Dangerous Intercourse: Race, Gender and Interracial Relations in the American Colonial Philippines, 1898 - 1946

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University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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“Intercourse with them will be dangerous,” warned the Deputy Surgeon General to all U.S. soldiers bound for the Philippines. In his 1899 pamphlet on sanitation, Colonel Henry Lippincott alerted troops to the consequences of becoming too friendly with the native population of the islands. From the beginning of the U.S. occupation of the Philippines, interracial sexual contact between Americans and Filipinos was a threatening prospect, informing everything from how social intercourse and diplomacy was structured, to how the built environment of Manila was organized. This project utilizes a transnational approach to examine a wide range of interracial sexual relationships -from the casual and economic to the formal and long term- between Americans and Filipinos in the overseas colony from1898–1946. My dissertation explores the ways that such relations impacted the U.S. imperial project in the islands, one that relied on a degree of social proximity with Filipinos on the one hand, while maintaining a hard line of racial and civilizational hierarchy on the other. This twinned but contradictory approach to imperialism created multiple meanings and implications for interracial intimacies, as interpretations varied between imperialist and anti-imperialist, colonist and colonized. These relations cannot simply be looked at as apolitical or as instances of cross-cultural acceptance, or even simply as sexual vice, but rather must be seen as routes through which both Filipinos and Americans in the Philippines could secure political, social, economic and cultural power in the new colonial order. More importantly, I argue that these uneven relations between colonist and colonized often helped to solidify American conquest over the islands, from legitimating American claims of benevolence to helping ensure the longevity of U.S. colonial rule and influence in the Asia-Pacific region.


Philippines; U.S.; Empire; Imperialism; Intimacies; Colonialism; Gender; Race


Arts and Humanities | History



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