H-Diplo Roundtable XXI-36 on Steinbock-Pratt. Educating the Empire: American Teachers and Contested Colonization in the Philippines

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H-Diplo Roundtable XXI-36

Sarah Steinbock-Pratt.  Educating the Empire:  American Teachers and Contested Colonization in the Philippines.  Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 2019.  ISBN:  9781108473125 (hardback, $59.99).

13 April 2020 | https://hdiplo.org/to/RT21-36
Roundtable Editor: Diane Labrosse | Commissioning Editor: Seth Offenbach | Production Editor: George Fujii





Introduction by Laura R. Prieto, Simmons University

Sarah Steinbock-Pratt’s new book, Educating the Empire, makes an important contribution to the burgeoning scholarship on American imperialism, particularly U.S. colonization of the Philippines in the early twentieth century. An impressive, growing body of work now recognizes the waging of the Philippine-American War and the establishment of American colonial rule in the archipelago as profoundly complex and consequential. Steinbock-Pratt’s study, part of the Cambridge Series in U.S. Foreign Relations, focuses on education as a contact zone and a cornerstone of American colonization. It is no mere coincidence that the U.S. military established the first American public schools in the Philippines.[1] As soldiers passed the torch of education to civilian men and women, the mission remained much the same: to bring the Filipino population under U.S. control. The United States vastly expanded the public school system in its new territorial possession, and these “schools functioned as a stress test of the colonial project, highlighting its strengths and fractures,” Steinbock-Pratt writes (7). An English-language curriculum that emphasized hygiene, discipline, and American principles intended to ‘civilize’ Filipinos, gradually cultivating an indigenous civil service corps that could manage colonial administration, and that perhaps eventually would govern their own nation after independence Steinbock-Pratt provides a nuanced collective portrait of the Thomasites and other American teachers entrusted with this task of uplift and assimilation.

Yet this is a story of contradictions, tensions, and unintended consequences, wherein American colonizers were never as powerful as they thought or as wished to be. Through deep, careful research, Steinbock-Pratt unmasks the fantasy of ‘benevolent imperialism’ to scrutinize how federal teachers served as colonial officials and cultural mediators, as well as how the American educational project in the Philippines was inherently political. Teachers outnumbered all other types of civilians who were dispatched by the U.S. government to its new colony. Furthermore, their daily interactions with Filipino people at the local level, throughout the islands, imbricated them into community life more intimately than other federal employees. “No other colonial officials had such an all-encompassing mandate, and thus, such continual interactions,” she writes (212). Using archival and government documents, Steinbock-Pratt analyzes the vision of empire enacted through the appointment, expectations, and experiences of these teachers, not only (or even primarily) in the classroom. She puts the teachers’ private, individual accounts in dialogue with the public, official representation of colonial administration. This enables her to trace many ambivalences about the ethos of education, about race and gender, about nationalism and citizenship, and the nature of colonialism itself. These ambivalences indirectly laid the groundwork for mounting Filipino student radicalism and activism. Indeed, Steinbock-Pratt argues, “the ideological importance of education in American empire in many ways contained within its framework the seeds of the destruction of colonial power” (289). While curricula and policy presumed Filipino inferiority, the new schools to some degree had to cater to the preferences of the Filipino elite. Filipino communities had their own expectations and traditions, municipal authorities whose prominence often dated back to the Spanish colonial era, and “established networks of local power” (221). As they reported for duty, American teachers had to navigate those relationships and structures. And in the end, their students dismantled the master’s house with the master’s tools.

The four reviewers in this roundtable all commend Educating the Empire as an indispensable social and cultural history of teachers as imperial actors. Although American administrators defined the ideal colonizer as a young, virile, white man, circumstances led them to send women as well as men, black as well as white, to instruct Filipinos. Mary Helen Fee is relatively well known thanks to her memoir A Woman’s Impressions of the Philippines (1910) and her co-authorship of The First Year Book (1907), a textbook developed for public schools in the Philippines.[2] But Steinbock-Pratt offers vivid sketches of much lesser known individuals, from Philinda Parsons Rand, who enjoyed impressing others with her sense of adventure, to the more domestically inclined Mary Cole, who taught alongside her husband Harry. Even more strikingly, African-American teachers such as John Henry Butler, Bedford Hunter, and Carter G. Woodson represented themselves as especially fit to enact the American civilizing mission, while simultaneously identifying with their so-called ‘little brown brothers’ in certain ways. Not just a set of exceptions that illustrate the norm, the diversity among the Thomasites reflects how colonization recreated and redefined race for both Americans and Filipinos. As Colin Moore notes, the exigencies of distinguishing American from Filipino demanded that the colonial state make “whiteness” a broader category than it would have been in the metropole. Allan Lumba writes in his review that Steinbock-Pratt “is especially convincing in showing how Philippine colonialism created new ways for race to shape gender, and for gender to shape race,” as well as “how social categories of power, such as race, can be put under pressure and troubled through colonial encounters.” Lumba points out how the lived experiences of Gilbert Somers Perez, a multiracial person who “passed” as white while in the Philippines, echo fictional challenges to racial categories from Filipino narratives like José Rizal’s El Filibusterismo[3].

Another major contribution of Steinbock-Pratt’s work is its attention to Filipino student protests.

Tessa Ong Winkelmann finds that Steinbock-Pratt’s approach “gives us a new analytical framework with which to understand the continuing legacy of student protests at campuses in the Philippines.” Students went on strike for months in 1903 after Helen Trace, a white American teacher, slapped a student. Subsequent student activism increasingly demanded respect in the face of American teachers’ bigotry. By 1930, the defense of Filipino dignity integrated explicit calls for political independence. Students expressed outrage against racialized violence in the continental United States, especially the anti-Filipino Watsonville riot. Reo Matsuzaki asks when and why then Filipinos came to reflect so positively on the legacy of American education. Colonial education not only accelerated migration but unintentionally helped foster a transpacific identity, alongside Filipino nationalism and feminism.[4] Winkelmann suggests that we might also follow the routes of many American teachers as they concluded their careers in the Philippines and dispersed to other “sites of empire” around the world, from Liberia to Peru to the internal empire of schools for Native Americans.

