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FA-251827-17
Patients’ Activism in the Culion Leper Colony, Philippines, 1905-1930s
Febe Pamonag, Western Illinois University

Grant details: https://securegrants.neh.gov/publicquery/main.aspx?f=1&gn=FA-251827-17

Songs, Rumors, and Resistance (Public Lecture or Presentation)
Title: Songs, Rumors, and Resistance
Abstract: How do marginalized groups challenge authorities? One problem that confronts historians who deal with this question is the lack of sources generated by those individuals. The problem is compounded when dealing with the resistance of colonized and diseased people. Consequently, historians are compelled to use materials that, in the words of Kerri Inglis, "require considerable imagination and creativity." In this presentation, we will explore creative ways to study the history of marginalized groups, like the leprosy patients in colonial Philippines. We will consider songs and rumors as platforms for challenging American colonial authority in the early twentieth-century Philippines.
Author: Febe Pamonag
Date: 9/18/2017
Location: Spoon River College Community Outreach Center, Macomb, IL

The Unruly Women of Culion (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: The Unruly Women of Culion
Author: Febe Pamonag
Abstract: Public health was crucial to the success of the American pacification campaign and the “civilizing process” in the Philippines during the early twentieth century. In 1905, American colonial officials established a leper colony in Culion, southwest of Manila. To safeguard public health, officials deemed it necessary to forcibly remove “lepers” from their homes; however, in 1907, citing limited resources and the difficulty of pregnancy for women with leprosy, they banned cohabitation and marriage within Culion. Colonial officials had downplayed Filipino leprosy patients’ opposition to the segregation order. But how did female patients respond to the segregation policy? How did they engage with authorities over such issues as the ban on cohabitation and marriage? This paper advances our understanding of the engagement between Filipino women leprosy patients and colonial officials. This is an understudied theme in literature on empire, medicine, and public health, and U.S. colonialism in the Philippines. Very few studies of Culion address patients’ – mostly men – oppositional views and practices. I argue that female patients, individually and collectively, asserted their sense of self and in so doing, rejected the notion of women as weak, mere followers of the male patients and wards of the nuns and the state.
Date: 8/12/2018
Conference Name: International Federation for Research in Women’s History (IFRWH) triennial conference

'Mobs' and the Women of Culion (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: 'Mobs' and the Women of Culion
Author: Febe Pamonag
Abstract: Beginning in 1906, American colonial officials ordered the mandatory confinement of leprosy patients to the island of Culion, in western Philippines. American colonial authorities had downplayed Filipino opposition to the leper segregation policy. This paper examines how gender-based assumptions, state policies, and practices influenced reports on how the patients responded to gender segregation within the leper colony. Initially implemented in 1907, restrictions on marriage and cohabitation generated several protests, including the 1932 protest dubbed “The Manchuria.” There is a paucity of sources written by the patients, but there are newspaper articles, government reports, and accounts of American colonial officials, nuns, and priests. This paper seeks to advance our understanding of Filipino leprosy patients’ engagement with American colonial authorities. This is an understudied theme in the existing literature on empire and public health policy and U.S. colonialism in the Philippines. Earlier studies on Filipino leprosy patients’ resistance tend to focus on men. In this paper, I argue that some female patients asserted their sense of self and in so doing, rejected the notion of women as weak, mere followers of male patients and wards of the nuns and the state.
Date: 4/28/2018
Primary URL: http://www.wawh.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/WAWHProgram2018FinalMarch17.pdf
Primary URL Description: 2018 Western Association of Women Historians Conference program
Conference Name: Western Association of Women Historians

The Women of Culion (Public Lecture or Presentation)
Title: The Women of Culion
Abstract: Public health was vital to the success of the American pacification campaign and the “civilizing process” in the Philippines during the early years of the twentieth century. In 1905, American colonial officials established a leper colony in Culion, southwest of Manila. Victor Heiser, Director of Health in the Philippines from 1905 to 1915, declared that to protect public health it was necessary to remove leprous individuals from their homes and transfer those who tested positive for leprosy to Culion. In May 1906, the first group of 358 adults and some adolescents were transported to Culion. By the end of 1910, more than 5000 men, women, and children were brought to the island and Culion became one of the largest leprosaria in the world by the 1930s. Citing limited resources and difficulty of pregnancy for leprous women, health authorities segregated male and female patients, and banned cohabitation and marriage in 1907. The patients ignored these restrictions. It was reinstated in 1927, causing a lot of resentment from male and female patients. Opposition to these regulations culminated in a violent protest on March 25, 1932, dubbed “The Manchuria.” Early works on Culion tends to highlight its role as a laboratory for civic experimentation and how it was embroiled in major political issues of the day. Recent studies have highlighted patients’ resistance, but they focused on men as leaders and main participants of the 1932 protest. Here, women tended to be presented as followers of men. Gendered assumptions by the state, priests and nuns, and male patients that women needed to be “protected” remains uninterrogated. I argue that women found ways to challenge the gender-based segregation of patients and restrictions on leper marriages within the leper colony. They asserted their sense of self, thereby rejecting the notion of women as weak, mere followers of male patients and wards of the nuns and the state.
Author: Febe Pamonag
Date: 3/28/2018
Location: Maples Library, Western Illinois University
Primary URL: http://www.wiu.edu/wiucalendar/index.sphp?id=31876
Primary URL Description: Advertisement for the panel discussion on Western Illinois University Online calendar.
Secondary URL: http://www.wiu.edu/cas/
Secondary URL Description: Advertisement on the College of Arts and Sciences website -- Upcoming Events.

