compelling argument about U.S.-Philippine race relations during the colonial period. Kramer takes his time, writes in an accessible but deeply learned manner, bringing to bear his expertise on the subject and perhaps staking a claim for the study of U.S. Empire as having a complexity, allure, and integrity that has only been granted to post-colonies of the former British Empire. In doing so, Kramer helps to anchor post-colonial studies of U.S. Empire in the Philippines.1 Of these, Kramer's is thus far the most ambitious in scope and also the most transnational, examining developments in the United States metropole that puts Philippine studies in dialogue with transnational American studies.
Kramer's argument is that race is absolutely crucial to understanding the American imperial project in the Philippines and vice-versa; that American empire, as a transnational phenomenon, is essential for understanding the development and multiform character of race. He is addressing two different literatures—the literature of U.S. colonial rule of the Philippines, which has hitherto failed to produce a comprehensive argument on the issue of race and the literature of racial formation in the United States, which has been spotty in speaking to the imperial routes and transnational histories of U.S. racial ideologies—and bringing them into dialogue with each other through what he calls a "transnational history of race and empire" (p. 2).
The "blood of government" in the title, which opens the Introduction, serves as Kramer's point of departure for this book on empire and race. It comes from Imperialist Senator Albert J. Beveridge's speech to the U.S. Senate in 1900, one year into the U.S.-Philippine War, which echoes the religiously inspired [End Page 406] "manifest destiny" of America's westward expansion. Beveridge's speech, in particular, emblematized the widespread belief in America's Anglo-Saxon racial destiny in the late nineteenth century. Beveridge states that the Philippine-American War was "deeper than any question of party politics" or of "any question of constitutional power." Instead, he argues, that it is "racial." As Kramer quotes him, this purpose for war is nothing less than that of the "English-speaking and Teutonic peoples" who had become "the master organizers of the world," possessors of "the blood of government" (p. 2).
In order to make his case, Kramer explores what he regards as the formative events in the racial history of the U.S. colonial period. These include the turn-of-the-century Spanish-American and Philippine-American Wars, the St. Louis World's Fair of 1904, the making of a U.S. colonial state in collaboration with Filipino nationalist elites, and congressional legislation that set the timetable for Philippine independence, passed in the climate of the Great Depression, at the height of nativist sentiment against increasing Filipino immigration to the U.S. mainland.
He outlines six themes that parallel these historical developments and the six chapters of the book (pp. 28–32). These include: (1) the crucial role of racial formation during the Spanish colonial period in setting the terrain for U.S.-Philippine race relations; (2) the significance of the Philippine-American War in the construction of an American racial state and a racial ideology Kramer labels "imperial indigenism," which racialized the pre-existing religious divisions among Filipinos, between Christians and non-Christians; (3) the imperatives of colonial state-building, which lead to the establishment of a "dual mandate," or a "bifurcated" colonial state in which Christian Filipino elites were allowed to evolve towards self-government, albeit with U...