Bearing the White Man's Burden: American Empire and the Origin of Public Administration
Forthcoming, Perspectives on Public Management and Governance
45 Pages Posted: 7 May 2019 Last revised: 28 Aug 2019
Date Written: August 2, 2019
There is an overlooked chapter in the history of American public administration: the experiment with colonial administration in the two decades following the Spanish-American War. Several scholars now identified as pioneers of American public administration were actively engaged in this project. They studied European empires closely to determine how the new American dependencies should be governed. This work was guided by beliefs about racial superiority and the duty of civilized nations to improve uncivilized peoples through colonization. This episode of administrative history provides insight into how American academics thought about race and public administration in the early decades of the twentieth century, both overseas and within the United States. It compels a reassessment of our understandings about their commitment to democracy, and about the supposed differences between American and European public administration at that time.
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