EXC 2060 A3-39 - Visual Stereotyping of Religious Groups in the Colonial Philippines

in Process
Funding Source
DFG - Cluster of Excellence
Project Number
EXC 2060/1
  • Description

    Subproject „Visual Stereotyping of Religious Groups in the Colonial Philippines“ led by Prof. Dr. Sarah Albiez-Wieck

    1. Research Object and Initial Question

    The subproject of the Cluster of Excellence "Religion and Politics" deals with the visual (stereo-)typification of people of different religions in the Philippines. It asks how religion is represented as a marker of social difference (Hirschhauer 2014), othering (Fabian 2014, Thomas-Olalde and Velho 2012), and belonging (Anthias 2006, Brockmeyer 2016) in visual representations, primarily so-called "folk types" (Justnik 2012). In doing so, the changing role of religion in a web of intersectional difference is also taken into account, i.e. its interaction with categorizations such as gender, status/class, ethnicity, occupation, and age is analyzed.

    In order to situate the research question, the historical context is briefly explained in the following. The Philippines were a Spanish colony from 1565 to 1898, only to come under U.S. colonial rule shortly after that, which, after an interim Japanese occupation, lasted until 1946. Only gradually and as a result of Spanish colonialism did the Philippine archipelago with well over 7000 islands begin to be perceived as a unit. At the time of the first arrival of the Spaniards under Legazpi in 1565, various animistic religions were present on large parts of the archipelago. At the same time, the Islamic faith, which had been introduced since the 13th century, was on the advance. The two competing sultanates of Sulu (Philippines) and Brunei (Borneo), pursued an active missionary and expansionist policy in the Philippines (Abinales and Amoroso 2005, 50). At the same time, there were active relations with China and thus with Buddhism and Taoism since the 10th century. Even before the arrival of the Spanish, there were Chinese present in Manila (formerly Maynilad) who were referred to as sangleyes (Chu 2010, 54).

    Beginning with Legazpi's conquest of Manila/Maynilad in 1571, the Spanish crown began a policy of actively restructuring and centralizing the Philippines, both in terms of the trade activities in Asia and the internal political structure. They sought to bring the entire archipelago under a single political and religious administration. The Augustinian, Franciscan, Jesuit, Dominican, and Augustinian Recollect orders were responsible for the "spiritual conquest" of the region, the conquista espiritual. Since the "right" of the Spanish Crown to the Philippines had been granted by the Pope on the condition of Christianization, the orders were official representatives of the Crown assigned to different parts of the archipelago.

    Gaining control over Luzon alone took decades, and the claim to rule over the Moluccas could only be asserted during the personal union with the Portuguese crown from 1580-1640. Mindanao, with the Sultanate of Sulu, was brought under the control of the Spanish crown only toward the end of Spanish colonial rule and only partially (Abinales and Amoroso 2005, 50-51). The Muslims in the Philippines were called moros, i.e. Moors, by the Spanish, just like the Arabs expelled from Spain in 1492 after the end of the Reconquista. This brought the fight against the Sultanates of Sulu and Brunei into line with the allegedly legitimate fight against Islam and thus with the spread of Christianity, which had both begun centuries before in Spain. However, recent research (Seijas 2020) has shown that this line of reasoning should be cast into doubt, as the legitimization of the enslavement of Muslims and the relative military weakness of the Spanish Crown in the Philippines vis-à-vis the Dutch East India Company and the Sultanate of Brunei played at least as important a role.

    The Sangley population grew significantly under Spanish rule, especially in and around the capital city of Manila. The majority worked as merchants, artisans, and servants (Tan 1986: 143) and constituted an economically and demographically significant population group. Despite high taxation, various massacres (especially in the 17th century), and attempts to restrict immigration as well as forced conversion, there was never anything even close to complete conversion of the sangleyes, and their position after conversion was subject to ongoing processes of negotiation (Albiez-Wieck 2021). In addition to the Chinese diaspora, there were also other Asian migrant groups of other religions that were demographically far less significant, for example from India or Japan (Sawamura 2020a).

    Although the spread of Christianity was a central goal and the most essential foundation of legitimacy in the Spanish empire (Münkler 2010, 10, among others), Christianization in the Philippines, especially in comparison to the Americas, was enforced much less comprehensively. Throughout Spanish colonial rule, but also during U.S. colonial rule, the Philippines were a multireligious, multilinguistic and multiethnic society that was permanently integrated into global entanglements, for example with regard to trade and migration.

