Hawkins, Michael C.
The Moro Village at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition
Series:NIU Southeast Asian Series
Aims and Scope
Semi-Civilized offers a concise, revealing, and analytically insightful view of a critical period in Philippine history. Michael C. Hawkins examines Moro (Filipino Muslim) contributions to the Philippine Exhibit at the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904, providing insight into this fascinating and previously overlooked historical episode.
By reviving and contextualizing Moro participation in the Exposition, Hawkins challenges typical manifestations of empire drawn from the fair and delivers a nuanced and textured vision of the nature of American imperial discourse. In Semi-Civilized Hawkins argues that the Moro display provided a distinctive liminal space in the dialectical relationship between civilization and savagery at the fair. The Moros offered a transcultural bridge. They, through their official yet nondescript designation as "semi-civilized," undermined and mediated the various binaries structuring the Exposition. Hawkins demonstrates, represented an unexpectedly welcomed challenge to the binary logic and discomfort of the display.
As Semi-Civilized shows, the display was collaborative and the Moros exercised unexpected agency, by negotiating, how the display was both structured and interpreted by the public. Fair-goers were actively seeking an extraordinary experience. Exhibit organizers framed it, but ultimately the Moros provided it. And therein lay a tremendous amount of power.
- 156 pages
- 9 b&w halftones
- CORNELL UNIVERSITY PRESS
- Moros, Empire, Exposition, Philippines, colonial studies, American empire
"Semi-Civilized examines one of the earliest populations of Muslim Americans and the most prominent period when Muslim Moros in the Philippines spent time in the United States. There has not been a critical assessment of the Moro villages at the important 1904 World's Fair and this study promises to bring such study into the scholarly record."
Paul Rodell, Georgia Southern University, author of Culture and Customs of the Philippines:
"Offering a nuanced view of the 1904 St. Louis Exposition, Hawkins brings the latest theoretical analysis and academic works to bear in a convincing study that undercuts a strict binary between the savage and the civilized. The discussion is especially good when focused on issues of masculinity, the American fear of the effect that a banal and mechanized future may be in store for civilized man and child development."