[Marxism] Fwd: H-Net Review [H-Empire]: Green on Steinbock-Pratt, 'Educating the Empire: American Teachers and Contested Colonization in the Philippines'

Andrew Stewart hasc.warrior.stew at gmail.com
Wed Feb 26 09:03:47 MST 2020

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> From: H-Net Staff via H-REVIEW <h-review at lists.h-net.org>
> Date: February 26, 2020 at 9:28:41 AM EST
> To: h-review at lists.h-net.org
> Cc: H-Net Staff <revhelp at mail.h-net.org>
> Subject: H-Net Review [H-Empire]:  Green on Steinbock-Pratt, 'Educating the Empire: American Teachers and Contested Colonization in the Philippines'
> Reply-To: h-review at lists.h-net.org
> Sarah Steinbock-Pratt.  Educating the Empire: American Teachers and 
> Contested Colonization in the Philippines.  New York  Cambridge 
> University Press, 2019.  390 pp.  $120.00 (cloth), ISBN 
> 978-1-108-47312-5.
> Reviewed by Hilary N. Green (University of Alabama)
> Published on H-Empire (February, 2020)
> Commissioned by Charles V. Reed
> Education, Citizenship, and American Imperialism
> Scholars have recently returned their gaze toward the role of public 
> education in defining the nation, citizenship, and imperialism in the 
> late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.[1] Sarah 
> Steinbock-Pratt adds to the conversation by exploring American 
> civilian educators' contributions in shaping American imperialism in 
> the Philippines. In _Educating the Empire_, she explores "how 
> education contributed to the creation of US empire in the 
> Philippines, and the ways that this colonial project was formed 
> through the contests and collaborations of a variety of actors with 
> different goals and desires, which in turn indelibly shaped the 
> counters of colonization" (p. 5). For Steinbock-Pratt, colonial 
> authority was created in schoolhouses and private homes and not 
> solely in government offices. Race, gender, class, nationality, and 
> imperial position mattered in defining educators' experiences and 
> their degrees of influence over the colonial project to the chagrin 
> of colonial bureaucrats. "As imperial mediators," Steinbock-Pratt 
> argues, American civilian educators "negotiated with both state 
> officials and people on the ground to enact a colonialism shaped by 
> multiple and conflicting impulses and intentions" (pp. 24-25). These 
> collective interactions produced mixed legacy of American imperialism 
> in the Philippines. 
> The opening chapter explores the ways that American educators 
> constructed a "catalog of colonial knowledge" for setting their 
> expectations (p. 27). Thus, pre-travel Western biases formed the 
> foundational narrative of "colonial education and state-building, at 
> times, to the consternation of officials in Manila" (p. 27). When 
> civilian educators arrived, they did not encounter a barren 
> educational field. Rather, they found a populace with a knowledge and 
> understanding of Western colonial education models. Army schools 
> taught by black and white soldiers initiated the Americanizing 
> process. American colonial policy mandates for English-only 
> instruction, however, dictated the employment of civilian American 
> educators. After an extensive demographic survey, Steinbock-Pratt 
> reveals that educators' pre-departure preparations consisted of San 
> Francisco Chinatown tours, educational lectures, and other social 
> activities. In addition to contemporary notions of racial hierarchy, 
> these activities created their catalog of colonial knowledge. They 
> leveraged this ever-expanding knowledge and asserted their expertise 
> for defining the colonial project. Through contestations and 
> negotiations, colonial officials and educators constructed a colonial 
> state through education of Filipino citizens. 