    Under U.S. imperialism in the Philippines as well, religious difference, intertwined with racialization, continued to play an important role, and was closely linked to the mission of "civilizing" the people. The goal was to unify the Christian and non-Christian populations of the Philippines into a Christian Filipino nation, with education playing an important role (Barreto Velásquez 2010, 203-239; Abinales and Amoroso 2005, 188). Dean Worcester, the Secretary of the Interior of the Philippines gave special attention to the so-called "Non-Christian Tribes" (Worcester 1914, 660) in his extensive "exploration" of the Filipino population, and they were frequently depicted in his thousands of photographs (Rice 2014, Rohde-Enslin 1999, Worcester 1914, and no date). Worcester was particularly interested in the followers of animist faith on the islands of Luzon and Negros. However, the colonial conquest and exploitation of the Islamic south of the Philippines also represents a particularly interesting field for the study of interreligious dynamics during the U.S. colonial period, a field that has been partially analyzed by Charbonneau (2020) in the recent past.

    As Stoler and McGranahan (2017) and other empire scholars (Barkey 2008, Bethencourt 2021, Albiez-Wieck 2022, among others) have pointed out, the production and organization of difference is a central factor of imperial politics; though the interests, policies, and practices behind the act of "doing difference" (Hirschhauer 2014) vary significantly depending on the colonial empire.

    This subproject is devoted to one aspect of this colonial process of "doing difference," namely the visual representation of colonial social groups in types. Types (also called folk-types) are portraits of people who were not meant to represent specific individuals with names (although they were, of course, representations of individuals), but rather a specific population group (Justnik 2020, 5). Thus, a type would typically represent a particular profession or a religious, cultural, ethnic, or racialized group. Gender and age are usually cross-sectional categories in this context. As Burke (2001, 138) puts it, writers or photographers of types "generally concentrated on traits which they considered to be typical, reducing individual people to specimens of types to be displayed in albums like butterflies." Anthropometric types were typically depicted by non-European, indigenous persons or by people of African origin (Hight and Sampson 2002, 3).

    In addition to external ascription, othering and the "doing difference", self-ascription and belonging will also be taken into account. This raises the question of how even belonging can be expressed in stereotypical representations and to what extent it was influenced by these representations. Thus, the local reception of the types plays an important role.

    2. State of Research and Previous Work of the Project Leader

    While the process of Christianization in the Philippines (e.g., Díez Muñiz 2001, Delgado 2002, Inarejos 2013, Atlić 2019, Blanco 2009), the military conflicts with the so-called Moors (moros) (e.g., Seijas 2020, Charbonneau 2020), the position of the sangley population (e.g., Tan 1986, Chu 2002, 2010, Sawamura 2020b), and also the Spanish (e.g. Alonso Álvarez 1998, Elizalde Pérez Grueso 2002, Crailshaim 2016, Hsieh 2017, Perez Zamarripa 2021) as well as U.S. colonial rule as a whole (e.g., Barreto Velásquez 2010, Charbonneau 2020) have already received some attention in research, both a visual history of the Philippines and an examination of the pictorial representations of various religious groups are still in their infancy (Aloysius 2008, 2). With regard to racializing and stereotypical visual representations in photography, the work of Mark Rice (e.g., 2014, see also Rohde-Enslin 1999) on the photographs of Dean Worcester should be mentioned, although it focuses primarily on the representation of the indigenous Filipino population. Holt (2002) takes a gender perspective in analyzing representations of Filipinas in nineteenth-century Western historiography, also looking into photographic representations.

    In her habilitation (Albiez-Wieck 2022) and various other works (e.g., Albiez-Wieck 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2020), the project leader has intensively studied the processes of othering, categorization, and belonging. Her main focus has been on the pre-Hispanic Tarascan empire in western Mexico and on colonial-era Hispanic America. More recently, however, she has also begun to address comparable processes in the Philippines under Spanish rule (Albiez-Wieck 2021).

    At the beginning of 2022, she started a research project for which she is investigating the circulation of visual types in the Philippines, Mexico, and Peru in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and has conducted initial archive research for this purpose.

    Together with the PhD student of the subproject, differences and similarities between the consequences of (stereo-)typing in different power structures (e.g. Spanish and US-American colonialism or secular and religious structures of administration and rule) are to be explored.


    3. Goals and Work Program (incl. sources and methods)

    Whereas the object of investigation and the research question are defined as outlined above under 1., and the focus is by all means on the visualization of religious othering, there is some room for flexibility in the exact choice of sources and the research period. This will be determined in consultation with the doctoral student and according to his/her prior knowledge and language skills.

    Possible sources range from the Boxer Codex of 1590 (which, however, has been quite well studied, see, e.g., Souza and Turtley 2016, Hsieh 2017, and Crossley 2014) to watercolors and drawings of folk types by local artists such as Lozano (1847) and in 19th-century ethnographic studies and travel accounts (e.g., Meyer and Schadenberg 1891, la Gironière 1855, Jagor 1873), to U.S. colonial-era photographs that were produced by the above-mentioned Dean Worcester and the Bureau of Science under his command. Moreover, photographs by Filipino photographers of the 19th and 20th centuries (e.g., Félix Laureano, cf. Laureano 1895) are a possible object of analysis, as are the numerous photographs in missionary journals, e.g. for the German colonial empire, that have recently gained the attention of scholars (e.g., Becker, Nebgen, and Stornig 2019).