Educating the Empire thus points to possible new directions for research as well as applying innovative frameworks. The mixed legacy of Americanized education in the Philippines informs transnational histories of diaspora, anti-colonialism, and activism. Mastuzaki presses the question of how exceptional or typical the experiences of the Thomasites and their students were with regard to U.S. colonization elsewhere and in comparison to other empires. Steinbock-Pratt agrees that there is more to learn about how other empires, including Japan’s, both shaped and were shaped by state-building in the Philippines. Such a broad view certainly poses a challenge for any historian, as Julian Go comments in his inter-colonial study of the Philippines and Puerto Rico, American Empire and the Politics of Meaning: “The complexities of tutelary rule and its political-cultural impact in two different colonies face seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Colonialism everywhere was a messy and multilayered process. It reshaped colonizer and colonized alike, affecting diverse groups in different ways on various registers, and its effects are not always easy to discern.”[5]

Sweeping geographies of state-building and more ‘glocal’ studies like Educating the Empire each have an important role to play as scholars remap the underpinnings and consequences of empire. Although, as Steinbock-Pratt acknowledges, “Much more work remains to be done to include Filipino voices,” and, one might add, the voices of other colonial subjects, her lucidly written book provides a model for how we might interrogate colonization from below. Careful attention to those on the ground illuminates the fragility of the whole colonial enterprise, revealing a complex human experience that official rhetoric could not afford to concede.


Sarah Steinbock-Pratt is an Assistant Professor of History at the University of Alabama. Her current research focuses on U.S. empire, race, gender, and migration. Her book, Educating the Empire: American Teachers and Contested Colonization in the Philippines, came out with Cambridge University Press in July 2019. She is currently working on a manuscript, tentatively titled, “A Far-Flung Nation: Filipinos and the Construction of Gender, Race, and National Identity in the Pacific World,” which investigates how gender and race intersected with the politics of nationalism, and the ways in which Filipinos across the Pacific World articulated and pursued individual and national freedom.

Laura R. Prieto is Alumni Chair in Public Humanities and Professor of History and of Women’s and Gender Studies at Simmons University in Boston. Her first book was At Home in the Studio: The Professionalization of Women Artists in the United States (Harvard University Press, 2001). Her current research studies women and American empire, a topic on which she has published in several academic journals and anthologies, including Crossings and Encounters: Race, Gender, and Sexuality in the Atlantic World, which she co-edited with Stephen R. Berry, forthcoming in summer 2020 from the University of South Carolina Press.

Allan E.S. Lumba is an assistant professor in the Department of History at Virginia Tech who studies the cultural and social history of the Philippines, Asia, and the Pacific. Lumba charts the historical intersections and tensions between race, knowledge, sovereignty, and the capitalist logic in the United States and the Philippines in his book Monetary Authorities: Capitalism and Decolonization in the American Colonial Philippines, forthcoming from Duke University Press.

Reo Matsuzaki is an assistant professor of Political Science at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. His book Statebuilding by Imposition: Resistance and Control in Colonial Taiwan and the Philippines (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2019) explores the role societal intermediaries play in the construction of modern states through a comparative analysis of Japanese colonization of Taiwan and the U.S. colonization of the Philippines. His current project examines the processes underlying the production of institutional legacies to explain why Japanese occupation policies during World War II had such varying effects on the postwar development of political institutions across Southeast Asian countries.

Colin D. Moore is an associate professor of political science at the University of Hawai‘i. He is the author of American Imperialism and the State, 1893–1921 (Cambridge University Press, 2017).

Tessa Ong Winkelmann earned her B.A. at the University of California, Irvine (2005), her M.A. in Ethnic Studies at San Francisco State University (2008), and her Ph.D. in History at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2015). Her research interests are in the fields of U.S. in the world, empires and imperialism, ethnic studies, and gender and sexuality. At UNLV she teaches courses On U.S. foreign relations, Asian American Studies, and Women and gender studies. Her forthcoming book from Cornell University Press is entitled, “Dangerous Intercourse: Race, Gender and Interracial Relations in the American Colonial Philippines, 1898-1946.”



Review by Allan E.S. Lumba, Virginia Tech

Sarah Steinbock-Pratt’s Educating the Empire is a necessary contribution to the study of the U.S. colonization of the Philippines. The book further explores many of the questions opened up by Paul Kramer’s Blood of Government.[6] It urges scholars of the “United States in the World” to frame the colonial as an imperial site of negotiation and contestation. Rather than a top-down account of empire, in which power is imposed in a straightforward and unchanged fashion, Steinbock-Pratt asserts that colonialism was messy and ambivalent, unfolding in ways that were often unforeseen and which sometimes contradicted the intentions of imperial agents. Additionally, Educating the Empire emphasizes how American identities were constantly unsettled and reorganized, mainly due to the contingency of colonial intimacies and imperial encounters. Finally, Steinbock-Pratt highlights the significance of the politics of recognition, and how it undergirded many of the motivations and desires of different imperial actors.

Steinbock-Pratt impressively combs archives consisting of private letters, diaries, as well as newspaper articles and state records to illustrate just how highly charged education was for colonial lives—both its public and private iterations. Careful analysis of these diverse sources allows Steinbock-Pratt to highlight the consistent ways that notions of race and gender constantly shaped and were shaped by the ordinary everyday of American teachers. As Educating the Empire argues, seemingly mundane or normative desires of the times, such as earning and saving money, seeking adventure, and upward social mobility, were deeply structured by conceptions of racial and gendered capacities and hierarchies.

Although not explicitly named as a kind of analytic used by Steinbock-Pratt, intersectionality constantly appears in her analysis of American teachers in the colony. Coined by Black feminist Kimberle Crenshaw, intersectionality is a Black radical feminist form of critiquing and diagnosing differently interlocking modes of power.[7] In the case Educating the Empire, it is imperial, racial, and gendered forms of power that simultaneously foreclose and open different possibilities for life and identity. This is what I find most striking about Steinbock-Pratt’s book, the ways that the seemingly ordinary desires of teachers (and later in the book, student desires) were simultaneously guided and hindered by racial and gendered norms.

The third chapter “Professionals and Pioneers: Teachers’ Self-Depiction of Empire” is especially convincing in showing how Philippine colonialism created new ways for race to shape gender, and gender to shape race. For white male teachers, colonial conditions offered a way to draw from normative scripts about the frontier and the tropics to reaffirm notions of white masculinity. Concepts such as “fitness,” “adventuring,” and “strenuousness” were frequently deployed in narratives of day-to-day lives by Americans. These notions of virility and vitality in the face of constant racial and emasculating threats gave white male teachers a sense of camaraderie with U.S. soldiers, despite their being a civilian colonial force. At the same time, Steinbock-Pratt convincingly shows how in the colony white male superiority could quickly turn to white male victimization. For instance, accounts of white male teachers who were discontented with the failures of their professional careers often articulated their frustrations in terms of racial language (92). White female teachers drew on similar scripts of fitness as white male teachers, and utilized this to trouble heteronormative conceptions of female domesticity. White female teachers felt empowered in the tropics and often expressed the pleasures in their freedoms. By engaging in practices that were considered non-feminine, white female teachers avoided living by gendered norms of maternalism and domesticity (116). At the same time, this mastery over the self that white female teachers embodied, however, could only be realized in and through mastery over colonial servants and colonized spaces (122).

