Document Type


Publication Date

August 2005

Publication Title

American Sociological Association Annual Meeting


Asian History | Other Sociology | Political History | Politics and Social Change | Race and Ethnicity | Social Psychology | Sociology | United States History


This paper examines how the social psychology of U.S. pragmatists John Dewey and George Herbert Mead shapes how early U.S. sociology position itself on questions of U.S. empire and geo-political dominance. It focuses also on how pragmatist thought influences how 1920s Chicago sociologists Robert Park and Emory Bogardus produced symbolic interactionist theories and studies on U.S. race and international relations.This paper makes several interventions in the history of U.S. sociological theory. It re-examines the history of U.S. sociology and the philosophy of pragmatism through the lens of empire, rather than simply a myopic looking-glass of the “race problem.” This re-examination consequently highlights the interrelationships between racialistepistemologies and orientalist knowledges, rather than compartmentalizing empire and race, Asia and Asian America, sociology and philosophy. Further it draws attention to the ways pragmatism got deployed to deal with the “Question of the Philippines” in the interests of imperialism, even while at the same time pragmatism served as one crucial theoretical foundation for early U.S. anti-imperialist campaigns. These interventions are crucial as professional sociology in the U.S. commemorates its centennial beginning and assesses its many strengths.