Detalle Publicación

John D. DeHuff's Memoirs of Orient Seas: The Thomasite Experience Revisited
Título de la revista: LIFE WRITING
ISSN: 1448-4528
Volumen: 11
Número: 3
Páginas: 293 - 311
Fecha de publicación: 2014
On 23 July 23 1901, a group of 530 schoolteachers (365 men and 165 women) left San Francisco on the USS.Thomas, travelling to Manila on a very specific mission: establish a public school system based on the American model in the United States' new colonial possession. Framed within President McKinley's 1899 pronouncement, after the Spanish-American War of 1989, that `there was nothing left for us to do but to take them all, and to educate the Filipino, and uplift and civilize and Christianize them¿, the American government, rather than rule its new colony primarily through its military presence, chose to educate its subjects, enacting a problematic civilisational strategy that would have lasting effects on Philippine culture and identity. The teachers on that ship are collectively known to history as the `Thomasites¿. Views about the Thomasites have shifted dramatically over the twentieth century¿they have been described as selfless educators committed to uplifting the `little brown brother¿, and censured for their leading role in American imperialism. Most of the scholarship, however, tends to engage the history of the Thomasites from accounts of their work and from the perspective of education theory. My interest lies in Thomasite life writing and what these texts tell us about their views about their role in America's imperial project, in the context of postcolonial critiques against them. By reading some extant examples of teachers' life writing, I consider their evolving personal views on their educational mission and their role in America's colonial project. Specifically, I will examine John D. DeHuff's unpublished autobiography,Memoirs of Orient Seas, to discuss the ways his perspective on America's colonial educational policies were likely shaped by his experience in the Philippines. Crucially, I want to explore whether the time in which the memoirs were written and/or revised informs us about the ways the Thomasites envisioned themselves and their role in the colonial project. In the case of John DeHuff, I argue that there is evidence that his ideas about his participation in the project evolved in important ways, leading him to challenge the United States government's pedagogical policies in the Santa Fe Indian School, where he worked for several years after returning from the Philippines, and rethink his role as a Thomasite