If the third chapter demonstrates how the identities of American teachers were reshaped by colonial conditions, the fourth chapter “Recreating Race: Evolving Notions of Whiteness and Blackness in Empire,” illustrates how social categories of power, such as race, can be put under pressure and troubled through colonial encounters. In the process of “passing,” those who are considered non-white in different geographic or temporal contexts are perceived and treated as white. For some like Najeeb Saleeby, a west Asian born in Beirut, his “provisional” whiteness slowed down and created friction for his desires for upward mobility in the colonial chain of command (136). For others, like Gilbert Somers Perez, colonial conditions facilitated a re-invention of the self that could enhance one’s proximity to a good life that would be unthinkable in the metropole. The story of Perez, a multiracial person categorized as a ‘mulatto’ in the U.S. South, does not necessarily trouble the categories, but instead shows how racial categories could have overdetermine one’s mobility in the world. Through colonial conditions Perez was able to create a new narrative of himself, disavowing his blackness to instead recode his identity as a white person with a cosmopolitan background (145). Through a narrative of travel and genealogy, Perez’s history uncannily resembles the story of Simoun, the disrupting protagonist in Jose Rizal’s El Filibusterismo.[8] As a mysterious figure of transnational capitalism, Rizal envisioned Simoun as an agent of the radical possibilities of modernity, a force that could disrupt and perhaps destroy colonial hierarchies. While in El Filibusterismo Rizal uses Simoun’s failure to prove what he sees as the limits of vengeance and violence as an anti-colonial solution, Perez’s success can be seen as a kind of successful challenge to racial categories, albeit a reactionary kind. In this case, Perez’s case is more important in illustrating the paradoxical durability and fragility of racial categories like whiteness. On one hand, it shows the constant failure of racial categories like white and black to endure the unforeseen contingencies of colonial encounters. On the other hand, it shows how whiteness—as a sticky category that rights and privileges are constantly attached to—can regroup itself even within colonial conditions.

Educating the Empire also expands our thinking about the ways in which colonialism and imperialism puts the category of blackness into flux. Anti-blackness certainly followed the flag, with many white colonial agents attempting to import Jim Crow to the archipelago. However, as Steinbock-Pratt illustrates, Philippine colonialism also opened up new life opportunities for African Americans. Black male teachers oftentimes held similar views as their white male and white female counterparts. Their vitality and virility in the colony would prove their fitness as imperial agents. Additionally, akin to white teachers, African American teachers like John Henry Butler justified colonialism through the rhetoric of benevolence, the racial uplift of Filipinos (101). It is this notion of African Americans proving their social belonging in and through the paternalistic treatment of another non-white race that the categories of white and black become increasingly troubled. As Steinbock-Pratt cogently shows, African American success in the so-called civilizing mission could also challenge white supremacist conceptions. In the case of Bedford Hunter, who was able to build a schoolhouse where white colonial agents could not, his success as an African American demonstrated the brittleness of white supremacist claims. Nevertheless, the zone of intimacy between Filipinos and African Americans was a double-edged sword in its relation to histories of injustices. On one hand, Filipinos and African Americans could find commonalities and solidarities to perhaps remove race as a category of hierarchy or an obstacle toward their recognition of human dignity and capacity (167). On the other hand, the promises contained in imperialism found ways to resolve antagonisms held within the racial logic established by white supremacy. For instance, Butler would go on to advocate the continued colonization of Filipinos, albeit by “intelligent” African Americans (173).

The final chapter, “Speaking for Ourselves: Dignity and the Politics of Student Protest,” is especially thought-provoking. Steinbock-Pratt deftly reveals how Filipino resistance emerges in the archival records of colonial education. By shifting perspectives, from the colonizer to the colonized, Steinbock-Pratt illustrates how and why the schoolhouse was not only a zone of intimacy that enabled the emergence of different types of imperial agency. At the same time, the colonial encounter allowed Filipino agency to emerge as refusal of and avoidance to authority, but Filipino agency could also be expressed as collective and organized resistance to imperialism. Steinbock-Pratt asserts, however, that we can trace a linear progression in Filipino resistance from the early colonial period in the first decades of the twentieth century to the later periods of colonial rule in the 1920s and 1930s. Although I still wonder if Filipino resistance really followed such a straight line from resistance against racial prejudice (255) toward a more scaled-up form of resistance for national sovereignty (270), the attention to detail that Steinbock-Pratt offers is impressive. What is especially intriguing is how Steinbock-Pratt ties a 1930 student strike to the formation of the Sakdalista movement, which resulted in an armed uprising against the Philippine Commonwealth state in 1935 (285).

In conclusion, Educating the Empire provides an intriguing way of understanding empire as a “complex process of various actors with different agendas and unequal ability to enact their visions of the colonial relationship all operating on the same field at once” (4). Steinbock-Pratt’s approach to imperialism will be stimulating for future researchers of the American colonial Philippines. This definition enables Steinbock-Pratt to see education as a zone of intimacy that both reinforced colonial and state power while at the same time unsettled it due to the contingency of encounter between colonizer and colonized. It is the contingency of ordinary encounters that creates the grounds for negotiation and sometimes contestation. For me, there are plenty of thought-provoking questions that come from this definition of empire. The first series of questions involves experience. Does everyone experience imperial time the same way? Is imperialism the name we give this simultaneity of encounters and experiences? Are there experiences that cannot be recuperated by empire? The second series of questions involve the structure of empire itself. What structures this zone of intimacy and contestation? Is the structure of imperialism produced out of these contingent intimacies, out of the intended and unintended effects of encounters? Or does the structure itself precede these colonial encounters and is it durable enough to shape their contours? It is the strength and depth of this book that questions such as these can be provoked. I look forward to seeing the kinds of questions explored by others in the wake of Educating the Empire.



Review by Reo Matsuzaki, Trinity College

Educating the Empire positions public education as the central enterprise and ideological pillar of the U.S. colonial state in the Philippines. In so doing, author Sarah Steinbock-Pratt tackles a wide array of issues pertaining to colonial governance, making this book among the most ambitious contributions to the scholarship on the Philippines under U.S. administration in recent years. While the actual analysis of America’s colonial education system is a small portion of the book, various institutions, policies, and interactions surrounding education are employed as a lens through which readers gain insight into the ways in which pursuing colonial domination as a ‘civilizing mission’ led to policy debates and conflicts among colonial officials and between American teachers and their Filipino students. The book also examines the various mediational functions played by American teachers as purveyors of information about the colonial Philippines to the U.S. domestic audience, and as political and social agents of the colonial state in actualizing American authority. Most significantly, by highlighting the experiences and reflections of female and African-American teachers, the book aims to reframe existing notions of how race and gender structured colonial governance, as well as how the participation of these teachers in the colonial administration shaped the way they came to perceive and articulate their own gender and racial identities. Through elegant prose and vivid detail, Steinbock-Pratt excels in showing how America’s ideological commitment to the ‘civilizing mission’ intersected with the realities of colonial governance, and this book is an essential text for anyone seeking to understand the lived and personal contradictions inherent in the American approach to state-building. Yet, in order for the book to challenge the broader literature on race, gender, and empire, it could have done more to embed the experiences of individual U.S. officials and Filipino subjects within the larger study of late-nineteenth to mid-twentieth century colonialism.