The "Unruly Inmates" of Culion (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: The "Unruly Inmates" of Culion
Author: Febe Pamonag
Abstract: The “Unruly Inmates” of Culion Beginning in 1906, American colonial officials ordered the mandatory confinement of leprosy patients to the island of Culion. This paper explores female patient activism in Culion during the early twentieth century. It focuses on patients’ reaction to restrictions on marriage and cohabitation, first implemented in 1907. These regulations generated several protests, including the 1932 protest dubbed “The Manchuria.” There is a paucity of sources on patients’ responses written by the patients themselves, but there are government reports, accounts of colonial officials, and accounts by the nuns and priests who lived in Culion. Government reports tended to characterize the male patients as the leaders. Accounts of nuns and priests illuminate their paternalistic view of female patients as wards who needed to be protected from male patients. Yet, a close reading of accounts of health officials and admission records reveal the presence of “unruly” women and the consequences of their participation in these “disturbances.” This paper seeks to advance our understanding of Filipino leprosy patients’ engagement with American colonial authorities. This is an understudied theme in the existing literature on empire and public health policy and U.S. colonialism in the Philippines. The existing literature on leprosy patients’ resistance tends to focus on men. In this paper, I argue that some female leprosy patients asserted their sense of self and in so doing, rejected the notion of women as weak, mere followers of male patients and wards of the nuns and the state.
Date: 5/12/2018
Primary URL: http://http://histmed.org/documents/AAHM2018_program.pdf?_ga=2.95453276.1729071773.1526414237-25395185.1453958309
Primary URL Description: American Association for the History of Medicine 2018 Conference program
Conference Name: American Association for the History of Medicine Annual Meeting

The "Unruly Women" of Culion (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: The "Unruly Women" of Culion
Author: Febe Pamonag
Abstract: Public health was crucial to the success of the American pacification campaign and the “civilizing process” in the Philippines during the early twentieth century. In 1905, American colonial officials established a leper colony in Culion, southwest of Manila. To safeguard public health, officials deemed it necessary to forcibly remove “lepers” from their homes; however, in 1907, citing limited resources and the difficulty of pregnancy for women with leprosy, they banned cohabitation and marriage within Culion. Colonial officials had downplayed Filipino leprosy patients’ opposition to the segregation order. But how did female patients respond to the segregation policy? How did they engage with authorities over such issues as the ban on cohabitation and marriage? This paper advances our understanding of the engagement between Filipino women leprosy patients and colonial officials. This is an understudied theme in literature on empire, medicine, and public health, and U.S. colonialism in the Philippines. Very few studies of Culion address patients’ – mostly men – oppositional views and practices. I argue that female patients, individually and collectively, asserted their sense of self and in so doing, rejected the notion of women as weak, mere followers of the male patients and wards of the nuns and the state.
Date: 8/10/2018
Primary URL: http://www.ifrwh.com
Primary URL Description: International Federation for Research in Women's History (IFRWH) 2018 Conference website
Conference Name: nternational Federation for Research in Women's History (IFRWH)

