Colonial Pathologies Blog Yaremenko

In the book by Warwick Anderson, Colonial Pathologies, the author, a medical historian, argues that the “colonial laboratories” were not only the way the Filipino population was pushed to assimilating into the imperial lifestyle and its hygiene, by the Anglo-colonialists, but also by medical doctors and bureaucrats who “were itinerants, with the global view of things. . .[who] were prepared to find the modern in the colony, the colonial in the metropole” (p.7). Due to this organic exchange, the author “. . .enables us to recognize that colonial technologies of rule could also be used to develop the ‘nation’ and its various disciplines in both locations” (p.8.). With the military, medical, and hygiene programs that created a new “bureaucratic matrix” came acknowledgment of the importance of bacteriology and parasitology with a shift in these fields to the political and civic recognition. Using sources from the fields of anthropology, history, sociology, political and military studies, the author delivers a very clear understanding of the system, its development in the after-war frame of the colonial time. Tremendous research from social and medical journals, manuscripts, letters, military documents, and official documents were selected by author to confirm her theories on the effects of colonization on the Filipino people.

The analogy for this book is similar to Drew Gilpin Faust’s book, This Republic of Suffering. As sbremer points out, “Faust’s book tackles a seemingly obvious fact – that many people died in a war. However, Faust is able to successfully show that in many ways death in the American Civil War occurred in many unprecedented ways.” As in Anderson’s book, Colonial Pathologies, poor hygiene added drastically to the toll death during the Philippine-American War. And as morganstocks mentioned in her block on The Republic of Suffering, “Faust is able to effectively produce an emotional book while maintaining her objectivity. This Republic of Suffering is a deeply moving work. This much is very clear from just the beginning pages of the book.” That is exactly how the work of Anderson echoes her readers.

I wish the author would write more about why the government and the Rockefeller’s foundation were there in the first place, why they stayed there, and why they were helping with malaria.  I wish that this author had maybe just briefly expressed her thoughts on the history of the Philippines war events.