Relying on letters, diaries, and autobiographies of the ‘Thomasites’, American civilians hired specifically for the purpose of staffing the new public schools in the Philippines who arrived on the U.S. army transport ship Thomas, as well as the correspondence of colonial administrators in Manila and Washington, Steinbock-Pratt devotes the early chapters of the book (Chapters 1 through 4) to the experiences and self-perceptions of American colonial teachers. Of particular importance in these chapters is the author’s examination of the conflicting perceptions of what made for an ideal American teacher in the Philippines. Here, the book places women and African Americans at the center of its narrative, and the attention Steinbock-Pratt devotes to their reflections as colonial educators is among the most significant contributions of the book. Not only is the telling of their stories an important corrective to the prevailing scholarship on the American colonial experience in the Philippines, which is largely based on documents produced by white men, but it also allows the book to contribute to our understanding of the ways in which gender and race intersected with colonial governance in the archipelago. In particular, the book sheds light on how female and African-American teachers perceived their own gender and racial identities in the context of their roles as colonial educators and administrators, as well as how these individuals, who experienced discrimination and political exclusion back in the United States, justified and advanced America’s subjugation of the Filipino people.

One of the many fascinating accounts detailed by Steinbock-Pratt is that of John Butler, an African-American teacher and administrator who perceived himself as the ideal colonial agent. Having experienced racial prejudice as a black man in America, Butler thought that he, and other African-American teachers, were uniquely capable of understanding the desires and aspirations of Filipinos in a colonial regime where race (along with gender and nationality) was among the most important markers of status and privilege. Moreover, according to Steinbock-Pratt, this sense of familiarity was mutual, with Filipinos themselves expressing greater comfort when interacting with non-white colonial administrators such as Butler. What makes Butler’s story especially interesting is that he thoroughly believed in America’s right and duty to ‘civilize’ Filipinos through colonial domination despite the fact that at the ideological foundation of America’s ‘civilizing mission’ was a white supremacist worldview. Butler’s belief in, and association with, the civilizing mission indeed continued after his tenure in the Philippines ended, as he sought positions as a colonial agent elsewhere in America’s expanding empire.

In the second half of the book (Chapters 5 through 7), the focus shifts to the interactions between American teachers and the Filipinos, as well as the development of anti-colonial and nationalist movements among students. It is in these chapters that the centrality of the American education system to both the dynamics of collaboration and resistance becomes apparent. On one hand, not only were American teachers responsible for implementing ‘benevolent assimilation’[9] by Americanizing and disciplining Filipino students (especially through vocational training and athletic programs), but they also—oftentimes as the sole American official stationed outside of large cities—served as the local face of the colonial administration and the primary intermediary between state and society. On the other hand, experiences of discrimination and indignity in the classroom led directly to large-scale strikes and demonstrations where students demanded respect and autonomy for themselves as individuals and for the Filipino national community. By exploring the motivations of student protestors, Steinbock-Pratt lays bare the contradiction inherent in pursuing colonial domination as ‘benevolent assimilation’: the very success of this enterprise—that is, the subject population adopting the institutions, beliefs, and norms of the colonizers—provided Filipinos with the justification for demanding independence.

These chapters are especially useful for those seeking to understand how the American colonial state functioned in the localities. As Steinbock-Pratt writes, the Department of Public Instruction was the only branch of the colonial government that formally extended below the provincial level. American teachers were therefore not only placed in charge of fulfilling the department’s mission of providing public education, but also served as the government’s principal administrative and political agent. However, while the book, through its detailed examination of the interactions between American teachers and Filipino subjects, offers valuable insight into the daily functioning of the colonial state, it leaves unexplored the question of how the United States succeeded in obtaining local buy-in and ownership of an education system that shared little in common with that which existed prior to U.S. rule. The extent to which Filipinos ultimately embraced the new public school system was indeed remarkable when one considers the fact that Filipinos, especially the elites, vigorously resisted American teachers and the new public education system at the outset of America’s annexation of the archipelago.

This resistance, in the first place, was a product of the military origins of the American educational system, as soldiers assumed the role of educators until the 1901 arrival of nearly one thousand ‘Thomasites.’ U.S. efforts to put into place a new education system also challenged the monopoly that Catholic parish priests had exercised over access to knowledge under Spanish rule, thus inviting their strong opposition. The fact that most American teachers were Protestants, and that a few even engaged in proselytization despite its explicit prohibition by the colonial government, further aroused suspicion that the United States was attempting to undermine the strength of the Catholic faith in the archipelago.[10] Resistance also came from Filipino political and socioeconomic elites, collectively known as the ilustrado, who had long regarded education as the foremost marker of elite status. To the ilustrado, who believed that the study of Catechism was central to intellectual and spiritual development, the secular orientation of the new public school curriculum—a curriculum that focused primarily on English literacy and vocational training—meant that American colonial schools could not provide their children with what they considered to be a proper education. Demand for private Catholic education therefore remained strong among elite families during the first few decades of American rule.

Nonetheless, as the book demonstrates, Filipino elites eventually came to enthusiastically support the new public schools and the education they provided: The number of public schools multiplied rapidly and soon far exceeded that of private Catholic schools. Even Filipino elites, who had initially considered Catholic private schools as offering the superior educational experience, came to see the University of the Philippines (which sat at the top of the public school hierarchy) as a premier destination for their children, eclipsed only by institutions of higher education in the United States. Contestation over education subsequently shifted from resisting the new schools and teachers to demanding that American officials acknowledge that Filipinos had successfully mastered the forms of knowledge contained within the public school curriculum and were hence worthy of respect and independence both as individuals and as a nation. Moreover, not only did Filipinos come to accept American colonial education when they were still subjects of the United States, but many would later regard this as even a positive legacy of U.S. colonialism after achieving independence in 1946.

