A biography of the man whose photographic activities had a profound influence on the way that Americans perceived the Philippines throughout the twentieth century
Dean Worcester’s Fantasy Islands brings to life one of the most significant (but under examined) figures in the history of U.S. colonialism in the Philippines. Upon the outbreak of the Spanish-American War, Worcester, a scientist who had traveled twice to the Philippines on zoological expeditions, established himself as one of America’s leading experts on the Philippines. Over a fourteen-year career as a member of the U.S. colonial regime, Worcester devoted much of his time and energy to traveling among and photographing non-Christian minority groups in the Philippines. He amassed an archive of several thousand photographs taken by him or by government photographers. Worcester deployed those photographs in books, magazine articles, and lectures to promote his belief that the United States should maintain control of the Philippines for decades to come. While many historians have examined American colonial photography in the Philippines, this book is the first lengthy treatment of Worcester’s role in shaping American perceptions of the Philippines in the early twentieth century.
Mark Rice is Professor and Chair of American Studies at St. John Fisher College.