The Philippine Craftsman: Empire, Education, and the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition

Published In

The Journal of Modern Craft

Document Type


Publication Date



Shortly after the Philippines was annexed by the United States in 1898, representations of Filipinos in the US popular imagination became inseparable from the sensationalist Philippine exhibition at the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis. Of the more than 1,000 Filipinos and indigenous peoples who made up this “live exhibition,” the Bontoc Igorots, portrayed as savage “dog eaters,” became representative of the United States’ new colonial subjects. By the time of the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco, however, exhibitions of the Philippines centered on the handicraft of Filipinos under US tutelage to showcase the success of US industrial education in uplifting and civilizing Filipino savagery. This article examines the 1915 exposition’s Philippine exhibit organized by the Bureau of Education, which also published the magazine, The Philippine Craftsman, a publication devoted to the “advancement of industrial education in the public schools of the Philippines.” In analyzing the exhibition rationale of the Bureau of Education, this article demonstrates how the discourse of craft was central to the US imperial cultivation of a civilized “Philippine Craftsman” and embedded in the exhibition practices of empire, which, in turn, inculcated fairgoers in an imperial craft discourse that naturalized territorial expansion, reinforced racial hierarchies, and promoted faith in the redemptive possibilities of industrial capitalism and consumer culture.

Keywords: craft discourse, US imperialism, industrial education, Philippine Craftsman, Panama-Pacific International Exposition


Copyright © 2023 Informa UK Limited

Locate the Document

PSU Affiliates:
Access the Article via Subscription

Publisher Website



Persistent Identifier