What may explain the cause of this transformation in Filipino attitudes toward U.S. colonial education? Perhaps Filipinos gradually came to assign intrinsic value to the new English curriculum—a process possibly driven by a belief in the importance of English in regional and global affairs or by their acceptance of the United States as a purveyor and producer of modern forms of knowledge. Alternatively, it may be that Filipinos eventually embraced the colonial school system as a result of an instrumentalist calculation that their demonstration of successful ‘assimilation’ would lead the United States to grant political autonomy and even independence. A more cynical explanation may point to public education becoming an arena for advancing clientelistic exchanges.[11] With public education becoming one of the largest areas of government expenditure controlled by the Philippine Assembly, powerful lawmakers in Manila could use their control over the appropriations process to reward their supporters with new schools, as well as the various jobs associated with constructing, staffing, and maintaining them.[12] Given the centrality of public education within America’s state-building mission, the reasons for widespread and lasting Filipino support for the new school system are of considerable analytical importance: they allow us to understand some of the underlying political processes through which the United States successfully imposed a new governance structure in the archipelago that left a lasting institutional legacy. The book’s omission of an analysis of why and how the United States succeeded in imposing this new education system in the Philippines is therefore somewhat of a missed opportunity to make a significant contribution to the literature on state-building.

Finally, an important shortcoming of the book is one it shares with many other works on colonial Philippines: it unwittingly reinforces the narrative that American colonization of the Philippines was exceptional, particularly in terms of colonial education, when compared to its contemporaries.[13] It is certainly the case that European colonial states did not regard education as central to colonial administration and largely relied on non-state actors, especially missionaries, to provide ‘modern’ education to colonial subjects. Yet, the ‘civilizing mission’ rhetoric still constituted the ideological and normative justification of European colonialism, and regardless of the accessibility of colonial schools or whether they were run by the colonial state or religious groups, recipients of colonial education in European territories became leaders of political movements demanding reform, autonomy, and ultimately independence. At play here across the colonized world was a dynamic very similar to that described by Steinbock-Pratt in Chapter 7, where students came to see themselves as belonging to an oppressed national community and where the personal injustices and indignations they suffered were interpreted as also being aimed against the nation as a whole.[14] The educated elites were, moreover, those most aware of the hypocrisy of the ‘civilizing mission’ rhetoric and consequently those who demanded that their nation be granted political autonomy and even independence once they had mastered Western forms of knowledge. Given this broader relationship involving colonial education, the development of nationalism, and independence movements, how did the situation in the Philippines compare to that of its contemporaries? Did Filipino students see their circumstances as unique or did they identify with young nationalists in other colonial territories? Answering these questions would help us to gain further understanding of the motivations and aspirations of the Filipino students, as well as to integrate the study of the Philippines into the larger scholarship on colonialism.

Furthermore, if we go beyond European colonial states as the sole objects of comparison, we find that, contrary to Steinbock-Pratt’s contention, the United States was hardly unique among imperialist powers in that “secular education was incorporated as a central piece of the colonial state” (7). Like the United States, Japan saw education as a pillar of colonial administration.[15] The similarity in Japan and America’s commitment to colonial education is not coincidental. In contrast to European countries, which largely sought to maintain control over overseas colonial territories and exploit their resources as economically as possible, Japan and the United States, albeit for different strategic and political reasons, engaged in state-building under colonial rule and sought to culturally, economically, and politically transform their territorial possessions in their image. The rhetoric of assimilation was employed by a number of European colonial powers, but it was the United States and Japan that actually devoted resources to achieving this goal. Yet, despite the underlying comparability between the Japanese and U.S. approaches to colonial administration, and the physical proximity of the Philippines to the Japanese colonial empire, the existing scholarship (this book included) typically places the Philippines only within the context of European colonialism.[16] This Euro-centric perspective has in turn meant that very rarely has the Philippine colonial state been analyzed alongside its most comparable contemporaries, further reinforcing the narrative of American exceptionalism.

Steinbock-Pratt’s investigation of colonial education is a significant contribution to the scholarship on the Philippines under U.S. rule. Its empirical focus is exclusively on colonial education, but the book casts its thematic scope widely, placing it in the middle of many of the most important scholarly debates on the colonial Philippines. Steinbock-Pratt’s detailed and engaging account of American teachers and Filipino students demonstrates that established understandings of the role of race and gender in structuring colonial governance in the Philippines may indeed need to be reframed. However, by implicitly positioning the education system in the Philippines as incomparable to that of other colonial states, the book leaves unexplored whether and how the fascinating insights gleaned from the experiences and reflections of female and African-American teachers, as well as those of Filipino students, may challenge broader theoretical frameworks and interpretations of colonial administration and legacies.



Review by Colin D. Moore, University of Hawai‘i

Scholars of the colonial Philippines have long recognized that education was at the center of the U.S. imperial project. Washington’s investment in schools was designed to showcase the benevolence of the American empire and to distinguish it from its European rivals. This is why the voyage of the Thomas, an army transport ship that brought more than 500 American teachers to Manila in 1901, remains one of the most enduring symbols of the American period. Despite the clear importance of schools, most scholarly work has concentrated on battles among top colonial officials over the curriculum. Yet historians have largely ignored the day-to-day experiences of the teachers.

With the publication of Sarah Steinbock-Pratt’s excellent new book, Educating the Empire: American Teachers and Contested Colonization in the Philippines, we now have a history of the civilian teachers who did the work of ‘benevolent assimilation.’ These teachers served as the eyes and ears of the U.S. colonial government, and they were responsible for navigating the contested nature of American colonial authority. Indeed, for many Filipinos, the teacher in their village was the only American they would ever meet.

Questions about who was most fit to carry out America’s ‘civilizing’ mission, writes Steinbock-Pratt, revolved around “the attempts of colonial officials to define the ideal teacher, American teachers’ claims to be the best colonizers, and Filipino assertions of the capacity of self-rule” (8). Drawing from the letters and diaries of two dozen teachers gathered in archives throughout the United States and the Philippines, this monograph helps us grasp how these teachers understood their place in the empire. It pays careful attention to the tenuous positions these teachers often occupied between serving as the frontline representatives of the colonial state and navigating the complex politics of the communities in which they lived and taught.

In the book’s early chapters, Steinbock-Pratt considers how teachers learned about the Philippines. She explains the colonial state’s early decisions about who should serve as teachers, and she pays particular attention to the role of women and African Americans in the colonial school system. In later chapters, Steinbock-Pratt investigates how these civilian teachers insisted on their own fitness as representatives of the empire. She further explores how the colonial context transformed rigid conceptions of race and gender. In the final chapters, the book shows how these teachers served as political intermediaries between Filipino communities and the colonial state. Steinbock-Pratt concludes with a look at how Filipino students used school strikes to force some reforms to colonial education, and how these strikes inspired independence movements.

Perhaps this book’s most important contribution is to bring the voices of these teachers and their Filipino students to the forefront. Some, like Mary Helen Fee, are relatively well known, but Steinbock-Pratt’s careful work highlights the perspectives of lesser-known women and African Americans. Much like other civilian employees, these teachers came for money, adventure, and because they believed in the civilizing mission of the U.S. imperial project. Indeed, the teachers she gives voice to in this remarkable history also reveal how, in many ways, women and people of color were free to redefine themselves in the colonial Philippines.

