Professor Michael Salman, UCLA Department of History
"The Embarrassment of Colonialism:
The Politics of Shame in the Philippines and the Failure of Public Culture in the United States"
In July 1898, Harper's Weekly published a map to acquaint readers with the United States' newest geopolitical foray, colonialism in the Philippines. Each differently colored landmass was planted with a flag identifying its owner. The Philippines was graced with two in this transitional moment, a small Spanish flag and a larger American flag, but not a flag from Emilio Aguinaldo's revolutionary government. Looked at from our post-colonial perspective, the map is archaic and embarrassing, a reminder of the age of high imperialism when fantasy extended power and power extended fantasies of racial dominance, benevolent tutelage, and the right to draw maps with little toy flags and ridiculous place names, such as Kaiser Wilhelmland. This lecture examines the embarrassment of colonialism. Once a practice comes to be seen as embarrassing or shameful, can we rest assured that it will be gone forever? How was/is the politics of shame deployed, and how does one compare its effects in the Philippines and the United States? These questions make the history of American colonialism in the Philippines a history of the present, in which the shamefulness of Anglo-American colonialism is a subject of struggle, from the occupation of Iraq to the Balikatan exercises planned for Mindanao and Sulu in 2003.
Michael Salman is Associate Professor of History at UCLA and a member of the faculty in Southeast Asian Studies and Asian American Studies. He is the author of The Embarrassment of Slavery: Controversies Over Bondage and Nationalism in the American Colonial Philippines and several articles, including "Toward a Performative Theory of Southeast Asian Studies: Reflections from UCLA on the Future of Southeast Asian Studies and the Reversibility of Comparisons."
Cost: Free and open to the public.
Sponsor(s): Center for Southeast Asian Studies