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States of Ethnography: Colonialism, Resistance, and Cultural Transcription in Malaya and the Philippines, 1890s–1930s

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 December 2006

Daniel P. S. Goh
Affiliation:
Department of Sociology, National University of Singapore

Abstract

The metaphoric reading of native life as an unopened book by two ranking colonial administrators and authoritative ethnographers in Malaya and the Philippines cannot be a simple coincidence. Clifford and Barrows represent two empires, one conservative and peaking, the other liberal and ascendant, meeting in “the Malay Archipelago.” Clifford was a product of the rugged and cultured education demanded of British aristocratic scions, while Barrows exemplified the rising American professional classes, holding graduate degrees in education and anthropology. Both men served well the metropolitan ideologies that guided the imperial hand: British Providence to provide good government to the Malay states; American manifest destiny to replace Spain as the agent of civilization in the Philippines. Using their ethnographic readings, Clifford helped perfect the art of British “indirect rule” Malaya, while Barrows established the Philippine mass education system, the main thrust of the United States' “benevolent assimilation.” Both men retired as decorated officers and established literati, Barrows as the President of the University of California and Clifford a literary figure after Joseph Conrad and Rudyard Kipling.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
© 2007 Society for Comparative Study of Society and History

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