Ramos, Dondy Pepito II, G. “‘China’s Curse”: Racialization of Opium Use in Colonial Philippines, 1903-1908.” Philippine Sociological Review (PSR) vol. 68, no. 1 (2020): 75-97.
Race is an important topic in studying the development of empires. The discourse on race played a significant role, for instance, in justifying the American conquest of the Philippines. This article demonstrates how opium use was racialized during the American period. Using official government reports and other primary sources, the article reveals how racial meanings of opium use were reinforced at the micro and macro levels of society. At the micro level were the debates on opium and the arguments presented by the Americans to justify the Opium Bill. Among Filipino elites, this could be inferred from the views and attitudes of selected Filipino local officials who had been interviewed by the Investigative Committee on Opium. At the macro level were racial notions of opium use in the Insular Government’s official policy and the Opium Law of 1906. This article hopes to contribute to the growing literature on race and empire-building and help deepen our understanding of society, in general, and race and race making, in particular.
Keywords: opium, Chinese, drug policy, American Empire, race