U.S. Forestry in the Philippines: Environment, Nationhood, and Empire, 1900-1937
Roberts, Nathan Ernest
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Abstract U.S. Forestry in the Philippines: Environment, Nationhood, and Empire, 1900-1937 Nathan E Roberts Chair of the Supervisory Committee: Professor Linda Nash Department of History During the early twentieth century, U.S. forestry officials and Filipino/a allies established new foundations for forest management and resource use in the Philippines. American forestry advocates deployed colonial forest management to both legitimate U.S. imperialism and strengthen claims for state power at home. In both the colony and the metropole, Progressives argued that scientific forestry provided for stable economies, efficient resource use, and the defense of the collective good. An essential part of U.S. colonial forestry was the expansion of capitalist development and the collection of environmental knowledge of the tropics. But, as U.S. forestry officials sought to commodify and manage Philippine forests, they were forced to contend with unknown and challenging environmental conditions that shaped how forest use unfolded. By examining the advent of U.S.-led state forestry, the development of forestry practices, and the social relations between the Americans and Filipino/as who worked in the forests, this dissertation offers a look at how environmental management emerged as a key element in state-, nation-, and empire-building regimes during the twentieth century. Furthermore, as part of the U.S. civilizing mission in the Philippines, forestry officials brought with them perceptions about Filipino/as and Philippine society that permeated every aspect of forest management. U.S. forestry contained specific notions of race, gender, and class status that appealed to some Filipinos who saw themselves as caretakers of a new nation. However, some in the Philippines, such as shifting agriculturalists, became outsiders in the new forestry regime. This work examines how Americans and Filipino/as structured the new social world of forest management in the Philippines.
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