"Race, Representation and the Colonial Archive: Dean Worcester and the Philippines" Conference
This one day international conference will focus on the work and legacy of Dean C. Worcester, zoologist, entrepreneur, and American imperialist whose work in the Philippines has had long-lasting effects on ideas about race and the representation of Filipinos in both the United States and its former island colony. The purpose of this conference is to pay critical attention to one of the most controversial dimensions of Worcester’s work in the Philippines: the many thousands of photographs that Worcester took of native Filipinos, often in the name of justifying the “civilizing” mission of United States imperialism, sometimes for reasons that could only called voyeuristic. The conference will bring together researchers and archivists from the United States, Europe, and the Philippines to analyze and discuss both the content of Worcester’s photos and their life in circulation, especially as they have made their way into a number of archives throughout the world. As Worcester’s alma mater and the home of major photographic and archival collections about him, the University of Michigan is uniquely positioned to host this conference. Given the accessible subject matter, we expect that the conference will attract faculty and students in number of departments as well as archivists, librarians, local history buffs, and anyone interested in photography. Since the subject of the conference will also tie in to the LSA theme semester of “Race,” it will provide another opportunity for the public to engage in university activities around that theme. Accompanying the conference will be the first public showing of the Worcester’s newly rediscovered 1913 film: “Native Life in the Philippines” and an exhibition of Worcester’s photographs from the U-M Museum of Anthropology Collection in the International Institute Gallery.