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The Afterlife of the American Empire

The Cal Pilipinx community challenges the 'friendly colonialism' narrative.

June 3, 2022
Editorial cartoon about Jacob Smith's retaliation for Balangiga. At the beginning of the 19th century, the Philippine-American War was billed as a “friendly colonialism,” said UC Riverside professor Dylan Rodríguez, Ph.D '01. This image depicting the Battle of Balangiga, in which thousands of Filipinx civilians were killed by American troops, shows a different narrative. / Public domain image via Wikimedia Commons

On April 14th, 2022, Pilipinx scholars from around the U.S. met virtually to examine the role of the American Empire in the Philippines, including the Philippine American War (1899 – 1902); the role of education in colonization; the institutionalization of white supremacy; and how American imperialism continues to shape the experiences of Filipinos in the Philippines and in the United States today. The event was hosted by the Cal Pilipinx American Alumni Chapter (PAAC) in partnership with the Cal Alumni Association, UC Berkeley’s Division of Equity & Inclusion, The Asian Pacific American Student Development Office, The Asian American Research Center, UC Riverside’s Center for Ideas and Society, and UC Davis’s Bulosan Center for Filipino Studies.

Moderator Neferti X. Tadiar, professor of Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies at Barnard College of Columbia University, hosted a conversation with Ricky Punzalan, an associate professor at the University of Michigan School of Information. The panel additionally featured two UC Berkeley alumni, Nerissa S. Balce, Ph.D. ’02, an associate professor of Asian American Studies at SUNY Stony Brook, and Dylan Rodríguez, Ph.D. ’01, a media and cultural studies professor and co-director of the Center for Ideas and Society at UC Riverside. 

Afterlife of the American Empire Panelists

Neferti X. Tadiar
Neferti X. Tadiar, Ph.D.
Ricky Punzalan
Ricky Punzalan, Ph.D.
Nerissa S. Balce
Nerissa S. Balce, Ph.D. ’02
Dylan Rodríguez
Dylan Rodríguez, Ph.D. ’01

Prior to the event, Rodríguez spoke with Berkeley News, emphasizing the need to dismantle America’s false narratives around the Philippine-American War and the decolonization of research.

For a long time, the historical narrative was that the U.S. benignly occupied the Philippines, and it was a relatively friendly relationship that brought free public education, state institutions that were legitimate and a proctored transition into modernity. This whole notion of friendly colonialism. But, in fact, it was brutal. And it was genocidal… And that’s the piece that we have yet to come to terms with.

Dylan Rodriguez, Ph.D. ’01

Watch a recording of the event

Alumni: To learn more about getting involved with the Pilipinx community at Cal, check out PAAC on Facebook and follow them on Instagram at @calpilipinxalumni.