Interisland Migration, American Colonial Rule, and Indigenous Critique in the Philippines, 1913 to the late 1930s


Mellon/ACLS Community College Faculty Fellowships


Social Science


This project demonstrates that early twentieth-century state-driven internal migration programs reshaped the human, natural, and political geographies of the southern Philippines under US colonial rule. They laid the material and ideological groundwork that allowed for later, larger migrations—both state-supported and privately initiated—that vastly shifted the demographics of the region, creating new inequalities that persist to this day. These migrations contributed to the sensibility that the state and private citizens could commit economic and physical violence against indigenous people with impunity, treating them as non-rights-bearing subjects. This project also analyzes indigenous critiques of the logics of dispossession and settler colonialism. It shows how these critiques help nuance our understanding of the Philippines’ colonial and postcolonial histories, as well as the history of US empire more broadly. It illustrates that struggles over ancestral lands in seemingly remote areas have had a significant effect on the shape of the nation.