> Over the next three chapters, Steinbock-Pratt outlines the main 
> thrust of her argument over the creation of the colonial state by 
> colonial officials, educators, and Filipino subjects. Starting with 
> the second chapter, she demonstrates how colonial official policy of 
> fitness, imbued with notions of racial, gender, classist, and 
> nationalistic hierarchies, failed when "enacted on the ground" and 
> ultimately allowed for "greater variety of who was able to access 
> positions within the empire" (p. 51). In part, colonial officials 
> underestimated the white women, African American educators, and 
> American-style-educated Filipinos employed. They found empowerment 
> through upending presumed hierarchies and challenging colonial 
> officials. Despite conflict and policy changes, Steinbock-Pratt 
> contends, the number of women employed remained consistently steady 
> throughout the period under examination. In an era of increased 
> feminization of the teaching force in the United States, it remains 
> unclear following this discussion why colonial officials had 
> ambivalence to their employment. Interestingly, 
> turn-of-the-twentieth-century African American educational debates 
> also influenced which African Americans initially served in the 
> Philippines. Steinbock-Pratt demonstrates that notions of racial 
> hierarchy and the creation of a tiered imperial citizenship mirrored 
> contemporary American hierarchies shaping domestic public schooling. 
> Few black educators secured appointments. Filipino educators also 
> served in a limited capacity initially. They, too, expanded their 
> position. Often graduates with Americanized education, the early 
> Filipino educators expected the same access within the imperial 
> system and challenged contrary policies. 
> Co-opting the language of fitness, educators asserted new identities 
> and understandings that challenged race, class, gender, and 
> nationality in the Philippines and at home. Here, Steinbock-Pratt's 
> mastery of diverse archival sources is on full display. White men 
> often had their expectation of professional advancement unfulfilled. 
> In contrast, white women proved their independence and leadership 
> capabilities in and outside of the classroom. Her rich analysis adds 
> to recent scholarly discussions regarding the ways that late 
> nineteenth-century American women's education empowered students and 
> alumnae to consider themselves as race leaders. While not fully 
> explored in the text, this educational development extended beyond 
> national boundaries to the Pacific colony.[2] Likewise, African 
> American men and women had similar motivations to their white 
> counterparts but with the added expectation of racial uplift for 
> themselves, Filipinos, and African Americans at home. John Henry 
> Manning Butler, and Carter G. Woodson, as shown by Steinbock-Pratt, 
> positioned themselves as American citizens and not racial inferiors 
> who were "best suited to carry out the project of Americanization" 
> (p. 101). 
> The fourth chapter convincingly demonstrates how the creation of 
> race, specifically whiteness, blackness, and Filipinoness became 
> important, and yet elastic colonial designations. Steinbock-Pratt 
> sheds light on the process whereby "nationality was racialized and 
> race was nationalized" (p. 134). Whiteness expands. Gilbert S. Perez 
> and other passing African Americans transformed their racial identity 
> and achieved self-invention. Some white men felt a loss of privilege 
> by marrying Filipinas. This perceived loss increased the policing 
> against these racial offenses. Claims of American identity and 
> nationality also disrupted notions of blackness. Since traditional 
> color conventions lacked meaning, African Americans articulated 
> rights denied them at home. Steinbock-Pratt contends that they took 
> advantage of the adverse consequences posed by sustaining 
> domestically accepted racial discrimination for the colonial project. 
> Furthermore, African American and Filipinos had better relations, as 
> evidenced by intermarriage and a shared nonwhite identity. Instead of 
> race, education, class, and imperial status became important markers 
> of distinction. 
> Textbooks and curriculum, as demonstrated in the fifth chapter, 
> prepared Filipinos to become assimilated but never equal imperial 
> citizens. American educators had a dual role of educating students 
> and making their uplift work visible to local communities. Curricular 
> decisions, however, reflected American disciplinary body-centered 
> pedagogy and colonial expectations for racial subordination with a 
> vocational curriculum domestically used in the schooling of Native 
> Americans, African Americans, and other racialized American 
> communities. Originally, religious affiliation determined curriculum. 