Steinbock-Pratt introduces us to the single women and African Americans who insisted that they were quite capable of carrying out the goals of American colonial education. In the hands of a less careful scholar, these portraits might have become caricatures, but Steinbock-Pratt allows their voices to emerge in all their complexity as they attempted to navigate difficult political and personal situations far from home. In doing so, she reveals how teachers used their own positions of authority within the empire to make claims on the colonial state.

As Steinbock-Pratt shows through her detailed historical analysis, their race and their identity as Americans allowed female teachers considerable freedom to shape their own lives. The single women who became teachers in the Philippines declared that they were every bit as capable of “strenuous living” as men (105). Unlike in the United States, these women were able to live independently and to manage their own households. Mary Fee, for example, argued that single women, who didn’t need to care for children, were the most capable stewards of American empire. 

African Americans also insisted on their fitness as colonial teachers, and some remained in the Philippines for the remainder of their lives. Steinbock-Pratt is the first scholar to delve deeply into their careers, and her discussion illuminates how empire affected racial identity. Black teachers argued that they were uniquely able to teach Filipinos and, in the words of Steinbock-Pratt, “linked racial oppression in the United States to the imperial mission in the Philippines” (11). Carter G. Woodson, for example, who later founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, claimed that black teachers were uniquely able to understand Filipinos because of their own racial history.   

These black civilian employees also disrupted the traditional white supremacist claims of the state. Denied their rights in the United States, African American teachers were able to insist on equal treatment in the Philippines. In many cases, these demands were respected by white colonial officials. As Steinbock-Pratt shows, this was due to the colonial state’s need to maintain a sharp distinction between Americans and Filipinos, even if that meant expanding the category of ‘whiteness.’

By way of illustration, Steinbock-Pratt tells the story of Gilbert Somers Perez, an African-American teacher who passed as white in the Philippines and was eventually promoted to become the head of industrial education for the Philippine colonial state. As she writes, “the context of colonization and his place within the colonial government made it easier for Perez to solidify his status as a white man, and to have his claims of whiteness recognized by the colonial bureaucracy” (141). Given what awaited him at home in the Jim Crow South, it may not be surprising that Perez chose to remain in the Philippines for the rest of his life.

Colonial education was always in the service of political goals. In this book, the schools emerge as microcosms of the larger American colonization efforts. Teachers were often caught between their roles as government officials and their membership in communities that were far from centers of American power. Steinbock-Pratt points to several revealing cases where teachers chose to distance themselves from Protestant missionaries in order to maintain good relations with local priests. If they insisted upon rigid conformity to the rules of the colonial state, they might lose local support, but if they conceded too much, they might fail to achieve the goals of Americanization and risk losing their privileged status.

The schools eventually became a site of the Philippine independence movement, as students began to strike to resist the abuses and heavy-handed paternalism of their teachers. As early as 1903, a student strike lasting several weeks occurred because a white American high school teacher slapped one of her students. Student strikes continued throughout this era as a way to rebel against abusive teachers who became symbols of the colonial state.

In tracing the history of these student protests, Steinbock-Pratt’s work identifies a tension in the educational mission of these American teachers. Although the goal was Americanization, this was held out as something that might never be achieved. Filipino students responded to these slights by using the state’s own rhetoric of uplift through education to demand more autonomy.

By focusing on the stories of individual teachers, Educating the Empire provides an intimate portrait of how teachers and their students navigated the personal politics of imperialism. It is clear that many teachers formed genuine relationships with their students and others in their communities, but most continued to assert their superiority as Americans and remained doubtful about the Filipino capacity for independence. In a particularly well-turned phrase, Steinbock-Pratt writes, “The crux of the colonial relationship was intimacy marked by closeness without understanding, suasion backed by violence, and affection bounded by white and American supremacy” (214).

Educating the Empire is a triumph of detailed archival work and careful theorizing. Students in particular will welcome Steinbock-Pratt’s clear and accessible prose, making it a fine text even for advanced undergraduate courses. This book should encourage more scholars to dig deeply into the personal histories of the men and women who navigated the complex and contested ground of the colonial Philippines. Any serious scholar of American empire will profit by engaging with its arguments.



Review by Tessa Ong Winkelmann, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Sarah Steinbock-Pratt makes a major contribution to the field of U.S. foreign relations with her book Educating the Empire: American Teachers and Contested Colonization in the Philippines. Focusing not on state department diplomats or high ranking officials, this work instead centers colonial teachers and their students, opening the field to consider the diffuseness of political power and the myriad of actors that participate in state-making processes. Steinbock-Pratt highlights the non-uniform way in which U.S. empire was constructed in the Philippines, through the lens of colonial education. American ‘Thomasites,’ colonial American teachers named after the transport ship Thomas that delivered the majority of them to the islands, took up the charge of ‘benevolent assimilation,’ hoping to improve both their Filipino ‘wards’ as well as their own positions within society. While the educational arm of empire was meant to “win hearts and minds” as well as mold Filipinos into pliable colonial subjects who aspired to American values and ideals, the outcomes of this enterprise were more ambivalent and contradictory than colonial officials might have hoped for (3). Teachers and students alike often defied expectations, with teachers often pursuing divergent interests than the colonial state, and students using sites of education as points of negotiation for nationalist aspirations. Thus, “empire was not simply a process of power inflicted from above or resisted from below. It was a complex matrix of various actors with different agendas and unequal ability to enact their visions of the colonial relationship, all operating on the same field at once” (4). This is not a new idea, but one that is well illustrated through the story of early colonial education in the Philippines.

Steinbock-Pratt’s contributions and interventions beyond this overarching theme are many, but I found the arguments about gender, race, and Filipino expressions of nationalist aspirations to be the most important and novel. Chapter three examines the turn-of-the-century narrative of the ‘strenuous life’ most famously articulated by imperial giant Theodore Roosevelt, and demonstrates how American teachers embraced its tenets to create personas of adventurous and effective imperialists. Most literature that focuses on American women as imperial agents highlights themes of maternal colonialism, the supposed propensity for colonial work due to traditionally ascribed feminine attributes, like morality, homemaking, etc.[17] As Steinbock-Pratt points out, however, American women in the Philippines were quick to embrace aspects of both maternal colonialism and strenuous living, as they so often depicted themselves as Robinson Crusoes who were living adventurously in the wilds of the tropics, unprotected by a larger white American community. Their embracing of this masculine life and creation of self-styled adventurous personas opens the idea of maternal colonialism to alternate and gender ambiguous forms of American women’s participation in empire. 

