Care and Resistance is a survey of the Hearst’s archival artifacts collected by Roy Franklin Barton from the years following the United States’ acquisition of the Philippines, and the Philippine resistance to colonization.
Treaty of Paris 1898 and the Philippine-American War
In 1898, the Treaty of Paris settled the war between Spain and the United States. As a result of this Treaty, Spain ceded Puerto Rico and Guam and sold the Philippines for $20,000,000. The expansion of US territory beyond its coasts is a realization of Manifest Destiny and perhaps the establishment of the US as a superpower. The American government, media, and academia formulated the narrative of the American savior through modernization and westernization, which is ultimately false and harmful to Pilipinos. It erases the atrocities the US did to the Philippines among its other colonies.
Diversity in the Philippines
During the Spanish and later American era of colonization thousands of tribes were nationalized into the Pilipinos. While it has existed for centuries, it is crucial to recognize that the Philippines is not a monolith. Instead, we must keep in mind the diversity within its 7 107 islands: geography to physical appearances, cultures, languages, and lived experiences. The collective mainstream understanding and teachings of Pilipino history are not representative of all history, especially Indigenous Peoples’ history.
P vs. F, O vs. X
This exhibit refers to the inhabitants of the Philippines as “Pilipinos,” as opposed to the more familiar terms in the West and the diaspora, “Filipinos,” “Filipinx,” or “Pilipinx.” It is with great intention that we refer to people residing in the mainland, whose national language does not use the letters F or X and consider “Pilipino” as gender-neutral and all-inclusive.
Roy Franklin Barton
Roy Franklin Barton (1883-1947) was a school teacher whose work became the basis of Pilipino anthropology. He conducted extensive research on Indigenous Peoples in the Philippines. He was known for his study on the Ifugao and Kalinga people of the Cordillera and Mountain Provinces region, located north of Luzon. Most, if not all, of the objects found in this exhibit, are from his collection. Barton donated most of his collection to the Hearst Museum in 1918. The rest are in the Guggenheim Institute and the University of Pennsylvania.
During his time in the Philippines, Barton wrote the books The Half-Way Sun, Ifugao Law, Kalinga Customs, and Ifugao Mythology, to name a few, which details his learnings about the Cordillera natives’ cultures and customs. Barton was one of the first Americans to give a thorough description of the Pilipino people, and his findings were the canon of Filipino ethnographic study.
While Barton is the primary collector and photographer of the objects presented, this collection has no intention of centering him nor his monolithic accounts on Pilipino culture. Instead, we intend to use the objects and photographs he obtained to deepen our understanding of the Philippines’ sociopolitical climate in the early 1900s. Although his collections show the Philippines from a Western voyeuristic perspective, his collections were the only ones readily available to access this exhibit. His collections were the only ones that were readily available for us to access for this exhibit. With this in mind, we would also like to recognize the labor and contributions of unnamed Pilipino individuals and groups whose contributions made Barton’s and our projects possible.
In the article “Archives of the new possession: Spanish colonial records and the American creation of a ‘national’ archives for the Philippines,” Punzalan discusses the idea of care imposed by the Spanish and American colonial governments through collections of archives and nationalizing/centralizing documents that they forced on Pilipinos. This creation of national archives is one of many examples of salvage anthropology in the Philippines: collecting and recording of identities and everyday practices with no real purpose or benefit for the everyday Pilipino person, all under the guise of care.
However, as you will see in this exhibit, caring extends beyond documentation and “salvaging whatever is left.” Instead, by centering and bringing to life Indigenous experiences, this will show you how Pilipinos preserved their cultures- many of which are still well alive to this day. Through this, we hope to deconstruct the mainstream neutral and monolithic understanding of Pilipino history. We also hope to present an alternative and more perspective on the Pilipino people: one that shows them not as passive participants to colonization but instead- as active resistors and protectors of their communities, whether on the battlefield or in everyday life.
While this exhibit focuses on care and resistance, it is crucial to acknowledge the underlying paradox of examining a museum archive to find objects of resistance. Each photograph, basket, or other artifact within the catalogue continues to inflict colonial harm. Many object labels, for instance, arbitrarily group different native communities into the monolithic “Philippines” category or include blatantly racist descriptions. Moreover, photography as an inherently voyeuristic medium for ethnography underscores the power dynamics present, where the subjects are studied but almost never identified beyond “white” or “native.” The museum’s role as a colonial institution therefore continues to perpetuate anti-indigenous sentiments, intergenerational trauma, and the loss of identities.
If we are to criticize the system that allowed a school teacher to conduct anthropological and ethnographic studies on indigenous people, we must ask the question: How do we reconstruct relationships between objects and collector? One solution is by focusing on care through mutual aid and community – solidarity, not charity. This exhibit does not attempt to define “care,” but proposes different pathways to achieve this goal. We must consider who is being cared for, and who is caring. What do they care for?
Whether or not it is possible to fully decolonize museums remains in question, but this exhibit hopes to address the curators’ obligation to “care” by illuminating suppressed stories.
- Punzalan, R. “Archives of the new possession: Spanish colonial records and the American creation of a ‘national’ archives for the Philippines”
- Lasco, G. “‘Little Brown Brothers’: Height and the Philippine-American Colonial Encounter”
- Barton, R. “The half-way sun”
- Barton, R. “Ifugao law”
- Santiago, F. “Manners of Resistance: Symbolic Defiance of Colonial Authority in Nineteenth Century Philippines”
- Acabado, S. “The Archeology of Pericolonialism: Responses of the ‘Unconquered’ to Spanish Conquest and Colonialism in Ifugao, Philippines”
- (Film) “Aguinaldo’s navy”
- (Film) Tarog, J. “Heneral Luna”
- (Film) Tarog, J. “Goyo”
- Episode 134 – Philippine Archaeology and the Ifugao Rice Terraces with Stephen Acabado https://thisfilipinoamericanlife.com/2021/01/14/episode-134-philippine-archaeology-and-the-ifugao-rice-terraces-with-stephen-acabado-social-distance-series/