> Steinbock-Pratt shows how Christian Filipinos received the classical 
> model while non-Christian Filipinos received an industrial model 
> curriculum. Over time, the curricular differences shrank as the 
> industrial education spread across the entire system. White educators 
> embraced colonial officials' understandings of Filipinos' capacity 
> for self-governance. While more positive than their white 
> counterparts, African American educators still articulated gendered 
> American language to describe Filipinos' capacity for 
> self-governance. These differences affected their reception by 
> students, parents, and communities and encouraged Filipino 
> nationalism, especially in secondary and postsecondary schools. 
> Eventually, Filipino educators replaced the American teaching force 
> and closed this unique period of opportunity for American educators. 
> Beyond the classroom, educators had an essential role in sustaining 
> American imperial contact in the individual homes and communities. 
> This sixth chapter permits Steinbock-Pratt to fully develop her 
> subargument regarding the sustained and most direct American imperial 
> contact. Intimacy proved essential to defining state authority. Both 
> educators and Filipino community members understood their power was 
> limited without military backing and the support of local provincial 
> governors. Still, educators did function as colonial arbiters in 
> local affairs. Steinbock-Pratt demonstrates that some social 
> interactions disrupted power dynamics but other interactions, 
> specifically the employment of Filipino domestic servants, often 
> maintained hierarchy. All interactions proved fraught. 
> As shown in the final chapter, the fully implemented Filipino 
> teaching force shaped the political discourse over nationalism, 
> independence, and demise of the colonial regime. This crucial 
> refashioning of their Americanized education revealed the unintended 
> consequences of the colonial project. Colonial rhetoric of unfitness 
> and American teachers' outright racism fueled student protest. In an 
> attempt to stem student activism, colonial directives had the 
> opposite effects. Students increasingly demanded dignity, 
> self-determination, and independence. Even the rollback of 
> Filipinization under the Harding administration, according to 
> Steinbock-Pratt, further radicalized students, who now had a 
> significant presence in the independence movement. 
> Setting the path toward full independence, Filipino teachers replaced 
> all American educators. Former American educators either ended their 
> service or transitioned to educating other marginalized populations. 
> African American educators often continued their racial uplift work 
> through the formation of new organizations, such as the Association 
> of the Study for Negro Life and History (ASNLH) and the National 
> Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). 
> Independence, as a result, produced a complex and ambivalent legacy. 
> Overall, _Educating the Empire_ offers a comprehensive and insightful 
> examination on the role of education in the American colonial project 
> in the Philippines. Readers will appreciate Steinbock-Pratt's careful 
> attention to the overlapping forces of race, gender, and nationality 
> in shaping the development of the colonial state and how Filipinos 
> refashioned their education in their struggle for self-governance and 
> independence. At times, readers might desire clearer connections 
> between the colonial system and other American educational systems 
> for marginalized domestic communities. In other words, did the 
> marginalized Americans' domestic struggles influence their Filipino 
> counterparts and vice versa in the American imperial educational 
> project during this era? Nonetheless, this work is a fine addition to 
> the field and will appeal to diverse scholars and students. 
> Notes 
> [1]. See Clif Stratton, _Education for Empire: American Schools, 
> Race, and the Paths of Good Citizenship_ (Oakland: University of 
> California Press, 2016); and John R. Gram, _Education at the End of 
> Empire: Negotiating Pueblo Identity in New Mexico's Indian Boarding 
> Schools_ (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2015). 
> [2]. See Sarah H. Case, _Leaders of Their Race: Educating Black and 
> White Women in the New South _(Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 
> 2017); and Jewel A. Smith, _Transforming Women's Education: Liberal 
> Arts and Music in Female Seminaries_ (Urbana: University of Illinois 
> Press, 2019. 
> Citation: Hilary N. Green. Review of Steinbock-Pratt, Sarah, 
> _Educating the Empire: American Teachers and Contested Colonization 
> in the Philippines_. H-Empire, H-Net Reviews. February, 2020.
> URL: https://www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.php?id=55048
> This work is licensed under a Creative Commons 
> Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States 
> License.

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