Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format



Master of Arts




Schumacher, Frank

2nd Supervisor

Sendzikas, Aldona


Concentrating on colonial education policy in the Philippines during the period of U.S. rule, this thesis explores the dynamics of knowledge circulation – namely the transfer and continuities of racial preconceptions and administrative techniques – within the American imperial enterprise. Mapping the emergence of the U.S. colonial administration in the islands with the establishment of the Taft Commission in 1900 to the move Filipino self-rule with the passage of the Philippine Autonomy Act in 1916, this thesis assesses elite commentaries and discourses concerning the management of non-white subject populations and the contingent manner in which these policies corresponded to or differed in their formulation and execution according to their respective zones of application. Spanning the contours of knowledge transfers in the trans-imperial and intra-imperial arenas, it analyses the interactions and exchanges between congruent and disparate colonial jurisdictions – both within the U.S. empire and among the neighboring possessions of their European peers.

Summary for Lay Audience

For my thesis I assume an institutional lens to assess the U.S. education regime in the Philippines. Analyzing elite commentaries and discourses, my research explores the perspectives of critical decision makers and functionaries within the American colonial administration in the Philippines, U.S. government, and private actors in philanthropic-missionary bodies such as the Lake Mohonk Conference of Friends of the Indian and Other Dependent Peoples. Assessing the circulation of concepts and practices between major centers of power, these accounts serve to highlight the ideological intersections between governmental and non-governmental actors in the U.S. colonial lobby and their codependence in the process of knowledge formulation, particularly in the fluid transition from settler colonial expansion at the end of the 19th century to the nation’s formal embrace of overseas imperialism in the years following the Spanish American War of 1898.

This thesis analyzes the ethnocentric foundations of the ideological precepts that the U.S. sought to impart on its overseas subjects in the Philippines. Drawing upon the precedents of educational models devised for African Americans and Native Americans in the nation’s experience of transcontinental expansion, these modes of curriculum were disseminated from the continental sphere and subsequently refashioned to accommodate new environments and subjects overseas. Moving beyond studies that have traditionally emphasized primacy of industrial education within the colonial curriculum and the imperatives of capital and material development, my analysis explores contemporary currents of moral and civics curriculum forged within the ethnocentric bounds of the nation’s prevailing Anglo-American, English speaking, Protestant social order and turn of the century Progressivism.

Interlinked with issues of curriculum and ideology, my thesis addresses questions surrounding the circulation, exchange, and expression of knowledge across imperial jurisdictions. Moving away from nationalist-exceptionalist narratives, this thesis evaluates the trans-imperial dimensions of knowledge formation within U.S. colonial education policy. Thus, I consider how American policymakers conceptualized and interpreted the curricular policies of their European counterparts in other colonial possessions, namely the Dutch East Indies. Furthermore, I assess the configurations of knowledge construction within the intra-imperial arena, addressing how curricular formations differed between the Moro peoples in the Southern Philippines and those of the Christian populations in rest of the archipelago.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Included in

History Commons