Through the American Lens

Dean C. Worcester used photography to construct an image of the Filipino. He took thousands of photographs during his time in the Philippines, many of which are housed at the UM.

Source: Dean C. Worcester Photographic Collection, University of Michigan Museum of Anthropology.

Scholars, academics, and scientists who travelled to the Philippines in the early nineteenth century began to shape American perceptions of the archipelago and its people, long before US colonial rule in 1898. Imperial Newsreels analyzes US media produced during the Philippine-American, focusing on the ways that photographers and filmmakers crafted their own vision of the imperial project. The Photographs of Dean C. Worcester focuses on one particular imperialist, one of the most influential UM alums on the Philippine question, who played a part in influencing American audiences through images. He is pictured on the left creating a photo of a Philippine indigenous man. Worcester took thousands of photographs during his time spent conducting research in the Philippines, and later in his position as a colonial administrator. There were also others, such as Detroit native Richard Schneidewind, who also fabricated a particular image of the Filipino in order to support US imperialism. Displaying the Filipino Primitive examines his exhibits.  Americans such as Worcester and Schneidewind produced popular knowledge about the Philippines and Filipinos, and this knowledge later shaped the administration of the colony. In the final post, we discuss the violent aspects of the act of looking. This final post, Policing the Philippines, explores the connections between surveillance, acts of state violence, and the colonial judicial system. Together, this collection pieces together how the "American Lens" played a crucial role in reinforcing the power of US colonial rule. 

Prev Next