Epifanio San Juan, Jr.

Professor Emeritus of English/Comparative Literature/Ethnic Studies


Spring 2009: Sheila Biddle Ford Foundation Fellow

The African American Community and US/Filipino Relations 1898 to present

Project Description

The African American Community and US/Filipino Relations 1898 to present

In the midst of the current revival of "Empire" and its contentious resonance, the exemplary response of African Americans to the messy Filipino-American War of 1899-1902 (a sequel to the relatively neat Spanish-American War) has been mentioned by recent scholars but never really explored in depth. This response, critical and participatory, revealed a sharpening collective consciousness symptomatic of larger political and ideological currents whose consequences are still felt today. I explore the nuances and ramifications of this opposition to the imperialist intervention and their impact on Filipinos as new colonial subjects of the United States. Several African Americans joined the Filipino resistance, a solidarity few historians have understood and appreciated. I attempt a critique of accounts dealing with this unique encounter of two peoples, analyzing in the process the complex configuration of sentiments and attitudes expressed in letters of black soldiers and other expressions of popular and public dissent. I intend to examine all literary and artistic references to the war in African American culture during and after the pacification of the Philippines. The project will survey and evaluate the value of films, photographs, and other multimedia records that will provide a deeper and more comprehensive panorama of the role and impact of the African American community in the shaping of the fraught relations between the United States and the Philippines from 1898 up to the present.

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