Revisiting the Philippine Reservation: The Missouri History Museum and the Re-exhibition of the 1904 World's Fair
My project examines how the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition is memorialized in both the Missouri History Museum and the MHM Library and Research Center archives. Considering the co-construction of anthropological discourse, visual technologies, and nation-building bolstering the Exposition, I am particularly invested in exploring how the museum and archives display and document artifacts pertaining to the fair’s “Philippine Reservation,” a live ethnographic exhibit that featured 1,100 Filipinos from various “tribes” or ethnic groups. The Philippine Reservation is frequently “read” as a spectacular cementation of Filipino savagery within the U.S. imperial imaginary, and the Cordillera ethnic groups (or Igorots) interpreted as metonymic of the Archipelago’s heterogeneous population. While certainly a recorded intent of the Exposition Company, my project focuses instead on the ways in which visual documentation of the Philippine Reservation, in conjunction with the anthropological and political debates underpinning the fair itself, attests to the instability of colonial race-making—and the contingency of pan-Filipino identity. Similarly, my project considers how such ideological plasticity constituted rather than hampered the narratives of progress and nationalism coursing through the Exposition, and through the MHM exhibits still commemorating it.