Chapter four engages with the loosening of racial restrictions and policing that some people of color came to experience in the new colonial possession, focusing on the experiences of Black American teachers and other educators of ambiguous racial background or classification. The colonial state, of course, must function somewhat differently from the ‘metropole,’ especially for the purposes of colonial stability. Black teachers, therefore, as part of the American colonial workforce which was greatly outnumbered by Filipino workers, were able to pursue opportunities and careers that perhaps would not have been open to them at home due to the firmly established Jim Crow system. Indeed, one of the greatest contributions of this particular chapter is how Steinbock-Pratt demonstrates the need of higher colonial officials to seem racially progressive in the face of Filipino complaints of racism and other abuses. Overt demonstrations of racism towards Filipino or non-white Americans could undermine the purported benevolent mission of the U.S., and the treatment of Black colonial personnel was one of the ways by which the colonial state could demonstrate its commitment to social inclusion, however nominal.

Steinbock-Pratt examines Black experiences in the colonial Philippines. To help explain the relative freedoms and opportunities that non-white colonists came to experience, she uses the framework of ‘passing.’ Passing at that point in U.S. history was a socio-racial process by which individuals actively attempted to avail of the benefits and privileges of whiteness since for many it could be a matter of life or death, especially as racial violence – particularly in the U.S. south – was a fact of Black life in the U.S. that would not disappear anytime soon. However, I wonder if this is the best way of understanding these relative freedoms. While some in this narrative, like Gilbert Perez, do seem to have been actively attempting to ‘pass’ as white, others in this story were simply afforded more privileges due to the prescience of imperial practicality over ideology. The historic specificity of passing should not be forgotten here, nor should the different stakes involved that motivated people to do so. At the same time, some non-white individuals, like segregated Black regiments, found their movement and freedoms somewhat more restricted, as the colonial government feared that they would be a ‘bad influence’ on the local native population.[18]

Chapter seven is the most effective in fleshing out Filipino perspectives on colonial education and in providing the most original content. The student protests that began almost as soon as colonial education was instated attest to the historic roots of student protest in the Philippines for which most scholarship tends to locate the locus in the late Marcos years. Looking at this colonial and commonwealth period extends this genealogy and gives us a new analytic framework with which to understand the continuing legacy of student protests at campuses in the Philippines, particularly at the University of the Philippines campus. Insinuations and outright declarations (by both Filipinos and Americans alike) that Americans were preferable in high ranking educational positions because there was a dearth of acceptable candidate in the Philippines became lighting rods for student upheavals as they fought for dignity and the recognition of their capacity for self-rule. In particular, the discussion of students’ understanding of racialized violence towards Filipinos in the U.S. as indelibly connected to their own struggles for respect and dignity in the classroom will be important for Asian Americanists and historians who are interested in transnational movements for sovereignty. This particular transnational moment was important for Filipinos throughout the empire, as students clearly saw the connection between violence and slights against themselves and their compatriots as a part of their ongoing struggles for independence.

Also particularly compelling – and possibly the starting point of an entirely different research project – are the concluding remarks about the imperial education networks around the globe for which teachers leaving the Philippines saw themselves as particularly well suited. As Steinbock-Pratt points out, the process of Filipinization, as well as the efforts of student activists, removed American teachers from their posts in relatively quick order. These teachers, feeling that they were on the receiving end of a raw deal, often refused the inferior pay offered for teaching positions in the United States, and many instead sought out posts in the foreign service at alternate sites of empire, from Liberia to Latin America. Former Thomasites took advantage of these global circuits of imperial education with relish. Some, particularly white men, went on to find successful career growth in these alternate sites of empire, while others resigned themselves to less adventurous posts at home.

A few assertions could have been softened or been made more tentatively, such as the argument that the realm of colonial education was the primary ground upon which Filipinos challenged U.S. authority, as Filipinos challenged Americans at most disciplining and organizational apparatuses of empire. For example, in the first decade of the U.S. occupation, Filipino men and women alike often complained about the abuses committed by U.S. soldiers and the U.S. organized constabulary.[19] Similarly, Filipino moralists often took up anti-vice campaigns in the city of Manila.  American descriptions of diseased and lascivious Filipina women were, like the slights directed at students capacities, understood by many Filipinos as a means by which they were being appraised for national independence possibilities.[20] The abuses and insults of Americans abounded, and these did not go unnoticed by Filipinos.

Educating the Empire is impressively researched, covering many archives in the United States and in the Philippines. One peculiarity that must be noted, however, is the relative lack of consultation with the Philippine cannon of secondary sources. While the author states early on that there are no books dedicated to colonial education in the Philippines, a broader understanding of colonial education in the Philippines points to more works that actively engage with colonial education, the most conspicuously absent from this work being Cathy Choy’s foundational text on U.S. efforts to train and education Filipina Nurses as well as the collection of primary and secondary sources on the Thomasites edited by Mary Racelis.[21] To not engage with these works risks replicating the educational standards of the colonial teachers themselves.



Response by Sarah Steinbock-Pratt, University of Alabama

I would like to thank the reviewers, Allan E.S. Lumba, Reo Matsuzaki, Colin Moore, and Tessa Ong Winkelmann, for their thoughtful and gracious responses to Educating the Empire. Their feedback has been tremendously helpful, not only in thinking through my recent work, but also as I move forward into subsequent projects, including my next book project on nationalism and national identity in the Filipino diaspora.

The reviewers’ responses are illustrative of the robust and innovative scholarship on the United States in the Philippines in recent years, which makes this field of inquiry an exciting one with which to engage.

Moore highlights my emphasis on the “personal politics of imperialism.” I agree that the ways in which teachers and students negotiated and shaped the confines of the colonial state are crucial, and I hope, as he predicts, that it will “encourage more scholars to dig deeply into the personal histories of the men and women who navigated the complex and contested ground of the colonial Philippines.”

While I do not discuss it in the book, Lumba notes that the idea of intersectionality—that race, gender, class, and nationality, as well as other markers of power and hierarchy intersect and influence one another—is foundational to my argument. Indeed, I believe that this perspective is becoming widely accepted among historians of U.S. Empire, as evidenced by the outpouring of scholarship that, rather than treating race or gender or class in isolation, examines how different forms of power and identity are interconnected.[22]

As Matsuzaki argues, more could be said on the varying motivations that led Filipinos to buy into colonial education and how this enabled the building of a colonial state. In addition, a comparative approach would have helped to provide perspective on the ways in which U.S. policymakers and Filipino nationalists were influenced by and helped to shape other empires, including Japan. These points highlight important avenues of research for future scholars, including a synthesis of comparative colonial education.

I am also grateful to Ong Winkelmann for pointing out the oversight of several authors in my bibliography. I was deeply influenced by the work of Mary Racelis and Judy Ick in Bearers of Benevolence, and the work of Catherine Ceniza Choy in Empire of Care.[23] Because I did not cite these works directly in my footnotes, however, they were not included in my bibliography, which I will rectify in future editions. Indeed, Filipino and Filipino-American scholars have produced some of the most impressive work in the field.