Food rations, resistance, and agency at the Culion leper colony, 1900s-1930s (Article)
Title: Food rations, resistance, and agency at the Culion leper colony, 1900s-1930s
Author: Febe D. Pamonag
Abstract: This study explores how Filipino Hansen’s disease patients confined to the Culion leper colony engaged with government authorities over food-related issues during the first three decades of the twentieth century. Food rations are understudied themes in the history of the Culion leper colony. Earlier scholarship on Culion focused on the segregation policy, medical practices, and general conditions. Recent work highlighted the theme of resistance evident in the patients’ flight from the island, protests against the ban on marriage and cohabitation, and petitions for rights as citizens. A few considered agitations and other actions by patients in response to the food situation. In this study, I argue that food was a platform upon which colonial authority was contested in a myriad of ways and forms. Patients’ reactions were directed not only at poor quality and insufficient quantity of rations, but also at the American colonial state’s policy that exiled them to the island of Culion. Many of them practiced self-sufficiency to address basic food needs and to provide financial assistance to the families they left behind. Others actively participated in committees to improve the distribution of rations. The study of food supply and rations in Culion offers insights into the engagement between Filipino patients of Hansen’s disease and colonial administrators. It demonstrates varying forms of patients’ resistance and exercise of agency within a restrictive setting and in a colonial context. In some instances, patients’ agency was enabled by authorities, thereby complicating the story of their engagement. Consideration of their diverse and multifaceted practices facilitates a fuller understanding of how Filipino Hansen’s disease patients dealt with government officials during the American colonial period. KEYWORDS Culion, Hansen’s disease, resistance, agency, food rations
Year: 2018
Primary URL: http://www.journals.upd.edu.ph/index.php/socialsciencediliman/issue/view/619/showToc
Primary URL Description: Social Science Diliman website
Access Model: Open access
Format: Journal
Periodical Title: Social Science Diliman: A Philippine Journal of Society and Change
Publisher: University of the Philippines Diliman

“Patient Activism in the Culion Leper Colony,” in panel titled (Re)Defining History, Doing History: Whose History? Whose Archives? (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: “Patient Activism in the Culion Leper Colony,” in panel titled (Re)Defining History, Doing History: Whose History? Whose Archives?
Author: Febe Pamonag
Abstract: No abstract was submitted/required. I was invited to be a part of this panel.
Date: 01/03/2019
Primary URL: https://aha.confex.com/aha/2019/webprogram/Session18506.html
Primary URL Description: Conference program
Conference Name: American Historical Association Annual Meeting

(En)Gendering Patient Activism in the Culion Leper Colony (Public Lecture or Presentation)
Title: (En)Gendering Patient Activism in the Culion Leper Colony
Abstract: Dr. Pamonag will speak on the subject of patient activism in the Culion leper colony during the first three decades of U.S. rule in the Philippines. Beginning in 1906, American health officials in the Philippines ordered the mandatory confinement of Hansen’s disease patients to the island of Culion, southwest of Manila. This was the American colonial government’s solution to what health officials suggested was a major public health problem in the Philippines. Health officials had downplayed Filipino patients’ opposition to the order for mandatory confinement and the ban on marriage and cohabitation that was introduced in 1907. This lecture critically engages with how a gendered rhetoric of protection muted women’s voices in both contemporary accounts and scholarly works on resistance in Culion. The pervasive rhetoric of protecting women’s health, wellbeing, and morals obscured women’s exercise of agency and struggle for autonomy against male and female authority figures. Drawing on contemporary accounts of a March 1932 protest against the ban on marriage and cohabitation as well as some primary evidence from the patients themselves, this presentation will bring several examples of women’s subversion of such rhetoric to the forefront. They rejected the notion of women as mere followers of Filipino men and wards of the Catholic nuns and the American colonial state.
Author: Febe Pamonag
Date: 03/22/2019
Location: Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Northern Illinois University
Primary URL: https://calendar.niu.edu/event/cseas_friday_lecture_dr_febe_pamonag_western_illinois_university_associate_professor_of_history#.XNtDvtWFPu0
Primary URL Description: Northern Illinois University event calendar

Gendering Patient Activism in Colonial Philippines (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: Gendering Patient Activism in Colonial Philippines
Author: Febe Pamonag
Abstract: Earlier histories of Hansen’s disease in colonial Philippines focus on the American policy of forced segregation, while recent studies highlight patients’ resistance in Culion, with special emphasis on men. One of the challenges that confront historians of Hansen’s disease worldwide is the dearth of patients’ accounts of their experiences, and this problem is compounded when dealing with women. Gendering patient activism in colonial Philippines, this study focuses on women who were forcibly confined in Culion and the San Lazaro hospital during the early twentieth century. Drawing on multilingual sources, including petitions and letters, I argue that many women consistently expressed and acted upon their desire for freedom from the U.S.-imposed policy of forced confinement and treatment, and from the Catholic nuns’ strict dormitory rules, while others focused on daily necessities as they petitioned for improved food rations.
Date: 04/27/2019
Primary URL: https://wawh.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/WAWH2019ProgramFinal.pdf
Primary URL Description: Conference program
Conference Name: Western Association of Women Historians Conference


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