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Visual culture played a significant role in the debates surrounding American colonialism in the Philippines in the early twentieth century. One of the most important photographers working the Philippines at that time was Dean Conant Worcester, who also served as a colonial administrator. Worcester's three-part sequence of photographs supposedly showing an Igorot man becoming civilized through his contact with Americans is one of the more iconic sets of images from that time period.

In recent years, many historians have reprinted the "Igorot sequence" to illustrate American imperial ideologies. However, neither the identity of the subject, nor the circumstances surrounding the creating of the sequence has been published, and different historians have traced the sequence to different points of origin. Understanding the history of the sequence provides a way to better understand both the history of American colonialism in the Philippines and the challenges of using photographs as historical evidence.



Copyright © 2010 The Johns Hopkins University Press. This article first appeared in American Quarterly, Volume 62, Issue 1, March, 2010, pages 49-76.

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