Several of the reviewers argue, and I agree, that Chapters Four and Seven comprise some of the most important contributions of my book to the field. As Lumba declares, Chapter Four shows how racial categories like whiteness and blackness are challenged within empire, and yet the persistence of whiteness as a marker of hierarchy. Lumba’s comparison of Gilbert S. Perez’s story to the character of Simoun in El Filibusterismo is a fascinating connection, and one that had not occurred to me.

As Ong Winkelman notes, colonial officials’ desire to mitigate Filipino concerns about racism limited Americans’ ability to extend Jim Crow to the Philippines. This provided space for African Americans to make claims to status and demand equal treatment. While at least one black teacher used the context of the colonial Philippines to ‘pass,’ I do not argue that all nonwhite educators should be understood in this way, rather I suggest that their racial identities become one potential marker of status among several others; including nationality, education, and class.

In response to Chapter Seven, the reviewers note the important connections between student activism and the independence movement. I agree and hope that this chapter encourages scholars to explore this path. Much more work remains to be done to include Filipino voices in the history of US Empire. Manila has a wealth of unpublished, archival sources, and I look forward to future mining of local and regional archives throughout the Philippines for additional sources.



[1] John Morgan Gates, Schoolbooks and Krags: The United States Army in the Philippines, 1898-1902 (Westport: Greenwood Press, 1973).

[2] Mary H. Fee, A Woman’s Impressions of the Philippines (Chicago: A. C. McClurg & Co., 1910); Mary H. Fee, Margaret A. Purcell, Parker H. Fillmore, and John W. Ritchie, The First Year Book (New York and Manila: World Book Co., 1907).

[3] José Rizal, El filibusterismo (Manila: Escolta, 1900).

[4] Cathy Ceniza Choy, Empire of Care: Nursing and Migration in Filipino American History (Duke University Press, 2003); Denise Cruz, Transpacific Femininities: The Making of the Modern Filipina (Durham: Duke University Press, 2012).

[5] Julian Go, American Empire and the Politics of Meaning: Elite Political Cultures in the Philippines and Puerto Rico during U.S. Colonialism (Duke University Press, 2008), 3.

[6] Paul Kramer, Blood of Government: Race, Empire, the United States, and the Philippines (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2006).

[7] Kimberle Crenshaw, “Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics,” University of Chicago Legal Forum 1:8 (1989): 139-167.

[8] Jose Rizal, El Filibusterismo (New York: Penguin Classics, 2011 [1891]).

[9] The term ‘benevolent assimilation’ came to denote America’s policy toward the Philippines after a 21 December 1898 proclamation issued by U.S. President William McKinley, where McKinley used these words to describe the government’s state-building objectives in the archipelago.

[10] In order to address these concerns, which were also echoed by Catholic leaders in the United States, the U.S. government made an effort to recruit Catholic teachers.

[11] Such an explanation would place the establishment of the school system firmly within the dominant analytical framework of America’s state-building enterprise cultivating bossism in the Philippines. See, for example, Michael Cullinane, Ilustrado Politics: Filipino Elite Responses to American Rule, 1898-1908 (Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press, 2003); Julian Go, American Empire and the Politics of Meaning: Elite Political Cultures in the Philippines and Puerto Rico during U.S. Colonialism (Durham: Duke University Press, 2008); Paul D. Hutchcroft, Booty Capitalism: The Politics of Banking in the Philippines (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1998); Alfred W. McCoy, ed., An Anarchy of Families: State and Family in the Philippines (Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 2009); John T. Sidel, Capital, Coercion, and Crime: Bossism in the Philippines (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1999).

[12] This logic is suggested in the 1924 evaluation of the public school system led by Paul Monroe in The Board of Education Survey, A Survey of the Educational System of the Philippine Islands (Manila: Bureau of Printing, 1925), 524-527.

[13] Explicitly challenging the American exceptionalism narrative, Julian Go examines ways in which American colonial practices followed British precedent. See, Patterns of Empire: The British and American Empires, 1688 to the Present (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011).

[14] For a transnational analysis of nationalist movements across colonial territories, see Erez Manela, The Wilsonian Moment: Self-Determination and the International Origins of Anticolonial Nationalism (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007).

[15] For example, on the role of education in the administration of Taiwan under Japanese rule, see Leo T. S. Ching, Becoming “Japanese”: Colonial Taiwan and the Politics of Identity Formation (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001); Ming-cheng M. Lo, Doctors within Borders: Profession, Ethnicity, and Modernity in Colonial Taiwan (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002); E. Patricia Tsurumi, Japanese Colonial Education in Taiwan, 1895-1945 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1977).

[16] Further discussion of the comparability between the Japanese and American approaches to colonial administration can be found in Reo Matsuzaki, Statebuilding by Imposition: Resistance and Control in Colonial Taiwan and the Philippines (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2019).

[17] See for example, Margaret D. Jacobs, White Mother to a Dark Race: Settler Colonialism, Maternalism, and the Removal of Indigenous Children in the American West and Australia, 1880-1940 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2011); Linda Gordon, The Great Arizona Orphan Abduction, rev. ed. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2001).

[18] Cynthia L. Marasigan, ‘Between the Devil and the Deep Sea’: Ambivalence, Violence, and African American Soldiers in the Philippine-American War and Its Aftermath (Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Michigan, 2010).

[19] See for example, the many mentions of constabulary abuses towards Filipinos in the Filipino run Manila Newspaper, El Renacimiento.

[20] Tessa Winkelmann, Dangerous Intercourse: Race, Gender and Interracial Relations in the American Colonial Philippines, 1898–1946 (Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Illinois, 2015).

[21] Catherine Ceniza Choy, Empire of Care: Nursing and Migration in Filipino American History, American Encounters/Global Interactions (Durham: Duke University Press, 2003); Mary Racelis and Judy Celine Ick, Bearers of Benevolence: The Thomasites and Public Education in the Philippines (Pasig City: Anvil Publishers, 2001).

[22] See, for example, Catherine Ceniza Choy, Empire of Care: Nursing and Migration in Filipino American History (Durham: Duke University Press, 2003); Paul Kramer, The Blood of Government: Race, Empire, the United States, and the Philippines (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2006); Linda España-Maram, Creating Masculinity in Los Angeles’ Little Manila: Working-Class Filipinos and Popular Culture, 1920s-1950s (New York: Columbia University Press, 2006); and April Merleaux, Sugar and Civilization: American Empire and the Cultural Politics of Sweetness (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2015).

[23] Mary Racelis Hollsteiner and Judy Celine Ick, eds., Bearers of Benevolence: American Teachers and Public Education in the Philippines (Pasig City: Anvil Publishing, Inc., 2001); and Catherine Ceniza Choy, Empire of Care: Nursing and Migration in Filipino American History (Durham: Duke University Press, 2003).