War of the Cloth: The Colonial in the Uniform
The uniform has been a material signifier of an individual being identified with a certain group, belonging to an exclusive entity or community. Although Benedict Anderson, inImagined Communities, stresses how members of a specific populace (in spite of not having any personal nor physical interaction with each other) belong to a certain "imagined community", he fails to emphasize the role of material culture in the formation of communities.
The wearing of the uniform, as part of the belonging, signifies the individual's total submission and allegiance to all rules, regulations and policies where the uniform is highly ennobled and respected at all times, therefore establishing an "imagined community".
The uniform, as an example of material culture with the capacity to form imagined communities, has also been used as an instrument for colonialism, further strengthening the presence of materialism in colonial studies.
Peter van Dommelen, in his essay "Colonial Matters: Material Culture and Postcolonial Theory in Colonial Situations" emphasizes the role of material culture in the pacification of the colonized.
The founding and establishmentof the Philippine Constabulary during the American occupation of the Philippines provides a good example of how the uniform, became an ideal, colonial tactic for colonialism.
This paper will attempt to re-define Anderson's concept of imagined communities whileestablishingthe relationship between material culture to colonialism- identifying certain events in the history of the Philippine Constabulary that illustrates the Filipino's multi-faceted experience with the colonized.
Redefining Imagined Communities
I attended the military graduation of my brother a few months ago and what struck me was the sense of brotherhood that was evident among him and 2,000 others. While taking a stroll, I noticed that my brother greeted a fellow airman from across the street. I asked him if...