The Foundation of the Modern Philippine State: Imperial Rule and the American Constitutional Tradition, 1898-1935

By Nagano, Yoshiko | Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, June 2018 | Go to article overview

The Foundation of the Modern Philippine State: Imperial Rule and the American Constitutional Tradition, 1898-1935


Nagano, Yoshiko, Journal of Southeast Asian Studies


The foundation of the modern Philippine state: Imperial rule and the American constitutional tradition, 1898-1935

By LEIA CASTANEDA ANASTACIO

Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016. Pp. xiii + 325. Figures, Notes, Index.

doi:10.1017/S0022463418000127

The Philippines is a unique nation in Southeast Asia that experienced a change of colonial masters from Spain to the United States through the Philippine Revolution (1896-98) and the Philippine-American War (1899-1902). With this peculiar historical experience at the turn of the twentieth century, we are tempted to divide its modern history sharply between its two colonial rules, though the Philippines continuously underwent dynamic political and socioeconomic structural changes throughout both periods. Anastacio's Foundation of the modern Philippine state is one of the must-read books to understand the emergence and formation of the American colonial state in the Philippine Islands, showing the continuity of its history from the late nineteenth to the early twentieth centuries.

It is widely known that American colonial policy in the Philippines was first and best expressed by President McKinley's 'Benevolent Assimilation' proclamation issued in December 1898. To pursue the principles of colonial rule as enunciated by McKinley, one important agenda that the United States needed to tackle was the establishment of an autonomous political and legislative system in the Philippines. Most previous studies on Philippine history have discussed the nature and characteristics of political relations between American colonists and the Filipino elite under the terms of 'compadre colonialism' or 'colonial democracy'.

While acknowledging previous research, Anastacio's major concern is to depict the contradictory 'story of American constitutional colonialism in the Philippines Islands' (p. 13). In so doing Anastacio goes beyond the previous thesis that the 'American liberal constitutional export is fundamentally sound and to attribute difficulties in its implementation abroad to individual or cultural shortcomings' (p. 12). This book covers the period from 1898 to 1935, which can be subdivided as follows; US military rule for pacification (1898-1900); the three civilian administrations of the Taft era (1901-13), the Harrison era (1913-21) and the Wood era (1921-27); and preparation for the Commonwealth government (1927-35).

Chapter 1 traces the nature of benevolent imperialism as the rational programme for US colonial policy in the Philippines. …

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