The embroidery room of the School of Household Industries, 1916.

The embroidery room of the School of Household Industries, 1916.

Beauty Regimens: Disciplining Filipina Labor Under U.S. Empire

A Presentation by Genevieve Clutario
Oct 5, 2021, 4–5 PM
Newhouse Center Lounge & Online
Open to the Wellesley College campus community only

This talk investigates the formation of a transpacific industry of Philippine embroidery during the early twentieth century and focuses on four locations of a modern imperial beauty regime: the American department store; home workshops in the Philippines; colonial industrial schools; and Bilibid Prison.  During the 1910s, American consumers increasingly demanded "Philippine Lingerie" sold in catalogues and urban department stores throughout the continental United States. Exporting Filipina-made fine needle work relied on the adoption and adaptation of racial and gendered ideologies as well as already long-established labor practices in the archipelago. Such market forces were also inextricably tied to the making of a colonial state. From the 1910s to the 1930s, industrial schools and prisons, both of which fell under the jurisdiction of the director of education, instituted strict regimens touted as educational and reformatory modes of uplifting Filipino women and girls. An examination of this alliance between private industry and reformatory public institutions sheds light on the contradictions of their promises of uplift while relying on exploitative labor, as well as on the racial and gendered logics of beauty production and consumption in the making of liberal empire.

This hybrid event is open to all members of the Wellesley College community. Advance registration is required.

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Image Credit:

Cornell University, digitized by Google.