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From Subjects to Citizens: American Colonial Education and Philippine Nation-Making, 1900-1934


This dissertation examines the U.S. colonial state's efforts to promote Filipino national sentiment and patriotism through the public school system between 1900 and 1934. During the early years of American rule, U.S. colonial officials argued that Filipinos lacked a sense of nationality due to their linguistic and religious diversity, cultural heterogeneity, and regionalism. This perception shaped U.S. educational policy in the Philippines, leading to the creation of a curriculum that would attempt to homogenize and foster national affiliation among Filipinos. Using administrator files, Bureau of Education records, textbooks, and curricular materials collected in both the United States and the Philippines, this study reconstructs the colonial curriculum, paying special attention to English language instruction, history and civics, and vocational education. It shows that colonial education aimed to quell Filipino anti-colonial nationalism and facilitate obedience to the colonial state by casting good citizenship and “proper” patriotism in terms of economic self-sufficiency and non-violence, and by defining national allegiance as loyalty to both the Philippines and the U.S. Its central contention is that American colonial education created a form of Philippine nationalism that would become the dominant strain of official nationalism among Filipino leaders and educators. Bringing local actors the fore, this study enlists Filipino students’ and educators’ writings, vernacular novels, newspapers, and Philippine education journals to examine how Filipinos, both in the colony and metropole, responded to colonial education. It finds that Filipinos reformulated colonial lessons to fit in with older strains of Filipino nationalism even as they saw their American education as a path to economic opportunity and Philippine independence. By looking at the U.S. colonial state’s promotion of a native national identity, this study contributes to and complicates current narratives of U.S. colonial education and Philippine nationalism.

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