    The analysis of the images follows the broad program of a visual history as outlined by Paul (2006, 2009), according to which "images are treated both as depictions and as pictorial acts" (in the sense of Bredekamp (2004)) and according to which

    images are examined beyond their symbolic pictoriality as media which shape ways of seeing, form patterns of perception, transport historical modes of interpretation, and organize the aesthetic relationship of historical subjects to their social and political reality (Paul 2006, p. 26, own translation).

    In this context, visual history is to be understood rather as a mix of methods that are combined with the aim of dealing with the "complex relationship between image structure, production, distribution, reception, and the building of tradition" (Paul 2006, p. 27, own translation). Even though, in this context, elements of formal image analysis as defined by historical image studies (Wohlfeil 1991) will be applied in order to show how religious othering is visually constructed in the respective image compositions and which recurring symbols and elements are used, the focus of the analysis will be on the production, distribution, and reception of the images. For this reason, the language skills of the doctoral student, especially in Spanish and English but possibly also in local languages such as Tagalog, are central to the research, since the texts surrounding the images are part of the research, as well as texts about the images.

    Depending on the nature of the selected sources, introductory studies on the most common publication channels and publishing media of the image sources are necessary, including travel reports, missionary journals, (pseudo-)scientific publications, cartes de visites, postcards, or a combination of several publication channels and their respective reception history. The latter has been dealt with by Justnik (2012) using the example of a photograph of two Hutsuls and a Jew from the Habsburg Empire stemming from the collection of the Volkskundemuseum Wien; there are several versions of this photograph which have each been manipulated in different ways and presented with diverging captions in different publishing media and formats. Tauber (2019) conducted a similar analysis on Hawaiian portrait photographs from the Museum fünf Kontinente in Munich, placing an emphasis on image backs and captions.

    In line with the work of Poole (2021, p. 8), the subproject understands images as "visual economies" that are seen as part of a comprehensive organization of people, ideas, and objects. In addition to examining the representative function and the content of colonial images, special attention will also be paid to the exchange value of images, which is closely related to the role of photo archives (Poole 2021, p. 11). Thus, the subproject asks who produces the images for whom, who exchanges or sells them for what value, who views and collects them, and, in particular, what role religious institutions play in this process; the latter is explored by several contributions in an anthology by Stornig and Becker (2018) on human representations primarily in German-language missionary journals. The increased focus on these processes, especially the accessibility of images and the role of collectors and archives, is also a central concern of postcolonial or decolonial approaches to image analysis, such as Junge (2021), Ouwehand, Supartono, and Junge (2021) have discussed; another, though within the boundaries of this subproject marginal topic is the question of the reproduction of stereotypes within scholarly publications and exhibitions (Reyes et al. 2022).

    This shall be briefly illustrated by the example of the photographs of Dean Worcester, Secretary of the Interior of the Philippines. Dean Worcester and his Bureau of Non-Christian Tribes and his Bureau of Science produced over 5000 negatives of the Philippine population. In addition to how various religious groups were depicted, it is whorthwhile to examine which of the photographs Worcester selected for his numerous publications and lectures and which audience was reached by these lectures and publications. Rice (2014) and Rohde-Enslin (1999) have already partially answered some of these questions for parts of the collection in the UMMA archive in Ann Arbor and in the photo archive of the Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museum in Cologne. The archive of the Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museum contains further documents that have only been dealt with to a limited extent so far, such as the correspondence between Worcester and Küppers-Loosen, the buyer of the photographs, which also contains a price list (Küppers-Loosen 13 September 1906). The doctoral candidate is supposed to ask the same type of questions about a corpus of images to be defined by him/her in collaboration with the project leader.

    For photographs from the U.S. period, it is possible to refer to a small number of catalogs containing images by several or individual photographers (Best 1998; Aguilar-Cariño 1994) in order to define the corpus of sources to be studied. Even more important is the Filipinas Heritage Library (https://www.filipinaslibrary.org.ph/), an online database comprising digitized copies of numerous images, especially colonial photographs, but also written publications, including periodicals by missionaries.

    Both the Boxer Codex (Souza and Turley 2016) and most of the colonial travel accounts and monographic illustrated works by authors and photographers of different origins and denominations are published and mostly digitally accessible, such as the works of Murillo Velarde (1749), Jagor (1873), Laureano (1895), or the above-mentioned Worcester (1914).  In any case, complementary archival research must be carried out in order to address, most essentially, the questions of production and reception.

