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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


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