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Extra info for Imperial Encounters: The Politics of Representation in North-South Relations (Borderlines series)

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18 As Foucault (1982) points out, power is only power (rather than solely physical force and violence) when it is addressed to individuals who are free to act in one way or another. Power presupposes the capacity for agency rather than denying it. In other words (and ironically), the very denial of agency to the Filipinos in United States colonial discourse presupposed their capacity for agency. Perhaps the most significant indication of the absence of agency was the denial of that transcendental international signifier, sovereignty.

It involved a relation of superior to inferior and was a form of power and authority over nonwhites. It was a way of distinguishing self from other. The racial classifications carried with them the implicit identification of the "lower" races with suborders of "man" as well as with animals. This was clearly evident in the analogies made between Filipino natives and dogs, goats, and monkeys. Perhaps less obvious — but no less significant — was the practice, both rhetorical and nonrhetorical, of "domesticating the native," which carried with it the connotation of rendering an animal tame, unthreatening, and suitable for a harmless house pet.

Conquest was a natural phenomenon, though the basis for it must continually be reconstructed at different times and places. Halle (1985: 35) noted this distinction between "rationalized imperialism," a sober, responsible, and unselfish kind of domination, and wanton exploitation. In the former, the conquerors were seen to have an obligation to advance the conquered along the paths of civilization. What cannot be questioned is the right of conquest itself, which must be presumed prior to any other arguments or specifications.

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