    Depending on the exact selection of sources, the research stays will take place not only in archives and collections in the Philippines, but also in Spain or the USA and possibly also in Germany, with at least 4 months of archival research envisaged.

    To summarize, the project examines the role of religion in the conflicting fields of categorization and belonging in colonial contexts in the Philippines. The analysis of projects of "civilization" and evangelization plays an important role in understanding socio-economic and inter-religious dynamics, as well as the functioning of visual representations in this context.

    The work program of the doctoral student could read as follows:

    - Month 1-6 - Reading and source selection.

    - Month 7 - Archive visit to the Philippines

    - Month 8-12 - First evaluation and further reading, sharpening of the research question

    - Month 13 - Archive visit to the USA or Spain

    - Month 14-19 - Evaluation, writing of first chapter, presentation at conference

    - Month 20-24 - If necessary, further archive visit, further reading

    - Month 25-30 - Writing of further chapters, exchange with colleagues, in-depth analysis of sources

    - Month 31-35 - Writing the rest of the dissertation

    - Month 36 - Final editing and final layout of the dissertation, submission of the manuscript, and if submission is possible earlier, also defense


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  • Persons

  • Dissertations

    Virgilio A.G. Gener, M.P.S., M.A.


    Doctoral Thesis

    [working title] Sacred Frames: Ecclesiastical Images of Filipino Religious Groups vis-à-vis the Colonial Photography of the United States, 1898-1935

    Prof. Dr. Sarah Albiez-Wieck
    Doctoral Subject
    Neuere und Neueste Geschichte
    Targeted Doctoral Degree
    Dr. phil.
    Awarded by
    Department 08 – History/Philosophy

    At the dawn of the 20th century, the Treaty of Paris became the catalyst that solidified America’s control over the Philippine Islands. Motivated by the White Man’s Burden, United States’ rule over the Philippines later brought profound changes that altered this country’s history forever.

    Some of those reforms, among other things, was the introduction of democratic ideals considered novel to the people of this former Spanish colony. Indeed, the Separation of Church and State, non-secularized public education, and Freedom of Religion eventually became the hallmarks of American sovereignty over their new Filipino colonial subjects.

    Reception, however, towards United States’ “Benevolent Assimilation” over the Philippines has been varied to say the least. The natives, though arms and ammunition already destroyed following their defeat in the brutal Philippine-American War, still had their flames of nationalism directed against their new colonial masters. This then prompted the US government to employ various tactics to “justify” their rule over the Islands. Eventually, the photographs of Dean Worcester became the product of these strategies as his images seemingly portrayed Filipino religious groups as “savages” and “barbaric” requiring American intervention as a means to “civilize” them.

    With said photographs further reinforced by other US colonial justification tactics through the years (McCoy, 2009), the Filipinos have, unfortunately, succumbed to these methods, brainwashed and accepted America’s rule, to eventually become the most Westernized people in all of Asia (Curaming, 2021).

    Meanwhile, news of the American take over of the Philippines has always been a welcome development for many groups under the Protestant denominations. For them, the religious freedom now imposed by the US government would finally allow them to spread the Word of God in a country that has been terribly misguided by the 300-year decadence and corruption of the Roman Catholic Church during Spanish times. Hence, according to Laubach (1925), American missionaries belonging to the Methodist Church, the Episcopal Church, the Congregational Church, the Christian and Missionary Alliance, among others have all entered the Philippines in the 1900s for their evangelical missions in the cities, rural lowlands, and some even in the far-flung mountains of the country.

    If the Filipinos later succumbed, and the Protestants have always been welcoming, of United States’ rule over the Philippines, the same, however, cannot be said for the Roman Catholic Church who viewed America’s latest reforms as a threat to its three centuries-worth of presence in the country.

    Therefore, while guided by the Pro Tutela Fidei doctrine, the Archbishops of Manila, Cebu, Iloilo, and Davao have then summoned the Catholic religious orders of Europe to counter the imminent spread of Protestantism in the Islands. Eventually, the work of Bugnot, et al. (1998) revealed that Irish Redemptorist priests from the Congregatio Sanctissimi Redemptoris (CSsR), Dutch clergymen belonging to the Missionarii Sacratissimi Cordis (MSC), Belgian Scheut Fathers part of the Congregatio Immaculati Cordis Mariae (CICM), German Steyler missionaries affiliated with the Societas Verbi Divini (SVD), among others have answered the call and likewise arrived in the Philippines to be deployed (and later compete) in those areas were the Protestant evangelical missions were concentrated.

    Overall, above premises considered, this research aims to comparatively analyze (using Ariela Azoulay’s (2012) ontology of photography method) the Catholic and Protestant missionary photographs of Filipino indigenous groups during the first 30 years of United States colonization of the Philippines. In doing so, it likewise attempts to determine how these ecclesiastical images differ from those taken by Dean Worcester during the same period.