When the enemy is unclear: US censuses and photographs of Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines from the beginning of the 20th century
Author: Dominguez, Virginia R.
Source: Comparative American Studies, Volume 5, Number 2, June 2007 , pp. 173-203(31)
Publisher: Maney Publishing
Abstract:In this close reading of US census documents and photographic representations of Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines between 1899 and 1905, I complicate our current notions of colonial representations as exoticizing and primitivizing documents in the service of the colonizer. Focusing particularly on the surprising inclusion of photographs of the local census enumerators along with the extensive amount of numerical data about age, occupation, race, sex, and education that they gathered about island populations, I argue that the very presence of these seemingly unimportant photographs demonstrates a recognition of sameness on the part of the US census organizers and perhaps of the US readers of the census books. Contrasting the presentation of these European-origin Cuban and Puerto Rican elites with representations of the Philippines reveals not only that colonizations are place-specific but also that they sometimes include ambivalences that emerge in unlikely modes of representation – representations that deserve our critical attention.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 2007-06-01