My unit “Civilization & Barbarism: Cartoon Commentary & the ‘White Man’s Burden’ (1898-1902)” is the latest offering on MIT Visualizing Cultures. It explores a theme that appeared frequently in the database I have been compiling on the Boxer Uprising in China. John Dower felt it would make a strong unit on its own in that the graphics bring together three wars not often grouped: the Philippine-American War; British-Boer War; and the Boxer Uprising. 

The content dovetails with another newly-released unit by MIT historian, Christopher Capozzola, “Photography & Power in the Colonial Philippines I: Conquest by the Camera (1898-1902).” American troops fighting in the Philippines were the first to be shipped to China for the campaign against the Boxers and Qing Dynasty. The two units focus on different media from the same time period: photography and political cartoons.

Reporting on the Philippine-American War was censored in the U.S. I was excited to find an 1899 cartoon (below) by George Benjamin Luts that showed awareness of that. The image-rich book, The Forbidden Book: The Philippine-American War in Political Cartoons, takes its title from the idea that censorship lead to historical amnesia about the war itself.

"The Way We Get the War News" by George Benjamin Luts, The Verdict, 1899, as it appears in "Civilization & Barbarism" by Ellen Sebring, Visualizing Cultures, 2014.

Special thanks to John Dower for his editorial support and to Peter Perdue for procuring some of the images. I look forward to our upcoming collaboration on the Boxer Uprising units.

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